Smart juicing!

What’s not to like?  Juices are portable, chock full of nutrients, and if you hate eating your vegetables… they’re a great way to consume the equivalent of a giant salad in a few quick gulps!  (Try making the recipe at the bottom for breakfast, and you will have knocked out 4+ servings of vegetables before noon even hits!)

green-juice-mbd108052_vertOne of the many wondrous things about fresh juice is that it’s like an IV drip, delivering nutrients in a straight shot  to your system.  Juice is easier for your body to assimilate, because the fiber has been removed.

In 2013, juicing is the new black.  The L.A. Times recently reported that cold-pressed juice bars have become big business, prompting companies like Hain-Celestial to snatch up Blueprint; a juice retailer with a reported $20 million in sales in 2012.  These juices, some of which include exotic additions like burdock root and fresh turmeric, can range from $12 and upwards.  Up and comer Juice Served Here in Los Angeles, plans to feature a $20 juice called, The $20 Juice; true story.

When you consider that four of the top ten food trends of 2013 in Food Technology Magazine have to do with American consumers’ rising interest in healthful, sustainable food options, this juice bar explosion makes perfect sense!  According to FTM’s April 2013 issue, a whopping 78% of consumers aim to increase their intake of vitamins.   FTM also found that an overwhelming majority of consumers actively seek out locally sourced ingredients, and look for labels such as ‘organic’, ‘fresh’, and ‘artisan’, that convey healthfulness.

If you would like to make juicing a lifestyle, you can make your own $20 Juice for $5!  For this, I would recommend starting with a single-geared masticating juicer.  This type of juicer is slower compared to a centrifugal juicer, with a smaller feed tube.  It is particularly good for juicing greens, and is moderately priced ($350+).   Instead of shredding the produce, it squeezes it via a single rotating gear.  Triturating juicers are a higher-end option.  With twin gears, they are even slower than the masticating type, but produce more juice (particularly from greens).   My personal belief is that having a centrifugal juicer is better than having no juicer at all.  Some raw food purists claim that the heat created by this type of juicer “cooks” the enzymes out of produce.  I have used a centrifugal juicer, and found that the extruded juice did not leave the machine warmed or even lukewarm, nor did the machine parts get noticeably warm.  Thus, any heat that is created in the process is negligible.   The centrifugal juicer is a good choice for anyone who doesn’t want to commit to expensive equipment, and wants the quickest results.   For me, a masticating Omega juicer was the best choice because I juice very little fruit, and lots of greens.
It’s important to drink your juice immediately after it’s been squeezed, when its nutrient levels are at their highest.  Vitamin C levels will diminish appreciably within the first hour of standing, while time and heat won’t even put a dent in carotene levels.  This makes sense, given that carotene actually become more bioavailable when cooked.   A ‘smart juice’ will include lots of greens and vegetables, with small amounts of low-sugar fruits and spices used only as flavor additions.
Summer refresher (makes one large glass) :
Asparagus (10-12 medium stalks)
One large English Cucumber (1lb+)
1/2 (or 1/4) medium Granny Smith apple
1 stalk fennel (to taste)  OR   1 oz. fresh ginger
Handful of baby spinach
*  Tip: If you want a particular flavor in the juice to be more pronounced, add it in at the beginning.
** Did you know that asparagus is in season, and has the highest known antioxidant activity of any vegetable?   Cheers to your good health, Dear Readers!

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