Sunday, May 18, 2014

Juice Fast 2.0, Day 3 & 4...

Day 3 of my Juice fast was Tuesday, and it went off pretty smooth. I got home from work at around 8am, and was pretty hungry by then so I tucked into a large jar of the Sea Buckthorn Juice from “Superfood Juices” that I’d made the day before. This juice really was scrumptious, but then I’m of the opinion that you really can’t go wrong with Orange + Beet + Ginger. Know what I’m saying?

For Lunch I enjoyed the Grapefruit Mint Juice that I’d made the day before, and it was quite tasty. I love grapefruit juice anyway, and it worked pretty well with the mint, much to my surprise. I also enjoyed another Electrolyte Chia Lemonade.

In late afternoon I enjoyed a Kombucha, as well as another raw-probiotic drink called Kvass. Kvass was a bit hard to swallow, but maybe it’s because I got the ‘roots’ blend, which is beet, sarsparilla, ginger and some other stuff. It was a bit sour for my taste.

For Dinner I enjoyed a bottle of Carrot Goji juice which was a surprising blend. Throughout the day I drank water of course, and lots of it.

I woke up on Wednesday - Day 4 - feeling pretty darn good about the world and about myself. I was feeling so light, and so good. Almost from the start of Day 1 I’d begun to feel better. My skin itched less, and it looked more clear by day two. My stomach felt flat, not bloated, I had no gas, and even though I sweated profusely at work It didn’t have any odor other then the clean, musky scent of sweat. My insides felt clean, and I felt strong and invigorated. I began my day with a bottle of Carrot Dill Juice, followed by a bottle of Green Apple Kale Juice. I drank a lot of water and enjoyed a long walk. I made another batch of juice to last me for the next couple of days.

Lunch was a sampling of the following - Watermelon Goji Juice, Carrot Lucuma Juice, and Lemon Chard Juice. I was running low on produce - specifically greens - and so I had to rely on non-green juices for this batch. Still I was enjoying the excitement of experiencing new juice combinations. Unfortunately, and very suddenly out of the blue I began to feel a bit ill. I’m not sure why but around noon my stomach began to feel ‘funny’ I wasn’t nauseous, or bloated, I didn’t have to go to the bathroom but I felt some kind of gastronomical distress nonetheless, followed by a sudden sensation of light-headed-ness.

Even though I had a double helping of juice for breakfast I thought maybe this was due to not having enough to eat. So I downed a bottle of ginger kombucha - hoping the ginger and the probiotics would help settle my tummy. Which indeed it did, but it did not make me feel any less-light-headed.

As the day wore on I felt more and more light-headed, and then dizzy. My head felt like it was full of cotton balls and bees. Very fussy, very buzzy, very heavy. I felt weak. Everything seemed to take great effort. - Talking, walking, even breathing seemed laborious. I had not experienced these feelings to such an extreme on my previous juice fast and so I didn’t know what to make of them. I needed to take my dog for a walk, and so I went - for just a short 15 minute jaunt around the block and it was hard. My legs felt like lead, picking my feet up off the ground and moving my legs forward was a challenge. They felt so heavy, and yet at the same time I felt as though I had no legs at all, I couldn’t feel them properly, as though they’d fallen asleep. My motor skills were not good. I came home, I drank more water, I laid on the couch silently reading. I spent most of the afternoon on the livingroom couch. It was grey and overcast outside and suddenly I felt chilled to the bone. I was so cold, shivering even though I was dressed in a hoodie and was wrapped in a blanket. I cranked the heat and it did not relieve me. I moved from the couch to my bed and burred myself under masses of blankets. Finally I was warm, but so very tired and weak.

I stayed like that all day, and only got up for lunch which was a glass of the Fennel Mint Juice which I’ll be honest, I did not like. Fennel is a vegetable that’s hit or miss with me, but I wanted to try it anyway. For me it was too strong a taste in this juice. I followed it with some water, and some tea. Lots of hot tea to warm me up inside and out. Mostly peppermint tea, but also some herbal hibiscus tea.

Dinner was Apple Broccoli Ginger Juice which was much tastier then I was expecting. I enjoyed it, with water, but did not feel much better. I went to bed early. I woke up at Eleven, and did not feel much better, but I had to get ready for work. I took two steps towards my alarm clock to turn it off, and nearly passed out. I probably would have lost consciousness completely except when I dropped, I fell against my bookcase and I think it was that hard thwack that woke me out of it. For a few minutes I couldn’t see anything or say anything, my ears were buzzing. I sat silently until my eyes refocused and I could move again.

My first two hours of work were hard, I felt bad, not as bad as I had in the afternoon but still not so great. Light-headed, weak, my body felt heavy. At 2am I took a break and enjoyed some water and a bottle of Lemon Chard Juice. It was very green, but somehow tasty anyway. After that I gradually began to feel better. My next 6 hours of work went pretty smooth. I didn’t feel as weak or as dizzy, I thought I was getting better.

My shift ended at 8am, and maybe 10 minutes before I punched out for the day I began to feel strange again. My husband had slept in, and so I had to wait for him at work, I hung around and talked with a couple of the guys I’ve made friends with. As we talked I felt worse and worse, dizzy, light-headed and everything felt heavy and numb again. I had to sit down. My husband finally arrived to collect me and we went to buy groceries. I couldn’t quite manage this simple task, and so I sat down in the cafĂ© and waited for him to finish up.

As far as hunger goes, I was not hungry at all. The juice kept my hunger pains at bay, and kept my needs in that regard completely satisfied. Nothing I did however seemed to make me feel any less dizzy or any less weak. I didn’t want to quit the juice fast, I was enjoying the experience up until day 4, but since my job is a very physical one I realized that it did not make sense to continue on like this, feeling so ill. Not only did it not make sense but it was potentially dangerous, I could hurt myself, or do irreversible damage. My husband insisted that I break the fast and eat. At first I was very reluctant to do this, but he insisted, he said “At least eat some fruit, something, anything.” the more he talked the more I saw reason. So Mid-morning on Day 5 I broke the fast. I was sad to do so, but by afternoon I was feeling much, much better. I’ll talk about my breaking of the fast tomorrow.

Before I go however I just wanted to say that I don’t want my experience on day 4 to dissuade you or scare you away from fasting. I’m not scared at all, in fact I plan to do another short 3 day fast at the end of the month since I didn’t make the full 6 days I’d initially planned on. Everyone’s body, needs and experiences are different, and I never felt this way on my first juice fast. I think this time around it maybe had something to do with low blood pressure, my blood pressure is quite low to begin with and it might have dropped much too low due to fasting. It might be better for me in the future to do shorter more frequent fasts vs longer infrequent ones. You have to find what works for you, and I still maintain that under normal circumstances fasting is a transcendent experience.

You can Read about Day's 1 and 2 Here

Monday, May 12, 2014

Juice Fast 2.0, Day 1 & 2...

After giving it a bit of thought I’ve decided once again to embark on a Juice Fast. If you remember I did one in January of 2013, and blogged all about it Here, HereHereHereHereHere, and Here  Overall I enjoyed the experience, but for some reason once it was over the things the thoughts that lingered with me the most were the negative thoughts. The hard moments, the cranky moments, the things I didn’t like, and I wasn’t interested in doing another juice fast anytime soon.

Well, it seemed like this year had one hell of a beginning for me. The decadent party food never seemed to stop, I’d get on a health kick that would last a few days or a week and then something would come up. Some reason for decadence and I’d fall right off that wagon all over again. Then we went on vacation, but it wasn’t the same as when we went to Montreal. The vegan restaurant were few and far between. We lived mostly on rice and beans and fruit which is what I enjoy, but then we came back and it was a tidal wave of decadence. Then I had some personal stuff going on - some hectic job related stuff, and the pressure of finishing my school project and I’ll be honest my eating became irregular and chaotic at best. I went from extremes of not eating anything at all, to eating everything! Up and down up and down, and add on top of it that I’ve been testing tons of recipes for 3 vegan cook books - well, I was just never able to get a handle on my eating long enough to get myself back on track.

It occurred to me in the middle of last week that this crazy cycle needed to end, and it needed to end now. I’ve been feeling ‘gross’ off and on for a while now. I’ve been feeling bloated, and gassy, and my stomach has been in all kinds of distress. These are not great feelings, and I haven’t felt very good about myself because of all of this. A juice fast seemed the most logical place to start, and so without spending too much time agonizing over the decision I jumped right into it.

I started Sunday, and I’ll be going for Six Days. Meaning I’ll officially be able to eat solid food again Saturday.

I was anticipating a lot of discomfort, a lot of crankiness, a lot of hunger and so far that hasn’t been the case for me. In fact, I’ve found this juice fast to be going very smoothly, and it seems much easier then the one I did last year. I’ve hardly felt hungry at all, except for when it comes time to my needing a juice, and yesterday it seemed ad though I didn’t even need that much. I haven’t so far experienced any negative effects. I was really tired yesterday, but I don’t know if that had anything to do with juicing or if it’s just because I’m still getting used to this new schedule. Or maybe it was because of the physical activity I engaged in yesterday. Who knows.

The weird thing, is that even though I’m not particularly hungry I keep thinking about the foods I want to eat. It’s strange not eating, and when you’re not eating it’s amazing how aware you are of the fact that you’re not eating. It’s amazing how many food related thoughts we have in a day. Interestingly enough right now the things I’m craving most are just raw vegetables, salads, raw cauliflower, carrots, olives, kale salad, almond butter. Nothing crazy, nothing decadent, I think this is a good sign, a sign that I’m getting on track already. I plan to follow my 6 day juice fast with a 5 day raw food cleanse, and hopefully that’ll set everything right again. But now you probably want to know about the juice right?

Well Sunday started off with a 20oz glass of water. Followed by a 8oz glass of Citrus Apple Juice from Julie Morris’s book “Superfood Juices.” this juice contains apples, oranges, and sea buckthorn juice. This was super delicious and a great way to start the day.

Mid morning I followed that with a 20oz glass of water and then an 8oz glass of Green Apple Kale Juice from the same book. This juice contains apples, kale, cucumber, celery and spirulina. Also quite tasty - though a bit ‘green’ for me, I added a couple of drops of liquid stevia.

In Mid afternoon I enjoyed 8oz of Carrot Dill Juice - from the same book - which consisted of carrots, dill, cucumber, celery, Swiss Chard, and hemp seeds. It’s not a pretty juice but it’s actually very tasty. I thought the dill would be too much, but this juice has a sweetness from the carrots, and a creaminess from the hemp seeds that can’t be matched.

Between six and seven-thirty for dinner I had 24oz of Cooling Kale Juice - from the same book - it contained honeydew, cucumber, kale, apple, mint and lemon and was so good! I really loved this one, not overly green, and very refreshing. I followed this up with a 16oz bottle of unflavored kombucha and that was that. At other points throughout the day I drank water, and it went really well. I felt great all day, and almost immediately I felt less bloated, and less gassy. Amazing how that works, in fact it might be a good idea to just do a 1 day juice fast each month.

As for today - Monday - I started the day the same way with 20oz glass of water. Then followed it with 12oz of citrus apple juice, and a 12oz glass of Celery Greens which is from the same book. This juice contains celery, romaine lettuce, kale, parsley, and lemon. I thought it was going to be really bitter but it was actually quite good.

Then I knocked back some more water and went downstairs to make another batch of juice for the coming days. Since I made Six bottles of juice, and each batch of juice made a little extra that didn't fit in each bottle, all that extra ended up being my lunch. So I had some Maca Yam juice, Some Fennel Mint Juice, Some Grapefruit Mint Juice, some Apple Broccoli Ginger Juice, some Ginger Greens Juice, and some Sea Bucthorne Beet Juice. - All from "Superfood Juices" and I'll discuss each in more detail on Day 3-4.

Even after sampling all those tasty juices I was still a bit hungry and so I made the Chia Lemonade also from "Superfood Juices" This is a mixture of 1 cup coconut water, 1 cup water, fresh squeezed lemon juice and Chia Seeds. Now I know Chia seeds are not juice, and probably don't belong on a typical juice fast, however I decided a small amount of fiber would be okay this time around, because i think the zero-fiber juice fast I did last year was part of why I found it so uncomfortable. When you drink only juice there comes a point where there's nothing left - or not much left - in your insides to get pushed out anymore, know what i'm saying? and that's a strange feeling, and can be somewhat uncomfortable. I like the addition of this small amount of fiber to keep things regular.

Anyway, that Lemonade kept me pretty full until dinner time, and at dinner I drank the Maca Yam Juice which was good, but a little starchy for my tastes. I actually juiced some carrots with the yam as well, since i didn't have 2lb of yams but only 1 1/2lb. Still you could really taste the starch - more as an aftertaste. However the maca, cinnamon and coconut really made it taste like a holiday drink. Like eggnog, or chai or something delicious like that. I also drank a quarter bottle of the Sea Bucthorne Beet Juice which I added a smidge of ginger too and it was delicious.

I'd say that day 2 went by pretty smooth, as smooth as day 1, and far smoother then expected.

I’ll keep you updated all week on my progress so stay tuned!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The 30 Day Vegan Challenge Fundraiser Campaign...

I just wanted to take a moment to share with you a fundraising campaign that’s currently going on. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau - AKA - the patron saint of Veganism - has launched a campaign to bring back an updated and revised version of her inspirational book “The 30 Day Vegan Challenge” If you don’t know about The 30 Day Vegan Challenge you should! It’s a wonderful book, full of practical information about veganism, menu plans, recipes, tips for making the transition, guidance and you name it, it’s here. The original book sold 20,000 copies before it went out of print and was a major inspiration to so, so many people. If you ever listen to Colleen’s wonderful Vegetarian Food for Thought podcast then you’ve probably heard her read countless letters from fans, and listeners who attribute their making the shift to veganism directly to her, and this particular book. It really is wonderful, and when it came out it was one of the first vegan books of it’s kind. - Now vegan guides are popping up all the time, but Colleen’s is one of the few that I come back to again and again. Of course I was already vegan when I purchased the original book, I didn’t buy it to challenge myself to go vegan, I bought it to support Colleen’s work, as well as to have a comprehensive resource to share with friends and family whenever I got asked the inevitable ‘ insert common question about veganism here - questions. I bought it so I could fact check things on a moments notice, and so that I always had it handy, and because I find her words to be such an inspiration, such a breath of fresh air, and I love her kindness, compassion, and easy style.

So when I heart that The 30 Day Vegan Challenge was out of print I was sad that new people wouldn’t be able to experience this gem for themselves. Then I heard she was updating it, and trying to bring it back into print - to stay this time - and I got super excited. In fact, this is actually one of the books I’ve been testing recipes for, and trust me the recipes I’ve tried thus far are out of this world, and certainly worth the cost of the book. (Just a disclaimer here I’m not getting paid to test the recipes, it’s totally volunteer, I’m also not getting paid to promote the book, I do so because I believe in it.)

I do not have many heroes, and there are not many people in this world that I look up to, but Colleen is a constant source of inspiration for me. Her podcast was one of the driving forces in my shift from omnivore to vegetarian and finally to vegan. I could not have done it without her constant support, or without her recipes, and this book is like every podcast episode rolled up into one convenient, and tidy parcel. It would have been a nice thing to have when I initially went vegan, and so it deserves to be brought back for all those not yet transitioned or as Colleen would say for all those not yet ‘awake.’

So if you’re interested in making a donation you can visit her campaign page Here. You can donate any amount you want from as little as $1 - believe me even that makes a difference - to as much as $10,000. Each donation comes with a gift, from a exclusive recipe, to a copy of the book, to an e-book, to a private party with Colleen, and more. You can also read more about the book, the campaign and Colleen Here, as well as watch videos, and listen to her amazing podcast. Currently she’s only $3000 short of her goal, so at this point every dollar truly counts!

Do it for yourselves, for the ‘not-yet-vegans’ and for the animals!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Restaurant Review: Loving Heart in Chicago...

Yesterday my husband and I went to a ‘newish’ vegan restaurant in the city, to celebrate my graduation from school. Yes, did you catch that? After the years of hard and grueling work, the tests, the papers, the projects I’m done!  I just found out a few days ago that I received an -A on my final project, and I’ll officially have my degree in six weeks time. Once I have that, I need to get certified by the state and then I’ll officially be a Holistic Health Practitioner, how exciting! And definitely worth celebrating if you ask me.

Originally I wanted to go somewhere fancy, somewhere that you can dress up, somewhere that has little plates of food and a variety of cocktails. Somewhere like Kayrn’s on Green, but my husband has already expressed a desire to take me there on my birthday and so I thought I’d best pick somewhere else. As it happens I was a bit tired yesterday from work, and so a relaxed and casual atmosphere suited my mood quite well.

I stumbled upon Loving Heart - not to be confused with Loving Hut - while I was scrolling through Happy Cow. I’d never heard of it before, - they’ve only been open since November of 2013 - but the description sounded fantastic. I immediately went to their website and fell in love! Anyone who knows me - or my husband for that matter - knows that we absolutely adore Asian food, and Asian fusion - it’s one of our all time favorites and there are literally days where I can not get enough rice noodles!  It’s very hard for us to pass up a good Asian inspired meal and so looking through the menu I knew - just knew - that this would be the place for us, and my husband completely agreed.

We arrived at about 5pm for an early dinner - we’d been starving ourselves all day so we could literally eat a ton of food! - and found easy street parking right out front. Though if you go to Loving Heart you really need to keep your eyes open. The restaurant is small, and could easily be missed - we drove right by it on the first go-round. Inside the atmosphere is casual, relaxed and friendly. The staff is super nice, and helpful, very eager to please, the whole place exudes love. I’m serious, walking into Loving Heart is like walking into a big hug, or maybe a fluffy cloud. You feel at home, you feel welcome, and what more can you ask for in a restaurant? The space is medium, with quite a few tables, they also have a whole section of leaflets, books, and other resource materials to help the veg-curious transition which is really cool. The service is mostly self-service. You grab a to-go menu, pick out what you want, order at the counter and then sit down and wait. They call your name, you go pick it up and bring it back to your table. Most of the materials used from the forks to the containers to the paper sheaths the forks come in are biodegradable or made from recycled materials which is so, so cool! I mean, what’s not to love about that?

But now you want to know about the food right? Well, like I said we were hungry, and so we ordered a feast!

First we got drinks. I ordered the hot Cinnamon and Ginger Tea Latte which was excellent. Great flavor, subtlety sweet, and not overpowering. Perfect for a slightly chilly Chicago evening.

Hot Cinnamon Ginger Tea Latte

My husband ordered the banana, mango smoothie which was banana, mango, organic soymilk, ans stevia. I took a couple of sips off of this and it was really tasty. He loved it! - Sorry, no photo.

For food we started with the pot stickers which were full of steamed cabbage, carrot, tofu, sweet potato noodles, onion and mushrooms. It came with a soy dipping sauce and they were excellent!

Pot Stickers on the left, Rice Roll on the right

Of course one appetizer wasn’t good enough for us and so we also ordered the Rice Roll which was stuffed with cilantro, red bell pepper, avocado, spinach, house special soy beef slices - non-gmo - onion, roasted peanuts, seaweed and came with the house special green ginger pesto - almond butter, agave, dates, garlic, ginger, parsley, and cilantro) Everything about these was phenomenal, seriously! The beef slices were incredible, maybe even some of the best vegan beef I’ve ever eaten! And I loved the pesto, so much flavor!

Close up of the Rice Roll 

For my main meal I ordered the Ever Young Noodle which basically contained everything that was in the Rice Roll, plus wheat noodles - though there is a gluten-free option too. Of course this was fantastic, I literally couldn’t get enough of it. I liked the combination of textures. The soft noodles with the beef slices, and the raw veggies plus raw sauce. I loved how most of the food at this restaurant was raw, with only light accents of cooked food, and those beef slices! Seriously, they tasted like what I remember beef jerky tasting like, that sweet, salty, savory taste. Amazing!

Ever Young Noodles 

For his meal my husband got the BiBim Noodles which included avocado, carrot, zucchini, lettuce, wheat noodles, beef slices, and house special BiBim Sauce which was a sweet, tangy, spicy red sauce.  My husband was kind enough to give me a bit of his dish and I’m telling you, this was off the hook guys! I don’t know if I liked it better then my own dish but it was easily as good. So much flavor and great texture!

BiBim Noodles 

Because two appetizers and two main dishes just weren’t enough for our hungry bellies we also ordered a Heaven Wrap to split. Man oh man was this good. It was raw red pepper hummus, red bell pepper, beef slices, spinach, tomato, onion, cilantro and parsley all rolled up in an organic tortilla. Again this wrap had so much flavor and was so delicious!

Heaven Wrap 

As you can see most of what we ordered contained the house special beef slices, but have no fear, if you are indeed soy-free there are options here for you that don’t include a soy meat. Some dishes are just veggies, and some use nuts or beans or lentils as their protein. Most dishes can also be made gluten-free upon request, and some can be nut-free as well. Though the menu is relatively small, there is a little something here for everyone I think, and you really can’t beat the prices. Nothing on the menu costs more then $7.85, and most of the sandwiches and salads are under $7. For everything we got our bill was only $40, which is super reasonable not only for a vegan restaurant but also for one that includes a lot of raw food.

Inside the Heaven Wrap 

They also have dessert, and I was really looking forward to trying either the raw strawberry cake or the raw orange cake but both were sold out! They had some chocolate desserts as well, but I was all chocolated out, so hopefully next time I’ll score me a raw strawberry cake. Most of their desserts by the way - as well as their smoothies and drinks - are sugar-free, which is awesome. This food is simply good, healthy food that you can feel good about eating.

So please do yourself a favor, if you find yourself in the area drop by Loving Heart for a bite. You won’t be disappointed! The food’s amazing, the people are great, you’ll love it! You can even do take-away if you want.

Loving Heart
838 W. Montrose Ave. Chicago, IL
Phone # 773.561.5399
Mon-Fri : 11 am - 2 pm & 4 pm - 9pm

Sat : 11 am - 9 pm.
Closed Sunday