Thursday, January 9, 2020

Thoughts on a Juice Fast and a Recipe for Homemade Almond Milk (Raw, Delicious)

If you just want that almond milk recipe, skip to the end. If you're interested in my experiment with a juice fast, keep reading.

Back in October, I did something slightly insane. I tried a juice fast. Interestingly, I almost did the same thing at about this time last year. Apparently, Mark and Kip's birthdays (nine days apart) kind of do me in and make me feel gross.

My main goal was to re-set my body. I wanted good things in it. I wanted my bowels to have a bit of a break. And I wanted to re-set my appetite away from junk and towards better things. I even kind of wanted to see if my stomach would feel smaller and I would eat less afterwards. (And was curious if the deprival would actually make me eat more afterwards, thereby backfiring.)

Juice fasts are NOT cheapskate things to do. In fact, in my first search while doing research I was admonished to be sure I planned a day at the spa because this was tough stuff (insert eye roll). And another said they couldn't possibly have done the juice fast without going to a retreat. Seriously, America. But now I'm one of them (minus the spa or retreat, but still the crazy). I will say that I did it in a fairly cheap way. For a juice fast. Which, as I said, still isn't cheap (at least $10/person/day and that's with homemade juices, which is tough because you're kind of tired anyway).

Last year, I did some research on a juice fast, bought ingredients, and then...I had a juice instead of a meal or two and felt better and called it good. Part of me firmly believes that that, in fact, was the right choice and all any of us needs to or should ever do.

But this year, I decided to go for the whole three-day fast. I wanted to do it as an experiment if nothing else. Would it really make my body feel better? Would I be toxin-free, less bloated, and basically glowing when I was done? Uh...

It has, indeed, been interesting.

Below you'll find my experience and thoughts. You'll also find a perfectly perfect almond milk recipe because, well, some might say, I cheated (depends on who you talk to in the juice fasting community).

Also, I didn't always follow all the rules (didn't drink juice every two hours and stuff like that; I had a life to live, but I see how that would have helped keep sugars steady and I did my best).

Day 1:


I did not expect this day to be particularly hard. I regularly fast two meals once a month for religious purposes (no food and NO water--ouch it's hard). So I thought this juice thing would be a breeze.

Actual experience:

-It was not hard until dinner.
-My teeth felt dirty and I determined to brush them more often the following day.
-I took a HUGE, deep nap in the afternoon. To be fair, I'm not sure if juicing is to blame. We'd hosted Kip's parents over the weekend, and I could have been just tired. Also, everyone warns you that you'll be tired, so I kind of expected that a little, but not 1 1/2 hour nap level.
-I felt weirdly dehydrated. I suppose this is because I was drinking so much juice with all those natural sugars, and drinking more seemed like so much fluid.

-In the morning I had a beet juice combo and it honestly seemed like a perfectly reasonable breakfast, especially since the last week and a half had been so full of food. It felt good to enjoy that simple breakfast. I worked out as usual (core class followed by reading while walking on the treadmill--about 50-60 minutes total). Life proceeded as usual. By 11, I was hungry, but that's not way out of the usual.
-For lunch I had a carrot orange juice. It was perfectly delicious, but also intensely sweet. Then I did some work and took my huge nap.
-At dinner, I truly missed food. I was somewhat prepared for this, but what I wasn't prepared for was to have trouble drinking my juice (a green kale/spinach/apple combo). I was just juiced out. I almost felt like I'd rather eat nothing than drink another juice. I got about 2/3 through the juice and just couldn't drink the rest. It was a strange feeling--I was hungry, and I enjoy that juice (I've had it before and consider it a "treat" not an obligation to my health), but thinking of drinking the rest made me want to hurl. In fact, I had a slight dull headache also.
-This is when I decided to kind of sort of cheat. I googled whether nut milks were allowed on juice fasts. Depends on who you talk to. Nut milks are, after all, basically, nut juices. But sometimes people are doing a juice fast as a type of elimination diet (see what is irritating your gut or whatever) and nuts are a common thing to eliminate. But I really really felt like I needed something besides that dang juice. So I made my first ever almond milk and if nothing else good comes from this experiment, it was worth it just for that. That almond milk was just what I wanted and it seems it was just what my body needed. When it was done later that night, I slammed two glassfuls down. Just chugged them. Now, I'd been warned not to do this with the juices, but the truth is that I'd never been tempted to. I just sipped along on them for, like, an hour. I don't know if I could have chugged them if I'd tried. As I said, sometimes even consuming the whole thing was a challenge. But I chugged those almond milks. And it felt amazing. Until about 45 minutes later when it didn't. But it was fine.
-I was way tired, a bit foggy headed, and a bit head-achy. Went to bed and slept a fantastic sleep.

Day 2:


-Not to be too miserable. Dinner would be hard. Looked forward to trying a cashew milk.

Actual things that happened:

-I woke up feeling great. In fact, every morning, I felt pretty great and I slept extremely well throughout this experiment (except the last night). Beet orange juice for breakfast (I actually preferred these beet combo juices in general--they felt a bit more substantial than the others)
-Did a 30 minute weight workout with Kip. Felt a bit sluggish, but okay. Consumed nut milk post workout. Loved it.
-Lunch was a green juice. Was bored out of my mind of juice. Wanted more variety, but couldn't find it in the raw juices Evansville has to offer for purchase. Bought some stuff to make my own juice, plus a Naked (not raw and not unpasteurized) juice for dinner (which also had pulp in it making it not a true juice either. Didn't care; I felt desperate for some variety and it promised coconut!)
-Did a butt ton of work in the afternoon and did not take a huge, ridiculous nap.
-Felt blerg.
-Brushed my teeth three times instead of two.
-Really sluggish in the evening. Very low level headache. Also very low level ache in mouth teeth. No idea why. From not chewing. From so much acid from the vegetables/fruit.
-Was NOT glowing. In fact, I felt kind of low-level sick. It seemed that this whole trend was just a way for healthy, wealthy people to force their bodies to feel less optimal. That seemed pretty stupid to me. Also, when I confessed my juice fast to my sister on the phone, she told me they'd just had a specialist on eating disorders talk to their youth group and cleanses and juice fasts of all types were on her naughty list. At this point, they were kind of on my naughty list too, and I wondered if I should finish it up or not. I wondered if it was setting a poor example for my children and even talked to my girls about how this was an experiment and how I might even end up feeling it was bad for me in the long run.
-Naked juice for dinner. It was a cheat (pulp of some of the fruits/veggies included) and it was repulsive (sorry, spirulina; you just don't belong in juice...). I literally had to try to let the juice flow past most of my tongue. And, again, I struggled to drink the whole thing because I was so juiced out.
-Warm cashew milk for an evening snack. Yeah, it sounds gross, but when you've been drinking juice all day, it's pretty delicious.
-Very tired in the evening. Very FOGGY brained. Felt a little low level sick--like when you're not really sick, but somewhat under the weather.
-I did not experience crippling hunger (I credit this to the nut milks, though that is not logical since they only have, like, 35 calories and are mostly water. But somehow they felt much more filling than the juices.)

Day Three:


-Hard. Hungry. Might break and have normal dinner. Wasn't sure.
-I considered eating dinner this night. I felt I had sufficient "data" for my experiment. And I was just so juiced out. What about a nice salad. I kept it on the table (hehe puns) as an option, but kind of wanted to try the whole three days to see if any miracles happened. If I ate, I would lose the last twelve hours of my experiment. But if I was too miserable to care, then I was going for dinner.

Actual Results:

-Again in the morning, I felt just fine. In fact, I felt good. Energetic, not starving, and extremely well rested. Beet combo juice for breakfast.
-Did a yoga workout and my stomach started growling in the middle. This is 9:30 or so. This was the first morning, I'd felt that hungry.
-Cashew milk post workout snack. Prepared more almond milk because I'm an addict now.
-Cucumber grapefruit juice for lunch (my own creation and perfectly amazing, though not filling at all).
-Afternoon hunger. This truly was the first day where I felt significantly hungry. The other days I experienced hunger, but nothing too significant. The third day my stomach growled much of the day.
-Kept with the juice that night. Didn't want it, but drank it. Just wanted to see what happened.
-Did NOT sleep well. The other night's I'd slept so much better than usual, but this night, I slept worse. Don't know why.


-Some people report an, um, cleansing of the bowels. This, I believe, is a sometimes effect of any type of fasting and I'm not sure why. But I didn't experience that (nor do I during my monthly religious fasts). In fact, after day one, my bowels just kind of hung out and chilled. This was interesting and, honestly, kind of nice. I had almost (TMI warning) no gas whereas in usual food-eating life, I have plenty (though it smells perfectly neutral unless I'm sick) as do most food-eating humans.
-I also slept like a log (except for the last night). I can't help but think that part of the reason for that is that my body wasn't trying to digest a huge dinner and/or dessert still.


-I slept like a freaking angel (most of the time). My takeaway is that it might be beneficial for me to eat earlier in the evening and then to not eat anything else until bed. I wonder if my digestive track is just working overtime while I sleep. Or it could have been cause by low blood-sugar levels. Not sure.
-Because of my great sleep, I enjoyed fairly energized mornings.
-I did feel mostly completely unbloated (except when I chugged the almond milk that one night). That said, I don't often feel bloated, but I definitely noticed less gas. That said, gas is just an indication that our bowels are moving so... is having non-moving bowels a good thing. Jury's out on this one, especially since I don't have offensive stinky gas anyway (usually).
-I suppose I consumed many vitamins and minerals.
-I learned to make delicious nut milks and became an addict.
-Do I feel like I re-set my body? This was my main goal. I wanted to wash out the crap (maybe literally though that didn't happen) and re-adjust my appetite and junk eating expectations. On some level, this definitely happened. When I craved food, it was nuts and real, delicious wholesome foods. I did NOT want sweets of any kind. The thought made me sick (perhaps because of all the sugar in the juices already?) [Several months later update: This craving healthy food effect lasted for over a month and may have lasted longer if the holidays hadn't hit. I didn't crave sugar, almost at all. When I did, a bite or two of something would fully satiate me, and more than that felt a little icky. I had some pie at Thanksgiving and then slid into Christmas and began eating more sweets again, but the long-term effects of reduced unhealthy cravings makes me feel like the fast may have been worthwhile after all.]


-I felt kind of sick at several stages of this. I'm not sure how wealthy you have to be as a culture to invoke sick-feeling-ness in the name of healthy.
-I felt foggy as heck at night. Like, wondered if I should drive a vehicle foggy. I just wasn't as sharp feeling as usual and had very low energy. I went to bed early (maybe this is a very good thing), but didn't have my usual evening energy.
-No bowel cleanse, though I'm not sure I'm sad about that.
-Sure, I lost weight, but come on, it's not going to stay that way [Several months later update: Half of it did stay away until the holidays due to my healthier eating and cravings, so about 2-3 pounds].
-This would seriously wreck your teeth if you did it often enough. I brushed extra, but chewing really does a lot to cleanse the teeth (I mean, maybe not if you're chewing cookies, but fruits or veggies or other foods get a lot of junk off your teeth; I hadn't realized how much. And the sugar/acid bath that is juice (yes, even veggie juice on some level) would be hard on teeth over time.


-Eat less several hours before bed.
-Juice for breakfast as an occasional mini-fast is very cleansing and nutritious. I fully support it. If you're really desperate, do breakfast and lunch, or breakfast and dinner. Juice all day every day for three days is blerg, but did have some long-term effects that I considered fully helpful. I think a juice fast (I would say no longer than 3 days) would be helpful once, maybe twice a year (but definitely not more than that, or your just disordering your eating).

Almond Milk
Make: 3-4 C
Cost: $4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Wait time: 1-5 hours (the almost must sit in water)
adapted from Detoxinista


1 C almonds
8 C water (4 four soaking and 4 fresh for blending)

Optional ingredients:

-2-4 dates
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 Tbsp cocoa
-warm spices

Put one cup almonds with 4 cups water. Soak for 4 hours. Want to speed this up? Use very hot water, and you'll only need an hour or so. This is what I did.

Drain water.

Add 4 more cups water to almonds. Blend away in a good blender (though you DON'T need a super fancy one like BlendTec)

Strain through cheesecloth, nut cloth, or just a plain old tea towel (that's what I used; purchased from Walmart and very cheap). I set my cloth over a wire mesh strainer. It strains quickly (as opposed to something like cheese) so this should only take a few minutes. Then squeeze the rest out, which takes another minute or two.

Drink. But don't chug. Seriously, I never chug store bought almond milk, but this stuff is so creamy and good, I have to stop myself. I thought that had just been an effect of the fast, but today when I made it, I had to put on the breaks again. It's so good.

If using optional ingredient, include them when blending. Or you can add the vanilla and cocoa after straining. Up to you.

What to do with that pulp? My true advice? Nothing. Throw it out. If you've got chickens, feed it to them. I know that is so un-cheapskate of me, but truly, it's not very good. It has, supposedly, very few nutrients/flavor left (though I'm sure it's got fiber). And the truth is that I tried two recipes using it--one from the same blogger who gave us this delicious recipe and one of my own nut balls--and they were both flavorless, requiring so much more sugar and huzzah to make them taste good. You got your nutrition in the nut milk. The pulp doesn't have much left. If you find an amazing way to use it, however,  I'd love to hear about it in the comments, though.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Things I've Learned from The Tasty Cheapskate

Hello friends!

This post was supposed to be written in January. I'm a wee bit behind.

I've been crazy busy with writing and life which is why The Tasty Cheapskate will be slowing down. From here on out, I may post an amazing recipe, or a group of favorites for you, but I won't be posting regularly. With any luck, I will have a Kindle version of my favorite recipes for you to purchase sometime next year.

For now, I wanted to share with you what I've learned from writing this blog. When I started, it was our goal as a (young) family of six to eat on $6/day. We came pretty close! The second half of the year, that figure moved up to $10/day. We could do that pretty handily. Now I sometimes spend more than that a day (closer to $13/day), trying to keep our food budget at around $400/month. Below you'll find a few of the things that I still cling to to keep our food life cheap while still eating as naturally and healthfully and deliciously as possible. Cheers!

1. Cook most of your own food. I mean, somebody shut the door, right?  Earth-shattering advice happening right here. But, seriously, it's the biggest and best tip I can give you. Food will almost always taste better, be better for you, and be CHEAPER if you make it at home. You don't have to go crazy (unless you want to). You don't have to make your own yogurt or kimchi or grow your own tomatoes for sauce or bake all your own bread (unless, again, you want to). But make dinner at home and life will be cheaper. Take a sack lunch and life will be cheaper. Skip the drive-thru for breakfast and life will be cheaper. No guarantees here but your waist might get smaller too.If you have to cheat, cheat. Buy a bagged salad (cheaper than even a fast food salad). Buy applesauce in the little cup things for your kids. Buy breakfast cereal for heaven's sake if you want to. But don't go out all the time (do go out sometimes if you're exhausted or want to--just not all the time). Even expensive food is cheaper and usually tastes better if you make it at home (hello triple layer chocolate cake). There are so many resources these days from food blogs to allrecipes to pinterest to everywhere. You're not stuck with grandma's cookbook. You can find a million and three good recipes with a million and three reviews to boot.

2. Don't eat more than your body wants or needs. I just can't stop with the earth-shattering revelations here. But one of the most expensive things we can do is eat (and cook) more than we need. Yeah, I know it's easier said than done. I feel you, people. Just don't cook and eat like it's a holiday every weekday. Keep your portions small.

3. Don't waste food. Try not to over-buy food (especially perishables). Try not to overcook and end up with things people won't eat for leftovers. This takes a little trial and error, but if you care about it, you'll get it and it will save you TONS of money. Americans waste 50% of their food every month (that's not all home waste; it's grocery stores and farms too). But we easily throw away a good 10-20% of our food budgets every month. You do the math. That's a lot of money that just went into the bin. It's a carbon footprint. It's a budget slap in the face. Sometimes I'm a little crazy about this and I am trying to be more moderate so we don't wind up with a fridge full of odd little bites of leftovers all the time. But if it's a serving-size leftover, I keep it. And then I try to remember to eat it.

4. Speaking of... Eat your leftovers. I try to have leftover nights and bring out all the stuff we've got to eat. I eat leftovers for lunch. And it is AMAZING. Why would anyone NOT want to eat leftovers for lunch??? They're delicious and cheap and take NO time to prepare. If you're not doing this, you are missing out on one of life's great delights, time-savers, and indulgences. Yeah, I just called leftovers an indulgence. I'll do it again if I have to. You're leftovers are better than most restaurant food. Eat them.

5. Along these lines...Keep the refrigerator clean. Because if you really don't eat all your leftovers, it's okay. You're sill human. I know sometimes we have good intentions, but just don't get to those leftovers. It's okay. Clean them out of the fridge, make adjustments to your cooking or shopping, and try again. Keeping a messy fridge (or freezer) with rotten food won't reduce your food budget. It'll just make your crazy and maybe sick if your weird kids go and eat that rotten food.

6. Eat less meat. If you don't eat less meat, eat it with cheap side dishes like rice or potatoes. We're not writing about diet ideas here, so if you just can't stomach potatoes, or you're on a keto diet, so be it. But meat is cheaper if you pair it with something inexpensive.

7. Breakfast for dinner. We did this back in our cheapest days. And we still do it. It's fun, it's easy, it's time-saving. Your kids will probably eat it.

8. Quick foods. Have some quick foods on hand, even if they're cheats. Pull out the pasta, the croissant rolls (to wrap meat or cheese into), the bagged salads, the tortillas, the beans and rice if that's your jam. Easy things to make when you're about to order a pizza. Try not to eat these every night or you'll grow hopelessly bored, but they're really nice in a pinch. And the truth is that every time I almost order food and then drag my butt into the kitchen and whip something up, I end up relaxing and feeling better about life and the night. Try it.

9. Have a plan (ish). Even if it's just a sloppy Pinterest board. Kind of knowing what you'd like to make for the week saves you money and makes cooking more fun and makes life less crazy.

10. Clean up together. When your kids are old enough, cook together. This isn't cheap necessarily, but it keeps you from slavery, which is nice. It makes it more fun to cook and eat together if you are not the family servant.

BONUS! Have fun and give yourself a break sometimes. Eating cheap is a great way to slim your budget (and maybe your waistline), but don't let it become an unhealthy obsession. Let it be fun. Let it be freeing.

Long live cheapskatery!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Ten Best Christmas Cookies


I'm having a cookie-baking party on Saturday. We'll be making some of these. Because they're the best.

1. Chocolate Sugar Cookies (that hold their shape). If you, like me, really want to like sugar cookies because they're so pretty and festive and traditional, but you just can't because they always taste like dry sugary lumps of flour coal, this recipe might be for you. Flavorful, beautiful, chocolate. Need I say more. (pictured above)

2. Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies. So so good. If you don't like Marciano cherries, no worries. You can top these with other delights.

3. Molasses Curls. Pretty (this picture is NOT doing them justice), delicious, and not very difficult, these are Christmas in a crisp. Not interested in rolling a cookie and filling it with billows of whipped cream (have you no soul?), you can make their flat sisters, Cinnamon Oat Crispies (which has a simple GF adaptation).

(Molasses Curls)

(Cinnamon Oat Crispies)

4. Chocolate Cookies with Orange Sugar Edges. Sophisticated and amazing. These are one of my all-time favorite cookies.

5. Seven Layer Cookies (Magic Cookie Bars, Dolly Bars). The best. Easy enough for an 8-year-old to make. (Also, why have these not gotten a photo re-do. Seriously. I make them EVERY year. We must eat them too fast.)

6. Molasses Crinkles. My favorite ginger/molasses cookie. And I've made quite a few.

7. Dutch Almond Bars. These remind me of The Netherlands and Christmas all wrapped up in a pretty box together. Also, SO easy. You mix, like, five ingredients with a spoon, pour in a pan, and bake. Done.

8. Katie's Chocolate Sandwich Cookies. These will melt you into a puddle of sweet agreement and holiday love. If you'd like, you can roll the edges in peppermint.

9. Speculaas/Speculoos. A traditional Dutch/German cookie. All the spice cookie goodness with the soft chewiness of an American cookie. Right here.

10. Easy Double Chocolate Cookies. And in case you crack under the cookie pressure. (Don't. It's gonna be alright), just make your favorite Chocolate Chip or Double Chocolate Chocolate Chip recipe and throw in some holiday M & M's.

Well, folks, you can definitely see how my photography skills have evolved over the years...

My daughter might be manning a teen/tween table making the easiest ever cheater gingerbread houses.

Merry Christmas!!!

(My favorite salad recipes coming January...)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...