Raw Juice: what’s fact and what’s hype?
For several years now I’ve been dabbling in “healthy stuff” like juicing. As most things do, it began as just a curiosity, what’s it all about. I read articles and books and opinions of people who have tried juicing in various ways and for various amounts of time. There are some super-intense proponents of juicing, like this guy. His name is Joe Cross, and he claims juicing saved his life. He has a documentary on Netflix and free online called “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead” as well as a blog. Before you think “ok, crazy extremists who make these claims just want us to buy their juicer”, let me say that recognized sources like WebMD and even Dr. Oz tout the benefits of juicing while giving adequate attention to the possible drawbacks.
Fruit and vegetable juices retain most of the chemicals which make them so good for us in the first place, like chlorophyll, anthocyanins, antioxidants and flavonoids. It is important to note that although adding juice to a well rounded, healthy diet is an excellent idea, beware falling into thinking that juicing is the only or best way to be healthy, or that only juices are good for you and you should avoid whole foods. That is not at all what I’m saying. Juicing also takes out all the fiber from these wonder foods, fiber that your body needs for its normal digestive process. For a list of nearly 50 more fascinating raw food juice facts, check this out.
Now, before you rush out and buy a $300 juicer, consider your needs. Are you just beginning to dabble in this juicing craze? Do you just want a healthy beverage now and then, as well as pulp to put into soup and muffins? Are you already a hard-core health nut ready to begin adding daily juices to your diet? There are two types of juicers, a centrifugal juicer or a masticating juicer. Centrifugal machines work by chopping the food into tiny pieces and spinning it to separate the juices. They are typically smaller and less expensive. You won’t get as much of the nutrients, but they do the job. Masticating juicers work by mashing and grinding the food, producing a thicker, pulpier juice with the majority of the nutrients. They are typically larger and more expensive. You can check out a wide array on Amazon (not an affiliate link. I will get no benefit if you look or buy).
Funny story, my juicer was actually free. I’m a member of an online community called SparkPeople which has nutrition and exercise trackers, recipes, articles, community boards and much more. I highly recommend it if you want a simple, informative website to keep track of your health stats. Anyways, there was a forum about juicing, and I posted in it that I was curious about juicing. It lead to several conversations about types of juicers, uses, etc. A fellow member sent me a personal message saying that she had just gotten a newer, larger juicer as a gift and had an old one she didn’t need anymore. Of course I was skeptical, but sure enough two weeks later a gorgeous little blue and white juicer showed up!
|My gorgeous gift, courtesy of a kind fellow Spark-er!|
I was thrilled, and thanked her profusely. Since then I’ve dabbled on and off with various types of fruits and vegetables and recipes, and learned a little along the way. Following is a list of rules I’ve determined for myself. They may not all work for you, but enjoy learning from my experience.
Jen’s Five Juicing Rules:
1. Take the time to cut off the peels. Seriously, juicing the peels too gives the final juice a bitter, sour taste that is not really pleasant, regardless of what other goodies are in there.Of course, mine is a centrifugal juicer, not meant for large pieces of whole fruit. If you have a masticating one, it might be ok.
2. Know the limits of your machine. If you have one of the huge, fancy juicers you can pretty much throw a whole watermelon into, good for you! Most likely you do not, so know how large of a piece of food your machine can handle at a time, and if you’re doing a large batch clean it a few times throughout to keep it from clogging up.
3. Wash your juicer immediately once finished. Dried on fruit and vegetable bits are gross, start to smell, and are much harder to scrape off the inside of a fruit chute than fresh. I promise the chlorophyll and phytochemicals in your juice won’t fall apart in the time it takes to give it a quick rinse.
4. Always throw in a little something sweet. Even the most hard-core purist who drinks three glasses of green juice a day has to admit kale, spinach and carrots alone don’t taste super great. Especially if you’re just starting out with juicing, give yourself some slack and add some apple juice or berries to everything.
5. Don’t be afraid to try new things. I juiced anything I could get my hands on for a while. Sure I made some mistakes (see the list at the end of things that are HORRIBLE juiced) but I also found a lot of new fruits and veggies I didn’t know I liked.
|Prepping for juicing: lots of fresh fruits and veggies|
|This will become many tasty beverages for the week.|
|Mmmm green juice, that’s the best way to start the day.|
Things that are seriously gross when juiced:
Garlic – maybe for cooking, but holy cow this stuff is strong! Gag-inducing, even in small amounts.
Things that will overwhelm the taste (use small amounts only):
Best things for juicing:
Berries (most of them)
Now that you know the facts, go ahead and find yourself a juicer (Amazon, Ebay, Walmart, Christmas present, Craigslist…) and get to creating! The Beginner’s Guide to Juicing is a great article full of helpful information, reviews of different types of juicers and blenders, and includes more recipe ideas.
Some recipes to get you started:
~2 oranges, peels cut off
~2 large carrots
~1 lemon and/or lime
~1 large handful spinach or kale
~4 stalks celery
~1 large cucumber
~1/2 a grapefruit
~1″ chunk ginger