The juicing craze! After all of the hype and strict regimens of the raw and juiced diet fads, the whole idea may leave a bad taste in your mouth. But you do not have to learn how to cover up the taste of juiced beets or start watching infomercials with Jack LaLanne revving up his “Juice Tiger.” There is an easy, and yes, tasty way to drink your vitamins and boost your intake of the good stuff.
For starters, you may be wondering why juiced foods are so fantastic to begin with. Simply put, it’s because they are living, unprocessed foods that enter your body in their purest form, with their vitamins and nutrients intact. When you drink a glass of fruit juice from the bottle, you are most likely getting additives and additional sugar to enhance the flavor and appeal. The problem here is that you could have downed a soda if you wanted empty calories, and all for a fraction of the nutrients you could have received if you stuck to au-natural. So great. Now you know you can toss your fruits and veggies into a blender and delicious, nutritious nectar will appear, solving all of your ache and pains, as well as restoring your body to age 21 perfection. Not quite. The concoction you get might taste a bit more like a punishment than a treat. But comparing the thick, amateur juice of a novice to the real deal is like comparing apples to oranges. In order to get into your body, it’s got to taste good. So how do we get from bravery to savory?
First of all, start with what you know. What fruits do you like? Bananas make a fantastic “base” fruit, and your body will thank you for the potassium, not to mention the gram of protein and three grams of fiber. Bananas also tend to help neutralize the tartness of some fruits, so it can be a nice place to start. Not bananas over bananas? No problem! After a few tries at the old blender, you’ll figure out which fruit combination you like best. But what about veggies? How do we make that taste good? Well, right off the bat you will want a fairly decent juicer. Introducing veggies into your juice regimen is going to require a bit more “juice” than a typical blender can pack. But even when you’re armed with the right equipment, certain vegetables need some help from that spoonful of something to help the medicine go down. Your sweeter fruits and vegetables (pineapple, carrots, etc.) can also be used as a moderator to help tone down the all too unpleasant overpowering vegetable taste. Tomato and celery with a pinch of lemon juice makes a great foundation juice, as most people tend to like this health conscious knock off of a Bloody Mary. From here you can add cucumber, spices, carrots, or even a bit of apple juice.
Ok. So you have read this blog, dusted off your juicer (or purchased one), made a resolution, and now you are standing in the produce aisle at Grocer’s Gala and have not a clue what to buy, or why you even wanted to try this in the first place. Before you resign and head over to aisle five to pick up a jug of V8, hear me out. Grab a piece of paper and quickly jot down some health issues that you have that you want to resolve. Next, log on to the internet and do a quick Google search to learn which vitamins serve as an anecdote to your problem. As an example, if you suffer from fatigue than you may be lacking vitamins B12 and B6. Mangos and Kiwi’s have each of these B’s, so get them on your list. Is the common cold a little too common for your comfort level? Well than I am sure you are aware that vitamin C is key. Stock up on your friends in the citrus family. Have you noticed that you are squinting at the menu at your local fast food joint? Than stop eating burgers and fries and pick up some carrots! Carrots are loaded with beta-carotene, which morphs into vitamin A, which gets an A+ when it comes to your eyes. Have allergies? Try Mandarin Tangerines. Upset stomach? Pick up some pectin and grab some grapefruit. You may have to search a bit, but some Noni juice added to your blend can act quite like serotonin on your brain, and some believe it can relieve headaches. Aloe and cabbage have been rumored to do the same, and as you experiment you will find what works best for you.
So you have the idea. Now you have your fruits and veggies at home and you are ready to juice! As you are playing scientist and experimenting, remember to balance your sweets with your not-so-sweets and see what you can get. If you do not mind wandering off the beaten path every now and again, start trying fun additions like cinnamon, maple syrup, parsnip, or other spices. Juicers note: The natural sugar in fruit will raise insulin levels, so keep this in mind when you head into juicing mode. Too much of the sweet stuff can upset your blood sugar levels, causing you to feel hungry too soon. No worries, though. Soon you will have your “recipes” down, just keep experimenting and tasting.
One final note. “Smoothies,” although not as healthful as the juices we discussed above, can be an excellent alternative to typical desserts laden with fat and excess sugar. Dessert smoothies can end up containing a lot of calories, but watching your portion size can be the perfect way to treat your sweet tooth without trying to trick your diet. One of my special blends uses chocolate soymilk as a base. I then add a banana and a few tablespoons of organic, vanilla yogurt. Divide in two glasses and you and the person lucky enough to be dining with you are in for a “milkshake” that won’t leave you with a twist of guilt.
So go forth and juice! Your mind and body will thank you.