Since my last post I did something I never thought I would do…I bought a juicer. My husband and I put together all of our Amazon gift cards that we got for Christmas and made the plunge. We were pretty excited to see this beauty on our doorstep (The box, not the baby. Although, she is a beauty, too.):
The purpose of this post is simply to share some of the things I have learned about juicing, not to convince anyone to buy a juicer or to do a juice fast. Here are some questions I have been asked since I bought my juicer:
WHAT IS JUICING: Juicing is basically extracting the juices from raw fruits and vegetables. The juicer appliance shoots all the pulp and fiber out one end and the juice out another end.
WHY DID YOU BUY A JUICER: I bought a juicer for a very specific reason. I have ulcerative colitis, a digestive disease that I am able to manage through medication and by eating as healthy (visit the ABOUT ME page to read about my personal eating philosophy) as I can. I was in remission for three years and was feeling really great. A combination of eating lots of junk food for three weeks on my Christmas vacation, not sleeping as much while on vacation, and a complication dealing with my medicine caused me to relapse on New Year’s Day. I called my doctor and he set things into motion. I started a course of steroids, got a bunch of blood work done, and went on what my doctor calls a “low residue diet”. It is a form of digestive rest. No fiber, no beans, no whole grains, no nuts, no shells or peels. The list of foods that I can eat includes white bread, white pasta, potatoes, nut butter, very mushy cooked vegetables, cheese, yogurt. But to tell you the truth I didn’t really want to eat anything. I knew that everything I ate would have to pass through my inflamed colon causing pain and blood. I also knew I needed to get back to my everyday routine of eating mostly vegetables. So, I decided to eat lots of lots of vegetables in juice form. It would give my digestive system a chance to heal and let the medicine do its job, but I could still get the nutrients of lots and lots of veggies.
WHY DO MOST PEOPLE JUICE: There are lots of reasons why a person might start juicing. A lot of people commit to juice fasts, where all they consume is raw vegetables and fruits for a certain length of time. Some do it to loose weight and for some maybe it is spiritual. I did a juice fast for one week for medical reasons, but I don’t necessarily believe in doing an extended juice fast to loose weight or detox. I think it has the potential to create a distorted relationship with food, like many diets do. If you are doing a juice fast, I am not saying I disagree with your choice, I just think it should be done for the right reasons, in the right mind frame, for the right amount of time, and not out of desperation. Many people buy juicers as a way to simply get more vegetables in their diet. Some people really just like fresh raw juice. I am not going to try to talk anyone into juicing or make any claims about juicing, but here are a few things that I do feel:
- I like the simplicity of the ingredients. No preservatives or added sweeteners. Nothing from concentrate. I can also control the amount of each ingredient. So many juices I see at the store advertise the flavor of the juice, but the first ingredient is white grape juice or apple juice.
- If you are already drinking fruit juice or giving your kids fruit juice, why not add some cabbage or spinach to it? I don’t buy juice for my daughter on a regular basis, but she loves fresh squeezed orange juice with lots of carrots or sweet potatoes! She even likes the juice packed full of greens. Why not give her apple cucumber spinach juice instead of just apple juice? It is still sweet and fruity. I really like the post on Holding Her Own about juicing with kids. You can read it HERE.
- It is kind of fun. I love seeing what flavor combinations I can make. The actual act of feeding the vegetables through is fun, too. Did you know you can even mix juice with soda water to make your own fresh, healthy soda?
- If you live with picky eaters or are a picky eater, it is a great way to hide a bunch of nutrients from a variety of veggies. Maybe you can’t stomach a big plate of collard greens, but juice them with some grapes and no one will be the wiser.
Now, a lot of people claim that when you do a juice fast you will at first get detox headaches and then start to feel all this new found energy. I’m going to be completely honest, and I hope I don’t get ridiculed for it, but I didn’t really feel anything different. I didn’t feel bad (perhaps a little hungry) but I didn’t feel amazing either. Perhaps that’s because I was in a flare-up, though.
SMOOTHIE VERSES JUICE: The main difference is insoluble fiber. Smoothies have it and juices don’t. I wouldn’t say one is better than the other, but juicing does have its place over a smoothie in many instances. I am going to let a post by Choosing Raw answer this more in depth for you. Click HERE to read about blending verses juicing.
WHAT JUICER DID YOU BUY: I bought the Breville Juice Fountain Plus.
I did a lot of research and it was really confusing. There are a lot of different kinds of juicers for all different prices. I really like the juicer I bought! Perhaps if I spent $200 more, I would get more juice per veggie. That’s not something I was willing to do. Mine cost $149. It is actually the same one used in the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, but that’s not why I picked it. Here is what I like about my juicer:
- It has two speed settings. Some veggies get different results at different speeds. And I like that I can take advantage of that by flipping a switch.
- It has a pretty big feed shoot (3 inches). I can stick a whole apple right in without needing to cut it up. Sometimes I get a really big apple that I need to cut, but there is no cutting things up into small pieces. Sweet potatoes, cucumbers, carrots all zoom right through and I don’t have to cut them.
- It has a nice pulp catcher and a nice juice catcher with a froth strainer.
- There aren’t a lot of pieces to clean compared to many juicers. I rinse everything off right after use. Sometimes I need to use the included scrub brush to get the mesh strainer part clean, but it really isn’t that hard.
IF I AM NEW TO JUICING, WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR ME: Through experimentation, I have learned a couple little tips and tricks that have made the whole juicing experience worthwhile and a success for me.
- A little bit of lemon or lime juice (I love key lime juice!) does a lot to improve the flavor. The acidity cuts the bitterness of certain green vegetables. I just keep my bottle of key lime juice handy and add a couple drops at a time until it is just right. You can run lemons or limes through the juicer, too.
- Add ice to your juice. It is so much better with ice!
- Drink it with a straw. I’m not kidding. It really does make it more pleasant.
- If a juice is too strong or if the texture isn’t quite right, just add a little water.
- Drink it out of glass, not plastic. Sometimes the juice leaves a weird smell in my plastic cups that makes it unpleasant to drink water from them later.
- If you are juicing on a regular basis or doing a juice fast, try not to over do it on the fruit. Fruit is good for you, but it is still pretty high in sugar. I like to use lots of veggies and just enough of a low sugar fruit (green apples and pears are good ones) to make it palatable. A lot of veggies are naturally sweet. Sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, and beets are all very sweet and may be a better choice than more fruit. That being said, its probably best to include other veggies that aren’t as sweet (spinach, cucumber, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale) so you don’t spike your blood sugar too much. I don’t always follow this rule, but I try to most of the time.
- Try a couple flavors of fresh pressed juice before committing to buying your own juicer. Whole Foods actually makes fresh juice and bottles in store. I loved their Greens with Envy and Beeternal, but didn’t really like the Emerald River. It helped me know that I could stomach the juice before committing to juicing in my home.
- Clean the juicer right away. I actually save the little baggies that I buy my produce in to line my pulp catcher. Then I just pop it right out, throw it away (or save it), and rinse out the rest of the juicer.
- Pack greens into as tight a ball as you can and feed them through between other things. I like to cut my cucumber in half and sandwich the greens in between the two halves before pressing down the feed plunger.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE COMBINATIONS:
SWEET POTATO, PARSNIP, APPLE CINNAMON:
- 2 small sweet potatoes
- 1 large parsnip
- 1/2 green apple
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 C. water
- 1/4 C. oat milk (optional)
1. Peel the sweet potatoes and the parsnip. Wash the apple. Run the fruits and vegetables through the juicer.
2. Stir in the cinnamon, water, and oat milk. Pour in a glass over ice. Note: you don’t have to add the cinnamon or oat milk. I just really like it that way. It makes it slightly creamy. However, sweet potato juice does tend to be a bit gritty, so diluting it with water is a must. Also, if you let it sit for too long, the starch from the sweet potato will start to sink to the bottom. Give it a good stir periodically if you are drinking it slowly.
- 5 carrots
- 1/2 to 1 orange (for me it depends on how many slices I sneak to Stella first.)
- 1/2 C. water (optional)
1. Wash or peel the carrots and chop of stems area. Peel orange.
2. Run fruits and veggies through juicer. Add water to the juice and stir. Pour into a glass over ice.
AMY’S GREEN JUICE:
- 3 big leaves of collard greens, stems included
- 6 Brussels sprouts
- 1 huge handful of spinach
- 1 celery stalk
- 1/2 large cucumber, peeled
- 1 large green apple
- 1 pear, stalk removed
- 1/2 tsp. key lime juice
1. Wash greens, celery, sprouts, apple, and pear. Peel cucumber (unless it is an English Cucumber with thin skin).
2. Run the veggies and fruits through the juicer. Stir in lime juice and pour into a glass over ice.
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE PULP: Although I haven’t really had a chance to use the pulp, there are lots of ways to use it up if you would rather not just throw it away. Here are some links I found about using pulp:
- Holding Her Own: What To Do With All That Juicing Pulp
- Rabbit Food For My Bunny Teeth: Juice Pulp Crackers
- Fit Sugar: Beyond the Glass-Ways to Use Leftover Juice Pulp
After only juicing for a week straight, I started to slowly add food back into my routine. I have been eating a lot of soups made from vegetable puree. I have a couple yummy soup recipes coming soon. I am happy and surprised to say that I have drastically improved and am almost recovered from this flare-up. It really helped me to have a healthy form of digestive rest. If you have some sort of digestive disorder and you want to try a juice fast longer than a few days, I highly suggest talking to your doctor about it first.
Over all, I have had a great experience juicing and I hope to get a lot of good use from my trusty new appliance!