If you want to boost your health and infuse yourself with energy, then it’s time to head down to the nearest juice bar and give juicing a try! Juicing with fresh fruits and vegetables is not only tasty but has numerous health benefits. Juicing helps people to get so many of the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they might otherwise be missing…from a whole food, plant-based source.
Let’s start with the basics. How many raw fruits and vegetables do you eat in a day? How many could you eat? (Be honest…your stomach only has so much room!) When you juice raw fruits and veggies, you are getting the full nutritional value of the fresh, raw fruits and vegetables–more than the average person can fit into his/her diet normally!
Reason #1 for Juicing: When you juice, your body absorbs the nutrients better. Why? There’s no plant fiber to get in the way…pretty much just liquid vitamins at this point. The process of juicing helps to begin to break down vegetables, making it easier for our body to digest them. When we eat raw vegetables, especially fibrous vegetables, our bodies cannot break them down fully, so we miss out on a lot of nutrition. Juicing means that we get nutrition into our bodies, where it belongs!
Reason #2 for Juicing: Juicing is the easy way to get your six to eight servings of vegetables a day. Cooked vegetables lose nutrition; raw vegetables pack a powerful nutritional punch. You can get an entire day’s worth of vegetables in a single glass of vegetable juice.
Reason #3 for Juicing: When you cook and eat vegetables or have a salad, you tend to use the same greens and the same vegetables all the time, right? It is so easy to fall into a comfortable pattern! Diversify your diet–start juicing! Because you are juicing more than one vegetable at a time, you can mix and match your flavors, so your choices are endless when it comes to flavor combinations…and nutrient combinations as well!
Now, for the “How To” part
You don’t need a top of the line juicer, but you also do not want to have one so cheap that it breaks all the time. Mid-range juicers are around $100 and are the best choice for most people just getting started with a newfound commitment to juicing at home. Look for a juicer in the mid-price range; a single gear juicer will be your best choice, they are easier to clean and affordable.
People ask me all the time if it’s possible to make juices that have protein. The answer is YES! If you are looking for a juice with higher protein content, include the following vegetables:
- String beans
Although you are juicing because you want to be healthy, it should still taste good! If it bothers your stomach, stop juicing that vegetable, or limit how often you use it. Let your body be your guide. If it doesn’t taste good, add something like cucumber or pineapple to help the flavor improve, or just start over, taking out the vegetable that you did not like the flavor of, no matter what it is mixed with.
Next…Go organic! You want to ensure that you juice is pesticide free and that means buy as much organic vegetables as possible. You’re getting concentrated nutrients here, so it makes sense that you could accidentally concentrate pesticides, too, if you aren’t careful. Some vegetables are ok when bought conventionally, but these should always be organic because of high pesticide levels:
- Collard greens
Introduction to Juicing
If you have not juiced before, starting off with dark leafy greens is not ideal because they can be bitter, adding lemon or lime helps with that but for your introduction to juicing, it is recommended that you start off with vegetables that are not bitter such as:
- Cucumber (great for cutting the flavor of very strong vegetables)
- Fennel (mild and sweet)
- Celery (a bit peppery, nut nice)
Try mixing and matching the above and then when you are used to the flavor of those, and then you can begin adding the following in small amounts or more if you find that you like the flavor:
- Romaine lettuce
Add some minerals by adding cilantro and parsley or other fresh herbs. Only use cilantro in small amounts because it is a strong flavor.
The last elements to your juice recipes are the following:
- Collard greens (super great for calcium!)
- Mustard greens
Some of these are bitter elements to add, so add them sparingly. If you add them and your juice becomes too bitter, you can add some lemon or lime to help balance it out. You can try various flavor combinations of the above and you can add things like carrots and other vegetables to your juice as well to have even more flavor options.
Now, to add extra flavor to your juice you can add any of the following:
- Ginger – Fresh ginger, in small amounts is a great way to spice up your juice. Ginger has many health benefits such as being heart friendly and can help lower cholesterol.
- Lemons & Limes – A quarter of lemon and/or half of a lime can freshen up your juice.
- Cranberries – Full of antioxidants, cranberries are an excellent way to add flavor to your juice. Use no more than 4 ounces of cranberries to each pint of juice…they do get kind of strong.
Juice is Highly Perishable
Because juice is highly perishable, you need to drink it pretty much right when you make it, because it’s fresh and has no preservatives. You cannot make a pitcher of juice and drink it throughout the week! Juice is best when you drink it right after making it. If you do store it in the refrigerator, you still need to drink it within 24 hours of making the juice. Or, you can freeze it in a glass jar (freezer safe of course!) and then pull it out to thaw in the morning.
If storing your juice for up to 24 hours, you need to store it in a glass jar that has an airtight lid. If the lid is not airtight, it is not suitable for juice, because oxygen oxidizes the juice, which degrades the flavor and the nutrient quality of your juice.
Common sense, but…always clean your juicer after juicing. Most juicers are fairly easy to clean and can be cleaned in five minutes or less. Never leave it for later because any dried bits of vegetable can begin to mold.
Now, you are ready to begin juicing your way to better health, enjoy!
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