Thursday, July 10, 2014

Juicing For Better Health Part I: Getting Started

juicing for better health

I originally bought our juicer for my husband last year for Christmas.  It was a spur of the moment purchase on Black Friday from Kohl's.  He'd been talking about wanting one for what seemed like forever, and while waiting in line I saw the Jack LaLanne's PJEB Power Juicer Express and figured now was as good a time as any.  I actually made my husband wait in line with it (covered by my jacket) while I went back and forth scoping out other deals, but he swears he didn't peek.

Since then, it's a toss up who uses it more- he or I.  Back around the beginning of April, I got on this huge fitness kick and started juicing every single morning.  Sometimes, I'd juice in the afternoon as well.  Plus, I was doing yoga in the mornings.  My energy was up.  I felt great... and then we went on vacation.  Vacation usually kills whatever good habits I've been able to muster up and beats them back into my "someday I'll get around to it" column in my little life planner in my head.  I'm looking forward to heading back to school for the next eleven months just so that it puts the kibosh on any more travel plans for at least that long.  Hopefully I'll be able to get a routine so firmly engrained in the timeframe I won't be so lax about letting it slip.

Getting started in juicing was a lot easier than I expected.  There's a wealth of information online, especially in Pinterest!  I found lots of helpful information in the user guide as well, like information on which fruits and vegetables work better in which order, how they pair together, and their health benefits.  Experimenting was my favorite part in the beginning.  I'd just grab whatever my hands laid on first in the fridge and run it through the juicer to see how it tasted.  Most of my recipes contained the same base ingredients I knew I liked and paired well together, plus a few extra fruits or vegetables to enhance the flavor.  I tend to go for sweet combinations, so my husband typically made his own with less sweet stuff than me.

Here are my Top Tips For Getting Started:

  • Buy some fruits or vegetables in bulk to save money where you can. I get romaine lettuce at BJs or Costco, and 10 lb bags of carrots from the grocery store.  Whatever fruits are on sale, use those that week for the best value.
  • Save the pulp for your composter if you have one. I've been saving pulp since April, so this fall when it's time to build our veggie garden for next year, we'll have lots of nutrient rich compost to mix into the soil. {I'll be doing a post on composting and another on building raised beds in early September once the weather cools and it's time to get the beds ready.}  The past few months of juicing has also been great at showing me what I can grow next year that I know will get used.  Like carrots. Lots of carrots!
  • Juice your kale then your carrots and then save their pulp for later. The carrots will help pull as much juice from the kale as possible, and these two pair excellently together for adding nutrients to soups, stews, and sauces later. I put the pulp in a ziploc bag and toss it in the freezer. When I make my homemade spaghetti sauce, I add some pulp to the mix to add extra vitamins and minerals without changing the flavor.
  • If you don't like the "foam" that develops on top of the juice, you can just skim it off.  I prefer my juice skimmed.
  • You can store your juice in a mason jar in the fridge for up to 24 hours without losing too many of the health benefits, but juice is better for you and tastes better if consumed immediately.  Fill the jar to capacity so there's no air at all in the jar, then screw the lid on tightly. Some juice will leak, but just rinse the jar off after the lid is on.  It's better to waste a sip than lose the health benefits to oxidation!  I use the Wide Mouth Ball Mason Jars, and if you read articles on juicing it seems that these are the jar of choice for most people, too.
  • Don't use fruits that are super ripe.  They create too much pulp and mess.  Slightly under ripe fruits are best and create the most juice.  Sounds a bit backwards, but it works!
  • Juice your leafy greens first, but be sure to ball them up tight first to maximize the juice output.  If you are using a centrifugal juicer like the Jack LaLanne one, if the leaves have too much space the juicer will just chop them up and spin them out without any juice.  Packing it into a tight ball or roll will ensure it gets juiced properly.  Make sure to follow up with dense juicy fruit or veggies to "rinse" out the green juice left behind.
  • Follow up pulpy or seedy fruits and veggies {like strawberries} with juicy fruits and veggies to "rinse" the juicer and get all the bits of pulp out.

Here are some of my favorite fruits and vegetables to use in my juice recipes {coming soon!} and what they are good for:

Apples-  I prefer Gala apples, as the flavor isn't too sweet and isn't too tart.  Apples are high in antioxidants that help fight aging.  An apple a day keeps the doctor away!  Apples give you lots of juice.
Watermelon- This is super high in juice content!  It has a nice sweet yet mellow flavor that pairs well with other "clean" crisp veggies like cucumber.
Strawberries-  They can be a little tart, so I only put in about 3 large or 5 smaller sized berries for a large glass of juice.  My husband doesn't like strawberries much, but he'll drink them in a juice.  Strawberries are high in vitamin C, which aids in the absorption of iron found in dark leafy greens.  This pairs well with spinach or kale.
Oranges- My stomach doesn't tolerate orange juice very well, so I don't put this in my juices, but Jacob loves it.  Oranges are high in vitamin C and have been shown to have a similar effect as aspirin!

Kale-  Every juice I make has kale in it.  It's a superfood!  High in vitamins C and A, it's also loaded with calcium, iron, and antioxidants.  It's also boasts anti-inflammatory properties.  It's bitter if you use too much, so I recommend only 2-3 leaves tightly bunched.  It will yield you about a tablespoon of juice.
Carrots-  Evey juice I make has carrots in it, too.  I combine the carrots and kale as a base for everything else I add.  The sweetness of the carrots balances out the bitterness of the kale without making the juice too sweet overall.  Carrots are high in beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, pectin, and potassium.
Cucumber-  These make a lot of juice, and they also give your recipe a clean fresh taste.  I almost always toss in some cucumber to my mix.  They help to neutralize acidity, promote hair growth, and have a good source of folate and potassium as well as some Vitamins A and C.

Next week I'll be talking more about different types of juicers, plus lots of recipes for different ailments like migraines, bloating, inflammation- even cold and flu!

Ready for more?  Check out Part Two here!

Thanks so much for reading!  Don't forget to PIN this article for future reference and of course check out more of my delicious recipes and crafts on the blog.  See you next time!

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