Juicing for Health & Vitality

fresh vegetables and fruit ready to juice

I subscribe to the fabulous CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program from a local farm. I get a weekly box packed with fresh (1-2 days), organic fruits and vegetables. Often, it’s much more than I can eat. So I’ve gotten into juicing.

Juicing has recently become popular largely due to documentaries like “Sick, Fat, & Nearly Dead.” Aussie filmmaker Joe Cross films his own story of traveling across America while juicing to heal his serious physical conditions. With the power of raw green juices, he lost a lot of weight, optimized his blood test results, and got off his prescription drugs. If you haven’t seen this film yet, I encourage you to watch it. It’s quite moving as well as entertaining, and Joe’s transformation might inspire you to try juicing.

What Is the Difference between Juice and Smoothies?

Juices are made with a juicer or juice extractor that separates the insoluble fiber in vegetables and fruits from the juice, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. The peel and the pulp are left behind too.

Smoothies are made in a blender and contain the whole food. I add flax seeds, nuts, banana, coconut oil, and protein powder to juicy fruits like berries or grapes. It all gets ground up into a thick shake.

Juices are lighter, easier, and quicker to digest. Smoothies are thicker, creamier, and last longer in the tummy. Smoothies are usually higher in fat and calories than the fruits and veggies normally used in juicing.

Both smoothies and juices are healthy and beneficial depending on your goal. If you’re seeking more fiber in your diet, smoothies are the better choice – provided you don’t pack it with sugar and other unhealthy additives. But if you’re doing a cleanse to give your digestion system a chance to rest and heal, you don’t want the fiber. And if you’re trying to lose weight, juice is a better bet: Smoothies can be very high in calories.

Why Add Juices to Your Diet?

Juicing is a fantastic, and delicious, way to improve your health.

More Fruits and Vegetables. Do you eat enough fruits and vegetables? If you’re like most folks, the answer is no. Juicing and smoothies both help you get more vitamin-packed fruits and vegetables. A protein smoothie for breakfast can easily contain two or three servings of fruits and nuts. A veggie juice snack could give you five or six servings of vegetables and fruit.

More Energy. Drinking a glass of fresh juice, gives you an instant dose of energy. You digest the juice quickly and receive the nutrition and benefits almost immediately. If you add protein to your smoothie, your energy will last several hours because the protein helps to control the release of sugars into your blood stream.

Stronger Immune System. Studies show that people with a diet high in vegetables and fruits have a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The antioxidants and vitamins help protect you from common viruses and infections.

More Fiber. Smoothies provide extra fiber you need to reduce bloat, lose weight, and improve your digestive system.

Detoxification. Juicing can help flush your body of the toxins you’re exposed to every day in the air you breathe, in the things you touch and even in the foods you eat.

Pesticides, herbicides, and chemical additives in some foods can cause problems when they build up in your body. Juicing can help you get rid of those toxins and enjoy better health and vitality.

Weight Loss. Are you looking to lose a little, or a lot, of weight? Juicing and smoothies are a wonderful way to enjoy delicious nutrition and energy without the calories. Think about it, a satisfying smoothie is a much better lunch than a fast food burger, right?

Other Benefits. Finally, many people who add juices and/or smoothies to their daily nutrition find that they also enjoy better skin, better hair, improved sleep and even an improved sex life. There really isn’t a downside to drinking a delicious glass of fruits and vegetables each and every day.

Are you ready to take that first step? Let’s take a look at how you can start adding fresh homemade juices into your daily diet.

Let’s Get Started Juicing . . .

  1. Set up your juicer: You’ll need a juicer. There are many styles and technologies available. Some are better at one type of juice than another. My Omega is very easy to set up and clean which was a priority for me. It’s also better at juicing leafy greens. Consult the user’s guide for instructions on how to set it up. If you’re making a smoothie, you just need your blender.

  2. Gather all the ingredients: You can juice almost any juicy fruit or vegetable. Mix them up according to your taste and what you have on hand. I add apple and/or carrot to green veggie juices for a bit of sweetness. I try to buy organic produce because I don’t think GMO foods are healthy, and because I don’t want the pesticides and other poisons in my body. But I especially try to get organic produce for juicing because juice is a concentrated food, and I want to concentrate nutrients, not toxins.

  3. Wash and peel the produce thoroughly: You might want to try a veggie wash. If the produce is organic, I usually just scrub it well and don’t bother with peeling. There are a lot of nutrients in the peel. I peel citrus fruits because I don’t care for the bitter taste. But some people like it. Leave as much of the white as possible. Lots of flavonoids in there.

  4. Chop: Cut out any bad spots. Cut up anything that’s too big to fit in your juicer’s feeding tube. I just roll soft leafy greens like kale.

  5. Feed produce through your juicer: Turn it on and put the produce through the feeding tube. Not too fast. Give it time to process and get every drop of goodness out of the veggies. Exactly how to do this depends on the model of your juicer. Consult the manual for details.

  6. Enjoy the juice!: Drink it as soon as possible because once it’s juiced, it starts to loose nutrients. But it’s much more efficient to make a whole day’s juice at once and it’s OK to put it in the frig for later. I even freeze it sometimes when the garden is especially generous with the produce. Put it in a glass container with a lid.

  7. Clean the juicer: Check the owner’s manual for procedure and to see which parts can go in the dishwasher.

Juicing Recipes

Juicing isn’t a precise thing like baking a cake. Some fruits and vegetables go better together, but generally you can mix and match as you feel to. Quantities aren’t exact either. I usually just throw in whatever needs to be used from the frig. Here are three of my favorite juice recipes and one of my breakfast smoothie recipes to help you get started.

Morning Sunshine

Morning Juice

I love to start the day with this healthy juice. It’s loaded with Vitamin C and beta-carotene for glowing skin, healthy eyes, and a strong immune system. Fresh juice you make yourself is so much better tasting and healthier than store-bought juice

You can vary the amount of the ingredients to suit your taste, the size of your produce, and the amount of juice you want. Experiment with the ginger. If you’re not used to it, it can be quite sharp.

Ingredients

  • 3 large carrots
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 large slice ginger root

Instructions

  1. Scrub carrots. You can juice your carrots with the greens and skins still on. I peel them, if they’re not organic.

  2. Peel the oranges keeping as much of the white pith as you can. It contains flavonoids that help your body absorb the vitamin C, and antioxidants. Cut to fit your juicer and remove the seeds.

  3. Slice off a piece of ginger and peel it.

  4. Put all ingredients through the juicer.

  5. Enjoy the juice!

Basic Green Juice

This is my favorite main juice, derived from one of Joe Cross’s favorites. I have it with lunch or as a mid-morning or afternoon snack. It’s a great way to pack in nutrients from super foods like kale without having to eat a whole plate of it.

Ingredients

  • 6 leaves kale
  • 1 cucumber
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 1 or 2 apples – green is good; I use red if I have them
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 piece ginger

Instructions

  1. Wash everything. I don’t peel anything organic, except the ginger.

  2. Cut to fit juicer.

  3. Feed everything through the juicer.

  4. Enjoy the juice!

Carrot-Kale-Spinach

Another one of my favorite juices for lunch or snacks—very healthy with carrots and spinach added to the kale. Carrots add a smooth sweet flavor to the bitter taste of the greens. They are packed with vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, high amounts of vitamin A, chromium, and carotene which prevent free-radical damage to the body. In addition to a bit of calcium and other minerals your body needs, spinach contains important vitamins including A, B, E, Folic Acid and an abundance of vitamin K.

Ingredients

  • 1 apple – green or red
  • 3 handfuls of spinach
  • 4 large carrots
  • 8 kale leaves – I like a mix of kinds and colors: purple/red/green/curly.
  • 2” piece of ginger

Instructions

  1. Wash the apple and cut to fit juicer.

  2. Wash the spinach really well. Mine has a lot of mud and grit in it. Roll each handful and run it through with a carrot.

  3. Wash the carrots.

  4. Wash the kale

  5. Peel the ginger.

  6. Put everything through the juicer.

  7. Enjoy the juice.

Protein Shake

I couldn’t have my favorite breakfasts after I tested sensitive to gluten, eggs, and dairy. My doctor recommended this smoothie, which I now love as a quick, easy way to get a healthy breakfast. I rotate the ingredients for variety and to prevent food sensitivities. You can substitute rice milk, almond milk, or coconut milk for the water. The banana and fruit can be frozen if you like it cold. Soaking the nuts from 20 minutes to overnight softens them and improves their flavor, as well as reducing nutritional inhibitors and toxic substances such as enzyme inhibitors, phytates, polyphenols (tannins), and goitrogens.

Ingredients

  • 1 or 2 Tbs Flax or Chia Seeds
  • 1/4 Cup soaked nuts – Almonds, Hazelnuts, Walnuts, Brazil Nuts are good.
  • 3/4 – 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Scoop Rice Protein Powder
  • 1/2 Banana
  • 1/2 Cup Blueberries, mixed berries, grapes, or other fruit.
  • 1 – 2 Tbs Coconut Oil

Instructions

  1. My blender will grind the seeds. If yours doesn’t, you’ll have to buy ground seeds or grind them separately in a grinder.

  2. Rinse the nuts and put them in the blender with the seeds. Grind.

  3. Add the rest of the ingredients in the order above and blend everything.

  4. Enjoy the shake!

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