We’re Juicing it Tonight

Parenting takes more time and energy than it looks.  So, some of the healthy habits that were easy pre-parenthood take place at odd hours now.  Yesterday, while The Hubs was in class, I went to the produce place.  I got there 10 minutes before they closed and studiously ignored all the hard glares I got from the people working there who just wanted the day to end and go home.  I sympathized, but I needed fruit & veggies so we both dealt with it (at least that’s how I tell it) as I raced through and picked out what I wanted.  As usual, I bought more veggies that 2.5 appetites could handle in a week and headed home.  The Hubs came in from class wiped out and exhausted after a long day.  And as luck would have it, I couldn’t have fit any more veggies in the fridge if there was a crowbar option available with my brand of refrigerator.  So, I did what I usually do when there’s more veggies than room: I juiced.  For the record I am talking about extracting juice from whole fruits and vegetables.  I made the mistake once of looking up “juicing” on the internet and it unfortunately took me a minute to realize why all the search results had to do with power lifting.  Apparently I should have been searching for “juicing for health”.

My parents have been juicing since the days of the Juiceman Jr. which I think came out in the 90s.  The Juiceman Jr. was their first of many juicers.  The Juiceman Jr.  juice was less like juice and more like a meal.  If you’ve looked at the sales descriptions of juicers now that talk about fine mesh extractors, foam removers and horsepower in the motor, it’s because they are trying to get the juice to look like juice.  It didn’t always.  My parents bought several models and brands through the years including Vita-Mix which I  LOVE as a kitchen machine (It’s so more than just a blender), but I don’t think what it makes is as useful as juice from a juice extracting machine since you have to add water and ice to the Vitamix.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s diluted juice.  Great as a smoothie though!  Juice Extracting Machines have come a long way from the Juiceman Jr.  Long story short, after trying way too many machines I’ve settled on the machine by the other Infomercial King: Jack LaLanne.  It’s easy to clean (most important factor), easy to use, doesn’t require a lot of pre-chopping and makes good smooth juice.  It can’t juice bananas or avocado so save those for the smoothies, but it does a great job with just about everything else.

If you’re going to juice, start out small then build your way up.  When I married The Hubs and came home with a juicer, I asked him if he wanted juice (I think he thought I meant store-bought apple juice) and  he said, “Sure!”  S0 ,I made him my usual juice with any and every fruit/vegetable in the kitchen.  I should have started out easy on him, but he likes a challenge so I handed him a glass.  It tasted awful.  To his credit, he wolfed it down and handed me the glass and we didn’t talk about it for a week and then I handed him another glass.  If you’re going to get into juicing, start out with mostly fruit so you get in the habit, then start adding veggies and eventually you can do a 3:1 ratio of vegetables to fruit.  Carrot-apple is a good starting point.  There are recipes that come with the juicers, but if you see one with an onion.  Don’t try it.  Friends of ours tried it and hate may be way to kind of a word to describe their reaction.  Try to vary your juice ingredients as much as possible.  When you get in the habit,  start adding more greens and green vegetables until eventually you can drink a 16-ounce glass of the green juice.  You can juice for taste, but eventually you may want to juice for health.

So, last night around 11pm, the hubs and I had had our juice.  I juiced two big heads of kale, three apples, a pear, and three carrots which gave us a 16 ounce glass each.  The hubs and I have mastered chugging thanks to juice.  You’re supposed to drink it quickly after it’s made to take advantage of all the enzymes and nutrients from the fruits and veggies.  It’s not meant for slow sipping over time and when you get to the point where you’re juicing for health and not taste, there’s not much of a choice.  I’ve been juicing for so long that I don’t know if I actually feel better or it’s a Pavlovian response at this point but I slept perfectly and woke up feeling energized.  I have a bag of collards waiting at home and the hubs is going to get that juice post run on Saturday.  I’m sure he’s excited.

The Dinner Time Food Trade — Sweet Potatoes

We’ve reached the point in The Kid’s development where he wants to feed himself  so, everything must be finger food.  He also wants what is on the adults’ plates.  He gets very excited when he sees everyone else’s plate, but he is willing to give everyone some of his food as well. (Sharing is good I guess.)  And apparently it’s hilarious when adults eat baby food. So, we tend to keep an eye on what we’re eating to make sure at least some of it is baby approved (no hot pepper/spicy mustard) and make sure his food is edible since we are sometimes under obligation to eat it.  I can’t wait until he is safe to eat nuts because I really want some cashew chicken. But until then, we’re engaged in a food trade from baby plates to adult plates.

My current favorite food in the trade is Sweet Potatoes. When The Kid was on pureed food, I steamed them with apples or pears or nectarines. Steamed with nectarines was amazing. I had to make another batch the first time since I think I ate half of it and The Hubs kept saying, “I like sweet potatoes” as though I should have considered making some for him. But I generally prefer the flavor of baked sweet potatoes and of course the minimal effort required.  I’ve smashed the baked sweet potatoes and mixed it with his beans (big favorite).  I’ve just handed the kid pieces of baked sweet potato off my plate (went over well too), but the other night I was entirely too tired to think of something to make and tried something for him that ended up being so good, that I had to “help” him eat it.

 

Sweet Potato & Whole Wheat Israeli Couscous with Corn

1-1/4 cup water
1/2 medium size sweet potato cut small
1 cup Whole Wheat Israeli couscous
1 cup frozen corn

In a small saucepan, add the sweet potato pieces and 1 1/4 cup of water.  Heat until the water is boiling.  Add the couscous and corn.  Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.

 

When it’s done, the sweet potatoes should not be easily distinguished as individual pieces, but will form a coating on the couscous to help them clump a little so the little ones can grab the couscous pearls more easily.  This is actually really sweet and if you decide to put it out for everyone to eat, I would recommend something simple like roasted chicken and your veggie of choice.  Pork could probably work well with this too if you like sweet accompaniments.