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Bringing Unsexy Back (trust me, it’s worth it)

by | Nov 5, 2014

Photo by Scott Ableman

I’ll admit it, I have a soft spot in my heart for Justin Timberlake (even if it isn’t the genre of music I typically identify with). Maybe it’s because he’s one of the few child celebrities who grew up without becoming a complete headcase. Or maybe it’s his sweet dance moves. Who knows?

In any case, I have massive respect for someone bold enough to claim to bring sexy back, since I can’t recall a time when sexy ever went out of style (except maybe a brief period from 1993-95). JT must have incredibly high standards. And I respect that.

At the end of the day though, getting people excited about what’s sexy is pretty damn easy. Tesla cars and gold iPhones can’t be made fast enough to meet demand. Even at insanely high price points in a struggling economy, sexy still sells.

Not that this is a bad thing. Sexy plays a fun and important role in our lives and I’m the last one who’d wish it to go away.

The hard part is remembering that in certain situations (specifically, long-term goals) sexy isn’t usually the best option. But BOY is it tempting.

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Juicing: Stupid and Pretentious or Nourishing and Enlightening?

by | Jan 22, 2014

Photo by maebmij

I typically don’t like to get involved in religious debates, but I find the current green juice frenzy way too amusing to resist throwing in my own $0.02.

You would have to be living in a wifi-less cave to have not noticed the incredibly vocal community who believes juicing is the panacea of all that is good and healthy on earth.

These people make health claims ranging from silly, unprovable promises like “detoxifying the body” to egregious lies like “juice cures cancer.” They love their juice and get very angry if you suggest even a little bit that juicing isn’t equal to nutritional perfection. If you don’t like juice, you probably don’t like kittens or rainbows either.

On the other side of the spectrum there’s the more recent anti-juice backlash. These folks point to the hand-wavy research testimonials by juice proponents and mock the lack of solid science behind the craze.

They sit smugly on their high horse, but are not-so-secretly fuming that green juice has become a pretentious, high-priced status symbol for celebrities and wealthy, West Coast elitists. They hate that everyone else is so dumb, and wish we’d all stop talking about it already.

And let’s not forget the people who think juicing is something else entirely.

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6 Things To Consider Before Buying A Juicer (+ more tips for fruit & vegetable juicing)

by | Mar 4, 2013

Photo by Tawheed Manzoor

Juicing fruits and vegetables is widely considered a healthy habit, even though most nutrition experts caution against the excessive sugar and calories you get from juicing.

Although I’ve had tons of questions about it, I’ve avoided discussing juicing at Summer Tomato because I didn’t think there were enough positive things to say to warrant an entire blog post.

That is, until I got a juicer.

Two months ago a Breville juicer and blender magically appeared in my kitchen. I wasn’t particularly excited about it, but agreed to participate in the ensuing juicing experiment—for research purposes, of course. The idea was to start juicing a few mornings a week, just to see what happens.

(Update: it’s been a year now, and while I don’t juice regularly (see reason #6) I still enjoy it on occasion)

I was more than a little surprised how much I enjoyed it. Even though it was mostly vegetables, I expected the juice to be very sweet, which it wasn’t. Instead it was bright and refreshing, like a summer salad. It also tasted and made me feel good, and as long as I kept the serving size to 8oz or less it was easy to maintain my weight.

I also find that fresh juice is a great way to fend off a cold, when I feel one coming on.

But juicing is not for everyone. And before jumping in head first, there are a few things you should consider.

Update: Read this for more on the science and health of juicing.

6 Things To Consider Before Buying A Juicer

1. Fruit juice and vegetable juice are not created equal

It may sound counter-intuitive, but fruit juice may actually raise your risk of heart disease. Fructose, the primary sugar found in fruit, is transformed into triglycerides in the liver and promotes insulin resistance, both of which promote heart disease. Similarly, fruit juice increases type 2 diabetes risk while whole fruit lowers it.

Why do you think high-fructose corn syrup is so bad for you?

While whole fruit does not typically pose a problem because of its high fiber content, concentrating fruit by juicing it increases the fructose per serving dramatically. Think about how many oranges go into making one small cup of OJ, and you’ll start to see what I mean.

If you’re getting a juicer because you think apple-orange juice is going to make you healthier, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise. Plan to juice mostly vegetables or else getting a juicer is not a particularly healthy choice.

2. You still need to eat your vegetables

Don’t assume that drinking your vegetables is the same as eating them. Yes, as in the case with fructose you will be concentrating vitamins and minerals from your vegetables, but you will also be losing a lot of fiber that slows digestion and helps you feel full.

The rate you digest food and your satisfaction after eating are just as important to your overall health as the nutrients you consume. So while juicing can add to your overall nutrient intake, it cannot replace your daily vegetable consumption.

3. Juicing may stall weight loss

Though vegetables have less fructose than fruit, it is still an incredibly efficient way to take in calories, something most of us don’t need. If you choose to experiment with juicing while attempting to lose weight remember that you still need to watch your portion size, and consider reducing it if weight loss stalls.

I recommend no more than one 8oz juice serving per day if you are trying to lose weight. This is pretty small.

4. Prepare to do a lot of shopping

As noted in the above points, juicers take large quantities of vegetables and turn them into small amounts of juice. Additionally you need to continue buying and eating vegetables for your regular meals.

All this means you’d better plan to do a lot of shopping for produce if you want to keep your refrigerator stocked. If you aren’t prepared for this, you might find you don’t get the use you expected out of your new purchase.

5. Expect to drop some cash

Juicers aren’t cheap, nor are all those shopping trips. Consider juicing a luxury, not a necessity. So if money is an issue for you, you might want to look elsewhere to upgrade your healthstyle.

One thing we’ve experienced with the Breville juice and blend is that it feels like overkill for the kind of juicing we’re doing at home. While some of you may be juicing for large groups, juicing for two does not require an industrial strength machine.

Keep in mind that a larger, more powerful juicer will be harder to work, harder to clean and difficult to store. Consider a smaller size if possible. This smaller model from Breville looks like a fantastic option for a 2-person household.

Here’s a good midrange option: Breville Juice Fountain Elite 1000-Watt Juice Extractor

6. Expect a time commitment

All the shopping, juicing and cleaning does take some time. Making juice for two and cleaning up takes about 10-15 minutes each morning. And as I mentioned above, extra shopping is required (we can no longer fit a week’s worth of vegetables in the fridge, so multiple store trips are necessary).

While the extra work is worth it if you enjoy the juicing experience, you should factor it in while making your purchasing decision.

A few other tips for juicing

If you do decide to take the plunge, here are a few suggestions we’ve found make the best juicing experience:

  • Focus on vegetables, but include some fruit. We’ve found that one small apple makes a huge difference in flavor. This is all we recommend so far in the fruit department.
  • Include 1-2 root vegetables–such as carrots or beets–to add additional flavor and antioxidants. We like to include either 2 small carrots (1 large) or 2 small beets (1 large). These tend to contribute a tad more sugar and a nice earthy flavor, adding complexity.
  • Add at least one leafy green vegetable. We’ve been happy with kale, broccoli and chard (currently in season), but others likely work as well.
  • Include one watery vegetable. Cucumber, celery and other watery vegetables help dilute the too-strong flavors of the previous 3 ingredients. This can make a big difference in drinkability, while adding some nice flavor and additional vitamins.
  • Don’t forget a garnish. A small amount of a strong flavored item such as ginger, lemon, mint or other herb can make your juice a real pleasure to drink while adding highly concentrated antioxidants.
  • Consider adding back a few scoops of the fiber that is filtered out by the juicer. This will make your juice more filling.

Originally published February 24, 2011.

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