The 4 Essentials

Almost every juice I make has one of these four ingredients. And more often than not, it has all of them. Just like you build a good soup by starting with a great stock – together these build my most basic juicing “broth”. It has a mild flavor and hefty volume that mellows more flavorful fruits and veggies.

1. Lemon. Beyond adding a bright flavor to any juice, it’s packed full of Vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Keeps you regular, detoxifies the liver, clears up your skin, and alkalinizes the body. Buy organic and you can juice them whole, but peel them if you buy conventional.

2. Ginger. Spice up your juice with a thumb of ginger. Start small and go big – it can pack quite a punch. It’s a great source of potassium with powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, and is known to offer immune support and improve digestion. (Get sick in China and everyone will tell you to eat more ginger!) Per usual, take a peeler to it if it’s nor organic.

3. Celery. It’s mostly water so it generates a healthy volume of juice with each rib. Unfortunately – I’d suggest only juicing organic celery because conventionally grown is one of the “dirty dozen” and is known to have high amounts of chemical and pesticide exposure.   It’s a natural source of sodium and adds a neutral earthy flavor to juice. Stalks are long and lean like our bones, and are good for them because of the silicon and sodium content (silicon is a strengthener in the molecular structure of our bones, which are made up of 23% sodium).

4. Cucumber. So fresh and so clean. Like, celery, cucumber is mostly water and makes a healthy amount of juice. If it’s not organic, give it a peel – to limit your exposure to all those chemicals and petiscides. Cucumber is a natural diuretic so helps you flush out all extra bloat and push out the toxins. Not only are cucumbers relatively mild and flavorless, they’re affordable – especially during farmers market season!

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Juicing: Where do I start?

 1. Buy a centrifugal juicer.

There are multiple types of juicers and all have their benefits and drawbacks. I must warn you, if you google “what kind of juicer should I buy” the result will be confusion and intimidation. To get started juicing up your life – you need something easy to incorporate into your life – which is why I recommend centrifugal: they are affordable, fast and easy to clean. Once you become addicted/advanced/wealthy – by all means invest in the another juicer – like this $2,500 Norwalk. Until then, let your budget be your guide – and invest in one of these:

  • Breville Compact Juice Extractor - $100
  • Jack LaLane Power Juicer Pro - $150
  • Breville Juice Fountain Plus - $150
  • Omega 9000 - $220
  • Breville Juice Extractor - $300

2. Put your juicer on the counter. 

Like they say, out of site – out of mind. My juicer sat in the closet for 2 months before I opened it. It took another month for me to actually start using it. Ditch your excuses, clear off some counter space and show that puppy off. After all, you probably will end up spending a few hundred dollars on it!

Every time you walk by the juicer think about all the nutrients you are missing out on. Did you have 10 servings of fruits and veggies today? What about yesterday? Eventually guilt will set in and you’ll be more likely to put the hunk of machinery to use.

3. Find some recipes and stock the fridge. 

Confession: I am horrible at following recipes. I’m more mad scientist at the stovetop than cautious chemist, which was disastrous when I began juicing.  You can buy books stuffed with recipes or you can stick to the wealth of information google offers. To start, pick recipes which are chalk full of fruits and vegetables you don’t mind chewing – if you’d eat them in their natural state – they won’t be too offensive when juiced. This is my suggestion:

Amateur Hour Juice

  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 ribs of celery
  • 1 red apple
  • 1/2 cucumber


I know you probably have thousands of unanswered questions – give me time – I’ll work on adressing them all. But for now, are you ready to begin? 

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A new type of junky.

The first step is admitting you have a problem. Hi, I’m Abbie and I’m a caffeine junky. Soda has never been my drink of choice, but I could down an iced coffee faster than you can say “onomatopoeia” and my thirst for iced tea is unquenchable. I’ve been clean for about two years. Well, relatively clean. A coffee and tea here and there – but a far cry from my former 6 shots of espresso a day. August of 2010 – I gave it up and never looked back. The headaches were as exhausting as the adrenal fatigue I was experiencing, but it was worth it.

Okay, I’ll admit it. I indulge in a weekly iced coffee –  sweetened with a bit of honey and a shot of cream. (Enjoying one as I type). But for people married to their daily dose of caffeination and looking for a way out – I suggest a juicer. Yes, unleash your inner Jack LaLanne! I quit cold turkey, but I’m positive had I had a juicer in 2010, it would have made coming down from my caffeine binge far more pleasant.

For Christmas I got this guy and now juicing is my new addiction. Mornings aren’t the same without a tall glass of green. Nothing picks you up like 20 oz of the phytonutrients packed into a pound of fruits and vegetables. You can drink all the vegetables you dread eating and if you do it right – it’s pretty delicious.

I’m so amped on juicing that I want to share it with everyone. There is so much to teach, and so little time. My June goal is to document my Juicing knowledge and suggestions here on the old blogzilla …. so hopefully I can send friends, family, and strangers to it to read about my tips/tricks/suggestions.

So what are your questions? What do you want to know? How can I get you amped on juicing?

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Week 1

Beef Pho

I'm a big fat cheater! But how can one resist a big fat delicious bowl of Pho from Rolling Wok?

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Paleo, nice to meat you.

Last night my dad grilled the most perfect medium rare rib eye. The steak, a product of a cow who lived a sustainable grass fed life,  was delicious, juicy and the best evening treat. I looked down at my last bite of steak – thinking about how long it took me to get to the point of embracing beef.

It’s not my fault, however. For most of my life, 15 years at least, my parents were vegetarian. While I wasn’t vegetarian myself, the only time I ate meat was when eating out or at a friend’s house. At age 16 I was nearly ruined of meat forever. While staying with my grandmother, she slapped two pork chops in a pan and fried them up for 2 hours and called it dinner. I was forced to choke down the dry grey meat and remember that I was just sure it was exactly what twine tasted like.

Fast forward to college, where I did my own experiments with being vegetarian and eventually vegan. Both, horrible failures all resulting in general malaise, injuries and serious anemia.

Now, after having dined in China, chowing on the parts of animal you never imagine seeing, much less eating –  I am happy to call myself a meat eater.  In fact, I want to embrace this lifestyle and begin a new phase in my life of chowing.

Yes, I’m starting a Paleo journey. You’ve probably read about it, if not use “the google” or accept my simple explanation:

 What is this paleo? Think caveman. Hunt/gather …. no time for all that cultivation and processing. High in meat, eggs and fish… plus vegetables, fruits and nuts for good measure. And those foods that come packaged… you don’t buy ‘em.  As for dairy… well unless it’s raw skip it.

Ready set, here we go. In theory, this shouldn’t be too hard, although – I’m still trying to figure what the paleolithic human did when he craved chocolate chip cookies. Discuss?

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Once upon a time there was a band, Days Away. Nobody understood them. Days Away was more talented than attractive, and more awkward than relatable. The place they called home was quickly filling with new tenants and did what it could to keep up appearances and ensure a good resale value.

When their lease expired, Days Away was forced to wander homeless. After travelling many months in a musical dessert, they stumbled into a place called Sarget House. Suddenly, Days Away was making noise again and I took notice. Where was this Sargent House and was it just another lousy landlord looking to collect rents? I took to the interwebs to investigate.

What I discovered was that Days Away had found so much more than a house. It was a family. A happy, healthy family. One that birthed beautiful music and expression. At Sargent House you could be ugly, awkward, creative and still respected. The means weren’t just to an end but the means were what meant.

Fast forward, six years later, and I find myself mourning the death of Days Away – but so happy to have held their family close. Lucky to cheer on victories and share their stories. Offering up sofas, dollars when I have them, hugs, baked goods, and just about anything else the family asks for.

***This post was originally posted over in the Sargent House forums as an answer to “How did you first hear about Sargent House?”. Since I got a bit long winded, I figured I should memorex my love for my Sargent House family on my own home. 


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I miss you, China.

Yesterday, I was walking around Walmart and nearly had an anxiety attack. Aisles upon aisles of things people don’t need. Packed with stuff people call on for comfort or convenience, all in a confusing playground of fluorescent light and a mirage of American marketing. The grocery aisles – a black hole of confusion with prepackaged goods boasting ingredient lists just as foreign as the Chinese characters I found myself so confused staring at. When I drove home, I counted passing 7 fast food restaurants and at least a dozen other chain restaurants. The only people I saw out walking had dogs in tow. When I caught the eye of people driving in the cars next to me, they quickly looked away.

America seems foreign country to my heart. So sterile, uncomfortable, and joyless. I miss small stores with the necessities and grocery aisles of little. I miss the sounds of the streets and wandering around the neighborhood. I miss the aromas of mom and pop cooking in their restaurant kitchens, serving up fresh affordable meals.  I miss walking everywhere, dodging fresh poop and weaving in and out of Chinese girls walking arm-in-arm. I miss the broken English of “welcome to take my taxi” and watching the city pass by as cab drivers navigated in and out of near disasters to deliver me at a destination. I miss having little to communicate but always feeling so satisfied.

A place I miss the most that served up warm steaming soups and dumplings, just off a noisy street. Quiet but bustling.

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A fast 5 months

Yes, criticize as you must, I’ve done a poor job updating you on all the happenings of my life, but I used spare minutes to toss together a 150 page photo journal on blurb that appropriately documents my time in China – complete with writings on juicy topics like “5 things squat toilets teach you” and “the 10 different Chinese words for what white people just call dumplings”.

Today I found myself awake at 6am, thank you barking dogs. I was happy with the early rise, enjoying a bit of AM meditation and yoga all from the “comfort” of my mattress. Tomorrow my 48 hours of travel back to the US begins and I know that my body will miss the hard mattress, wake up calls from barking rooftop dogs, and a morning hop across cold tile floors to squat while half awake.

I already miss so much about China but am excited for all sorts of American luxuries:  smog free sunshine, drinkable tap water, chocolate chip cookies, internet with download speeds greater than 1 MBPS, and cheese.

See you in 60 odd hours, Des Moines.



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Xi’an and the Reverse Culture Shock Experience

The first week of October is the Chinese National Holiday. It’s an actual holiday, where the country shuts down and parties. Workers are given 7 straight days off and it seems that all of China heads somewhere else within the country. Amazing, at least by United States standards where a good holiday is a Monday off work and leaving early on Friday.

In hopes of checking out a few holes in the ground, complete with thousands of ceramic statutes, C and I headed to Xi’an to see the Terracotta Warriors. For about $55 USD we headed out on an adventure navigating all the famous touristy locations in Xi’an. The tour was complete with an “English” speaking tour guide, transportation, admission to all the sites and the most flavorless Chinese meal I’ve ever had.

Crammed in what was a Chinese version of a minivan, this would be C and I’s first tour group day trip. Our fellow tour mates were a German woman and her young son, a Spanish couple and a guy I’ll refer to as BSCSG (short for Bat Shit Crazy Spanish Guy). While the sites of Xi’an were beautiful and seeing the Terracotta Warriors in person was amazing, BSCSG provided the most entertainment.

As supplmentary historical background that’s useful for the rest of this story, it’s good you know that the Terracotta Warriors were built by Qin Shi Huang, who was the “first emperor” of a “unified China” in 221 BC. The warriors were  found just a few miles away from Qin Shi Huang’s tomb (pictured below). The tomb has yet to be unearthed, which is probably for the best since China has some issues with archeology* and considering their museums are subpar (moldy display cases and reflective glass).

The Emperor’s Tomb – a World Heritage Site

After an exciting day of sightseeing, we were dropped at our last stop of the day: the site of the Emperor’s Tomb. I’ve never been a fan of drama or helping sort it out – but when C snuck away to snap pictures of the site up close – I was left with the broken English of the BSCSG and our tour guide who were screaming at each other. As I walked over to figure out what had went on – I was dragged in to translate/mediate.

BSCSG was infuriated (or as he said in a 90 DB scream “I’m just expressing my opinion”) that we would not be going to see the man-made “Emperor’s Tomb”. Yes, since the tomb has not been unearthed and the Chinese need a way to sucker more RMB off tourists, they built a man made replica of what they think the tomb looks like. A good plan considering they are waiting a good 100 years before getting serious about opening the tomb.

The situation continued to unfold as the tour guide explained (via my translations) that the entire reason we could not go see this replica tomb, was because BSCSG continually asked for more time at the sites earlier in the day. We had 30 minutes to walk Pit 1 (pictured below), which is approximately the size of an American Football field. BSCSG was satisfied – 30 minutes was not nearly enough time – he wanted more. Not only did he request and get more time, he was LATE meeting up with the group thereafter. By the time we finished walking all the pits and returning to our minivan – the ticket office for the man-made tomb was closed. Quick to come up with a replacement activity, the tour guide took us to the actual site. Note: Both C and I were happy to have missed the man made site, having no desire to see wax figurines and another poorly fixed museum – the actual site was much more interesting to spy up close.

The back of Pit 1.

If that all confused you, here is the short story: Because BSCSG was rude, slow and had no concern for the group – he would not be able to see a man made replica of an unearthed tomb only he wanted to see.

The tour guide vs BSCSG assault was still on as C returned from her photo journey and upon seeing her, our guide shoved everyone into the van, wanting to get home as soon as possible.  I had no chance to explain the situation to C. Just giving her an “OMG this is hilarious” look and hinting to her how excited I was to get back to the hotel.

The entire van ride back to our hotel BSCSG was screaming. Sometimes in English but mostly in Spanish – spewing his feelings to the young Spanish couple sitting three rows ahead of him. It took almost an hour to drive back to the city and  when C and I got to our hotel, we hoped out of the van and ran inside.

At last! Finally we could discuss what had just happened and I could explain the situation in something other than facial expressions. We realized how much it stunk to be around  a group of foreigners/people who speak our language.

In the last few months, we have gotten used to speaking our minds and spewing off whatever we are thinking because rarely we run across English speakers. It’s was a first taste of reverse culture shock. It will be difficult returning to the US and a land full of English speakers where it’s going to be difficult to discuss the strange smell of the guy sitting next to you at the lunch table or why his shirt has a “Playroy” bunny on it.

*The Terracotta Warriors were discovered in the 1970′s and they kept unearthing them despite the fact they were brightly painted but after a few minutes the coloring disappeared. Apparently nobody had thought that maybe some serious thought should be put into preservation and unearthing of them – and it wasn’t until much later it was figured out. The joke is – the Chinese don’t let anyone with a Ph.D. in archeology anywhere near them. It’s likely ordinary laborers were used to dig the pits.


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Taxi Cab Confessions and CNG

C and I have been teaching English to local taxi drivers. An average lesson goes like this:

  • Taxi Driver: (Pulls Up)
  • Abbie:  Nǐ Hăo.
  • Taxi Driver: (Pulls Away)
  • Abbie: (screaming at the cab) **** *** *******!

Yes, rather than seeing past my crystal clear pale skin, poor Chinese and well written directions – you spot the lǎowài (foreigner) and pull away as fast as possible. These interactions are common, annoying and are a reason I’ll no longer have blood pressure problems upon my return to the United States.

Fortunately most of the time, it’s easy to get a cab. And most of the drivers are kind, and don’t try to screw the foreigners by taking excessive routes or charging off meter. Some of them are quite friendly, and repeat the English they know – usually a combination of “Hello” “Goodbye” and “USA”. In return I spit a few words of Chinese (it’s hard since most of my Chinese revolves around food.)

The most concerning part of the average Chinese taxi rides is getting dragged off major thoroughfares (see also: a great place to rape/kill/dump someone) for “CNG”  (compressed natural gas). This has happened at least 5 times I can remember, and I’m making it my new mission to snap photos each time it.

Can you imagine in the United States, your cab driver, still on the meter, dropping you off at the curb while he refills?  You can’t really argue with it – not when you don’t have enough Chinese. Further, there’s no reason to argue – at most you are gipped $1 – and even on principal I can’t argue over $1 in China.

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