One Story About How to Start Juicing...
For me, it started with the movie Hungry for Change. It was late December of 2012. I had been working out quite regularly and eating healthier. As a result I had noticed a change in my energy levels and overall health and appearance. I was ready to take the next step towards greater well being. I had already been interested in juicing after it had come up a couple of times in conversation.
I recommend starting with a juice fast, primarily because that is what worked for me. It was the beginning of 2013, the perfect time for resolutions. The juicer I initially bought and we were quite happy with is a Breville BJE200XL Compact Juice Fountain 700-Watt Juice Extractor .
I was quite intimidated initially about what to put in the juice, how to find recipes that I would like and how to possibly keep enough produce stocked in the house to support my new juicing habit. I have to admit it was quite daunting. Having a very supportive husband who was happy to participate in my dramatic culinary revolution has made it a whole lot easier.
I inadvertently discovered a temporary solution the intimidation I felt at the prospect of making my first juice. It happened at the juice bar at Whole Foods.
I knew from the documentaries that I had watched that I wanted to get a lot of chlorophyll, which has quite potent healing properties. However, I had never liked any of the greens (green leafy vegetables) that seemed to contain large amounts of chlorophyll, such as kale, mustard greens, and collard greens. As a result, I knew I needed other ingredients with strong flavors that would mask the kale flavor.
The Green Machine juice at Whole Foods, or a variation there on, became a staple for me in those first few weeks. The Green Machine contains: cucumber (unpeeled if organic), peeled lime (leave as much pith on it as possible), 1-2 sticks celery, kale, and apple.
I adopted this recipe with minor adjustments. Although I love the taste of whole celery, I do not enjoy the flavor of celery in juice. I also have taken a break from the lime recently. Instead, I include ginger root (1.5 thumb size piece, unpeeled in organic) for spice. It has a strong flavor, but be careful because it is easy to over do it.
Parsley and kale bunches are my favorite greens combination. Parsley has strong cleansing properties and a pleasant flavor when mixed with the kale. Also, I find there is frequently an abundance of fresh, inexpensive organic parsley at our local markets.
Two carrots also are usually in my morning juice. They can be unpeeled (if organic) and although I usually cut off the ends, you don't have to. One discovery about carrots is that their tops (green leafy parts) are exceptionally healthy, and so now I've begun buying carrots with their tops when available. However, the tops do not last long in the refrigerator, so I usually cut them off and use them all in the first juice I make after returning from the grocery store.
Apples! Apples! Apples! These are fantastic in every juice And quite necessary. You can control the bitterness of your juice (from the kale and other greens ) with apples. I will usually use two small apples, or substitute some pineapple (with rind if organic) or pear when available. The nice thing about juicing apples or pears is that you don't need to core the fruit. Rather, rinse well and cut into wedges that will fit into the juicer. With the Breville, I simply quarter the apples.
Cucumbers are a great juice neutralizer. Now matter how bitter the green may be, the cucumber will soften the flavor, and with the apple and a little ginger, the green flavor is muted to a much more palatable, subtler flavor. Remember, if you can't find organic cucumbers, peel them before juicing. There are a lot of nutrients in the skins though, so buy organic when you can.
The thing about the juices I was making, as I soon discovered, is that one is strongly encouraged to drink the juice as soon after being made as possible. Apparently the juice's healing properties start to dissipate shortly after the fruit is juiced. The speed at which a juice loses its healing properties is correlated to the manner in which it is juiced. Briefly, the fast centrifugal process (like my Breville) will create a juice that quickly loses its health benefits. Whereas the slower, masticating juicers (more expensive, slower to juice) produce a juice that will maintain its health giving nutrients for a much longer period.
STAYING MOTIVATED: If you are serious about trying this out, I suggest juicing and watching a couple of documentaries that will give you some context. I found it helpful to learn about other people’s positive experiences with juicing, and it keeps you motivated. The following movies are available on Netflix for instant watching, and I would watch them in the order they are listed in:
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Hungry for Change, and Forks Over Knives.
50 days in and I find myself returning to Netflix to find additional inspirational documentaries on diet and health. I have revisited films I had previously watched, and continue to learn and maintain my momentum from, in part, the personal stories that are featured in these films.
Movies are great, but I have been equally excited about expanding our library with books about healthy eating. Initially I had just happened upon Green for Life , and Green Smoothie Revolution by Victoria Boutenko in the grocery store. This book opened my eyes to the world of green smoothies! I have plowed through about 10 or 15 different books on the topic in the last month, but hers is really good and the content has seemingly valid science supporting her claims. I have also enjoyed Eating for Beauty and Superfoods by David Wolfe. I am waiting for Healing the Gerson Way, by Charlotte Gerson to arrive.
Boutenko is definitely in the “green smoothie” camp, which advocates blending greens in a blender as opposed to juicing. I found a number of things about green smoothies compelling. I had been juicing for a few weeks at the time, and I was growing a bit weary of chasing juices around town for every meal.
Since the juice's nutrition expired so quickly, it was becoming cumbersome to try and find enough juices to keep me full during the work day. Increasingly there are more and more juice bars popping up around town, but I was still finding traveling out of the city during the day quite daunting since I knew there would be no juice bars in places like Douglasville, Georgia. As a result, I was primed for a juice alternative that I could prepare in advance at home to last throughout the day.
Also, as Boutenko pointed out in her book, although juicing provides large quantities of nutrients, juicing removes the fiber from the plant. Without fiber, you are depriving your body of the materials necessary to pull the toxins out of your body. And since, a large benefit of juicing is the "detoxification" Boutenko, rightly I think, questions the efficacy of a detoxification process that excludes the very necessary component of fiber.
Thus, green smoothies provide both the nutrients and fiber necessary for the most effective detoxification. Boutenko also discusses the importance of rotating your greens. In nature, animals tend to graze from green to green. The idea is that animals should consume some amount of many different green plants. As a built-in self-preservation mechanism, greens contain a small amount of toxin. This is to prevent animals from over-consuming the plant. It encourages animals to graze from green to green in the wild. Boutenko encourages us to rotate greens as frequently as possible. Thus, although spinach is hands down the most pleasant tasting green in smoothies, Boutenko reminds us that it is important to consume an assortment of greens.
Boutenko also stresses the importance of finding recipes that taste delicious. She advises that you should always be looking forward to your next green smoothie. Especially for those of us just starting out, we want to develop the good and regular habit of consuming these delicious drinks. Nothing kills a good habit like a bad tasting smoothie. Don't rush to eliminate the fruit or sweet tasting ingredients. Make sure you make it a pleasant experience and the habit will be easy to keep.
I discovered a concoction (not quite a green smoothie) that has become very popular in my house. My 2 year old loves her "Ice Cream Smoothie" which consists of 1 banana, 3 handfuls of ice, 1/2 cup almond butter and 1.5 cups of whole milk, 3-4 tablespoons of agave nectar. The ice and milk combo gives it the consistency of a milkshake. Although the dairy and added sugar are ingredients that I typically avoid in my smoothies, this smoothie has become a regular evening snack.
My routine as it stands right now (and I am constantly refining it) is to juice twice in the morning. Once before I go to the gym, and once again before work. I will make my green smoothies in the evening and typically drink about two quarts per day. Lately I've discovered frozen organic fruits to be a quick and easy addition to my smoothies. As I mentioned, stocking and storing enough produce to sustain this type of diet for even a small family is a serious endeavor. Frozen fruits help supplement my options, and keeping things interesting is definitely important if you want to stick with this change.