My New Breville Juicer

My doctor recommended a juice cleanse. This was in response to my complaints of no energy and feeling generally bad. I’ve juiced off and on for years, but not recently. I’ve never done a cleanse.

I bought juice from Coco Greens to get me started. Coco’s does a three day, re-packaged, cold-pressed juice cleanse. You go into their store and they’ve got all the juices you need in a thermal bag sitting in their fridge waiting for you. They also offer a soup cleanse. And you can purchase juices and soups a la cart if you prefer. They didn’t have any thermals ready when I got there so I bought a selection of juices and soups. Even though the soups are also very much like juices, I felt like I was “eating” a meal when I heated up some soup instead of drinking a cold juice.

At first it was easy, then it wasn’t. But once I got past day three, I began to feel better. I decided to continue – not 100% juices, but at least one juice a day. I loaded my fridge with produce. Then my JuiceMan burnt out. It was a Friday morning. I had just starting making my morning juice and it pooped out in the middle of the kale. Nuts.

Not to be discouraged, I Googled “Best Juicers” and found a site that rated the Breville JE98XL Juice Fountain Plus as “Best Bang for your Buck.” Next stop – Amazon.com! I have Amazon Prime which gets me free shipping, and due to a new delivery option, my brand new Breville arrived at my door at 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning! Life is good!

Today was my first chance to use my new juicer. I had purchased a bunch of veggies for juicing prior to the burnout, and while waiting for delivery of the Breville I had a gallon growler filled at the I Love Juice Bar to carry me through. So…by the time I got to juicing, my produce had been in the fridge five days – it had to be used. Instead of looking up recipes, I decided to juice all the produce I had on hand in one big batch.

Turns out, I like juicing a larger quantity. I’ve always juiced a single serving at a time, believing that the nutrients are best when fresh. But…juicing a single serving takes almost as much time as juicing a larger batch, and I’m more likely to drink juice if it’s handy.

What you’ll see below is apple, carrot, spinach, kale, romaine, beet, cucumber, lemon, grapefruit and ginger. I like to go heavy on the ginger because I like the taste.

I had enough produce to fill the pitcher twice. I did the kale, romaine, beets, a cucumber and a couple apples in the first pitcher, when poured it into a gallon jug. I finished up with the remaining produce.

As stubborn I was about getting started on this, I have no desire to go back to eating three solid meals each day. I have much more energy now, my mood is better and I am no longer suffering from fatigue. Have I lost weight? Um, no. But that’s fine as long as I feel better.

I ended up with about 1/3 of a gallon of juice, which will last me through my mid-morning juice tomorrow.

The aftermath: It does make for a lot of dishes – another argument for juicing a larger batch!

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I really like my new Breville juicer! It’s much quieter than the Juiceman, and it is built for bigger batches. It has a larger feed tube, so I was able to put the apples in whole (they were small). I followed the user’s guide suggestion to line the pulp container with a plastic bag. What I didn’t do – and should have – was check the pulp container for fullness after filling the pitcher the first time. When I was all done and took the machine apart to clean it, the pulp had backed up in the chute and there was a big ball of it remaining in the filter cup. Lesson learned!

I’ve been at this a few weeks now, and while I no longer have cravings, I kind of miss them! But – feeling good is so much better than having a craving for something that will make me feel bad! The plan I’ve been following is:

  • Before Breakfast: Large glass of water with the juice of one lemon (I sometimes add Stevia to make it less tart.)
  • Breakfast: 16 oz juice
  • Mid-Morning: 16 oz juice
  • Lunch: 16 oz juice or salad
  • Afternoon: 16 oz juice
  • Dinner: Soup or salad
  • I also drink LOTS of water throughout the day
  • Additional Snacks/Refreshments: Pumpkin Seeds, Various Nuts, Hot Tea, Coffee

I am not going to label myself a vegan or even vegetarian, but I am having good results on this plan. And while I plan to continue eating this way into the foreseeable future, I’m sure there will still be a juicy burger or some chicken wings happening on occasion!

Final Thoughts on My South Pacific Adventure

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Gosh! What a crazy, scary, EMPOWERING trip! At a time when I was feeling broken, I made a drastic change in my life, and “launched” that change by hopping a ship to Fiji!

In the year or so leading up to this trip I had been feeling less than inspired at work. I had worked for five years for a really great company and was doing work I loved, but somehow it wasn’t satisfying anymore. I was having trouble getting up in the mornings and I would return home each night physically and emotionally drained. I had also been struggling with some physical symptoms that had me wondering if I would ever feel good again. I knew I was in need of a change in my life, but wasn’t sure what that would look like. Making the decision to do this trip was the first step.

Going through the exercise of planning the trip helped me begin to look forward to things again. As scary as it would be, I knew I needed to quit my job. I had been thinking about making a change anyway, and to do the trip right I was going to need to take much more time off than I had left in my PTO bank. I also didn’t want to feel the pressure of “what I’m coming back to” at the end of the trip.

One thing leading to another, I decided that since I would be leaving my job anyway, I’d give myself a year to do whatever I needed to do to feel better. I didn’t know for sure what was causing my physical symptoms, I only knew I needed to fix them. But that wasn’t all. Feeling tired and unwell all the time meant I wasn’t spending time with my two loves, art and writing. I decided I would go on my trip, and then I would spend the rest of my “year off” creating art and writing.

Even many of my closest friends don’t know this, but writing has always been my first love. I haven’t shared that a lot because of old tapes in my head that tell me “you can’t make a living as a writer,” and “well, I hope it’s at least cathartic” (i.e., nobody would want to read your dribble). Rubbish! I’ve been sitting on a draft of my memoir for more than ten years. Time to dust it off!

The story I told on my way out of  my job was that I was leaving to pursue my art. I told that story because I felt it would be more readily accepted than, “I’m going to write.” To most people, that would not compute. “How will you pay your bills?” sigh. Well, now I’m saying it. I’m going to write!

Back to the trip…

While traveling on my own in a foreign country did cause some additional stress, it also forced me to think about things in different ways. It broke my patterns. I couldn’t run to my safe place and hide. I had to find my way around. I spent 24 days figuring things out for myself and making decisions for myself without consideration for someone else. I tried new things. I started conversations with people I didn’t know. I began to feel less anxious and more powerful!

Okay, I’ll be honest. While on the ship, there were times I would seek out the safety of my cabin, but mostly I was out experiencing. I slathered my body with mud in Fiji. I danced on the pool deck. I made friends with a wonderful Ukrainian couple from Melbourne. I watched a glass blowing demonstration and had wine and cheese on the upper deck. I donated money to the casino. I sat at the stern of the ship after dark watching as the foamy tail of our departure reached back to meet the reflection of an invisible moon.

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Now, two months later, my trip is a surreal memory. Admittedly, some of the euphoria has worn off as real life takes over again, but I am finding the energy to do the deep work of fixing myself. Through working with a therapist, I have discovered that most of my physical symptoms were stress related. Turns out I have some grieving to do.

These days, I do spend time on my art, but I spend equal amounts of time meditating and writing. Rather than pushing myself into a specific direction, I’m listening to my body and going where my heart leads me.

So…I’ll continue to “do what I do” for the next few months and see where I end up. I would love to continue writing and creating art as my primary activities indefinitely, but if I must go back to working for someone else, I know I’ll be better prepared to handle the ups and downs that go with it.

This trip has helped to set me on a course of self-discovery and healing. And so, as I wrap up “the story of my trip” I raise my glass to toast my new life, whatever it turns out to be!

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The Benefits of a Neti Pot

Have you ever used a Neti Pot? What’s a Neti Pot you ask? Well, a Neti Pot(sometimes spelled “Netti”) is a small plastic pot (or it could be ceramic or metal) that’s used to rinse your nasal passages. The idea is to wash away mucus buildup and soothe irritated nasal passages in a more natural way.

I had heard about them from several people before I broke down and bought one of my own.

I have found that when used regularly it really does make a difference! I typically have my worst trouble with allergies in the Fall…I think it’s the ragweed that does me in. But this Fall has been extremely easy for me in that respect.

While I did take Zyrtec off and on for a couple weeks back in August (before I started using my neti), I haven’t had any since then. In past seasons I’ve had to take allergy meds consistently from late Summer until the dead of Winter.

Here are the basic steps for using one:

1. Fill the pot with lukewarm water

2. Add some salt and stir until dissolved. Sea salt is recommended, but some manufacturers will include a supply of salt with the Neti Pot with your purchase. I use the SinuCleanse brand pot, which comes with a good supply of saline powder packets.

3. Lean over the sink, place the spout of the pot into one nostril and then tilt your head slightly so the water will pour through that nostril, through your sinus passage and come out the other nostril. (Sounds gross, I know, but once you get over the grossness of it it’s really not that bad.)

4. Blow the water out of the nostril you began with.

5. Repeat #’s 3 & 4 with the other nostril.

Here are some other things I’ve read/learned:

1. Breathe with your mouth open. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a bunch of salty water leaking from your sinuses into the back of your throat. Sometimes even with my mouth open I’ll have some leakage, but I’m getting better at learning how to breathe.

2. Don’t snort the solution into your nose. That would be bad. I guarantee that if you do you’ll be very sorry.

3. If you feel stinging in your nose area, try using less salt until you build up your tolerance. (I find that if my sinuses are swollen I’ll feel some stinging in my nose, or worse, behind my eye. While I find it quite unpleasant, it’s not a show stopper. For the eye burning, I apply a little pressure with the tip of my finger to the upper inside corner of the eye area, below the end of my eyebrow. That usually relieves the stinging for me.)

4. I’ve also noticed that my left sinus passage is typically more swollen than the right and that if I rinse my right sinus first, then try the left, I’m more likely to experience burning in the left nostril. But if I start with my left, that doesn’t happen.

As I’ve mentioned, I use the SinuCleanse brand pot. I bought it at Walgreens, on sale for $14.99. I’m on my second neti. My first one met a horrible demise…I dropped it into the toilet one morning as I was loading it with salt before getting into the shower. Sure, I had to reach in to pluck it out, and, yes, I could have run it through the dishwasher and it probably would have been just fine…but I just couldn’t bring myself to use it again after that.

That brings up another thing. In all the demos I’ve seen I’ve never heard it suggested that you could use it in the shower, but that’s actually my preferred place/time to use it. I typically use it only once a day, so I figure…why not use it in the shower? I’ve already got my makeup off, and if anything goes wrong, I won’t have to change my clothes!

And speaking of frequency, because this method is drug-free, you can use it as often as you need.

There are lots of videos on YouTube on the subject, but few are really informative. Most are of people making it appear like a horrible experience. I watched several of them and picked out one that I felt was helpful.

This video goes into some history of the neti pot and why you might want to use one. It also talks about some other beneficial practices. It is by Ellen Kamhi from www.NaturalNurse.com. It’s about six minutes long, so get comfy…

Sinus Relief Naturally

Have a happy, healthy day!

My New Fav Green Smoothie

I just made this one up today. This is also my first try putting ginger into a smoothie. I’ve heard lots of people trying it, but I’d never had the courage before. I really liked it!

Here’s the recipe:
1/2 pineapple, 1 apple, 1/2 lemon, 2 carrots, romaine lettuce, 1 tbsp coconut cream, 1 tbsp hemp oil, 1/2 inch fresh ginger, almond milk, water.

To blend it, I started my Vita-Mix on Variable speed 1 and added a couple slices of pineapple, then gradually turned it up to 10, adding more sliced up pieces of fruit and the romaine. Then I added the coconut cream, hemp oil and ginger and flipped it up to high for a minute or so to let it all smooth out. I also added some almond milk to thin it out some, and in the end decided to add some water as well.

It actually was more orange than green because of the carrots…and the romaine was light in color…but it was very yummy!

I ended up with about 40 oz. of the stuff, so I had a nice big glass for breakfast and another for lunch.

In case you’re wondering about some of the ingredients, I’ve provided some info. You can read more by following the links.

Ginger: According to the website fitnessandfreebies.com, in Eastern societies, ginger has always been known for its healing powers. They site it specifically for treatment of nausea and motion sickness, migraines, arthritis, blood clots and cholesterol issues.

Coconut Cream: The site deliciousorganics.com, describes Coconut Oil as a food that:

– can help you lose weight
– can help boost your energy level
– can help you age better and be healthy
– doesn’t mutate like vegetable oils when heated at high temperature (frying, for example)
– is rich in Lauric Acid, a proven antiviral and antibacterial agent
helps digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Colitis
– is a powerful agent in killing intestinal parasites
– boosts metabolism and raises body temperature of thyroid sufferers

(I should note that coconut cream is a more condensed form of coconut milk, and that by adding water to coconut cream you get…you guessed it…coconut milk! I bought mine fromTropicalTraditions.com)

Hemp Oil: In an article on regenerativenutrition.com, hemp is touted as “Nature’s Perfect Food for Humanity.” It is said to have a pleasant nutty flavor. (I wouldn’t know about that. When I mix it in my smoothies the other ingredients overpower it, so I really don’t think I’m tasting it at all.)

Hemp Oil is full of Omega 3 & 6 oils, which we all know by now are “all good.”

The site lists symptoms of Omega 3 deficiency as:
Growth retardation, weakness, impairment of vision and learning ability, motor incoordination, tingling in arms and legs, behavioural changes.

Omega 6 deficiencies are said to cause:
Eczema-like skin eruptions, loss of hair, liver degeneration, behavioural disturbances, kidney degeneration, excessive water loss through the skin accompanied by thirst, drying up of glands, susceptibility to infections, failure of wound healing, sterility in males, miscarriage in females, arthritis-like conditions, heart and circulatory problems, growth retardation.

The site also states that, adding these good oils back into the diet can virtually turn these symptoms around. That’s good news!

There really were so many benefits listed in the article you’ll really have to read it for yourself, but the claim is that hemp oil “could provide all of our Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) requirements for life.”

I will say, however, that cold-pressed is what you want. If it is heated when it’s processed, it’s no better than all those icky cooking oils you find in the grocery store.

Drink up!

My Beloved Vita-Mix!

(Warning: This is part personal opinion and part advertisement…but it’s all good!)

I have a new love in my life. It is my new Vita-Mix 5200. When I received my Federal Stimulus check I deposited it, and then immediately went online to order my fabulous new toy. Check it out…isn’t it beautiful?


I’ll be straight with you…they’re expensive. My total purchase came out to almost exactly the amount I had deposited – which is a lot of money for a piece of kitchen equipment – but they’re virtually indestructible and they come with a seven year warranty, so I felt it was a good investment. Besides…everyone in the raw food community I had talked to up to that point had said they loved theirs, so I was very excited at the prospect of having my very own machine, in spite of the cost.

So I ordered the 5200 and got the package with both the wet and dry blades, just in case. I haven’t used the dry blade yet. That one is for things like grinding nuts or seeds into something like flour. You can also mix and kneed bread with the dry blade, but I’m not sure I’ll use mine for that since bread isn’t on my good food list.

I have used the wet blade, though, for all sorts of raw and vegetarian goodies. Here’s a short list:

  • Green Smoothies My favorite is baby spinach with just about any combination of fruit. Add a little Hemp oil and you’ve got a great energy drink!
  • Mango Sorbet Fresh organic Mango and some ice – it’s that simple!
  • Chopped Cabbage for Salad The first time I tried chopping cabbage things did not go well. Then I waatched the DVD that came with the machine and learned the trick – it’s actually super easy!
  • Vegetable Soup (Not raw, but very tasty!) I like to use sauteed leeks and onions as a starter, then add organic vegetable stock to complete the base. Chop up a variety of your favorite organic veggies, and you’ve got a great healthy soup! To give it a creamy base, put a cup or two of the broth into the Vita-Mix and give it a spin, then pour it back in with the rest of the soup.

The Vita-Mix website even has a section for raw foodies. And there’s a community for Vita-Mix owners of all types to connect and share information. It’s called Vita-Village (corny, I know).

I’ve had my Vita-Mix only a few months, but it is one of the most effective tools I have to support me in my raw food adventure.

If you think you might like to try one, Vita-Mix offers a 30-day no-risk in-home trial…and you can get FREE Standard Ground Shipping if you click the banner above or use this link! If you prefer to upgrade your shipping method, the banner or link will get you a discount off of expedited shipping.

Happy Eating!

Raw Carrot & Orange Cake – It Rocks!


I have to pass this recipe on to you because it’s just so yummy! If you like carrot cake, but the “real” stuff is too sweet (or unhealthy) for you, this recipe is perfect! Not only does it not contain all those things I need to stay away from (flour, oil and sugar), but – believe it or not – it tastes very much like the real thing!

I found the recipe quite by accident. I had been searching for a recipe for something like raw mushroom pate because I had these great looking portobello’s in my fridge and I was anxious to try something new with them.

But the Universe had other plans for me. Somehow, as I was searching, I stumbled onto this great recipe for raw carrot cake! Now, understand, I’ve seen plenty of raw carrot cake recipes in my travels, but so far the pictures haven’t made me want to try them. This one is different. The picture above the recipe (see top of post) looks very appetizing, and the cake I made looks even better!

I won’t post the full recipe here…you can pop on over to Raw Food Chef Russell James’ blog when you’re ready. But I will provide a couple of tips from my experience making it.

First, I made it in an 8 x 8 baking pan, so mine came out a little higher than the one in the picture above. I’d say mine is about 1 1/2″ to 2″ high.

I made the “icing” first, and set it in the fridge while I prepared the base. That worked well, and the base was plenty firm enough that I didn’t have to worry about tearing up the cake as I iced it.

Last, I did not put it into the dehydrator, as the recipe suggests. I just finished the base and put the icing on it right away, covered it all and set it in the fridge.
About 10 minutes later I pulled it back out of the fridge so I could have a piece (I couldn’t wait!).

Getting that first piece out of the pan was a little tricky, but I managed to do it without mangling it too much. It really was no more difficult than getting the first piece of any kind of cake out of a pan like mine. And when I pulled the pan out of the fridge this morning to cut myself a piece for my lunchbox the rest of the cake was still in very good shape…no bleeding or falling over of stuff into the empty space I’d left the night before.

Here’s a picture of my version after I’ve been in it a few times 😉

That’s it! There are several ingredients, so there’s a lot of chopping to be done for the base, but you can chop each thing and dump it into the bowl right on top of the last thing you chopped, and then when you’re all done chopping, just mix it all together. Simple!

I would highly recommend this recipe to anyone who has ever moaned in ecstacy over a warm slice of carrot cake! (I’ll have more on the fate of the portobello’s in a later post.)

The Effect of Seasonal Changes and Stress on Fibromyalgia

It’s interesting how season changes and emotions can play into your overall feeling of well-being. For the past three weeks or so, I had been feeling achy and sore just about every day, and the degenerative disc in my lower back was inflamed to a degree that almost had me heading back to the chiropractor.

I had a feeling the change in seasons was contributing to my achiness, but I know that food can trigger it as well. I had hoped the changes I made to my diet recently to manage the diabetes would help, but in this case it did not. While I did notice an improvement in my mood and overall sense of well-being after restarting on raw food, the achiness remained.

Until about three days ago. On Wednesday morning of this past week, I woke up, got out of bed and walked…pain free…to the bathroom! It felt great! And I felt another positive boost in my attitude as well.

What made the difference? I have a couple theories. First, I think the recent change in weather had an affect. We’re heading into Fall weather here, but it’s been slow going. The weather has been warmer than usual, and pretty dry as well. I won’t get into all the details, but weather definitely is a factor in the severity of fibromyalgia symptoms. If you want to learn more, there’s a great article about it here:

My second theory is that I have recently been able to release some of my frustration over my job. I’m still working for the same company, but I’ve been moved into a position that I feel suits me better than my previous one. The atmosphere in this group is much more positive, and I feel I will have more freedom (and support) to dig in and make a difference. That’s important to me.

So..even though the weather has changed again since last Wednesday, I still feel pretty good!