Author Archives: charlesprogers
Things We Like: Fresh Juice in the Mornings
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
Over the past couple of months, one of the things I’ve really come to look forward to in the mornings is fresh juice. So much so that it has quickly become part of my morning ritual. As we’ve looked at in past articles, motivational morning rituals can help you look forward to getting out of bed and starting your day the right way. In the past, a good cup coffee did it for me; however, fresh juice has proven to be even more satisfying.
Health Benefits of Juicing
One of the problems many people have with their diet is that they don’t eat enough vegetables. The good news is that adding fresh juice to your diet quickly solves this. Proponents of drinking fresh juice tout that it can reduce your risk of cancer, boost your immune system, help detoxify your body, aid in digestion, and even help you lose weight. In fact, there is a very specific juice regiment known as the Gerson Therapy that has shown positive results.
The one thing you don’t get from drinking juice vs. eating whole fruits and vegetables is the fiber. Your body also misses out on some of nutritional content from the produce; however, you can consume a lot more fruit and vegetable in juice form than you could eating them whole. Proponents view the lack of fiber as a good thing, giving your body less matter to have to process.
Whatever the studies show, I find that juice is a very clean form of energy. Unlike anything else I’ve ever ate or drank. It gets me going on the morning, and makes me feel great. The one downside about juice is that when the energy runs out, you really hit empty. It’s kind of like a sugar crash, and the empty pit in your stomach will tell you its time to eat something solid. That said, I’ve found that eating eggs or some other form of protein with the juice gives you more lasting energy.
Choosing A Juicer
There are a lot of different types of juicers you can chose from, and I spent a lot of time researching the one I thought would be best. The two broad categories of juicers to choose from are centrifugal and masticating.
Centrifugal juicers are the ones you’re most likely to find at a health store or juice bar. They extract juice from fruits and vegetables very quickly, but are not as good with leafy greats like Kale or Wheatgrass. They are also harder to clean, and can have expensive parts that you’ll need to replace over its life.
The other type of juicer, and the one I ultimately went with, is a masticating juicer. Instead of extracting the juice through centrifugal force, an auger slowly grinds up your fruits and vegetables to extract their nutritional goodness. It takes a little more time to chop up the produce small enough to fit in the juicer, but they are much easier to clean. I’m better with a knife than I am with washing dishes, so this was a big selling point for me. Masticating juicers are also better with leafy greens. They also process the produce at a lower speed, which many believe results in a more nutritional juice.
Juice recipes to get you started
If you’ve decided to take the plunge into the world of juice, which I strongly recommend you try, you’ll have a lot of time to perfect your own favorite recipes. To help get you on the right track, below is my every day juice recipe, which makes enough juice for 2-3 people. You can easily cut the recipe in half if you’re juicing for one.
- 4 Granny Smith Apples
- 6-8 Carrots, depending on how you’re feeling
- 2 inch cut of fresh Ginger
- 1 Lemon
- 1 Lime
- 1 Cucumber
- 1 handful of fresh Kale
When blueberries are in season, I also like to make what I call an antioxidant booster once per week. This recipe calls for:
- 2 pints of Blueberries
- 1 container of Pomegranate seeds
- 2 Oranges
- 1 Lime
Again, the above recipe makes enough for 2 people and can be halved for one.
So there you have it, just about everything you need to know to get started juicing. It is probably the best lifestyle change I’ve made for myself, and a number of my friends who’ve jumped on the juice wagon agree. Juicing is also inexpensive out here in California where fresh produce is abundant. On average, we spend $10-$20/week on produce which makes enough juice for 2 people 5 days per week. It’s a relatively low cost considering how good you feel drinking it. And once you make the initial investment in a good juicer, the per cup cost is quite low compared to what you’d pay at a juice bar.
Until next week, cheers to your health!
Breakfast in Bed: Irish Potato Cakes with Smoked Salmon
Post by Alison Hein.
Irish food tends to get a bad rap. I don’t get it. We had wonderful meals when we visited Ireland, and particularly enjoyed the various homemade breads, fabulously fresh seafood, and just-picked seasonal vegetables. Fresh, simple food that is deeply satisfying.
Since our trip, I’ve been experimenting with different Irish recipes. I picked up a lovely cookbook – “The Food & Cooking of Ireland” by Biddy White Lennon and Georgina Campbell. This highly addictive Potato Cake recipe was adapted from one of their luscious recipes.
Use golden potatoes for a sweet, mellow flavor, and cook them a bit longer than you might for simple mashed potatoes. Serve them warm, for real potato comfort, and to enhance the buttery, nutty taste. Smoked salmon is amazing atop these little cakes, but you should also try various toppings (or just gobble them up plain as I did while cooking them for the first time) – different fishes, meats or even cheeses. Make it easy on yourself and cook them up the day before, then in the morning, simply heat and assemble for a deeply satisfying breakfast in bed.
1 pound golden potatoes, cooked and mashed
2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus an additional 2 to 3 tablespoons for cooking
2 green onions
Salt and pepper, to taste
Dash of nutmeg
1 cup flour
¼ cup crème fraîche, or substitute sour cream
4 ounces smoked salmon
A handful of fresh chives, for garnish
Peel, wash and dice potatoes. Place in a heavy pot and add water to cover and a dash of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain, return to pot and mash, ensuring potatoes are smooth and without lumps.
Crack eggs into a small bowl and whisk. Stir whisked eggs, melted butter and green onions into the mashed potatoes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in flour and mix thoroughly to form a stiff dough. With lightly floured hands, shape potato mixture into 12 small cakes (approximately 2 to 2 ½ inches in diameter).
Melt the remaining butter in a heavy pan over medium heat and cook the potato cakes for four to 6 minutes, until browned on both sides, turning once.
To assemble, place a small piece of smoked salmon on top of each potato cake. Top with a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream and garnish with chives. Serve warm.
NOTE: If you like, make the potato cakes the day before and refrigerate until ready to use. Reheat them in a 350°oven for 15 minutes before assembling and serving.
Makes 12 potato cakes.
Adapted from The Food & Cooking of Ireland by Biddy White Lennon and Georgina Campbell
Bedtime Stories: Okay For Now
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt
I love young adult and teen fiction, but I don’t normally go for the harder, darker, more realistic stories. I prefer to read to escape reality. So I was surprised when I picked up Okay For Now and just kept on going. Even when you realize that the dad is a horrible person and that the brother is almost as bad. And most of the teachers are rotten too. Maybe I kept going because I could see the glimmer of hope through the terrible events in his present.
Because although Douglas Swieteck is up against a great deal of adversity and wrangling with a lot of preconceived notions from adults in his new school in Marysville, New York, there are a couple people who know he is not a thug just because his brother is, and maybe he is acting out because his life is rotten. Most important among those who help guide Douglas out of the fog is Mr. Powell, the elderly librarian who recognizes Douglas’s fascination with the Audubon book at the library and encourages him to try drawing the birds himself. Ultimately Douglas discovers a healing through art.
Although it’s difficult to believe the breadth and depth of the story, it doesn’t take away from the beauty of the tale. A lovely, at times dark, story of redemption and discovery.
Movies in Bed: Paranormal Activity 3
Post by Mark T. Locker.
I may be a day late on this one, but Halloween was my best chance at watching something spoooooky. And Halloween came on a Thursday and the movie reviews go up on Fridays. It’s not my fault that I didn’t have this for you yesterday. Anyway, some people find horror movies to be good any time of year. I bet there’s folk out there watch slasher films after Thanksgiving dinner. I don’t. I don’t watch anything but the wall after Thanksgiving dinner.
So: Paranormal Activity 3. The premise throughout the four movies is the same, and they are all about the same group of people, which is interesting. If you never saw the first one, it is a videocamera-obsessed guy and his wife or girlfriend. All we see is the footage he shoots as he tries to capture evidence of mysterious, perhaps otherworldly goings-on in the home. Namely, a ghost or demon or something wreaking havoc and messing with his wife. Number three is actually about the woman from the first one, but as a child. We discover that this nasty thing has been in her life since she was small. Initially dismissed as an imaginary friend, “Toby” turns out to be very real and very unpleasant.
This is a good movie to watch if you like being startled, seeing creepy things appear suddenly, and are willing to suspend a little bit of disbelief. (Someone is always sooo stubborn and unwilling to see what is right in front of her!)
Things We Like: Getting Primed For A Better Night’s Sleep
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
Following this month’s theme of sleep studies, I have another bit of research that may help you sleep better. In a study titled, the effect of subliminal priming on sleep duration, which can be found online here, the authors found that subliminal exposure to certain words before going to sleep can improve the quality and duration of our sleep. The Boston Globe goes so far as to call it “subliminal Ambien.” To better understand how this works, we first need to understand a concept in psychology known as “priming.”
A simply way to describe priming is “that for a period of time after a word or other perceptual object is presented, less neural activity is required to process that same word of object.” In other words, repeated exposure to certain words or phrases makes it easier for your brain to associate them with a specific memory. As it relates to this study, priming your brain with sleepy word with the objective of getting to sleep faster is known as “goal-priming.” Okay, so how does it work? And more importantly, how can I prime myself to get to sleep faster?
The author of this study has stated that this type of “goal-priming” can be achieved by placing sticky notes or index cards with slumber-centric words like “calm,” “rest,” and “drift away” throughout your bedroom. So much so that the participants who were exposed to these sleepy words slept 47 percent longer and had lower heart rates than those who were exposed to “neutral” words. The study also found that the effects of subliminal priming are greater among participants who had trouble sleeping, suggesting that exposure to these subconscious cues may be a cost-effective treatment to help people with sleep problems. This may also help explain why bedtime stories are so effective for getting your kids to go to sleep.
However, this sort of goal-priming for better sleep is somewhat controversial, as other studies have been unable to replicate the results. Does it work, or not? We’ll let you be the judge. For me, it’s worth a try.