By: Megan Harvey
Behold the power of juice! No I’m not talking about the orange drink found in a plastic jug on your supermarket shelf; I’m talking about using a countertop appliance to extract the juice from fresh fruits and vegetables. For some of you die hard ‘jug juicers’ this concept may be completely foreign, so let me start at the beginning.
What is juicing?
Juicing has always been around but in more recent years we have moved from manual juicing (think those little lemon juicers and manual presses) to incredible motorized juicing machines. If you have ever owned a TV I’m sure you’ve seen the infomercial for Jack Lalanne’s Power Juicer and maybe you seriously considered buying one. Don’t forget that Jack lived to an amazing 98 years old, and swore by juicing and a healthy diet that did not contain any processed food. He lived by "if man made it, don't eat it" seems pretty simple doesn’t it?
Why is juicing so healthy?
Everyone knows that a diet containing several servings of fruit and vegetables contributes to overall health and better nutrition but it can be a daunting task to eat up to 10 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, especially when you have so much keeping you busy. It would be constant prep and munching to get it all in.
When you use a juicer you are essentially extracting all of the good stuff from the fruits and veggies and getting several servings in one glass. How easy is that? Drinking your fruit and veggies this way is also beneficial for anyone with digestion problems because the juice is separated from the fiber and it is now free to be absorbed by the body much quicker, it’s an instant blast of nutrients. Still want the fiber? No problem! There are countless recipes that incorporate the ‘pulp’ into breads, cakes, soups, sauces, and smoothies or even add it back into the juice. The possibilities are endless. Later on I will share some tips on how to get the most from your pulp.
What about green juice?
Green juice is just what you think it is. Juice made from green veggies. Why is it better than fruit juice? While it’s great to juice fruits like apples, oranges, watermelon, pineapple etc., there is still a lot of sugar and carbohydrates in fruit, and carbohydrates get broken down into sugar as they are digested.
Consuming a large amount of sugar causes the blood sugar level to elevate and this causes the pancreas to produce more insulin. This is the same reaction you get when you consume soda, candy, or processed food with lots of sugar. A little is fine but if this happens constantly, it is not good for your body. Do you feel more energetic or alert after eating a large portion of fruit? That’s your natural sugar rush.
Fruit juice is great for a morning boost or a pre workout drink but the best juice to consume any time of the day is green juice. Green juice consists of primarily green veggies like kale, celery, cabbage, and spinach or romaine lettuce. To a new juicer this may seem a little scary, and it certainly doesn’t sound very tasty considering those veggies are usually served with dip or dressing. Start by adding an apple or orange to your green juice for sweetness, I promise the taste will surprise you! You can gradually omit the fruit as your taste buds adjust and even crave the taste of green juice or keep them in; it’s all up to you.
What are the benefits of green juicing?
Believe this or not, green juice has been responsible for not only preventing disease, illness and cancer but it also has the power to cure it. Yes, green juice has cured cancer. Why wouldn’t it? If a person has a serious illness and feeds their body processed, sugar filled or acidic foods then the illness is going to flourish. If a person with a serious illness feeds their body unprocessed, raw and natural food, the vitamins and nutrients are going to kill off the bad stuff, strengthen the immune system and even help prevent illness from returning. This of course is a very basic explanation of the process but there are literally countless articles and studies on this subject available for you on the internet or at your local library. I urge everyone to research this themselves and see how amazing green juice really is!
How does green juice help with weight loss?
Many people choose to do a 3 day juice fast before starting a weight loss program and this is such a great idea. By consuming only juices (and raw fruit or veggies) for 3 days, you basically cleanse the body and ‘reset’ it in a way. This concept was made popular by Joe Cross in his documentary ‘Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead’.
In the beginning Joe explains his chronic illness that requires an assortment of pills he takes daily as well as his obesity. As the film progresses he journeys across the USA and consumes only juice for 60 days. By ‘Rebooting’ as he calls it, he is setting his body back to its healthiest state. He encounters another man with the exact same condition and far too many extra pounds and encourages him to ‘reboot’. The results are amazing.
Now you might be thinking, ‘If I consumed nothing but liquid for 60 days I’d lose weight too”. Of course you would, but what’s important is the kind of liquid you consume.
Have you or someone you know ever done a juice fast? If so I’m going to guess it was juice boxes or frozen concentrate mixed with water. I’m guilty of this. What were the results? I was tired, cranky and starving. Any weight I lost I put right back on and then some. Unless it comes straight from the juicer, its processed, loaded with sugar and not nearly as good for you.
The reason you can survive on green juice for that long is because it is full of natural vitamins, minerals and nutrients and these are what we need to survive. Does three days seem a little long for you? Try incorporating a juice a day and make every meal at least 50% veggies. Combine this with daily exercise and you will start to see small improvements. Keep adding juice and exercise and it can only get better.
How do I know which juicer to use?
As I said previously, there are hundreds to choose from. The type of juicer you buy is going to depend on a lot of factors. Price is definitely number one. While I don’t recommend getting the cheapest one for the sake of having a juicer, I do believe that it is an investment in your health and it will be money well spent. That being said, you don’t need to spend a fortune either.
Decent juicers can start at $50 and go up from there. I’ve seen some priced at almost $2500! Talk about making a commitment to your health. When searching for the right juicer you read reviews and shop around for sure. Some things to look for in juicers can be:
- Chute size
- Juice Yield
- How easy it is to clean
Keep in mind you want something that you can use whenever you feel like a juice, or even several times a day. If you have a sleeping baby in the home, go for a quiet model, if you are always on the go; get one that’s easy to clean. Do you have the space to keep it on your counter or will it go back in the cupboard every time? Go over all the possibilities before you buy. It seems like this is quite a bit of fuss for one countertop appliance, but if it becomes part of your daily routine, you will want it to fit right in.
There are a few different types of juicers among all of the separate brands, and while each has their pros and cons, it is a matter of personal preference.
Centrifugal Juicer: These are the juicers with the heavier base and removable top with a chute. The fruits and veggies are fed down the chute and packed in with a ‘pusher’. As they make their way down, a metal mesh basket with tiny blades at the bottom spins around at great speed and extracts the juice. The juice flows down a chute into your cup and the pulp is spun to the opposite side where it is collected in a receptacle.
Masticating Juicer: This kind of juicer is built a little differently. You feed the fruit and veg down a chute but inside, it is broken up and the juice is slowly grinded out of it on a single or double gear. The pulp is fed out of a separate tube and into a receptacle. The process uses less speed and creates less heat, therefore creating less oxidation and bubbles or foam in the juice. This method also takes more time to complete.
It is important to read, review and decide which juicer works best for you and your lifestyle. Weigh the pros and cons; perhaps try them out if a store offers a hassle free return policy.
Juicing Tips & Tricks
Here are some valuable lesson I’ve learned since I started juicing
- Prepare your harder fruits and veg ahead of time, carrots, celery, and apples are good to cut up and store in the fridge. Leave things like pineapple, tomatoes and lettuce alone until you are ready.
- Prep your juicing ‘station’ before you start. I make sure to have a tea towel, measuring cup, cutting board, knife and whatever else I need all ready to go. This may seem like a lot of work but it helps to be prepared.
- Drink your juice as soon as you make it. Especially with a centrifugal juice, as the juice will separate and the longer the juice is exposed to air, the more nutrients are lost.
- If you must consume it later, store in an airtight container or a bottle with juice to the brim and keep refrigerated.
- If you want to bake with the pulp, follow the recipes to a T and avoid combos like orange peel and kale (guilty) as some of the pulp will be drier and bigger than the rest. Think green juice pulp for bread or stews and fruit pulp for sweet baked goods.
- Clean your juicer as soon as you use it or as soon after as possible. Because it is so airtight, forgotten pulp may not produce any smell for a day or so (so guilty of this) and it is NO fun cleaning it out after its gone bad.
- Have fun!! This is your juice, it is your body. Create combos, mix flavors and enjoy it, I know you will.
My 3 Favorite Recipes
This is my go-to when I feel a cold coming on:
- 2 oranges cut up, peels removed
- 1 lemon cut up, peel removed
- 1 piece of ginger (about the size of the thumb)
This doesn’t make a lot of juice but is great for when you start to feel a cold coming on.
This is the better version of your favorite Vegetable cocktail:
- 1-2 medium sized tomatoes
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 carrot, cut in pieces
- 1 bell pepper, cut in pieces
- ¼ of a small onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 3-4 inches of a cucumber
Juice up and add a pinch of cayenne, salt or pepper to taste.
Homemade cough suppressant:
- Half of a fresh pineapple (after outer layer and leaves have been removed).
Sip this until it is gone. Best natural cough remedy as it is stronger than a chemical solution.
So whether you are new to the world of health and fitness, or you know just about everything there is to know, juicing as a great way to get a delicious combination of all of the fruit and vegetable essentials you need in your daily diet. Don't forget to have fun with it, mix and match and drink up!
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