Friday, March 15, 2013

How Green Juice Changed My Life

In the summer of 2012 I made a decision to follow my true passion and try to pursue a career in the food industry. I had just spent an amazing week in St. Lucia watching the ever so inspiring Grace van Berkum motivate and teach people the power of raw foods and yoga. I retuned home with a newly realized goal to become a personal chef and quickly signed up for culinary school at George Brown College. I also began researching raw food courses after seeing how interested people were in Grace’s teachings and I figured it would be a great skill to incorporate into my future business.
I found a raw food course being offered in October at The Raw Foundation in Vancouver, BC. and I signed up. I figured I could tie in my yearly visit with old friends to this class, so it seemed like a win win situation.  At that time I was still eating a pretty standard American diet – or SAD as it’s known, yet I had convinced myself thatI was making mostly healthy choices because I only ate meat 3 or 4 times a week, I avoided gluten and ate a salad for lunch on most days. However, pizza, mac & cheese and cheese & charcuterie platters were also regular stars in my meal rotation.
By the time October rolled around, my attitude about the raw chef certification was that I was taking this class for the sole purpose of gaining skills for future clients. I never thought for one second that I would start to crave raw vegan foods in my life. I certainly was not planning on giving up meat! I was expecting a cooking class much like the classes I was taking at George Brown (but without any actual cooking). What I got was 26 hours of intense nutritional information and training with some food preparation sprinkled in, and it was incredible! It was one of the most motivational and inspiring things I’ve ever done for myself, and it marked the beginning of a new and very exciting phase of my life.
Of all the super informative material I learned that weekend, one thing that stood out the most was when my instructor, Janice Skoreyko said that eating a big breakfast actually slows down the metabolism by up to 40%. WHAT? - I thought. How can that be? We’ve all been told that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’! And that ‘you need a big breakfast to fuel your day’. Well as it turns out, this is just one of many misconceptions our society has about how proper nutrition really works. Janice explained that it’s called ‘breakfast’ for a reason: You’re breaking a fast. She purposed ‘if you were actually fasting for a few days, would you break it with a plate of eggs, bacon, home-fries and toast?’ Well no, I thought – that would make me feel gross and sick after not eating for a few days and I’d probably need a 2 hour nap not long after eating all that! Well that’sexactly the same thing you are doing to your system when you eat a big meal first thing in your day. Your body now needs to devote a lot of energy into digesting those eggs or oatmeal or breakfast sandwich, leaving less energy for you to concur your morning.
Instead, she offered, why not inject a burst of vitamins, minerals and enzymes directly into your bloodstream, bypassing the need for much digestion, with raw vegetable and fruit juices?
Janice put forth a challenge: For the next 30 days, begin each day with her Green Energy Elixir instead of eating your typical breakfast. She blended up a mix of organic spinach,bananas, dates, spirilina and water in her vitamix and poured us a glass. She explained that bananas have to have brown spots on them to signify their ripeness. Prior to this transformation, they remain a starch and are very hard to digest. Once they have truly ripened they become a simple sugar, ready for our bodies to turn them into pure energy. She also warned us about using too much spirilina too soon. It is a very potent detoxifier and should be added in small amounts until your body gets used to it, working up to 2 tablespoons overtime.  
The very next day I marched over to Whole Foods and gathered up all the ingredients for my new morning routine. I was extremely skeptical and was expecting to be hungry soon after gagging down this bright green concoction. To my surprise, the green concoction actually tasted pretty good and Janice’s recipe made about 2 liters of the stuff! It took me the better part of 2 hours to finish it all and I wasn’thungry for another 2 hours after that.
I continued on with this every morning for about 2 weeks. I immediately noticed a huge difference in my energy levels. I’m normally the type of person who takes about 2 hours every morning to feel 'normal'.  I don’t normally engage in conversation early in the mornings and I don’t really feel ‘myself’ until long after I’ve been awake. Suddenly I felt great every morning! I completely lost the need for coffee and I felt like the best version of myself within 20 minues of being awake.
After about 2 weeks I switched from the blended Energy Elixir to using my juicer to make green vegetable juice. I use a ratio of 70% organic green vegetable mixed with greenapple, lemon and ginger. Because the juicer extracts all the fiber from the fruits and vegetables, the vitamins, mineral and enzymes enter your bloodstream even faster and digestion is completely avoided.  This only heightened my energy levels and clarity. I also started to notice that I was sleeping much better, not tossing and turning like I normally did. And oddly enough, my general outlook on life seemed to be far more positive. After 6 weeks I had lost 7 lbs, by not changing anything other than my breakfast habits … all this from green juice!
It’s been about five and a half months since I started juicing regularly and more recently I decided to give up dairy and meat too. I am constantly reading up on nutrition and finding inspiration for vegan meals that taste amazing. I feel incredible and I’m excited to see where life takes me next. My passion is now in the power of whole foods. I want to show people that healthy eating doesn’t have to mean sacrificing flavour. I’m trying to create meals that satisfy the foodie in me, while nourishing my body and mind and energizing me along the way. Will I besomeone’s personal chef? Will I open a plant-based food service? Only time will tell, but I know one thing is definite: my life has been forever changed and I owe it all to green juice.

Mandy’s Morning Mojo:

Adapted from Janice Skoreyko’s Energy Elixir
{equipment needed = high powered blender or regular blender}

1 Bunch Spinach*
400 ml Filtered Water
2-4 Bananas* (very ripe)
3-5 Medjool Dates* (soaked & pitted)
1 tsp to 2 Tbls Spirilina or Chlorella Powder
Juice from 1/2 Lemon*
1” Piece of Ginger* (peeled)

* = Organic Ingredients

If using a regular blender: Add spinach, water and dates and blend very well. Then add the rest of the indigents and blend well again.
If using a high powered blender: add everything at once and blend until smooth.
Enjoy the energy :) 

Mandy’s Morning Green-Zinger:

{equipment needed = juicer}

1/2 Bunch [approx. 6 leaves] of Lacinato Kale* (Dino Kale)
1/2 Bunch [approx. 6 leaves] of Curly Kale*
1 Bunch Parsley*
1/2 to 2/3 Fennel Bulb [stalks and greens included]
2 Stalks Celery*
1 Lemon* (whole)
1 Green Apple*
1” Piece of Ginger*

Start with the kale and parsley. Don’t worry if some of it gets stuck in the bottom part of the juicer - once you start juicing the harder ingredients, they will push the rest through.
Do not peel the lemon. If it is organic you can put the whole thing in the juicer and you will benefit from all the extra vitamin C in the peel. Did you know that one lemon with the peel provides 139% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C?!  
So drink up and be well :)

* = Organic Ingredients

[This article was originally posted on Gracious Living]


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