Juicy Sweet Potato Surprise

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Sweet Potato Surprise made in my Retro Super Juicer* and stored in my Grip and Go* glass bottle.

Many of you will know from earlier posts that I love sweet potatoes: I love them baked whole with a nut roast, or as healthy chips tossed in coconut oil or even toasted!… But best of all, I love them juiced. Sweet potatoes are good sources of Vitamin A, B vitamins, iron, potassium and fibre.

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Juice the following ingredients:

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2 Sweet Potatoes, with skin on, scrubbed and chopped

2 Carrots, ditto

1 Apple

1 Pear

1 Kiwi, peeled

Several Romaine leaves, washed

(Did you know romaine lettuce contains protein?)

Blend with 1/4 of a ripe Avocado (for extra protein, fibre, Vitamin E – good for your skin and keeps you fuller longer).

Serve with ice, if desired.

(The Suprise? That you’ll like it!)

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*http://www.retrojuicer.com/

*http://gripandgo.co.uk

Copyright: Chris McGowan

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You Were So Much More Than Your Job: A Tribute to My Dad For Father’s Day

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My dad was of his time. Despite having a quick mind for figures, he left school at 14 and became a junior clerk for an accountant until – aged 17 – he joined the navy as a coder at the start of World War II. As for so many of that generation, 6 years listening to and sending signals in mostly hot climates while smoking plain cigarettes and being fed salt tablets, white rice and baked beans all had implications for his health later in life.

He began noticeably to lose his hearing in his early 40s – we would all have to endure the cavalry or the sheriff’s posse arriving on the scene at full pelt, shooting guns and rifles to loud rousing background music as he enjoyed his John Wayne films at weekends! Later, he would zone out as he could no longer follow a conversation and it took nearly 20 years for him to admit his difficulties and be persuaded to get hearing aids – and then we were all told off for shouting!

As for his diet, due to the wartime salt tablets, everything had to be covered in salt or it was tasteless to him. We all remember fondly the early Saturday morning salty bacon sandwiches with Dad before it was our turn to spend the morning out with him, be it washing the Morris Minor or visiting a customer. He would often sneak into the kitchen when Mum wasn’t looking and add more salt to the stew or another Oxo cube to the gravy, making it completely unpalatable to the rest of us and causing another argument at the table. Bags of Smiths crisps with blue twists of damp salt were regular treats.

Once out of the navy, he couldn’t face rice or beans in any form, thus restricting his meals to the meat and two veg variety with the emphasis on the meat. He didn’t get a lot of fibre, just plenty of animal protein and fat – but not the right kind of fat: no avocados, seeds or olive oil passed his lips and very little fish, unless it was battered and came accompanied with chips. The only nuts he ate were of the roasted and salted variety or the nuts in shells at Christmas. He would periodically put himself on a ‘diet’, this would involve starving himself all day, giving up potatoes and bread but sneaking a giant-sized bar of chocolate when it all got too much to sustain.

As a young man, he was active in a local cycling club and during his time in the navy and afterwards the Territorial Army, he enjoyed judo, motorbike scrambling and hiking. During the summers, when we were young, he would often set out with a bunch of children – some his own, some their friends – and our elderly mongrel dog, and we would have an impromptu walk around the country lanes singing old songs at the tops of our voices, often picking bilberries and blackberries as we marched along. The little dog’s legs would usually give up and Dad would end up carrying him!

 Once he reached his 40s, however, all this came to a halt. By then, he was in a high-powered sales job requiring lots of driving and travelling, with many hours of early morning and late-night phonecalls and paperwork; targets had to be reached, conferences attended.  We dreaded the words ‘re-org’ and ‘merger’ with their implications of redundancies, cross-country moves, weeks of worry and tension and more mounds of paperwork. At one point, he was also doing a driving job at weekends to help pay the mortgage on our new house. Now, the only activity was walking the dog when he was home. Once, he tried fishing and bought a small dinghy to take himself and my brothers off for the day to Scottish lochs, but mostly work got in the way of fresh air and exercise.image (My brother has lots of amusing stories about those trips and tells me that no amount of expensive equipment enabled Dad to improve his catch rate: his line would inevitably catch no more than the branches of nearby trees!)

The light dimmed when he lost his eldest son in an accident.

He began to drink more and put on weight.

Later on, he took up bowls, a pastime his father enjoyed, and they played together whenever he had the opportunity. Grandad famously once had to present himself with his own trophy that he’d donated to the club! Dad joined a local club and became treasurer. imageHe had a few other hobbies over the years: making beer, photography, motorcycling, but they generally didn’t last very long as he had little free time and no-one to share them with – apart from the beer of course! He and 2 of the neighbours would congregate in our garage and put the world to rights over a glass or two of home brew whenever they were all at home and could escape the notice of their wives! He loved reading too and never sat anywhere without a book in his hand – a passion he passed on to me, and I to my son and daughter, along with his love of films and walking.

Aged 59, redundancy finally caught up with him. There was no-one left of his generation at his level in the company, they had all been made redundant or died of stress-related conditions. He was last man standing and I for one was very proud of that. He had spent all his adult life working hard, having little sleep, under pressure of deadlines, targets and teenagers! For his home was not the so-called haven of Victorian times: when he arrived home after a long journey and several days away, it would be to a stressed and exhausted wife and 4 disgruntled teenagers. He would argue with the boys over their long hair and with me over too much make-up! But the dog was happy to see him and looked forward once again to long early-morning walks in the woods chasing rabbits.

Mum and Dad sold up and moved back ‘home’ to where they’d been brought up, to the bosom of family and old friends. They bought a flat with no garden so that their offspring couldn’t move back in! (I had done it once with my toddler son as had my brother after his divorce).

imageA few short months later, he was dead. Whilst pruning his father’s tree he had a heart attack, followed by two more in hospital over the next few hours. He was dead before I even knew he was ill.

With all that I now know about health, nutrition and lifestyle I realise that this was almost an inevitable outcome and I still feel so indescribably sad writing this. He had given up smoking cigarettes and alcohol a few years before he died, but found it too hard to give up both and switched to a pipe. He was still trying to adjust to being retired and hadn’t quite mastered the art of filling his days with something other than work.

I feel deprived of a soul mate. Despite all the disagreements over dress, make-up, hair dye and, later, sociology and politics, we are peas in a pod and I miss knowing him as an adult with my own family grown up. When my children were very young, there was so much Life to navigate, so many struggles with money, housing, illness. There was rarely an opportunity to spend time together, to share our interests: cinema, books, walking, family history, the War, sport. He loved telling tall tales and despite in-depth research, I still don’t know if he really had to swim 3 miles to land after his ship was hit!

I miss his sense of humour – his terrible jokes! – his twinkling eyes – my eyes – his mischief-making with the kids, his generosity of spirit. Despite coming from the ‘women’s place is in the home’ generation, Dad encouraged me in my education, sending me to grammar school when they couldn’t afford it and enabling me to become the first person in the family to go to university.image He always made my friends – even the long-haired, hippy variety! – welcome, occasionally driving them home in the early hours of New Year’s Day after a night of celebrating, with at least one head hanging out the window! I missed him at my son’s wedding; I missed him when I was doing a degree course about the reconstruction of Naples after the War, where he was stationed at the end, and desperately wanted to talk to him about it. I missed him when I got my degree: he was the one person I wanted to tell – but I knew he was looking over my shoulder, smiling with me as I read my results. I miss him every time I watch a western or a war film, but I know he is right there beside me waiting for the troops to arrive and save the day.

Thirty years on, he would be delighted to have 3 great-grandsons who also love being outdoors, going for long walks, cycling, swimming and camping. In fact, the eldest has just qualified as an Outdoor Pursuits Leader and the other two are currently wreaking havoc scrambling on their bikes and learning kung fu! And yes, Dad, they’ve all seen The Great Escape! The two youngest members of the family are only just mastering walking and talking, but the toddler is already a book-loving chatterbox whilst the newly-mobile baby is mastering the art of escape and reconnaissance!

The moral of this story? You are so much more than your job. Your health is important not just to your own quality of life but to those around you too. Time is precious. Time is something you never get back. Time spent on yourself now means time to spend with your family and friends later.

A recent study of Okinawan centenarians concluded an active life, a predominantly plant-based diet, fresh air and friends are the keys to the longevity kingdom, and not just to a long life but a life worth living, where they are still members of the community, not shut away in care homes watching daytime tv.

 I am grateful to my dad for all his hard work and for the skills he passed on. He taught me to ride a bike and mend a puncture. He taught me how to light the fire – I still make paper knots out of newspaper! He taught me if a thing was worth doing, it was worth doing well. He taught me the importance of family and family history. He taught me the value of education. But he also nearly drowned me trying to teach me how to swim!

He moved us out of social housing and into our own home, sent me to university, helped pay the bills during difficult times. He always pulled the best Christmas surprise out of a hat; he helped look after the children when I was ill; he would drive anywhere at any time of day or night when needed, and even after he died, the small amount of money he was able to leave helped me do the degree I’d always wanted.

But one thing he couldn’t leave me was time.

My favourite photo:

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On holiday, Dad was a different person, relaxed and funny and almost childlike in his enjoyment of the natural environment.

And to all those who say I look like him – yes, even down to his skinny legs!

I Wish All Dads A Happy Father’s Day!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

5lbs in 5 days: Day Zero, A Final Thought

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Just a short postscript to the day before I toddle off for an early night. I’m exhausted from watching a very long but extremely exciting (no, really, it was) cycling Tour Of Flanders! Just in case you’re wondering, Peter Sagan triumphed after a long solo run-in and to celebrate, did one of his trademark cycling wheelies! My husband said, ‘I wish I could do that!’ to which I replied, ‘Don’t even think about it!’ He just had his first bike ride today after 9 months recovering from a bike accident and he wants to start doing stunts! To cap it all, our son texted he would show him how the next time he’s up.

But I didn’t start this to chat about cycling – honestly, I didn’t – although while we’re on subject, it’s a great form of exercise while doing the juice challenge.

No, I had a final thought about prepping for the juice challenge, which is that if you’re hoping to lose some weight, weigh yourself first thing in the morning before you begin and then put away the scales until Day 7! Ask your partner or someone else close to you to hide them if necessary!

Now I know you’re shouting at me ‘Day 7!! This is supposed to be a 5 day fast, not 7!’ Well, technically it is, BUT…

It is psychologically useful to look beyond the 5 days because you may be a little disappointed if you weigh yourself on the fifth day. Yes, you will have lost some weight, but if you wait until the seventh day, you may have lost another couple of pounds.

This is for 2 reasons: the first is that it isn’t so much what you’ve eaten that day that shows up on the scales, but what you’ve eaten for the past couple of days. So on day 6 and 7 you should still be benefiting from juicing on days 4 and 5. Also, since you won’t be jumping straight back in to ‘normal’ eating on days 6 and 7 but still juicing and adding in salads and vegetables, you will carry on losing a little weight.

I know you will find this difficult. Everyone wants to jump on the scales every morning, you’ve all heard of the fast weightloss that juicing creates and you want to see it with your own eyes. But trust me, the impact will be greater if you delay gratification

PLUS:

The emphasis of a juice challenge is on improving your overall health, improving your lifestyle, changing your relationship with food, not just on losing weight. Use the time to focus on that, to reflect on your lifestyle, how you can reduce any stress, make changes to your food shopping habits, meditate. Be good to yourself, don’t be testing yourself by jumping on the scales at every opportunity.

By far the best way to judge your progress is your shape: take your measurements before you begin and again a week later. If you’re exercising as well as juicing, this is where you’ll see the difference. Remember, muscle weighs more than fat so the scales may not tell you the whole story.

One last thought: you are doing a good thing. There is no pass or failure involved. There aren’t a certain number of pounds you have to lose or it hasn’t worked! Have fun, enjoy the challenge. Look forward to a healthier you.

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The Secret

That’s it. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read these posts. I hope they have been of some help. Have a good sleep and enjoy your first juices!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Juicing: How to Begin or Do As I Say, Not As I Did!

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Every year, like many others, I suffer from the post-Christmas slump. January 2014 was no different.

I felt blah. I needed to lose some weight. I had gained a stone (14lbs) in a year and I couldn’t shift it. I was fed up.

Then one Saturday morning, I was reading a Guardian supplement about getting out and doing something you hadn’t tried before. Usually, these kinds of suggestions are beyond my capabilities and often just too far out there! Bungee jumping? Afraid of heights. Ballroom dancing? Two left feet. Making ukeleles? No comment. As I was just about to put it down, my eye caught a tiny item on the sidebar about a juicing app.

I realised that it was Jason Vale’s 3lbs in 3 days juicing app* and read on with interest: my nephew, Shayan Scott,* was working as Associate Producer & Lighting Cameraman on Jason’s SuperJuiceMe! documentary about 8 people with chronic diseases juicing for 28 days.* It seemed serendipitous. I asked Shayan for advice on which juicer to buy.

He sent me a link for the Philips 1861 and off I went: ordered the juicer, bought the app, made a list, did the shopping, started the juice plan.

Except I shouldn’t have! Not like that anyway. 

Typically, I did it the hard way: no reading, no preparation, no juice buddy, just Jason’s app to guide me.

I wouldn’t recommend this approach to beginners. You are less likely to succeed: physically it is too much for your body to cope with and mentally you’re more likely to give up if you don’t understand the process. I learned that easing into it is definitely the best way to go: gradually cutting out the processed, sugary and fatty foods, coffee, alcohol etc., while introducing more fruit, veg and salad. But I am an all or nothing type so in I jumped!

I did, however, have a relatively healthy diet beforehand: I didn’t drink coffee or smoke, rarely drank alcohol, rarely ate junk food, though I was partial to an occasional pack of crisps and slice of pizza. No sugary drinks or snacks. But I did have decades worth of pain medications.

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Daily Ginger Shot

So, Day 1 was a breeze. The morning Ginger Shot nearly took my head off but I loved it! I felt so proud of myself. I could do this.

By the night of Day 2, however, I thought I was going to die! My stomach felt like it was eating itself. This was not a promising beginning.

I now know that it was because I wasn’t drinking:  I should have been drinking water and herbal teas in addition to the juices. I also now have to accept what I had been ignoring for a long time: as much as I love pineapple, it doesn’t love me back. Some people are sensitive to it and I happen to be one of them.

If I had prepared properly, eg read one of Jason’s books or researched on the web, I would have saved myself a lot of discomfort.

But I am nothing if not determined and by lunch-time of Day 3 I knew I wasn’t about to die and I also knew I didn’t want to stop. I was starting to experience the ‘juicy high’.

So I bought Jason’s 5lbs in 5 Days app* and continued with that. It certainly delivered what it promised:

During that first week of juicing, I felt so energised and alert; my IBS and hiatus hernia symptoms were controlled, but best of all, after years of chronic insomnia, I could sleep. I also lost 8lbs. Since then, I haven’t had to use my inhaler for 4 years. My cholesterol was borderline before I began juicing, now it is well within the healthy range. Even the tinnitus was tamed.
I have gone on to lose 36lbs and have kept it off. (When my sister-in-law came to visit, she took a step back and said, ‘Look at you, you’re half of yourself!). My aches and pains also eased. I haven’t had a cold, cough or sinusitis (my bêtes noirs!) in 18 months.

(I became calmer too, my husband said I didn’t tell him off as much!)

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Before Juicing: Puffy, tired eyes, puffy face and double chin,  I’d put on over a stone (14 lbs) in a year

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6 months after I began juicing, no double chin and a healthy sparkle in my eyes

 

11 months on, it’s Christmas Day, I haven’t slept (too excited!), but that juicy glow and shiny sparkle are still there! 

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2 Years on, still keeping the weight off, still juicing. Happier and more confident.

My weight has now been stable since February, 2015, I lost 36lbs altogether. I don’t need to lose any more. I juice for health.

I have several of Jason’s books, all easy to read, down-to-earth, amusing and informative. His apps have invaluable daily coaching videos and easy recipes, they really get you motivated and fired up if you’re flagging due to withdrawal or lack of support.

I highly recommend reading one of them if you’re thinking of juicing, and especially before starting a juice ‘cleanse’.

Take the time to understand what you’re doing and why, make a commitment and you will succeed in transforming your health and outlook.

(See also my Page ‘Juicing Posts: Advice, Reviews, Tips & Tricks’ in the Menu at the top of this post)

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My 5lbs in 5 Days and 7lbs in 7 Days books are permanently on loan!

I do a juice plan every few months – often joining in with Jason’s seasonal Juice Challenges – I juice every day but also have smoothies, salads, stir-fries, soups, rice, pasta and quinoa meals. I even have (raw) chocolate! (There are lots of recipes, both savoury and sweet, in the Menu).

Juicing is not an all-or-nothing thing, you don’t have to do a full-on programme. If you only juice once a day, or do a juice-only-day once or twice a week or just juice whenever you have the time, you will reap the benefits. It is an excellent pick-me up at any time of the day.

If you need advice on choosing a juicer and blender, please see  Which Juicer?My Family of Blenders and Retro Super Blend Review

Jason Vale, Joe Cross and Neil Martin* do guided Juice Challenges several times a year, check out their websites for details.

Finally, I can’t praise the juicing community enough. On Twitter, complete strangers acted as my personal cheerleaders and the following websites have invaluable resources:

*Juicemaster

*Reboot With Joe

*Neil Martin, Natural Juice Junkie

 http://www.beyondfit.co.uk/

*Shayan also filmed Jason’s coaching videos, find him here at: https://m.facebook.com/ShayanScottFilms

*Watch SuperJuiceMe! the Documentary for free and be inspired at: http://youtu.be/Aaxa7rxEbyk

Disclaimer: please consult your doctor before beginning a juice ‘cleanse’ or ‘fast’. This is just my personal experience of juicing.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Preparing to be SuperJuiced Part 2

It’s Sunday evening and I have just had my final meal on a plate (as opposed to meal in a glass) before beginning Jason Vale’s Big January Juice Challenge tomorrow.*

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I’ve been tapering down all week after the – for me – slight excesses of the Christmas/New Year period. I was still basically clean-eating and had at least 1 juice a day, but I did have vegan mince pies, a glass of vegan sparkling wine and larger portions more often than normal. I managed to put on 3lbs! I think it was my son’s heavenly gift of raw chocolate avocado mousse that did it – I couldn’t bring myself to share it and had it for breakfast, afternoon snack and dessert! Or maybe I am just in denial about what I actually did eat all the other times!

Anyway, I enjoyed our family Christmas and that mattered more to me than 3 extra pounds.

I have been eating normally again this last week and have already waved goodbye to half of them.

However, this is not about putting on weight and having to lose it again. Quite the opposite in fact. Other than the extra I acquired over Christmas, I don’t want or need to lose weight.

I am doing the SuperJuice Challenge of 14 days’ juicing to reset my body, boost my immune system, balance my hormones, help reduce the usual January blues I suffer and generally give my body an energy lift.

Before I began juicing, every January would signal the oncoming of the most lengthy, debilitating cough, cold and sinusitis and often a cracked rib and strained muscle from the effort of it all. Last year, as last woman standing in our family – my daughter was struck with pneumonia, my husband forced to spend several days in bed for the first time in his life and everyone else coughing and spluttering and feeling at Death’s door –  I did finally succumb, but it was much less severe and shorter than normal. Plus, I didn’t have to use an inhaler.

This year, once again everyone else in the family has been snuffling and coughing, but so far I am immune. I will be interested to see if SuperJuicing will help me avoid it altogether this year.

It is not an ideal experiment: I am having dental work done twice within this period, which will place my body under some stress, but we’ll see what happens.

Note to self: Do Not Make The Same Rookie Mistake As When You First Did A Juice Challenge! (See earlier post J is For January, Juicing and Jason! http://wp.me/p6UDky-2X)

KEEP HYDRATED

UPDATE: By 3/3/16 I have managed to resist all attempts by rampant viruses to take hold! I have felt a dry throat once and a few sneezes once but each time I drank a lot of ginger and lemon tea as well as regular ginger juices – see Juicy Winter Warmers in Juice Recipes – and within hours they were gone. This despite being hugged and kissed by younger family members in the full throws of colds and chest infections as well as having some intensive dendtal treatment and falling on the stairs!

*http://www.jasonvalesbigjuicechallenge.com

Copyright: Chris McGowan