In this busy world it can sometimes be a struggle to eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. Juicing offers a highly efficient way to consume large amounts of produce and will leave you feeling incredible. While “juice fasts” do have their pros and cons, there is no arguing that incorporating a freshly made glass of organic juice into your daily routine is beneficial for everyone.
So, what makes juicing so great? Juicers break down the cell walls in vegetables and fruits releasing their nutrients, which the body can then absorb directly into the bloodstream. This gives you an almost instant energy boost since you don’t have to wait for digestion. “Green juices” made up of green produce such as celery, cucumbers, and leafy greens supply chlorophyll which helps digestion, neutralizes toxins, and supports liver health. Fresh juice helps promote a healthy alkaline pH in the body and an alkaline body may be less likely to suffer from chronic disease. Most importantly, veggies are full of micronutrients that our bodies need for healthy cell function and antioxidants that clean up toxic by-products and prevent cell damage.
There are two main types of juicers: centrifugal and masticating. Centrifugal juicers shred veggies and fruit with a blade to create a pulp, which is then expelled through a chute in the back. They easily handle whole fruits and veggies, but aren’t great with leafy greens and are unable to juice wheat grass. Centrifugal juicers generally cost less than masticating, but they do come with drawbacks. The highspeed blade heats up juice destroying some of the enzymes and nutrients. They also produce a wet pulp, which means not all of the juice is being extracted.
There are two types of masticating juicers: single auger and twin auger. The single gear chews up the vegetables and fruit breaking down the fibers and cell walls. The twin auger crushes the produce between two interlocking gears at a slower speed. While masticating juicers are pricier, they are excellent for juicing leafy greens and wheat grass and they produce a much drier pulp. Masticating juicers can also be used for creating nut butters, sorbet and pasta. Both of the juicers we carry at LifeSource are of the masticating variety. The Champion Juicer is a single gear and the Omega 8005 is a twin gear.
Never is it more important to use organics than when juicing. Since the whole fruit and vegetable is being used, any pesticides or chemicals lurking on the skin will go into the juice and be transported straight to your blood stream. Especially watch out for the “dirty dozen,” a list compiled by Environmental Working Group of the 12 most contaminated foods: apples, celery, leafy greens (such as spinach, kale, and collard greens), peaches, strawberries, domestic blueberries, nectarines, sweet bell peppers, cherries, potatoes, imported grapes, and lettuce.
Intrigued, but not sure you’re ready to invest in a juicer? With a little added effort you can effectively make juice with your blender. You’ll want to pre-chop your veggies before adding them, and of course make sure you peel citrus and remove any seeds or stones from fruit. Add about a cup of water to your concoction and blend. Next, place a tea towel or cheese cloth over a deep bowl and pour your mixture. Once the majority of the liquid has drained twist the towel and squeeze out the remaining juice.
Now that you’re ready to try juicing here are a few tips to help you along your journey. Make only what you can drink since fresh squeezed juice can develop harmful bacteria when stored for long periods of time and the enzymes start to break down surprisingly quickly. Save time by prepping fruits and veggies and storing them in your fridge until you’re ready to use them.
It’s tempting to mix in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables when you first start juicing. This can lead to some pretty interesting tasting juices! Three seems to be the magic number. You can throw in some herbs such as cilantro or parsley for variety or a little bit of peeled ginger for a kick. Stick to one type of fruit for sweetness. Too many fruits quickly add up to higher calories and sugar content.
Don’t throw away all that precious pulp either! Recipes using juicer pulp abound on the internet. You can store pulp in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours or freeze it until you’re ready to use it. Add pulp to baked goods such as muffins or pancakes. Mix it into veggie dips, sauces or soup, or puree it to make fruit leather. One clever idea I ran across was mixing the pulp with honey or another type of binder, rolling into balls and dehydrating for a healthy hiking snack. I’ve included a recipe for pulp crackers.
Juicing is a great way to get a quick boost of nutrients, but if you don’t have the time or equipment to try it at home, smoothies can be a great alternative. Not only do smoothies provide the same micronutrients as green juices, but the added fiber can help you stay full longer and slows the absorption of sugar into the blood stream, keeping your blood sugars more level. You can also easily add other healthy supplements into smoothies such as protein powders, spirulina, maca powder, Omega-3 oil and chia seeds. Don’t forget to add the greens! I like spinach because it blends really well and is surprisingly sweet, chard and kale are good options too. Cucumbers add a light, refreshing twist to a smoothie and puree well. Even unconventional vegetables such as beets, broccoli and lettuce are great additions.
Recipes from this article:
- 2 green apple
- 1 inch knob ginger
- 6 large stalks celery
- 1 cucumber
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 1 bunch of kale
- 1/2 lemon (with peel, if organic)
- 1 or 2 generous handfuls of spinach
- 1 cup frozen blueberries
- 1 frozen banana
- 2 scoops of protein powder
- 2 or 3 Tbsp. coconut butter
- 2 Tbsp. chia seeds
- 2 Tbsp. cacao nibs
- 1 Tbsp. cacao powder
- 1 Tbsp. maca powder
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk