I’m planning to escape Chicago this winter in my little home on wheels. So, to prepare, I’ve been evaluating my kitchen appliances and trying to figure out which ones I might be able to leave behind, and which new ones I must buy and keep!
The first new gadget is a bit counter intuitive. It’s a 4-quart Nesco Multi-Cooker and is a bit bigger than my previous 4-quart Crock Pot slow cooker. So, why would I want a bigger item in my RV kitchen? Because it can not only replace my slow cooker, but also replace my rice cooker, can steam veggies, and with it’s pressure-cooker features, can also cook a number of foods faster than conventional pots (dry beans without needing to soak them overnight first, for example).
It also has a Timer delay, so I can set it to turn on automatically when I’m out during the day, or sleeping at night. So far, I’ve just cooked rice in it, but the rice has been fantastic and much better than my previous rice cooker.
The next new gadget was something I resisted buying for a long, long time – an Omega 8004 juicer. I had an expensive Blendtec blender (seen behind the juicer above) and kept asking Tessa and Evelyn why I should now have to pay a few hundred more for a “one-trick-pony” dedicated appliance. Well, after our visit in Colorado, I finally understood the value!
When I previously tried juicing in my Blendtec, the fiber remained in the juice. While that might be perfectly fine for a fruit juice (think orange juice, lemonade, etc), it makes more nutritional green or veggie juices more difficult to drink—your body feels “full” and starts refusing to drink the amount that’s really necessary due to the fiber still being in the drink. Compare how much easier it is to drink a large glass of water vs. a large smoothie, and you’ll get the concept here.
So the second “a ha” I finally learned—juicing is the really the easiest and fastest way to get all the dense nutrients that a vegan needs to consume daily. Now, that doesn’t mean you must only consume juice -- although some, like Tessa, and Joe Cross (from “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”) have done a juice fast to kick-start weight loss and boost their nutrient levels.
Over the past year, I had started getting lazy about ensuring that 1/2 my daily calories were greens and veggies. I started sliding towards more carbs, sweets, and fruits, and as a result, gained about 10 lbs back and began feeling rather lethargic. But now that I have the juicer, I can reduce down that mountain of daily greens and veggies I’m “supposed” to consume into a very manageable single glass of juice that now replaces one of my daily meals. My energy levels are back and my diet feels in better balance once again.
When I want to get more aggressive again with weight loss, I can replace more meals with juice and/or add more physical exercise to my day.
So, why did I choose the Omega vs. the Breville that was featured in “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”? Well, YouTube videos from this guy (as over-enthusiastic and long-winded as he might be!) were very helpful in educating me about the different kinds of juicers. In the end, I liked the fact that the Omega’s low RPMs would be quieter, do a better job at juicing leafy greens, be a bit easier to clean, break down into a smaller package for storage, cost a bit less, and it would come with a 15-year warranty. But the kicker? It also comes with other inserts that allow you to convert it to a food extruder for making pasta noodles, sorbet, and even salsa!
But, back to it’s main role—juicing. Here’s what it looks like when disassembled:
When preparing to juice, it’s incredible just how much produce it takes to make an 8 oz. glass of juice! Here’s a bucket full of produce that is to become my morning breakfast and mid-morning snack:
It’s a 1/2 of a papaya, 1 cucumber, 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, 1 large handful of spinach, 1 sliver of ginger, an apple, and a pear. This juicer has a smaller feed tube than the high-speed models, so it does require a bit more cutting to prepare the food for juicing. I cut the apple and pears into slices and discard the center seed core, but I don’t bother peeling them (as the juicer will handle that). For the papaya, I spoon out and discard the seeds, and then just spoon out pieces of the fruit to push into the hopper (rather than trying to include the heavier rind as well). The juicer would certainly be strong enough to still process it, but it seems easier for that particular fruit to just dispose of the rind prior to than after juicing.
Once the food is prepped, juicing is pretty simple. Just throw the pieces into the hopper. The juice will come out below the auger assembly, while the pulp will push out into the front bucket.
The plunger helps push leafy greens more easily. It has a nice gasket that helps prevent even small skinny pieces like wheatgrass from being left behind in the feed tube.
I cover the pulp collection bucket with a freezer bag to prevent the plastic from becoming discolored. Certainly not necessary, though. I like that you can used any old container for the juice or the pulp and don’t need to only use the supplied containers.
Finally, the end result—a delicious and nutritious green juice! I found this recipe and a ton of others on JuiceRecipes.com. There are dozens of free websites out there to give you new juice ideas.
Now, what about the aftermath? Well, it’s not really that bad to clean up. The pulp is virtually dry and easy to dump into a trash can. The auger and components rinse off easily in hot water.
Omega supplies a nylon brush (looks like a big toothbrush) for cleaning the metal strainer. A few quick brushes around that under hot running water, and it’s clean as a whistle!
From an RVer perspective, the Omega’s slow motor consumes less than 200 watts, making it boondocker-friendly. However, juicing does tend to need a fair amount of running water for washing the food, and cleaning the juicer components afterwards, so that’s something to keep in mind.
So, now that I have the juicer and am drinking more juices than smoothies these days, will my Blendtec just be staying home unused this winter? Not a chance! It still does a great job for hummus, salsas, food processing/grinding a variety of foods, and now something new as well—homemade almond milk!
Trying to find vegan nut milks in smaller stores out in the boonies can often be a challenge when RVing. So, rather than do without, it’s super easy (and even more delicious) to make your own! All you need is a high-speed blender and an inexpensive, reusable nylon nut milk strainer bag like this one:
I bought mine on Amazon for less than $10.
Then, drain the soaking water and rinse the almonds in fresh cool water to remove any remaining impurities, and wash your hands well (you’ll be using them!). Put the almonds into your blender and add about 3 cups of cold water, a dash of salt, 1 tsp of vanilla, and (optionally) up to 2 Tbsp of agave nectar or other sweetener. Have fun and add some cocoa powder too if you’d like to make chocolate milk!
Now you’ll want to pour the milk out of the blender through the strainer bag into another container. You’ll initially have a cup of liquid still in the bag with the pulp, so you’ll then want to begin squeezing the bag from top to bottom to gently squeeze the liquid out of the bag and into the container.
Once fully squeezed, the pulp in the bag will be nearly dry. Simply turn the bag inside out to dump the pulp into the trash and rinse it off under hot water to clean it. When all particles are removed, cover the top of a wine glass with it to allow it to air out and dry.
Store the milk in an air-tight bottle (glass works great) and shake it a bit before serving. The milk will only stay good for a couple of days, but will have a more flavorful taste than store-bought.