A New Year’s Commitment to Juicing

A NEW YEAR’S COMMITMENT TO JUICING

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By LeAnn Locher, PQ Monthly

Who knew a big glass of green juice could make me feel wide awake and bushy tailed? No, I’m not a squirrel, but I have been juicing. So many options are out there if you’re wanting to incorporate fresh juice into your diet, and the beginning of the year is always a great time to try something new and make a commitment to your health. Here’s what I’ve discovered: it’s as much the process as it is the produce you use.
Drinking freshly made juice from vegetables and fruit first thing in the morning  allows your body to absorb the nutrients and start the day off right. The zing of this intake is palpable. I literally feel brighter eyed and awake when I juice, and whether or not it’s all in my mind, I feel healthier. Whatever it takes, people, whatever it takes.

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If you think you need to invest in an expensive juicer, you don’t. I’ve found using a high powered blender, like a Vitamix, and drinking the juice more like a smoothie along with the fiber is doubly beneficial. You get the nutrients and the fibers. However, it can be thick and a lot to digest. Take it a step further and strain the blended liquid through a nut bag strainer (made for making almond or other kinds of nut milk) or fine cheese cloth bag, squeezing the bag with your hands to extract as much juice as possible, but capturing the fibrous bits in the bag. It’s a little hands-on messy, but it’s easier than handling the bulk and cleaning of a juicing machine. According to some home juicemakers, the chore of cleaning a juicer isn’t worth it, especially if you have limited kitchen counter space or storage.

But if you are thinking of buying a juicer, or got one as a holiday gift, know the difference between a cold press juicer and a centrifugal juice extractor. Cold press juicers, or masticating juicers, crush and press the fruit without producing heat. Heat can destroy enzymes, which you want to keep as much as possible in the produce you’re juicing. Centrifugal juicers use a spinning metal blade that can increase heat. I’ve found using a few cubes of ice in my Vitamix blender keeps the temperature down and ensures I’m keeping as much of the nutrients possible.

So what goes into your super healthy juice? No matter which juice you’re making, opt for organic and as fresh as possible. Wash your produce well, and consider prepping items (cleaning, peeling, chopping) for several days of use to help simplify the process. But don’t make the juice ahead of time: drink it as soon as you make it in order to get the maximum nutrient value.

A simple ingredient equation yields great results: greens + lemon/lime + fruit for sweeting + herbal addition = delicious and healthy.  I’m also a fan of carrots, but don’t mix them with greens or you’re left with brown juice that no matter how good it may be for you, can be hard to get past that color.  Here are a few favorites:

Handful of kale or spinach, half a cucumber (peeled), ¼ lime (with or without peel), one apple (cored), handful of parsley.

Peel and chop several carrots and one red beet, 1-inch of peeled fresh ginger, ¼ lime (with or without peel).

If using a blender, add water and several ice cubes to get the consistency right for you.

Other ingredients to consider for fresh juicing: freshly cut pineapple can brighten any green juice you may find hard to drink. Test different apples: they help bring the sweetness as well. If you like the parsley addition in your green juice, you may also like other herbs, especially cilantro. Ginger is an absolutely delicious addition, and helps aid in digestion and provides anti-inflammatory compounds. If you’re watching your blood pressure, a dash of cinnamon is good to add to your juice.

Drinking your produce doesn’t replace the benefits of eating it, but I figure any time I can increase the good of what I take into my body helps to balance where I may be lacking. Plus, increased fruit and vegetable consumption helps boost your immune system, which is always good, especially in winter.

LeAnn Locher is currently juicing her way through the holidays and a healthy new year in 2014. Connect with her and other domestic bad asses at facebook.com/sassygardener.

 

LeAnn Locher dabbles in the home arts and loves connecting with other domestic arts bad-asses at facebook.com/sassygardener.