by Tom Sims
Tom Sims searches the Valley for tips on eating healthy, buying healthy food, growing healthy food, and eating out healthy in the Valley, for this Healthy Eating in the Valley column. Feel free to share your suggestions of places and things to check out!
Let’s face it. We are busy and eating on the run. We do not always have the luxury of healthy exotic bistros. Sometimes we have to eat on the run and pick out the best we can get.
Welcome to my life, striking the delicate balance between healthy and convenient. If I planned better, I would carry my food with me, but that is not always practical, even with good planning. There is storage, weight, space, and tools for preparation to consider. Then, there is the issue of needing to meet people over lunch or dinner in a public place to do business. Sometimes, we have to buy prepared food under less than ideal circumstances. Thankfully, the world is discovering that there is an untapped supply of consumers who crave healthy foods and need to eat while they work and work while they eat.
On a recent afternoon, I was with my wife and grandchildren at the Fashion Faire Food Court. We all have our own individual food requirements and tastes. I have been eating a pescatarian diet for some time. Recently, I have been trying to eliminate breads and complex carbohydrates, especially glutinous items from my diet. Even more recently, and temporarily, I have decided to consume mostly liquids for the next month or two. I have a condition that severely restricts the motility of my digestive system starting in the esophagus. My body becomes a giant storage system which does not pass or adequately process and absorb foods and nutrients. I am trying to trick it with gravity and fluidity.
The point is that we all have something special about our dietary needs as we progress through life, and it requires our effort to learn to read menus, charts, and labels. Raw facts and raw foods are among our closest friends. But, not too raw for my system.
I was sad to see that the very nice Japanese kiosk was no longer serving miso soup. They had wonderful vegetarian egg rolls, but I was doing liquid only. The Panda Express outlet also had the veggie spring rolls. Chipotle has some very nice vegetarian options and lots of fresh foods, but nothing liquid. Think Chipotle when you are in a fast food jungle with neon flashing “come Hither” messages in every direction. One sandwich shop had veggie burgers. Another had a veggie and cheese Philly cheese steak (sans steak) that I have had and love. Starbucks is in the mall on the other side of J.C. Penny with some selections I love. BJ’s is in the parking lot with several items — but we are talking INSIDE.
I settled on juice. Specifically, I landed on Surf City Squeeze. Their brand’s mission is “to keep customers’ taste buds satisfied with fresh, quality smoothies while keeping their bodies nourished for an active lifestyle.”
There are not many establishments in Fresno exclusively devoted to smoothies and other juice drinks. Surf City Squeeze and Jamba Juice have the largest segment of the market. Surf City, at the food stand and on the web, provides extensive nutritional information including calories, sugar content, and ingredients. My juice was delicious and filling. I did not try the Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Smoothie. Maybe someday I will be more courageous.
Later in the week, I visited Jamba Juice. It has been a long time coming. I was a little fearful of the high sugar content, but with no added sugar on most items, I found it natural and low glycemic in its impact. My glucose issues have to do with low blood sugar, and I had no problems. All the ingredients are listed along with nutritional information, and the items are categorized according to health benefits.
My own juicing recipes are growing by necessity. It is very easy.
Here is one:
Cut up all your vegetables and fruits.
Put them in the blender.
OK. I will be more specific.
You need celery for a vegetable smoothie. I like to soften mine by cooking it a bit. I cannot handle the stringiness of raw celery at this stage of my journey.
Try this universal and interchangeable recipe.
• One stalk of celery, chopped and blanched.
• Three baby carrots
• One apple or pear (Leave the skin on.)
• Spinach or kale if you are going for green OR tomatoes for red (It all depends on your taste for the day and what you are trying to achieve.)
• One quarter of a large onion.
• One or two cloves of garlic.
• As much jalapeño as you like or can stand, with or without seeds.
• About a quarter of a zucchini
• A dash of honey
• Almonds – maybe 4 (grind them first.)
• As much stevia as you like to sweeten it
• Salt, pepper, and any seasonings you like. For the tomato smoothie, I’d recommend some Italian seasonings.
• Coconut water – as much as you need to make it as thin or thick as you like
• Substitute, eliminate, or add ingredients to your heart’s content.
• Add some ice cubes if you want it cold (or you can refrigerate it for later after the next three steps – You’ll need to blend again if you do.)
• Pulverize it.
• Pour it.
• Drink it.
• Congratulate yourself.
Here is a fruit smoothie with a twist or two for extra, easy to come by protein. Note: I do not like whey, not the “whey” it tastes or the “whey” it feels on my tongue.
• Take a banana from the freezer and peel it (easier than you might think – and, if you prefer not to use a frozen banana, any will do).
• Add an apple or pear or both, mango, kiwi, or any combination.
• Throw in some frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or whatever … or all).
• Sneak in some spinach or kale if you are dead serious about your health. It will not overpower the flavor and you may not even notice.
• Have some stone ground oatmeal or quinoa cooked and put that in the blender. You will be surprised at what it adds to the texture.
• Pour over some almond milk, cashew milk, rice milk, or soy milk.
• Drizzle a little olive oil into the mix for reasons I will explain if you ask me — or leave it out.
• Coconut water will thin the mix and be good for you.
• A drop of honey and stevia to taste will sweeten the mix. You might like a little vanilla, or if you want to live dangerously, some cinnamon.
• If you used the frozen bananas, you may not need ice.
• And, again, pulverize it.
• Pour it.
• Drink it.
• Congratulate yourself.
You do not have to drink it all at once. If you refrigerate it, you can add ice and re-blend each time. I add ingredients every day for a few days. It keeps life interesting.
Take some to work with you in a thermos. However, you may find yourself at the mall or some other place where you need to buy food. If it is the Manchester Mall Food Court, you have some suggestions. Otherwise, read your menus carefully, ask questions, and stay healthy and satisfied.