Tropical Green Hemp Energy Smoothie

Tropical Green Hemp Energy Smoothie | Delectably FreeI am writing this post on the eve of my 29th birthday. It’s true that, the older you get, birthdays begin to lose some of their luster and lore . But I’m still fond of birthdays, perhaps mostly because I find that they implore reflection and introspection in a way that probably no other day of the year can. Lately, I am all about reflection. I am all about life giving me excuses to try even harder, to be even better, to learn from the past.

My 28th year was marked by personal growth (and really, what year isn’t?). As new homeowners and young adults trying to navigate financial independence, the past year threw us some curveballs and roadblocks, for sure. But I’ve at least learned to be better about one thing: not worrying so much. It’s a struggle, sometimes, to relinquish control and trust that the universe has a plan that is largely beyond my ability to manipulate. All we can do is be the best person we can be…and I’m working on that every day.

Now that I’m entering the last year of my twenties, I’ve had some time to reflect on how I’ve changed over the decade. I think those who know me well will say my personality and essence has remained the same. But I guess no one knows me as well as I know myself, and I can truly say that I have changed in immeasurable ways, and in ways I can’t quite concisely or articulately explain here. If I were to come up with a concise, one-line answer, it would be this:

I’ve become more selfish, and less selfish at the same time.

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Raw Avocado-Citrus Bars with Strawberries

Raw Citrus-Avocado Bars with strawberriesI’ve been thinking for awhile about creating a healthy(ish) holiday dessert option that would still evoke some of the spirit of the holiday season. Ideally, I wanted to create something using traditional Christmas colors, but without resorting to any artificial coloring or non-edibles to get the job done. I have also been thinking of creating an all-raw variation of my Avocado-Lime Tart. As the filling of that tart was raw to begin with, I figured it would make sense to make an entirely raw version for those who prefer to eat that way.

And so, these all-raw Avocado-Citrus bars were born. They marry the idea of a Christmas-themed treat with an all-raw tart. The light, minty green coloring of the filling combined with the strawberries on top makes a lovely pairing. And even though I used the same filling as in my avocado-lime tart, I changed the name to Avocado-“citrus” bars — because it’s my blog, and I can do stuff like that.

I tested these bars on Gennaro and a friend of his who was over the night I made them — both of whom gave their approval and urged me to post these. Sometimes I can be such a perfectionist when it comes to my recipes that I’m not sure when to stop tweaking things. So it’s sometimes nice to be told something is really good as-is, so I don’t have to think about it too much.

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Raw Fruit and Nut Kale Salad

raw fruit and nut kale saladI am going to make this post short and sweet, as I am not feeling so well and have a long day ahead tomorrow. But I wanted to share this amazing kale salad that is a new favorite in our house. It was inspired by the kale salad I frequently get for lunch from a macrobiotic place near my office called Om Cafe. Their genius combination of dried apricots and walnuts in their raw kale salad sort of rocked my world the first time I tried it. Now I’m in love with the combo and Gennaro is, too.

My take on this salad includes grapes in addition to the dried apricots to round out the fruit component. Other fruits would also be great here. Instead of dried apricots, try fruit sweetened dried cranberries or golden raisins. I’ve also added pomegranate for an antioxidant boost and extra crunch.

raw kale salad with fruit and nuts

This salad would be a great addition to Thanksgiving dinner. It’s pretty and colorful and delicious. As far as serving size goes, it’s hard for me to tell how many it serves, as Gennaro and I can polish off this salad between the two of us. But I’m thinking 4 servings is probably appropriate for those eating this in addition to other parts of a meal. This recipe can be multiplied as needed for crowds.

Raw Fruit and Nut Kale Salad:

Ingredients:

1 bunch kale (any variety), washed and chopped

pinch of sea salt (about 1/8 teaspoon or less, can add in more salt later to taste)

1/4 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 cup red grapes, halved lengthwise

1/3 cup raw walnuts, roughly chopped

6 dried apricots (I use unsulfured), cut into strips

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

Dressing:

2 tablespoons tahini

2 teaspoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar

Directions:

1. Add kale to a large salad bowl with a pinch of sea salt and olive oil. Massage gently with hands (I like to put bunches of kale between my palms and rub together). Do this until kale is softened just a bit and dark green in color.

2. Using a spoon or small whisk, mix dressing ingredients in a small bowl until smooth and set aside.

3. Add remaining salad ingredients to salad bowl with kale and top with dressing. Toss everything together until well coated and serve.

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Raw Broccoli Salad

cleansing raw broccoli salad

Cleansing. It’s a word that you hear a lot these days. Depending on who you’re talking to, cleanses are a beneficial — even necessary — component of health maintenance, needed for removing toxins and restoring our inner health. Others might say that cleanses are unnecessary at best, and at times even dangerous.

I don’t necessarily subscribe to either way of thinking. On the one hand, I believe that we put a lot of crap (for lack of a better word) into our bodies — especially when eating the Standard American Diet of meat, cheese and processed foods. Add the environmental toxins that are in some ways unavoidable these days, and we’re not really doing our inner systems any favors. Then again, I don’t necessarily feel that the only answer is an extreme cleanse. To be fair, I know that juice cleanses and even the master cleanse have had mental and physical benefits for many people. And as much as I’ve been tempted at times to experiment myself, it’s just not realistic when I consider that a typical day for me requires meeting with clients, arguing cases in front of judges, responding to phone calls and emails, and then coming home to walk Woodley and tend to a variety of household chores that, unfortunately, can’t always wait.  From what I understand, the process of cleansing and detoxing necessitates a certain level of removal from daily life before the benefits begin to kick in (similar to a drug or alcohol detox). This is simply not a viable option for many people.

Instead, I try to take a more pragmatic approach to the idea of cleansing. I view it as an ongoing process that I try to fit into my daily life, without risking starvation, social alienation or physical and mental anguish. Here are some of the ways I try to incorporate aspects of cleansing into my daily routine:

  • Every morning, I start of my day with either a large class of water with raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, or a mug of hot water with lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Both lemon juice and apple cider vinegar boast numerous health benefits, and have long been revered for their cleansing properties. Nutritionist Kimberly Snyder, CN, writes in her book The Beauty Detox Foods that raw apple cider vinegar is a strong digestive aid that also has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is also known to alkalize the body — keeping ones body pH from becoming too acidic, which is important for maintaining optimum health. Lemon juice, on the other hand, is also a strong detox aid and has been said to have amazing benefits for the skin. It is also great as a liver detox aid and blood purifier. Like raw apple cider vinegar, lemon is also alkaline-forming in the body. Cayenne pepper is also said to help speed up the metabolism and aid in cleansing.
  • I also drink a green smoothie almost every morning. I often add lemon juice to my smoothie for additional cleansing properties, and use raw leafy greens and fresh fruits which are alkaline-forming and easy to digest. Often, I throw in cilantro or parsley for additional cleansing properties. When I first told my doctor about suffering from Lyme detox symptoms (what happens when you start antibiotic treatment and Lyme spirochetes begin to “die off” in the body, releasing lots of toxins), she suggested that I add cilantro to my green smoothies, as cilantro is an excellent detox aid. It is also great for heavy metal detox — something to consider if you use aluminum deodorant or eat lots of fish.
  • I try to eat several raw salads a day, including my favorite kale salad. I also top my salads with raw fermented sauerkraut or kimchi. Sometimes I make my own sauerkraut according to the method from The Beauty Detox Foods, but often, I just buy a locally-produced brand called The Brinery which is sold throughout the metro Detroit area. Raw fermented sauerkraut and kimchi contain many beneficial enzymes and probiotics which help to aid in cleansing and keep gut flora in check.
  • I have recently cut out processed foods from my everyday diet. Not that I was going crazy on processed foods before, but I would periodically have daiya cheese or organic tortilla chips and other more processed vegan foods. Now, I try to snack on whole foods like nuts, fruits and vegetables rather than processed options. I try not to be too extreme or rigid with this approach, but I do save processed foods and snacks for emergencies or very special occasions.
  • I have to admit that I do still drink coffee. It’s something that I gave up for awhile, but then added back in to my diet when I was becoming extremely tired and suffering from the “die-off” Lyme symptoms I described above. Now, though, I try to never go over 2 cups a day, and I try to take breaks periodically from coffee drinking to give my body some rest. I also ONLY drink organic coffee, as non-organic can contain many pesticides and toxins. Because coffee is acidic, I make sure to only drink it after I’ve had my apple cider vinegar or lemon water and my green smoothie — so that I am balancing the acidity with more alkaline foods.
  • Finally, I try to add other cleansing regimens into my routine as much as possible. Massages and chiropractic treatments can help removed trapped toxins (which is why you’re always told to drink lots of water after a massage). I have also done Far Infrared Saunas, which help you sweat out a lot of toxins. I also recently discovered Zeoforce from Healthforce Nutritionals, which is a brand I really like. This product is a great cleansing aid, as it binds to toxins and heavy metals and removes them from the system. I will admit, the taste is a little like you’re drinking clay — but to me it’s a better alternative than not eating for a week!

This raw broccoli salad is one example of the raw salads I try to enjoy daily as part of my ongoing “cleansing” process. This is actually based on a recipe my mom has been making for a few years, so I have to give her the credit here. I made a few changes — including adding raw red cabbage for further nutritional benefits. My mom likes to use organic dried, unsweetened cherries instead of raisins, which is also very good. Broccoli is an amazing food that contains so many health and cleansing benefits. Yet often, we’re eating it in its cooked form and removing some beneficial properties. When it is raw, I’ve usually seen it in some sort of salad laden with mayonnaise or oil, or in a veggie tray with a fatty ranch dip. This salad is a healthy alternative to those raw broccoli options. Raw cabbage, celery, almonds, cider vinegar and lemon juice add to the numerous health properties of this salad.

Raw Broccoli Salad:

Serves: 3-4 as a side

Ingredients:

3 cups broccoli florets

1 cup chopped red cabbage

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

1/3 cup minced red onion

1/2 cup chopped raw almonds

1/4 cup raisins

2 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos*

2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar

juice of 1 lemon

* Note: for a completely raw salad, raw coconut aminos may be used in place of the liquid aminos. Coconut aminos are also soy free. A pinch of sea salt may be added for taste, as the coconut aminos are less salty than liquid aminos.  

Directions:

1. Toss all ingredients in a medium-large glass salad bowl until well combined.

2. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Toss again before serving to distribute dressing. Salad can be chilled in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

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Caribbean Kale Salad

carribean kale saladI mentioned a few posts back that I recently had the opportunity to go to Chicago for a long weekend for a wedding. While I was unable to hit up every single spot on my list due to time constraints and wedding activities, I did manage to eat at my top 3 “must-try” places: Karyn’s, The Chicago Diner and Native Foods Cafe. While Chicago Diner may have been my overall favorite — the Soul Bowl was out of this world (right, Liz? Unlike the stir-fry which was “not coming out well”) — I think Native Foods cafe was a close second and more closely represents how I eat on a regular basis (fresh, whole plant foods). Karyn’s was also very good, but we went for brunch so had somewhat more limited menu options. Though I have to say, I had a tofu scramble with roasted potatoes and polished off my entire plate.

Because Native Foods had the most menu items that were friendly to my diet (i.e. also gluten-free and many whole plant foods), I really, really wanted  to get the chance to go back a second time while I was there. Unfortunately, I never made it back, which was a true shame because I had already picked out the next item I was going to order — the Caribbean Jerk Kale Salad.

The Native Foods original version of this salad is topped with blackened jerk tempeh, and appears from the menu description to have some sort of a creamy dressing. I desperately wanted to try it, so I decided to try to make something similar at home. In an effort to simplify this dish, I made this recipe without the tempeh, though tempeh or tofu with jerk seasoning and some baked sweet potato fries would certainly complete the dish and make an excellent meal (I should know because I made it with these additions recently and posted it to my Instagram feed, @bversical).

Carribean kale salad top view

This salad is a little sweet with just a hint of spice from the cumin. It’s definitely a nice change from my usual kale salad, though I am not sure I will ever tire of that one.

So, native Chicago folk, did I miss any go-to vegan spots? Let me know what your favorite Chicago vegan restaurants are, so I can be sure to try them out then next time I’m in town (if I can pry myself away from Chicago Diner, that is).

Caribbean Kale Salad: 

1 large bunch curly kale, washed and chopped

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch for massaging kale

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted until golden brown*

2/3 cup diced fresh mango

1/2 large avocado, diced

1/4 cup red onion, minced

1/3 cup diced red pepper (optional – I omitted it from mine because I didn’t have any)

Directions:

1. Place kale in a bowl. Add teaspoon olive oil and a pinch of salt and massage kale between hands until it begins to break down.

2. In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients: remaining olive oil, salt, lime juice, cider vinegar and cumin.

3. Top massaged kale with remaining ingredients and add dressing slowly until reaching desired amount (may vary depending on amount of kale). Toss and serve.

I toast mine in a non-stick skillet. Add dry coconut and heat over medium-high for about 4-5 minutes or until coconut just begins to turn golden brown. Remove from heat. 

 

 

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My Favorite Kale Salad

new kale saladLet me tell you, nothing quite awakens your health and consciousness like going through a year of Lyme disease treatment. At least, that’s what it did to me. I could now scoff at what I once considered (and what many would still consider) a “healthy” breakfast of soy yogurt and granola. These days, going two days without a green smoothie for breakfast (a lapse I endured while traveling over the weekend) is a long time for me. And a dinner without kale salad to start is almost unheard of.

I won’t rehash the details of my last post (nearly a year ago!), which went into the health issues I’d been having leading up to my Lyme diagnosis. Nor will I go into quite as much detail about how my treatment has been since. But suffice it to say that a year-long course of antibiotics and Malaria fighting drugs for Lyme’s common co-infections can wreak havoc on one’s system — while also proving essential in the overall treatment of the disease.

As a result of this, I have taken a profound interest in how food can play a key role in healing and health. After all, at the time I was diagnosed, I strongly attributed my already gluten-free, vegan and refined sugar-free diet to my relatively high level of functioning given the number of tick-borne infections I had been carrying for several years. If these changes could have had an effect on my immunity, as my doctor also surmised, wouldn’t additional dietary changes prove even more beneficial?

In the last year, I’ve shifted a lot of my diet toward a cleaner way of eating. I have always considered my diet to be on the healthy end of the spectrum, but my research suggested that there was much more room for improvement. While I am not one to ever be extreme — I still enjoy gluten-free pasta, organic tofu and tortilla chips and salsa — I have moved away from processed foods significantly and begun adding more raw, green meals into my diet than ever before. I studied the principles of Kimberly Snyder’s The Beauty Detox Solution and adopted many into my own practices. I now eat raw fermented sauerkraut with many meals and kale salad before nearly every dinner, as I alluded to before. I also make it a practice to drink a detoxing green smoothie similar to this one almost every morning, sometimes adding lemon juice, parsley or romaine or substituting pears or strawberries.

While there is probably no way of measuring the exact impact my diet has had during the last year of treatment, I do know that what I eat makes a difference in how I feel overall. There is also a lot of research indicating that anti-inflammatory foods and detoxing is very important in overall healing, and I have made sure to incorporate these types of foods into my daily intake. Of course, I do have to supplement more than the average person, vegan or otherwise. Lyme tends to deplete vital nutrients and minerals, so even with a balanced and healthy vegan diet, I do supplement with high doses of magnesium, B12 and folate daily, among other vitamins and medications in my regimen (including lots of chlorella and lemon juice for detox).

Now that kale salad has become a staple of my diet, I certainly have discovered a few favorites, and this is on the top of that list. I rarely make this recipe the same way twice. In fact, the first time I actually measured any ingredients was when I was making the version for this post. I encourage you to play around with amounts and different ingredients, and to come up with your own favorite version of this salad.

Raw Kale Salad:

Yield: 2-4 servings

Note: this salad can keep in the refrigerator for about a day. It is best served fresh, but kale is quite sturdy and will stand up to dressing and refrigeration, even if the texture of the salad may change somewhat as it sits.

1 bunch lacinato or curly kale, thick stems removed and torn into small pieces

1/8 teaspoon sea salt (1 small pinch)

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 head raddichio, shredded (or 1/2 cup of shredded red cabbage)

1 scallion, finely chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon raw cider vinegar (or other raw vinegar of choice)

3 tablespoons raw sauerkraut juice*

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

dash of cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

Directions:

1. Make sure kale pieces are washed/rinsed and fairly dry. Add to salad bowl. Add sea salt and olive oil and massage well. I like to rub handfuls of kale between both palms to really break it down and soften it.

2. Once kale has been massaged, add raddichio and scallions. Add lemon juice, vinegar and sauerkraut juice and toss. Add nutritional yeast and cayenne pepper and toss until kale is well-coated. You may wish to add additional lemon juice/vinegar/sauerkraut juice/nutritional yeast or even salt to taste depending on saltiness of your sauerkraut. Once seasoning is adjusted, serve.

*This is my secret ingredient for this salad. It makes the flavors pop. You can buy raw sauerkraut usually in the refrigerated section of your health food store and in some supermarkets. I like to use a local brand from Michigan, but Bubbies raw sauerkraut is a good choice as well.

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Pepita-Parsley Pesto

As I may have mentioned before, I’ve never done a “detox” in the traditional sense of the word. That’s not to say, however, that I can’t go a little crazy when it comes to eating healthy. My crazy-healthy streaks– those where I really go all-out with the greens, juicing, low-carbing, etc. — are the closest to detox I get. That is, if you can call it “detox” when coffee is involved (probably not, right?) Last I checked, copious amounts of caffeine and cleanses didn’t mix.

My slight — ahem, massive — coffee addiction might explain why I tend to be overzealous in other areas of my diet. Perhaps I’m trying to compensate? Whatever the reason, I like to play games like “see how many different colored vegetables I can fit into one meal.” Or, “how many ‘cleansing’ ingredients can I fit into one dish?” Of course, such moments are interspersed with spurts of baking zeal and uninhibited tasting. Then there are those days where I’m tired, lazy, busy, out of groceries, or eating out a lot. Those days? My plates are less-than-colorful; my meals skewed toward the carb-loaded and vegetable-deprived.

As contradictory and schizophrenic as this may all sound, I reason that no one can be 100% perfect all the time. Which is why, even on my worst days, I’m still getting some fruits and vegetables, and why, even on my best, I don’t strive for absolute perfection (what is “perfection” in a diet, anyways?) Thus, my tendency to avoid cleanses, which seem to require super-human strength, willpower, and a complete abandonment of reality (I’m sorry, but I’m not one of those people who can carry on a normal work day subsisting on solely juice. If you are, more power to you!!).

So, after a long-winded explanation, you understand why this green glob — and the bed of fiborous spaghetti squash it sits upon — is one of my favorite and most often-prepared dishes. It’s my non-cleanse cleanse. A detoxifying dish without the “detox.” Parsley, with all its diuretic properties is a wonderful kidney cleanser. The higher-than-usual amount of lemon juice in this pesto provides a great tonic for the liver. Lemon juice is also said to be helpful for the skin. The b vitamins in the nutritional yeast provide essential vitamins and nutrients, especially for those of us following a vegan diet. Finally, pepitas (my secret ingredient) provide a healthy source of protein and fat. They are also said to help lower cholesterol. I like to add all of this to a heaping bed of low calorie, high-fiber (helps to “move things along,” so to speak…) spaghetti squash, which is one of my favorite foods to prepare.

Pepita-Parsley Pesto:

1 small bunch curly parsley

6 tablespoons raw pepitas

¼ cup nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon water (more as needed)

½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

Directions:

Puree all ingredients in food processor until smooth. Add water as needed for desired texture.

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Carrot, Beet and Apple Slaw

I’ve been making a version of this slaw for as long as I’ve had my food processor. Between testing batches of cakes and biscuits, it’s nice having a go-to veggie dish to even things out a bit.

This is one of those recipes that I never make the same way twice. Sometimes I just shred carrots and beets and drizzle with tahini dressing. Other times, I add sunflower seeds and dried fruit. Since pomagranates are in season, I added some pomegranate seeds to the slaw I made for lunch the other day. The colors are very “fall,” no?

As for the unemployment thing? Well, I’m learning to make the best of it. For one thing, I get to spend all day with my little guy. That would be Woodley. He’s a snuggler, so if he’s not at my feet, he’s by my side during the day. He’s enjoying the revived attention he’s getting post-bar studying as well, as he literally had to resort to laying on my study guides and giving me puppy eyes just a few months ago, just for a belly rub.

So, here’s my no-recipe method for this slaw: Shred 1 very large or two small carrots, 1 raw beet, peeled, and a green apple, unpeeled, in food processor. Toss shredded beet, apple and carrot with some fresh chopped curly parsley. Add juice of 1 lemon, a drizzle of apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Sprinkle on a generous pinch of salt. Toss. Add anything else you wish and enjoy!

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Gazpacho

I hope the readers of Delectably Free like Spanish food, because I returned home from Spain yesterday with an arsenal of recipes to try, and a whole new source of inspiration.

Ah, the Catalan cuisine of Barcelona. It was admittedly difficult finding both gluten-free and vegan menu options and I, admittedly, slipped into a bit of a seafood habit, which had not been a regular part of my diet since February. While I would love to be the “perfect vegan,” I went into veganism with the belief that it was not about being perfect all the time, but about doing something good for myself and for the planet most of the time. I just had to get that out there, so no one gets some crazy idea that Barcelona is a paradise for gluten-free vegans, which is hardly the case (unfortunately).

That said, there is plenty to eat in Spain that does not include Seafood (or meat, for that matter). Among those things, gazpacho — the sweet, slightly tangy, garlicy, flavorful and fresh, chilled soup that was universally good wherever we went. When I studied in Spain 6 years ago, I came home with the same gazpacho cravings I’ve been experiencing now. I quickly disocovered, however, that gazpacho in America does not equal Spanish gazpacho. Here it was either too chunky and underflavored, or overflavored and not in the right way, or just somehow not the same.

That’s why my approach upon this return is different: make it at home and get it right. Luckily for me, I happened to get it right the first time. Perhaps it was all the recipes I practiced in my head, tweaked with each new gazpacho I enjoyed in Spain. When one had a distinct cucumber flavor which I enjoyed, I made a mental note. I liked the gazpachos that were a little tangier, so I made a note to go a bit heavier on the vinegar. Less peppery than the one at Taller de Tapas. A bit thicker than the one served at my hotel.

As much of the above “tweaks” came down to personal preference, I’d love for anyone making this recipe to tweak it to their preferences as well.

Gazpacho:

3 medium, very ripe red tomatoes, chopped

1 medium cucumber (a regular, slicing cucumber you find during the summer), peeled and coursely chopped

1 small or 1/2 medium sweet yellow onion, chopped

1 small/medium yellow bell pepper, coursely chopped

1 small clove garlic, peeled

1/4 cup really good extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons raw, naturally fermented red wine vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a food processor and process with a sharp steel blade until relatively smooth. Taste for seasoning. Chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Serve garnished with some minced onion, bell pepper or cucumber.

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Green Lemonade

Not to be all “I’m so busy and important this summer,” but….I am pretty darn busy these days. So if the frequency of my posts seems spotty at best, I assure you that it’s only temporary. Come September I’ll be an unemployed recent law grad with not a care in the world (other than finding a job…which may provide me with just a tad bit of anxiety). But now — a week away from the wedding — I’m a little busy. I would say no one tells you how much work planning a wedding is, but I have to admit, I’d been warned. Somewhere along the way, at least someone suggested I elope (words of experience). And when I visited my future sister-in-law and her husband before their wedding last May, I could help but think, as they frantically — and sleeplessly — worked to finish up the final details, that I should try to do things differently. Somehow, I thought I would be an exception to the rule. I was completely and utterly wrong. No matter how hard you try, wanting to have all of your family and friends there to celebrate one of the pivotal moments of your life is just one of those things that takes work. There is no avoiding it. Though I’m sure it will all be worth it in the end.

In all honesty, this whole process would have been a lot more Hellish had my mom not been so helpful early on (and now). From booking the venue, the band, the church to going to my tasting when I was stuck out in New York to designing, folding and sending out all my invitations, she has been a saint. But the last minute stress of working out seating arrangements, writing the program, figuring out the final head count and many other details along the way has taken a toll — one that rivals studying for the bar exam — on my ability to do much else.

I’m determined to stay healthy, however, in spite of all my stress (which really isn’t all that bad, really. There are much worse things I could be doing/worrying about). In fact, I’m determined to reverse my pre-bar trend of a pot of coffee a day and frozen (albeit vegan, gluten free and organic) dinners as late night snacks. I know there are millions of versions of green lemonade out there. Truthfully, mine probably isn’t all that different from others I’ve seen. But I thought it was worth sharing as a reminder of the refreshing, super-healthy variations and possibilities for all the beautiful summer vegetables available right now — a juice that will keep you going during those busy times. Or, as I like to say, a juice to give you some juice (ok, that was corny…it’s late and I’m tired). Plus, I couldn’t wait to share my first creation from the juicer that I’d rescued from my parents’ basement, where it had been collecting dust for way too long.

Green Lemonade:

Press through a juicer: 3 stalks kale, 1/2 of a lemon (washed; I left the peel on), 1/2 of a sweet, crisp apple (I used pink lady), 1/2 of a crisp cucumber, 1-2 stalks celery

You can add more of any of the above ingredients to your taste. I also like to add parsley or ginger as a variation. A green apple is also nice, but I would omit the lemon so your final product is not too sour.

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