Do you juice?

January 04, 201228 Comments

At this time last year, I was headed to Argentina to visit my friend Iliana and her family. I knew I’d come back rested, relaxed and happy. What I didn’t know is that I’d come back with a new habit that quickly wove its way into my lifestyle. Each morning, Iliana pressed what looked like piles of vegetables through what appeared to be a small Volkswagen, producing a tall glass of bright green juice. I was initially uninterested. It looked funny and though I liked everything that went into it, drinking the concoction cold from a glass didn’t sound appealing.  But the cumulative effect of Malbec paired with tender, melt-in-your-mouth steak night after night (it was just so good!) began to take its toll. So I tried her “green lemonade” one bleary-eyed morning. I was surprised by how refreshing and clean it tasted. And just like that – I had to have a juicer. I had to start my day in this way. That was a year ago and I’m still at it. Though I try not to post recipes that require specialty equipment, I’m overdue to share some of what I’ve learned about juicing and now is the right time since many people are in post-holiday clean up mode. So here goes.
Juicing is a great way to start the day with a burst of vitamins. It’s also a terrific substitution for an afternoon snack or that latte you really don’t need. Skip the pretzels and bring on the juice!  You’ll feel better for it, I swear. I have also used fresh pressed juices to “hit the reset button” after a period of indulgence. In this case, I use a variety of juices in combination with whole, raw foods for a day or two to help my palate re-acclimate to clean eating. I have juice in between small meals of bean or vegetable soups, a handful of raw almonds here or there and maybe a smoothie made with bananas, almond butter and frozen berries (this is a good recipe to try). Once you’ve decided to juice, there are a few points to note. First, you need a juice extractor. I have this model. I like it quite a lot. It’s not too big, it breaks down easily for storage and it’s great for the beginner. Second, you need to understand what foods are best for juicing and how to blend flavors.
A few things I’ve learned through trial and error:

1.There is “green.” And there is “orange.” Mix them and you’ll get muddy brown.

It’s really fun to experiment with different vegetables and fruits. I got a little carried away when I got my juicer and quickly found that it’s best to mix like with like when it comes to color. You don’t want to drink a tall glass of what looks like dirty lake water no matter how good it smells. Don’t bother buying a juice book. I did and it was a waste of time and money. You will quickly figure out what you like. Here are some ideas in each of the two categories I’ve named. Each category has varying degrees (as seen in the photos) from very bright to more muted shades.

“Green” – Kale, spinach, cucumber, fennel, watercress, carrot tops, turnip tops, granny smith apples, celery, pear, parsley, broccoli, honeydew, mint, grape, pineapple

“Orange” – Carrots, apples, orange, grapefruit, beets, peaches, pear, pineapple, mango, watermelon, cantaloupe, papaya

Lemon and/or ginger go beautifully with both green and orange varieties. Lemon brightens up just about any juice combination you can think of. There are few combinations I make that don’t include at least one whole lemon (peeled! see #3). If you like a little heat, try adding an inch of ginger root (I don’t bother to peel it) or more if you really want some kick. Apples and pears also go nicely with either variety. Use your imagination, as these lists are just a starting point.

2. Go organic if possible.

I don’t buy exclusively organic vegetables, but when I buy them for juicing I really try to do so. You may be familiar with the “dirty dozen.” This is the guide I use while at the grocery store or market, but when it comes to juicing the rules change and I prefer only organic (though many of my juicing favorites, like spinach, apples, kale and celery, are already on the high pesticide list as it is).

3. Know when to skip the seeds and skin.

I leave the skin on apples and pears (wash them well), but I always core them so the seeds aren’t included. With citrus fruits, always remove the skin and as much of the pith as possible to avoid a bitter taste. Anything with a tough skin, such as pineapple, mango or melon, should also be peeled first.

4. Drink fresh pressed juice right away or store it for no more than a day.

It can be time consuming to make juice! After washing and trimming the produce, you must run it through the juicer, then clean the juicer parts. I like to make a few kinds of juice at once for efficiency. I store them in large, labeled mason jars and keep them sealed tightly in the fridge. It’s best to consume the juice within 24 hours since the taste and nutrients are best when it’s fresh pressed. Also keep in mind that the juice will settle as it sits, so you will need to shake it vigorously before use.
Finally, I’ll share rough recipes for the rainbow of combinations I’ve made here. The “green” variety you see pictured above is kale, spinach, cucumber, fennel, parsley, granny smith apple, pear, lemon and ginger. The darker “orange,” which is actually quite red, was made from carrots, beets, mint and lemon. I don’t actually like beets, but I’m learning to tolerate the flavor through juice. The bright “orange” is red grapefruit, carrot and ginger. And the lighter “orange” is simply pure orange juice, which I used for mixing with smoothies.

Finally, there is a downside to consuming pressed juices in place of whole food and it’s worth a mention. Juices lack the fiber provided by their whole food origins. It’s important to obtain fiber from other sources when juicing. Just because you are getting your greens in a glass doesn’t mean you can check that box for the day! Be sure to get the fiber elsewhere, too. Try a glass of green juice with a bowl of oatmeal and a few raw almonds. Or have a crunchy green salad with olive oil and lemon.  Beans and legumes are also an excellent source of fiber, as are whole grain cereals and breads.

I’m happy to share more exact proportions for any of the rough juice “recipes” listed above. Please let me know if you’d like more specifics by commenting here or dropping me an email at info [at] weeklygreens.com. Happy juicing!

28 responses to “Do you juice?”

  1. Amy Murphy says:

    I am planning to do the cooler cleanse in a couple weeks (it’s tough to find a week when I’m home for the delivery). If that goes well, I will consider investing in a juicer. Then, I’ll plan to visit this post again for your favorites. 😉

    • Alicia says:

      I hope you enjoy it! I think you’ll feel great afterwards. It’s really sort of addictive (in the best possible way, of course).

  2. jessica says:

    This is such a great primer on juicing–thank you!!

  3. Amanda says:

    These photos make me ecstatically happy! So gorgeous. And every day when I’ve been using my new juicer I hear you saying orange plus green makes brown.

  4. Lynda says:

    What a great post! I love juice, but have never indulged in a juicer, since I try not to acquire kitchen gadgets and appliances. You’ve convinced me to go for it though!

    • Alicia says:

      I really hesitated because I try to keep it simple around here. I also lack cabinet space for large appliances. But I’m so happy I bought it and a year later, I can truly say it was a wonderful investment. Now I’m in the market for a slow cooker…yet another appliance I’ve been resisting for ages. I just went through all my cabinets and donated things I don’t use, so at least I’ve made room.

  5. Great article and your colorful pictures are wonderful. I recently did a two week “reboot” after watching the movie “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”. More information can be found at rebootyourlife.com — YMMV but I lost 17 pounds in as many days and was full every day on vegetables and fresh juices and never felt like I was dieting or depriving myself (except for some mild eat cravings!).

    There are some great recipes for juices, as well as vegetarian recipes and I like the fact that there is no pitch for some “paid for plan” or other products.

    • Alicia says:

      Wow, James! Congratulations on your weight loss. I’m intrigued by that film and will definitely check it out. Keep at it and best of luck to you in your newer, healthier lifestyle. Sounds like you are well on your way.

  6. I love this post! I feel healthier just looking at your gorgeous photos, even as I gulp down the (cold) remains of of this morning’s coffee. I have a friend with whom I play tennis. She has a juicer and every morning when we play she is always carrying a jar of something orange or something green. Needless to say, she plays better than I do. I think it’s time for me to get on the stick! Do you have a brand of juicer that you can recommend (without asking you to sound like an endorsement)? Thanks for much for this great post, and Happy New Year.

  7. Bonita Suter says:

    You almost have me convinced.

  8. Adrienne Wichard-Edds says:

    Alicia, you’re such a great writer in addition to being a phenomenal cook–or, um, juicer. :) This post is gorgeous and so useful. I’ve already shared it with friends (who have been making muddy smoothies) and am feeling inspired!

  9. Geeta says:

    Alicia, I just made a list of ingredients for my shopping list! Thanks for this. An idea for an Indian twist is fresh turmeric root. I buy mine at Patel Brothers.

  10. michelle says:

    Thanks for sharing, I would loe to see more of your juice recipes. I watched Fat Sick and Nearly about a month and a half ago and was convinced! I have been experimenting for a month and seriously juicing since Jan 1. I have never felt better and have lost 12lbs since Jan 1. The bigest difference I have noticed is elimination of joint pain. I have a lot of arthritis in my knees and hip and am vertually pain free when I juice regularly. Happy healthy new year!

  11. The pictures alone make me want to drink it all! Inviting colors! Thank you so much for the tips…and I’m passing them along, too. You are always helpful.
    I did not know about the fiber, but have a recommendation we use daily in smoothies (my husband even drinks it plain in water)…it’s a Daily Fiber Boost from Arbonne that is tasteless and odorless. One serving has 12 grams of fiber and it can be added to any hot or cold beverage or food. Of course, it’s vegan…key sources being pea fiber, apple fiber, organge fiber, beet fiber, and inulin, so fits wells with juicing.
    Of course, I’m a big fan of almonds and love having them as a snack, so I use that, too. 😉 Thanks, Alicia!

  12. Chris Mills says:

    I just juiced some parsnips to get the carrot-y flavor without the color. Worked well with a little kale and pineapple.

  13. I would love the exact proportions. Thank you for posting!

  14. Valerie Novoa says:

    Great post! I like the earthier juices. I’m eager to try adding watercress, fennel and turnips! I always see them but was weary as to how well they will juice.

    • Alicia says:

      Happy juicing and let us know how that turns out! I’ve never tried turnips but what a great idea.

  15. Green Juice says:

    Great advice, very glad to see juicing and its benefits spreading. I start my day off with a glass of fresh green juice, its a must for me.

  16. Margie says:

    I started using Montel Williams’ super blender about 5 weeks ago and have lost 15 lbs and feel so much better. I don’t do a juice fast, and I call my creations “concoctions” rather than juices because everything I put in the machine I consume, including (many times) flax seed, spices, steel-cut oats, etc… I don’t mind if it looks “muddy” if it tastes good. I use a lot of blueberries, so it’s usually a weird color, and I’ve gotten used to it! The one thing I’ve started using this week is the broccoli slaw or “rainbow salad” you can find in the produce section near the bagged salad mixes. It adds so much fiber but the flavor is easily masked by other things if you don’t like the cabbage family of flavors. Thanks for the inspiration & the information!!!

  17. Gisele says:

    This is an interesting article. I usually try and mix my juice up, but I admit that my greens are not as diverse as they probably should be. I try and grow as much of my own as I can.

  18. Scott says:

    Those pictures remind me of the skittles tag line “taste the rainbow”…. although instead of sugary unhealthy processed foods, this is actual natures healthy way to nourish and replenish your body. Thanks for the tips and pictures!

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