Friday, August 7, 2009

Sweet Sweet Juice

So on Sunday I decided to start off the process of making giant batches of juices in advance.  I think that I chose the wrong kind of juice to get me started.  Green Star is an amazing juicer, very efficient, very easy to clean and very fast, EXCEPT for tomatoes.  So of course I started off with a big batch of tomato juice.  Well, let me tell you.  It was a big process.  The juice was super delicious, I loved it and will make it again.  But it left me nervous/apprehensive about making a big batch of juice again.  

Well, today I gave it another go, and It was amazingly wonderful.  I made nearly two gallons of juice without needing to stop or clear the machine once.  When I washed it, the gears barely had anything on them, and the screen was minimally clogged.  I feel that I easily could have done 3 or more gallons without too much trouble.  So what did I juice?

Watermelon/Cucumber/Lime cocktail
2 Limes 

($9, total) Yield: 1 Gallon

8 apples (5 granny smith, 4 red delicious)
1/2 large bunch of Celery

($4, total) yield 1/2 gallon

I've tasted both of the juices and they are delicious.  I REALLY like using the cucumber and celery to dilute the sweeter fruit juices.  It manages to mellow out the flavor while adding more nutrients and without getting that watered down flavor you get when you add regular old water.  Yum!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Calm Before the Storm

Well, I'm back from DC.  It's for sure a big change of pace.  For the past month my days have been so scheduled that I have barely had to think about what comes next or what I want to do with my time, because I haven't had any free.
Now, it's the total opposite—my days are as unstructured as it gets.  I'm going to enjoy the vacation, but I also need to remember that there are things that I need to get done in the next 3.5 weeks.
A few days ago, DF and I saw Food, Inc.  Among other things, it has influenced me to really take organic food more seriously.  Unfortunately, I'm coping with the cost of things.  I'm really going to need to learn better how to eat/drink more raw on a tighter budget.  I do like knowing that my juicer does let me buy a huge amount of produce and juice it all in one day.  Then I can stick things in the freezer and they last me a little longer than they do whole in the fridge, or gas, on the counter.  Reminds me, still have half a watermelon to juice up...
Over the drive back from DC, there was a lot of junk that I ate.  Also, even while I was in DC there was a lot of extremes: lots of juice and smoothies, but also lots of truly SAD food.  Even so, for the first time in my life that I have been away from my scale, I came back and released weight.
Since getting back, I am eating about 90% juice and the other 10% is still raw.  Well, I'm continuing to release weight.  I am about 3 lbs away from officially being overweight, as opposed to obese (according to the Wii fit)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

9th of Av Fast

So far this fast is going very well for me.  I am very happy that I spent the past few days preparing myself physically and emotionally.  I have eaten a very limited amount of solid foods, focusing mostly on smoothies and juices.  Today, although I am having a bit of a foggy brain, I am not obsessively focusing on food.  In fact, despite my original intention to do this as a water fast, I've ended up just doing it as a dry fast, because I just haven't felt like I need the water for these 25 hours.

I had another thought today that makes me feel like my evaluation vis a vis fasting not being about just mortifying our souls.  As the day progresses, our mourning is supposed to DECREASE.  For example, we don't put on tefillin in the morning, but we do in the evening.  Yet, if the emphasis on the fast was on being hungry, well, that would be counter the goal.  We'd be getting hungrier and hungrier.  

Fasting for clarity is really making a meaningful impact on me though.  I am glad with this orientation.  For the first time, I don't hate this fast or feel the need to binge on cherry garcia icecream the moment I get home by myself (yes, I did that once)

As a side note, I have had several bm's today.  All very easy and good.  I really feel that my body is dumping out a lot over the past few days.  DF even noticed it when he saw me yesterday, he said that my face looked thinner.  I suspected that I was noticing the same when I looked at myself in the mirror lately.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Music and Life

Though, wouldn't it be awesome if there were composers that did write only finales?

Loshon Hora, Lamed Heh, go to hell the easy way...

Tisha B'Av is rapidly approaching.  I have never had a very easy time with the fast days in Judaism.  On the one hand, I am relatively open to fasting, don't find it to be the hardest thing in the world, nor is it all that impossible to me.  On the other hand, and this is where the challenge lies, I don't typically find the reasons that I am usually given for fasting to be compelling.  The combination of not eating because we are sad about the events that occurred on Tisha B'av and the idea that we need to somehow afflict our souls via our bodies is not in the least compelling to me.  

For some people it works.  If you can make the fact that you are fasting a natural consequence of the past events, it makes sense.  You think to yourself, "I'm hungry, I wish I could eat—oh, if only we had not been kicked out of Spain, if only our temple had not been destroyed—then I'd be eating today instead of fasting!"  My thought process is different.  I can't make the immediate connection.  It just becomes a distraction for me.  

Furthermore, I don't really see how injuring my body or soul (not that fasting is injurious, but since there is the idea of afflicting, well...) is going to help anything.  After all, if my body is created in the image of G-d, how is denying it food and water going to bring back the temple in Jerusalem?  Wouldn't trying to damage it be counter the values of Judaism?

So, in trying to understand, I have been going back and looking at the root events that are connected to Tisha B'Av and also looking at the various examples of fasting that are discussed in early Jewish sources and see if I can find something more meaningful.

First, I noticed that there is a very strong correlation to Tisha B'Av and wicked speech (Loshon Hara, in Hebrew).  The first tragedy of Tisha B'Av is not the destruction of the temple, but rather the return of the scouts sent by Moshe that discouraged the people from trying to enter ancient Israel.  They slandered the land of Israel, sowed doubt among the people that G-d would fulfill g-d's promise.  Similarly, the fast which begins the mourning period that culminates on Tisha B'Av is the day that Moses returned from Sinai to discover the golden calf.  Why did the Israelites build the calf? They'd gotten to idle chatter and gossip and come to fear that Moses and G-d had abandoned them, so they needed a new god.

The theme repeats itself: destruction of the temple—punishment for senseless hatred and gossip among the Israelites.  Expulsion from Spain—only happened because the Catholics were able to convince themselves that the Jews were a threat to the church. More Libel.

So, let's hold on to that for a moment and now look at fasting.  The major fasting texts that I looked at relate to fasting to end a drought, and in the story of purim.  In the case of fasting to end a drought, two things caught my attention.  1) during a major drought in an agricultural community, people are already pretty close to fasting.  There isn't any food or water!  Enacting a community wide fast is more than just having everyone be hungry/thirsty.  It's having everyone put aside physical needs and allow their energy to focus elsewhere.  2) In the stories where droughts end because of a fast, there always seems to be some sort of direct communication with G-d that is enabled by the fast.  This resonates with what I have read about and experienced during detox.  You gain access to a certain clarity when you fast that is very difficult to achieve otherwise.  Revelations can hit overwhelmingly.  

So, Purim rather connects these issues.  The whole story of purim begins with people using language to achieve selfish goals. Haman uses words to convince the King to allow him to kill the Jews.  At the end, Esther saves the Jewish people by beseeching the King and asking him to intervene on her behalf.  Before going to him, she fasts, (and asks all the Jews to fast with her) for 3 days.  She is then able to show the King that he has been led astray.  The Jews are able to defend themselves and Haman finds his downfall.

Many people, especially those that do extended fasts will find that moments of great clarity and insight come.  This is an amazing opportunity to bring clarity to matters that have been obscured by lies, slander, libel and propaganda.  

For those of us observing Tisha B'Av, I hope that rather than being stuck in the past we can use the day as an opportunity to think about how we and our communities have allowed ourselves to be distracted by falsehoods and the potential consequences.  May we fast for clarity and understanding so that we may understand the issues that are preventing us from having the full relationship that we could enjoy with ourselves, eachother and G-d.

¡Siete Horas! (seven hours)

Started off the morning again with the ever so delicious apple/celery/ginger juice that I made yesterday.  It blows my mind just how friggin' tasty this stuff is.  It's almost overwhelming :-)  I shared it with my morning smoothie buddy (you don't have one?) and in her words: "Wow, that's...refreshing".  Sums it up very nicely in my opinion.  Also made a kale, banana and peach smoothie to bring with me to school today.  Yum.  I'm almost embarrassed at how excited I am about this.  

I'm also almost bursting with excitement because DF is on his way to DC today and will be picking me up at school when class is over!! This month has been the longest amount of time that we have been apart from each other since we were officially together.  It's been an intense experience.  It's also a little bit bizarre having the feeling that I am so excited to see him on the eve of Tisha B'Av.  I will be so happy to see him on the same day that I am supposed to be mourning pretty much every national tragedy that has ever befallen the Jews.  Hmm.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It's like a sandwich, but with emotions

Today has been a bit more challenging.  I woke up this morning and things started out really strong.  At 6:13 AM (not an accident) I woke up to my alarm and rather than hitting snooze over and over again, I got out of bed and made an amazing juice.  Apple, Celery and Ginger.  Whoa! Tasty stuff! Watered it down just a bit because it was a bit overpowering, but then it was truly bliss.  

Made myself a smoothie to bring with me to school today, and I think I am learning something: despite the convenience factor, frozen fruit do not make for tasty GS.  Last week I was making GS that were out of this world delicious.  I mean, really amazing.  Super simple, too.  Banana and kale or peach and spinach.  I was finally, and for the first time, really loving them.  Well, today I had kale, with frozen mango, and strawberry.  And, well, it just isn't good.  I drank about a pint during the morning, and then my stomach was all, "um, no thank you".  

Well, I ended up choosing to have a snack of chex mix. I'm not thrilled about that, but it's the choice I made, and it doesn't mean that I have to continue making the same kind of choice for the rest of the evening.  On my way home I am going to pick up another big bag o' Kale and some bananas.  I know that that  will be a super yummy treat and will make me feel much better.

Mood has been mostly down today.  There is one fellow in my class, and I don't know why but he just gets way under my skin and I cannot get over it.  From day 1, he's just offended me.  Everyone else thinks he's just so charming and funny, but I keep thinking he's an ass.  He reminds me of a gay Regina from Mean Girls.  I guess it could be possible that I'm just not meant to like everyone in the world but I think also that there is something about him that encourages me to just give give give my energy.  I'm working on putting an end to that though. I have four more days of class with him, and if I'm able to, I will learn whatever lesson I need to learn from him. If not, I'll learn it when the next time comes around.  

I've just arrived home, and I am pleased to report an amazing green smoothie experience.  I am in fact chugging this bad boy down! CHUGGING it.  I stopped at the store, bought fresh kale, and some perfect bananas.  Blended it with cayenne, coconut oil and chocolate.  I am in love.  LOVE. It is sublime.  I love the way that the cayenne gently tingles all the way down.  My body is loving the flavor and the feel of it.  Worlds better than the chex mix that I had around lunch time.  I am really and truly grateful that I did not stop at Burger King, Wendy's Au Bon Pain, McDonalds, Tian Jin Palace, Thai Market or 7-11 on my way home.  Yes, I almost stopped at, and was tempted by every single one of them.  I can guarantee you, 100% that if I had, I would not be feeling the improvements that are coming into my mood as I type at this very moment.  I cannot even begin to think about how much fun it might well be when I get home and have the month of August off to do a Green Smoothie feast.  Do I dare? Oh it is truly tempting.  It seems like a gift, not a sacrifice to eat litres upon litres of green smoothie on a daily basis.  I can only imagine how good I will feel and how happy my body will be.