Get on the “Kale Trail!”

20 12 2011

I love juicing!! That’s not referring to steroids, by the way – it’s all about fruits and vegetables! How did I get started on this? I’m pretty sure Peggy Lockard made a remark on our recent trip that she and John “juice.” Then, when I was strolling through Costco, I spotted the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer and I said to myself, “I’ll give it a try.” So, now I am officially on the “Kale Trail” and Cutler is right there with me.

The Benefits of Juicing

Just about every place you read, 6-8 servings of vegetables and fruits is the recommended daily amount. That’s a hard target to reach. And then, when you cook them, many of the valuable nutrients you want are cooked away, so your servings aren’t as beneficial as they could be. When you juice, it’s a pure nutritional cocktail. So what are some of the benefits?

1. Because the juice requires little digestion, it gets in to your system quickly. And because you are juicing more vegetables and fruit than you would actually eat, you’re getting a densely packed amount of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and other plant-based nutrients. Some recommend drinking the juice at least an hour before any meal, but for me, that doesn’t always work with meal preparation and our schedule.

2. It’s a great way to consume vegetables and fruits that you normally wouldn’t eat raw as a whole food (such as kale, mustard greens, etc.).

3. The antioxidant effects of juices will help detoxify your body and help you eliminate the toxins, fats, preservatives, and chemicals that a diet of processed foods leaves behind in your body. A side benefit of all the nutrients and detoxifying is increased energy.

4. Vegetable juice (fruit juice is acidic) helps alkalize your system (alkaline and PH levels will be the subject of a future article)

5. Some specific juices help relieve symptoms of disease. For example, fresh ginger juice can relieve arthritis pain, cherry juice can ease joint pain caused by gout, and carrot juice can relieve constipation. As well, juicing can boost your immune system.

6. Vegetable juice is an excellent source of chlorophyll (the pigment that gives plants their green color) which in itself is an excellent source of magnesium, aids in gastrointestinal problems, promotes the formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells, treats bad breath, aids in detoxifying toxins that cause cancer, helps assimilate calcium and other minerals, helps fight infections.

The “Risks” of Juicing

In the general scheme of things, the “cons” to juicing are minimal. Store-bought juice has been pasteurized (heated) to kill any “pathogens” such as E. coli, hepatitis, dysentery, etc. It sounds really alarming, but it’s not a hazard that’s singular to juicing. Regardless of whether you juice your vegetables and fruit or eat them whole in salads or side dishes, you need to wash them thoroughly.

Another risk factor of juicing is if you ONLY drink juiced vegetables and fruit (some do it for a cleanse or for a diet), and ignore the other necessities of nutrition such as whole grain, protein, and fiber (which you can also get by eating fruits and vegetables in their whole form), then you are not eating a well-balanced diet and you will get sick.

Likewise, if you ONLY juice a bunch of kale for example, it is possible to get hyperkalemia (too much potassium) – but believe me, you won’t juice only kale – it’s too bitter. The “kale trail” refers to vegetable juicing in general, by the way.

If you’re diabetic, you want to watch the amount of sugars in what you juice to avoid spikes in glucose levels. You also want to watch the calories in fruit juices.

NOTE: You’ll want to drink the juice right away for optimal nutrients (can store in the fridge for up to 24 hours), because the longer it sits the more the nutrients oxidize and dissipate and you don’t want to attract bacteria and stuff.

So, as the saying goes, everything in moderation.

What to Juice?

One of the great things about juicing is that you are able to consume lots of vegetables you wouldn’t normally eat (at least me!) and a lot of them. The purists recommend organic vegetables but frankly, those aren’t always available in a wide variety (at the commissary, for example) and they’re more expensive. Purists also juice only greens and add lemon or lime to cut the taste. That is not up my alley – I have to make it work for me. I always add an apple, carrots, and maybe some grapes to sweeten it up. It truly is delicious. Typically when I juice for me and Cutler, it will be a concoction of a wedge of cabbage, a few whole kale leaves, a few whole collard green leaves, a big handful of spinach, a tomato, a big handful of baby carrots, 2-3 broccoli flowers with stems, a fuji apple, some grapes, and maybe some blackberries. That makes two 8 ounce glasses of juice. Yum!

The list is long and varied but here’s a vast list of fruits and veggies you can juice: celery, fennel, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, endive, cabbage, bok choy, parsley, cilantro, kale, collard greens, dandelion greens, mustard greens, carrots, beets, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and potatoes (cut in little pieces), tomatoes, apples, oranges (peeled), grapes, mangos, blackberries, pears – and the list goes on.

The Bastis Foundation recommends juicing vegetables and fruits separately because they require different digestive processes, except that it is okay to use apples with veggies as a sweetener, and lettuce and celery can be used with either fruits or vegetables.

Keepin’ it Easy!

I’m sure there are a million excuses to avoid using a juicer regularly: another appliance to learn, takes up space, a hassle to clean – you name it. Of course you could let these be obstacles. For me, I have decided the health benefits are worth the extra bit of time. One thing I do after I get all the veggies and fruits home is to wash them all at once – thoroughly, and break them in to pieces. Then I put all the greens in one shopping bag and put in the drawer in the fridge. Each day, I bring out the bag, pick out what I want to juice, then put the bag back – I don’t have to take extra time each day to wash what I’m going to juice. I generally buy a week’s worth of veggies and fruits. Cleaning the juicer is very simple: I bang the pulp out of the top and the collector in to the trash, then I put all the parts in the sink, run the water, use the scrub brush, and put the parts on a towel to dry. Later that night or the next morning, I put it back together and it’s ready to go when I want it. Simple.

Juicers

I did absolutely no research on the best juicers or anything; I was spur of the moment and just trusted Costco to sell quality products. I am very happy with the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer. (Sometimes the motor slows down or stops, and I just open and reclose the lock handle and it gets going again – motor has a lifetime warranty.) It turns out, there are a lot of juicers on the market and I found a website that has evaluated a wide variety of juicers if you are a more particular shopper (see link below). They certainly come in a wide range of price points from less than a hundred dollars (the Jack LaLanne is $89.99 at Costco in stainless and $109.99 in white at Target) to hundreds of dollars! If you’re not sure juicing is going to be a permanent part of your lifestyle and you just want to give it a try, I think the Jack LaLanne is a great way to get started without committing the big bucks.

http://www.juicer-guru.com/power-juicer.html

Smoothies – For Advanced Juicers

Fiber is the one thing missing when you juice – you throw out all the pulp (also has a bunch of good stuff for you in it). If you’ve been juicing and want to move to the next step or if you want to start out using the whole vegetable, then blenders are the way to go. VitaMix and Blendtec sell really good blenders that will pulverize anything you put in it. So when you put in all your vegetables and fruits, mixed with some water, you get more of a smoothie texture. Also, they make great soups and even ice cream. Again, I was at Costco, and they had an in-store demo of the Blendtec blenders and the demo guy made a vegetable-based smoothie and some soup (fresh whole veggies, avocado, a chunk of cheese, spices, and hot water – I was drinking delicious hot soup in 90 seconds). Did I buy one? Yes!

Because these blenders are expensive (hundreds of dollars), I think they take a real commitment to this kind of food preparation. The GreenSmoothie Girl website, linked below, is a great website. Her personal story of how she cured her son’s asthma with smoothies is both fascinating and encouraging. Her website is basically a “how to” on eating healthily with lots of tips and articles on how to incorporate the blender and smoothie into your diet, do’s and don’t of nutrition, blender “group buy” options, and more.

http://www.greensmoothiegirl.com/about/

 

References
Well, it’s been a pretty comprehensive discussion of juicing and all my research links are below. I truly love juicing – I just really like the idea of drinking all those nutrients and vitamins! So, I say to you: “Try it, you’ll like it!”

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8 responses

20 12 2011
Cynthia

Good article. Having tried some of those tasty, hideous colored NAKED JUICES, I can readily believe the fresh version is quite tasty. Have you done any reasearch on Juice Plus? Dr. Rosen….? on Fox news has made some positive comments about it. Also, Costco has started selling something called JuiceFestiv/VeggieFestiv by Natrol. It is made up of 23 Fruits or Veggies in a pill form. Any thoughts about that? I am sure it is less beneficial than juicing but does it have any benefit, do you suppose?

20 12 2011
Debbie Dawson

Naked Juices are “gently” pasteurized – which means they were heated. Therefore, although there are no preservatives, it’s not as fresh as you make at home. However, if you’re away from home and can’t juice, they’re probably a good alternative. Juice Plus and Juice Festiv/Veggie Festiv are all pills. I saw Festiv pills at Costco and researched them on the web – a lot of complaints about cramping and digestive problems. Personally, I would try the real thing if you want the benefits of the nutrients and vitamins.

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