Juicing is a delicious and nutritious way to replenish the body’s stores of nutrients. One of the early advocates of juicing in the 20th century was an English researcher and author of the book “Raw Vegetable Juices,” Dr. Norman W. Walker. Walker’s book, published in 1936, introduced the world to juicing in the modern age. Juicing, however, is hardly new. The first written words on juicing are found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which date from before 150 B.C. to about 70 A.D.
Juicing offers many health benefits since vegetables are rich in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. Some vegetables juice up better than others, and combining vegetables is a good way to get a good variety of nutrients.
To begin juicing, it’s a good idea to get a juice extractor. There are many types available and they can run you anywhere from $30 to more than $300 dollars. If you’ve never juiced before it is probably good to get a less expensive model until you are sure that it is something you’ll stick with, and not just an expensive appliance collecting dust in your kitchen. If you think you’ll continue to juice, you may want to invest in a more sophisticated model that allows you the option to process whole, uncut fruit. Extractors are more versatile than blenders as they have a pulp collector that removes the fiber from whole fruits and vegetables. The downside is that along with the pulp goes a lot of the fiber and other nutrients that are found close to the skin in fruits and vegetables.
For convenience sake, it is good to get a machine that has components that can be put in the dishwasher for cleaning. Ease of cleaning is important — you aren’t going to use something that is difficult and time consuming to maintain. Many people who juice on a regular basis prefer a machine that grinds over a juicer that uses blades. One popular brand, The Breville Juice Fountain Plus, is liked because it has a wide mouth which means less cutting and preparation of fruits and vegetables — all you need to do is remove hard pits, stems and peels. It sells for around $180. One downside of this machine is that it isn’t very quiet.
The Hurom Slow Juicer is a quieter machine, but it juices slowly. This machine takes ingredients chopped into small pieces. Cleaning takes longer than the Breville and the components can’t be placed in the dishwasher, which is surprising for such a high-price product — more than $300. It does a great job, however, juicing greens and can even juice wheatgrass. The pulp that is removed is very dry, letting you know that as much juice as possible has been extracted from the produced used.
As fruits and vegetables are juiced, the liquids separate from the fiber, leaving a concentrated blend of flavors. Many people don’t get in the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily and juicing is a way to get the necessary nutrients that are packed in vegetables that help protect us from chronic disease.
How to start juicing
If your family is new to juicing you may want to just start with a simple combination of carrots and apples. One half apple added to about four or five washed carrots will provide one serving of juice. Some vegetables lend themselves to juicing more than others. Common leafy green vegetables used include: collard greens, dandelion greens, kale, spinach and beet greens. Usually a recipe will call for combining leafy green vegetables with other sweeter items such as apples or kiwi fruit.
Tomatoes juice up well, along with carrots, beets, celery, cucumbers and bell peppers. They are a rich source of lycopene, which is an antioxidant that is believed to provide protection against certain types of cancer. Tomatoes are also a good sources of vitamin C and potassium.
Carrots are a vegetable that can be juiced up and served plain or mixed with other vegetables. Alone they are a good source of vitamin A, iron, potassium and B vitamins.
Celery isn’t an item to juice alone, but many recipes include the use of celery. It has a high water content and the whole vegetable can be used without peeling or removing any stems — just put the whole stalk directly into the juice. Celery is a good source of magnesium and iron.
One cup of carrot or celery juice provides most of the same nutrients that are found in 5 cups of the same vegetables chopped up. One of the benefits of juicing is that many of the nutrients otherwise lost in cooked vegetables are maintained.
Beets add color as well as iron, potassium, vitamin C, beta-carotene and calcium to your juice. Straight beet juice is very concentrated. Good options of choices to mix it with to dilute it include carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and leafy green vegetables.
Juicing is a delicious way to get more vegetables into your family’s diet every day, especially if you have children that aren’t fond of vegetables. It is also a great way to use up produce that might not be at its freshest.
Here are some recipes to get you juicing.
Carrot and Apple Juice
Makes about 10 ounces
3-4 medium carrots
1 medium Granny Smith apple
Wash all fruit. Carrot juice is sweet and blends well with the tartness of the apples. Choose firm apples when shopping. Nutrition information: 200 calories, 0 grams fat, 49 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein.
Spinach, Cucumber and Celery Juice
Makes about 10 ounces
2 cups packed spinach (about 4 ounces)
1 stalk celery
The celery isn’t overpowering so the flavor of the spinach and cucumber stand out. Nutrition information: 139 calories, 1 g fat, 35 g carbs, 1 g protein
Pineapple, Blueberry and Ginger Juice
Makes about 12 ounces
1 cup blueberries
1 piece fresh ginger, about ¼-½ inch
Blueberries are rich in antioxidants. Ginger aids in digestion. Nutrition information: 80 calories, 0 g fat, 16 g carbs, 7 g protein
Red Beet Cooler Juice
Makes about 12 ounces
1 small or medium beet
2 oranges, peeled
8-10 mint leaves
Wash and cut up everything to a size that fits in your juicer chute. The mint leaves can be rolled up and put inside the orange to juice best. Put all ingredients through juicer. Pour in a glass and enjoy.
Georgia Clark-Albert is a registered dietitian and adjunct nutrition instructor at Eastern Maine Community College who lives in Athens. Read more of her columns and post questions at bangordailynews.com or email her at GeorgiaMaineMSRDCDE@gmail.com.