Saturday, February 18, 2012

We are Juicers!

Juicing Ingredients
Typical juicing ingredients: kale, apple, beet, strawberries, carrots, and orange.

We kept hearing about juicing from multiple fronts, typically our more health-conscious friends. After we visited back home, Chicago, and went over to Jim and Antonia's new house (where they had a juicer), we decided to start juicing. Jim and Antonia have a big Solo Star juicer. My mom also had a juicer, which she never used, so she let us try it out. It was a rotating style juicer where the juice comes out from centripetal forces after shredding up the fruits and veges first. We started making fruit juices every morning from apples, oranges, and strawberries. But I also wanted to make juice out of green veges like kale or cabbage. In order to do that, the juicer has to be of the grinding style, similar to a coffee grinder. But the juicer my mom let me borrow was the rotating kind. So I looked on craigslist after we got back to California to see what I could get.

Romy 2.27.2012
Romy making juice in the morning.

California is no stranger to juicing, so I found so many choices on cragslist. The juicer we went with is called a Green Star, and it has a double auger, meaning it has two grinding blades, and two juice squeezing blades. The blades aren't like knife blades. They aren't sharp. Instead of chopping or shredding the fruits and veges, which creates a lot of heat, they grind it up into a mush. Then the mush goes into a squeezing section where all the juice gets squeezed out, and all the remaining pulp gets separated out. Because the grinding section, you can juice leafy veges like kale or wheat grass. You can even grind nuts to make nut butters, or grains to make flours. The juices are soooo good and very healthy because you can mix in some kale (which is very nutritionally dense) into sweeter fruits like mangos, strawberries, and apples. We also put beets into our juices.

Banana Ice Cream
Making banana ice cream from the juicer.

Since we've started juicing, we also found other recipes that can be made in the juicer. For example, we made fresh green pasta with the pasta attachment. Its so simple and very good. All you do is mix flour, water and egg (we made a gluten-free pasta by making it with brown rice flour). Then you juice up some kale or spinach to get the dark green juice. Add the kale juice instead of the water that is called for in the pasta recipe. Then you put all of the pasta dough into the juicer and it will push it out in spaghetti or whatever form you choose. The pasta is green, or you can make red pasta by juicing some beets instead. We also make banana ice cream a lot. Also very simple, all you do is peel some bananas, and put them in the freezer until they are fully frozen. Then you just shove them into the juicer and it grinds it up into a soft-serve ice cream consistency. There is no other ingredient besides banana, but it tastes so rich and creamy. Then we added some 'unhealthy' toppings such as chocolate.

Banana Ice Cream
Banana ice cream and all of the toppings.

We love our juicer and use it everyday! We've made quite a few juices, but our absolute favorite recipe is a strawberry-beet mix. Here is the list of ingredients:

1 medium beet, peeled
1 orange
1/2 lb strawberries
1 apple
4 large carrots
1/2 bunch kale

We found that juicing the apples, oranges and strawberries first was the best. Then follow by juicing the kale. Finish by juicing the beets and carrots. The juice is a rich red color and tastes so yummy!

Monday, February 06, 2012

California Newts!

Its winter in California, so that means the newts are out! The newts that live in California are typically only found near the coast, but also live in the Sierra Nevada mountains. We found so many of them just happily crawling along the trail. They are poisonous if ingested, so they have very few natural predators. I thought they were poisonous to the touch, but apparently not. The poison is only harmful if you have a big cut on your finger or something. If a human for some reason or another decided to eat a newt or two, the poison it contains is enough to be fatal.

Baby California Newt
A teeny tiny newt (finger for scale).

As we were walking along the King's Trail on EBMUD land, we took some pictures of some of the newts we saw. We found one tiny baby newt that was so cute. Newts can actually live for a very long time. It's been estimated that some newts are as old as 20 years old!

Baby California Newt
This little guy is so cute!

In Tilden Regional Park, they close down South Park Dr. in the winter months to protect the newts that start wandering around to breed. Apparently, hundreds of newts were being run over by cars on that road. I've always wondered why they closed the road, and now I know (and you do too, but maybe you already knew that)!

Baby California Newt
Close up of the same baby newt.

A video we took of the newt walking.

We saw some larger newts crawling around too, but they aren't as cute (at least to me). They are kind of scary because its very easy to step on them. They don't really get out of the way, and even if they did try, they crawl so slowly! They are colored to kind of blend in with the leaf litter and dirt on the trail, so when you get carried away talking as you're walking, or looking up a scenery, its easy to almost squash one! Luckily we didn't!

Baby California Newt
A larger adult newt, not as cute!