The Honey Moon Phase – What I’ve Learned After 3 Months of Juicing

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I’m a little over 3 months into a new relationship… with my juicer.

As with any relationship, the first few weeks were very exciting. I tried all sorts of juices… green juice, carrot juice, even beet juice (not my best choice). Every week was a new adventure with a different fruit or vegetable. My very favorite juice to make is fresh orange juice (pictured here). Simple, yes, but it’s irresistibly good. Never will I ever again buy Minute Maid. Nothing beats a glass of fresh, cold orange juice with breakfast on a sunny Saturday morning.

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Three months later, my juice experimentation has slowed, but I’m still loving this new addition to my life. It has become staple appliance in my kitchen, used more frequently than most of my other plug in appliances (my poor blender, rice cooker, and kitchenaid are starting to feel neglected). While I’m certainly still in the honey moon phase, I’m hoping to ride this wave for a while. I’ve only had my juicer for 3 of the coldest, dreariest months of the year – and in just a few more months my farm share will start stocking my kitchen with fresh vegetables eager to be juiced.

This 3 months has taught me a lot – so for all of you newbie or soon-to-be juicers out there, here’s some tips, myths, and general advice:

  • Juicing is pretty expensive. I didn’t want to believe it at first, but I’ve surrended. Juice is not a meal replacement (for me, at least, since I can never get more than a day into a cleanse). I treat juice an addition to my diet, like an extra snack. So everything I juice is purchased in excess of what I have to buy anyway to, you know, eat. I love a good deal so I like to think I’m a pretty savvy juicer regardless, which brings me to my next point…
  • Choose a cheap veggie that holds a lot of juice as a base. Vegetables like celery and cucumber are relatively inexpensive and produce a lot of juice, and you can add tastier ingredients (like, kiwi, strawberries, or apples) in smaller quanitites. Choosing a less expensive base can make your more expensive ingredients go further.
  • Juicers aren’t that hard to clean. The number one complaint I heard from juicers was that it’s a pain to clean up. I have a slow masticating jucier, and I have to say it is super easy to clean. The juicing parts come right off of the base and you can very easily hand wash them in soap and water. They are even dishwasher safe. (On the other hand, this type of juicer takes more prep time – apples must be peeled and cored, for example.)
  • Think about color when you build a juice. It really does matter. I made a watermelon cucumber juice which tasted delicious, but was a weird muddy pink color because of the green from the cucumber. Also, peeling can change the color of a juice. For example, peeled carrots have a brighter color than carrots that are juiced straightaway.
  • Juice will keep for 2-3 days. Some people (juice purists, we’ll call them) will insist that you must drink juice the same day you juice it. People like me, who can’t juice every day, will juice a big batch that will last for a few days. After that starts to taste and smell different.
  • Apples, limes, and ginger make everything taste good. Seriously, everything.

Here’s to a healthy, happy lifetime of juicing! Bottoms up!

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Chicken Fried Quinoa

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When my whole family gets together, we usually order Chinese for dinner. I’m the oldest of five siblings and things can get a little hectic when we’re all in the same place at the same time. Although I love cooking for my family, it can be hard to please everyone. Chinese seems to do the trick because there’s something for everyone. We even have it for dinner on Christmas Day – it’s become a tradition.

For as long as I can remember, my favorite dish from the Chinese food menu has been pork-fried rice. I love the peas, stir-fried scrambled eggs, and the soy sauce soaked rice. But it’s a treat for me, usually something I only eat when ordering in with my family. The take-out version usually has way too much sodium and the rice to vegetable ratio is less than ideal.

To fill my craving for pork-fried rice, I recreated the recipe myself. As I’ve mentioned before, I love recreating take-out meals. It’s a challenge to make something healthier and tastier than the restaurant-prepared version.

When you cook for yourself, you get to control everything that goes into your meal. When making this recipe, I deliberately went easy on the salt and soy sauce and added tons of veggies. It takes all of the guilt out of eating your favorite take-out meals. Oh and guess what? Cooking it yourself usually makes it cheaper. And personally, I think it tastes better.

What’s your favorite take-out meal? Have you ever tried recreating it?

Chicken Fried Quinoa

Cook 2/3 cup quinoa according to package directions, replacing half of the liquid with low-sodium chicken broth.

Combine 2 tablespoons flour, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Toss 1 pound chicken in the flour mixture. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a fry pan over medium heat. Fry the chicken until just cooked, about 2 minutes per side. You’ll know the chicken is ready to flip when it easily comes off the pan. You might have to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan.

In a separate, large pan (preferably with taller sides) heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over medium heat. Sauté 1 cup diced onion about two minutes. Add 1 cup diced red bell pepper and sauté for an additional 2 minutes. Add 1 cup shredded carrots and sauté about 3 more minutes. Finally, add 1 cup frozen peas.

When the chicken is finished, add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil to the pan and heat again. Add two large eggs, and cook until scrambled and cooked through. Break into small pieces.

Add the quinoa and egg to the vegetables and stir to combine. Add 2 tablespoons soy sauce and serve warm.

Yield: 4 servings. Per Serving: $3.22, 439 calories, 15.5g fat, 36g carbs, 39g protein.