Juicing has taken on a life of it's own in the part of the culture that is in a health craze. However, don't think of it as just a fad because it has been around for a long time and I believe it is here to stay. I didn't know the power of it myself until I tried it 4 years ago. Not to be dramatic, but it was life-changing. At the time my system was stressed, overworked and under-performing. When I began to drink cold pressed juices my body was able to absorb nutrients in a much more effective way without having to overwork to digest it. Slowly my body began to heal itself as I continued to give it what I like to call "the nectar of the earth." There are some misconceptions about juicing that I intend to clarify here, as well as share some of the guidelines and benefits.
You lose a lot of nutrients
Many people claim that it is better to simply eat whole fruits and vegetables, rather than to juice and drink them, because you are losing out on many of the nutrients. The main thing that juicing removes from your fruit and vegetables is fiber. While I do agree that fiber serves a purpose and that juicing shouldn't be your only source of fruits and vegetables; juicing can still serve as a wonderful compliment to a whole foods diet. Drinking fresh pressed juices gives your body a highly concentrated infusion of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are quick and easy to absorb and digest, while helping to keep your immune system strong, energized, vibrant and balanced... what's not to love about that!?
It's all Sugar
Yes it is true that most fruits have lots of sugar in them; however it is natural sugar which is still better for you than processed sugar. There is also a trick to juicing, and that is balancing out the sugar of the fruit with vegetables. For example: kale and cucumber paired with apple and lemon, or golden beets and carrots paired with oranges... the match-making possibilities are endless, and fun!
I guess this one is all about perspective. Think of the money you may spend on alcohol or Starbucks. People may not think twice spending $5-$10 dollars on coffee, lunch, or happy hour, and yet may think cold pressed juices are too expensive. To me, my health is most important. I think of it as preventative health care because the better I take care of myself now, the less money I have hopefully have to spend in the future correcting health problems. You may also dial in some favorite juicing recipes to make your own at home for even less.
GETTING STARTED: Picking the right Juicer
If you want to invest in your health and have been wanting to get your own juicer I recommend getting one that is a masticating juicer, as opposed to a centrifugal juicer. Don't get me wrong both will serve their purpose, but I think the masticating ones are better in the long run.
Masticating juicers are generally more effective because they can extract more juice from the same amount of produce. They also operate at slower speeds (RPMs) than centrifugal juicers, resulting in less foam and heat, which means more nutrition in your glass. The low speed also increases the shelf life of the juice so that you can generally store your juicer for a couple days. Masticating juicers are also more versatile than centrifugal juicers because, in addition to extracting juices, these juicers also homogenize foods to make baby foods, pates, sauces, nut butters, banana ice creams and fruit sorbets. Some of these juicers can even extrude pasta and make bread sticks and rice cakes! A great example of a masticating juicer is the Omega juicer.
A centrifugal juicer is also great at juicing most any fruit or vegetable and get the job done very easily and quickly. However, centrifugal juicers have a more difficult time effectively extracting high yields of juice from grassed and leafy foods like wheat grass, spinach, lettuce, parsley and other greens and herbs. Centrifugal juicers will extract some juice from these greens, but far less than single or twin gear juicers. They are generally less expensive, but for a reason; if you go with this type just make sure it has a least a year warranty so you are covered.
THE BASICS OF JUICING
- Storage: it is best to drink your juice right after you make it, or at least that day. However, if stored properly in the fridge in an air tight container, (like a mason jar) it will be good for 24 hours or a little more. Light, heat and air will start to break your juice down, so keep it in a cold, dark spot.
- Go Organic: I highly recommend using organic produce to make juices; the aim here is to consuming a healthy drink, not lots of pesticides. Whatever you decide make sure to thoroughly wash all your produce before juicing it. Farmers markets are a great way to shop locally and organically at a good price point.
- Daily Dose: The idea behind integrating juice into your diet is to try to drink at least one per day to start to see all the wonderful and radical changes in your health. No need to get down on your self if it isn't a daily thing, but try your best to drink it as much as you can.
- Choosing Produce: choose things you like! You can always integrate tying new things as well, but by using ingredients you like will make it much more motivating and fun to prepare juice each day, knowing that you will enjoy drinking it.
- Go Green: Greens tend to be the most nutrient dense, like kale, chard and spinach. If you don't care for them you can simply integrate them in smaller portions along with the other things you know you like.
- Detoxing and weight management: if this is a goal of yours then the bitter greens and cruciferous veggies are then ones to try as they support and cleanse your liver and gall bladder for detox. Some examples are: cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy and broccoli. If these are too bitter and earthy for you, try balancing out the bitterness with some fruit, like apples or lemons.
- Post work out: if you are usually drinking your juice after a workout then the red fruits and veggies will be great for you. Red berries, like raspberries and cherries, are great for anti-inflammatory purposes. Whereas red veggies, like beets, are great for supporting your cardiovascular system and rebuilding blood cells...a great thing to drink when your heart rate is still up.
- Stock up: Keep lots of fruits and veggies on hand so you can make your juices often. Also, as you incorporate healthy juices into your diet it is best to keep your fridge and pantry stocked with healthy meals and snacks as well. You will diminish the benefits of drinking healthy juice each day if it is simply being used to wash down fast food and processed sugar at each meal. So stock up on things that you like and will want to reach for when you get hungry for a snack, such as: hummus and carrot sticks, roasted chick peas, avocados and tomatoes, raw nuts, ect.
- Waste not: if your juice goes a few days in the fridge and you don't get around to drinking it you can still use it as a base to cook up a nice veggie soup or stew.
Enjoy and drink up... Cheers!