Jumat, 31 Agustus 2012

Juice: Canned or Bottled - Store-Bought or Not?

Is it really "what you see is what you get"? Certainly not, especially where juices are concerned. The brightly colored, eye-appealling labels (designed by professional ad agencies) all give the impression that the container's contents are not only delicious, but dripping with all the right kinds of nutrients that your body needs for good health.

In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth. You see, the longer any juice (fresh or not) sits around, the fewer nutrients and enzymes it will contain. They simply eventually vanish with prolonged exposure to the air, light, and heat.

If that isn't bad enough, most of the juices found on grocery store shelves actually have been heated (pasteurized), which effectively destroys any remaining live enzymes and most vitamins. Enzymes are deactivated when heated above 118 Fahrenheit. Flash pasteurization is done at 70 degrees Celsius, which is the same as 158 degrees Fahrenheit!

Oxidation is what is happening when you see a cut apple turn brown. It happens as the cell walls of the produce are broken and exposed to oxygen. While not all of the nutrients are diminished by this natural process, the phytonutrients are. You can reduce the effects of this process by drinking your juice the moment you make it.

One of the biggest objections to making fresh, raw juice is that it is so expensive. Well, if you have an inferior juicer, it certainly could be. But if you get the Hamilton Beach 67650 Big Mouth Pro Juice Extractor, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that it makes much more juice and that the pulp also is drier.

Pre-made supermarket juices are not bargains, because they no longer contain their original nutrients, plus, in many cases, they cost a whole lot more than homemade juice. Take carrots, for instance. Five pounds of organic carrots usually cost less than $5.00.

Were I to buy canned carrot juice, I would pay at least 33.3 cents an ounce. If I could choke it down (tastes awful), I would not be getting anywhere close to the nutritional value of the juice the organic carrots would produce, so it would still cost less to buy and juice the carrots. And those carrots would produce about 40 ounces of juice and cost 12.5 cents an ounce. That is way less than half as much. And the juice will be delicious instead of yucky!

Also, with freshly made juice, you can add an apple to your juicer to make the carrot juice even more delicious! And apple isn't the only thing you can add either. One of my very favorite juices is carrot-beet-cucumber. I gave this to my husband about 10 years ago for a couple of days when he had a serious respiratory infection, and it did the trick!

Oh, sure, some bottled/canned juices (not carrot though!) taste good, even if they have been heated, but then read the label and find out that, in most cases, various flavorings and preservatives have been added.

On a final note, if you are really interested in your health and that of your loved ones, juice frequently and eliminate all the soda pop that is so detrimental to you and your children.

If you do decide to get the Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Pro 67650, you will have an easier time juicing because it features, as the name implies, an extra big "mouth," so that you do not have to cut up your produce into such small pieces.

Selasa, 14 Agustus 2012

Why I'm No Longer a Vegan

Exactly a year ago, I decided to become a vegan. I was motivated by my environmental and economic beliefs, and by what promised to be a challenge. I was excited for what I saw as a lifelong adventure ahead of me.

But I knew I was taking a risk by adhering to a diet that would require me to restrict my food intake. I suffered from a pretty gnarly eating disorder during college, and even though I've had a healthy relationship with food for over five years, I knew I'd have to take careful note of any weird habits that seemed to be resurfacing.

Well, a few weeks ago, my roommate Erin had some friends over for dinner. They were going to have homemade pizza; though Erin encouraged me to hang out at the house and be social, she apologized that the pizza dough wasn't vegan. I said I'd just go to a coffee shop and get some writing done rather than join them for dinner. As I walked to the coffee shop, I became aware of a disturbing feeling. I was glad the pizza wasn't vegan because it meant I couldn't eat it, and thus I didn't have to eat dinner.

I could skip dinner and nobody would notice. That thought might seem inconsequential, but it was a huge red flag for me. It was an impulse to use my very public veganism to mask a very secret anxiety about food.

When similarly unhealthy thoughts popped into my head in the following weeks, I took note. And I decided that while veganism has been conducive to my physical health (and the physical health of countless animals, I like to think), at this point in my life, it was threatening to my mental health. I like food. I want to keep liking food. And sticking to any kind of restrictive diet is not the best decision for me.

Emphasis on for me. I am not suggesting, in any way, that veganism is an eating disorder, or that vegans develop eating disorders any more frequently than anyone else. In some cases, though, veganism and vegetarianism can be used as a cover for an eating disorder; Canada's National Eating Disorder Information Centre published this article about it a couple years ago. (For more about eating disorders in general, visit http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.)

I knew that Meghan the Veghan would have to become Meghan the Post-Veghan. But I wanted to continue to eat in a way that reflects my environmental and economic concerns. And it's not like I could ever get tired of writing about myself...

So from now on, I'm going to do my best to buy local groceries, eat at restaurants that use local ingredients (there are a ton of them around Santa Barbara), and learn as much about my food as possible. And I'm going to blog about it. I hope my followers, vegan and non-vegan, will continue to support me! I know this post has been kind of a downer, but I'll be back to myself once I get writing about my adventures in local eating.

By "local," I mean food that I could feasibly go get for myself (and I don't mean by walking to the supermarket). There is a farmer's market almost every day of the week here in Santa Barbara, so it will be pretty easy to get local groceries. I might even start a little garden (or I might just mooch some produce from my landlady's garden; I haven't decided).

It's been a good year. But as much as I've enjoyed my vegan adventure, I have missed eating certain things. And by "certain things," I mean bacon.