The Beginner’s Guide to Juicing for Health
With the advent of glowing celebs toting lumo green hued drinks, and pro-organic moms juicing up storms in their kitchens, we thought it is about time to do an article on the new tasty wellness trend – juicing!
Juicing in and of itself is not so complicated. With the right blender and a good idea of what you want out of your smoothie or juice, whether that be a certain set of nutrients, amazing flavor or just an all round convenient health fuel, you are on your way to juicing mecca. Before you start however, let’s take a look at what you will need, the best ingredients to use, whether you wish to blend or juice, adding in superfoods, and the time frame you have in which to consume your energy cocktail to get out the maximum amount of goodness.
Note: If you are into making Kombucha, having a juicer at home is also quite handy. You can use the juicer to make fresh juice from your fruit, and use that fruit juice to flavor your second ferment, or, to do first ferment flavoring experiments, such as replacing sugar with fruit.
The Benefits of Juicing
Juicing can bring a lot of benefits. Namely, you can get an wide assortment of micro nutrients and vitamins with just a cup of juice every day — meeting, and even surpassing, your vitamin, mineral, and enzyme requirements.
It can be a challenge to eat the recommended amounts of green vegetables and fruits per day. But if you juice, it’s incredibly easy to get your ‘greens’ in.
Because you can pick and choose a wide variety of vegetables (and fruits) to juice up, you can mix and match for maximum nutrient extraction. Basically, you can juice up a batch up say, a combination of beets, cale, carrots, celery, lemon, and parsley and get all the micronutrient benefits those individual vegetables bring. If you did this by eating the whole vegetables, it would be a considerable amount of time and effort to get the same level of nutrients.
So in short, juicing is a way of shortcuting a high dose of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes into your daily diet.
The Right juicer/blender
Before embarking on your juicing journey, you will need to decide what kind of appliance you will use. There are two primary options, and that is to juice or to blend. Juicing will provide you with a more concentrated beverage, thinner in consistency. Juicing is usually best used for vegetables and leafy greens, as they are often too fibrous to be blended nicely. Blending will result in a thicker drink, more smoothie like drink than juicing. Blending works well when your main ingredients are fruit, which are juicer and softer than vegetable. Foods like bananas and nuts are tasty additions which can make your drink super yummy, best processed in a blender, for obvious reasons!
Juicing versus blending for health
While you can determine whether you will need to process your ingredients in a blender or in a juicer depending on what those ingredients are, you can also decided whether you want to blend or juice, and then select suitable ingredients.
The health benefits for blending and juicing vary in that juices are more potent nutrient wise, but are devoid of insoluble fibre. Smoothies are less potent, but more filling – and in a good way because most of this comes from the insoluble fibre that it still contains. For more info on the pros and cons of both, check out Health Benefits of Juicing.
The ultimate is to have both a juicer and a blender. This way you can make smoothies and juices, and add in things like bananas, seeds, nuts and butter to the smoothies, and herbs and other potent items to your juices. This way you can really get in the full spectrum of health foods into your smoothies and juices and strike a balance between fibre and nutrient potency.
If you do not have either a juicer or a blender already, and are on the shop for one – or one of each – here are some options to consider:
Types of Juicers
If you want to start juicing, you need the equipment. Unfortunately, there’s an almost overwhelming variety of juicers and blenders to choose from. We’ve broken down the varieties of juicing machines and blenders so you know your options.
‘Proper’ juice comes from a juicer machine which, unlike a blender, extracts the juice from veggies / fruits while filtering out the pulp. Juicers give you ‘pure’ juice without anything else. Keep in mind, juice from a juicer won’t contain fiber while a blender will.
1. Centrifugal juicer – ‘the fast juicing solution’
Centrifugal juicers extract juice by means of a metal blade pressing the chopped ingredients against a sieve. The liquid passes through and the pulp remains behind. Cheaper than cold press juicers, centrifugal juicers are the most popular and widely used. There is a drawback to these if you are using them in order to consume more raw fruit and veg in a convenient form. This is because the heat of the spinning blade can destroy some of the micronutrients in the raw food. Other than this drawback, they work well and pretty efficiently.
2. Cold press or masticating juicer ‘the healthy juicing solution’
Cold press or masticating juicers work by crushing ingredients together to squeeze and press out their juice. They are larger in size, take up more space, are slower at processing ingredients, and are more expensive. However they are the preferred equipment of dedicated juicers. This is because due to their masticating action and slower speed, fewer micronutrients are damaged or lost. These are also called single gear juicers.
3. Triturating Juicers – ‘the maximum nutrition’
Triturating juicers are slightly more high end than masticating juicers. These are also called twin gear juicers, and like the Masticating Juicers ‘grind’ up the juice. However, rather than having a single grinder, they have two grinder gear which means you get maximum nutrient extraction. Like the cold press juicer, the motors run slow so, therefore the very minimum amount of heat is created and the fewest micronutrients and live nutrients are lost. This slow juicer also promotes the most efficient method of extraction.
4. Citrus juicers
Self explanatory, citrus juicers are specially designed to extract the juice from citrus fruit. They do a very good job of this, but are not appropriate for juicing other fruits or vegetables. These are specialist juicers, however, and unless you intend to make mostly orange juice, are a less preferred option since you can’t juice up veggies in them.
5. Wheat grass juicer
If you are thinking of incorporating wheat grass into your juicing schedule, you will need to get a specific wheat grass juicer. Neither centrifugal, masticating or triturating juicers will do a very good job on wheat grass, whereas the wheat grass juicers are specifically designed for this job.
You can make another form of ‘juice’ by blending up veggies with fruit. This will give you a rather thick end product that contains the pulp (flesh) and the juice. However, most people who want to ‘juice’ will use actual juicers rather than blenders because you get a far more concentrated dose of nutrients.
1. Jug Blender
Jug blenders are the conventional blender type, and a good quality one will blend soft ingredients to a tee, and even seeds and nuts and other harder substances.
2. Single serving blender
Popular over the past couple of years, the single serving blender has a cup attachment which often can be detached and a lid fitted. Convenient for a single person or a even couple.
3. Stick blender
My personal favorite, the new stick blender design can make very nice smoothies. Simply chuck your desired ingredients into a bowl, and wiz it all up blender stick in hand. Blender sticks tend to deal well with less liquid than conventional jug blenders, as they can be lifted up and down and do not need to created a flow or movement of the ingredients to process them properly, even if the consistency is quite thick.
For actual juice though, you will want to stick with a JUICER, not a blender.
Blender or Juicer for ‘Juicing’
We suggest juicers over blenders. You get a more ‘pure’ juice than a blender can give you. However, it then comes down to how potent you want your juice, how much time you want to spend juicing, and how much money you have to spend.
What’s the Best Juicer to Use?
The fastest juicers are the Centrifugal juicers. You can juice a liter of juice and have everything cleaned up in less than five minutes. These juicers are fast, easy to clean up after, and usually are pretty affordable (between 60 to 150 dollars). The more you pay, the more features you get and perhaps, the faster the device is to clean. I find these types of juicers the best ‘bang for buck’ when considering the time required to juice, the cost, and the potency. For most beginners, these are the juicers to choose.
The ‘healthiest’ juicers are the Masticating Juicer and the Triturating Juicers, both of which give you the most nutritious juice. Why? Because they use a slow grinding process that ‘chews’ up the vegetables / fruits so little heat is created during the process. Heat, you see, affects the juice enzymes. A Masticating juicer is a compromise between juice time and health; you get some of the healthiest juice at a reasonable speed. The Triturating Juicers, however, give the most nutrients but take the longest.
These slow juicers cost considerably more than Centrifugal juicers — double or triple even. They are the ‘high’ end juicers. Even if price is no issue, keep in mind that it can take you 15 to 30 minutes to make juice using one of these.
So What Do I Recommend as the Best Juicer to Start With?
If you are just getting into juicing or are a beginner, go with a Centrifugal juicer. It’s significantly cheaper than the other types, gives you a good enough quality pure juice, and, more importantly, is easy to clean and quick to juice with. While I appreciate the benefits that slow / cold press juicers bring, I don’t appreciate the time it takes and the amount of mess you need to clean up after you finish. I want juice in 5-10 minutes, not 40 minutes.
Once you start juicing with a quality centrifugal juicer, you can always upgrade to one of the more nutrition extracting juicers in the future if you really want to.
How much you spend for a juicer is also pretty important here. While you can go el cheapo and get a generic no-name juicer for about 50 or 60 bucks, I highly recommend you spend at least $100 to $120 for one of the better rated, quality juicers. The reason is that these tend to be significantly easier to clean up after making your juice and they will last you for about 2 years. If you get a cheap juicer, you can certainly make juice, but the engine may die on you just after a year of daily juicing.
This makes spending slightly more for a more quality juicer a better investment, especially if you will be juicing regularly. And trust me, one you start juicing, you will be doing so regularly!
What do you want out of your juice?
Next thing to consider is what do you want from your juice. Are you aiming to get in certain vegetables which you struggle to include into everyday meals?
Are you after certain vitamins or minerals?
Are you trying to process vegetables of which you have an overabundance? Or do you merely want to make delicious juices which give you a nutritional power up.
Once you have decided what is most important to achieve from your juicing, in order not to end up with something undrinkable, take a look below for some guidelines on flavoring.
What flavor are you after?
Think about what kind of taste you are after, do you want something zingy and refreshing, or creamy and smooth?
Ingredients like mint, ginger, lemon juice, other citrus, apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, pineapple, etc will lend a crispy fresh taste.
Banana, coconut cream, nuts, peanut butter , avocado, yoghurt, dairy cream etc will a creamier, richer flavor. If you prefer this kind of a beverage, which is thicker – then you will need a blender.
Flavor Tips for Juicing
If your aim is to concentrate on vegetables and leafy greens, then you should include in your ingredients at least half a lemon and one piece of sweet fruit such as pear, or two or three pieces of a more sour fruit such as green apples. Vegetables, and particularly leafy greens, can imbue your juice with a slightly bitter flavor.
Lemon is a great ingredient which you can use to counteract any bitterness, and get a in a potent dose of vitamin C at the same time! For these more vegetable based ingredients, you will most probably need to use a juicer.
When you assemble your ingredients, keep in mind that you will need something that is high in liquid. A very popular ingredient in green juices are cucumbers, largely for the good amount of juice which they yield. Vegetables are usually relatively low in moisture content, and tend to yield highly concentrated and strong flavored juices. Pairing them with cucumber, lemon and fruit such as apples or pears can make a well balanced juice. Team this up with some mint or a dash of ginger, and you will have yourself a super zesty beverage!
A popular recipe that I love is this:
- 2 whole cucumbers
- half a lemon (peel the skin to avoid bitterness)
- fresh kale
- 1 carrot
- 2 cellery sticks
- 1 apple
- tiny bit of ginger
You get a healthy, yet slightly sweet refreshing juice that’s packed with nutrients. The lemon takes away some of the bitterness and the ginger adds a nice potency to the juice. It’s a very mild juice that you can easily drink.
What is in season?
Season fruit and veg are the perfect ingredients to take advantage of as they will most often be quite a lot cheaper than their out of season counterparts. For a single glass of juice one usually needs quite a pile of produce, so value for money is a must. Seasonal produce is also thought to be healthier as it is usually grown via more natural methods. There is also a school of thought which says that seasonal produce provides the right nutrition for the season in which it is harvested, based on the logic that nature provides the perfect food for the seasonal conditions in which it naturally grows or is ripe to pick.
On another nutritional note, unseasonal produce is not only more costly, but is often kept in cold storage to allow it to be ‘fresh’ enough to be sold out of season. In many cases out of season fruit and veg is picked at a very unripe stage of growth, and combined with cold storage, can be kept for lengthy periods of time until a profitable sale date in an out of season period. Premature harvesting and cold storage can dramatically lower nutrient levels, and kill off live components such as enzymes.
Other Juicing Factors to Consider
Here are a few other things to consider when you juice.
Organic Veggies & Fruits
Another consideration when selecting ingredients for your juices is if they are free and clean of chemicals.
Many ingredients can be peeled to minimize harmful substances such at pesticides and herbicides. Cucumber, lemons and fruits are good examples, but often there are a lot of beneficial elements contained within the peels which one would want to incorporate.
Peeling fruit and vegetables also does NOT guarantee that you will be avoiding all of these chemicals, as some might have been taken up or absorbed by the plant, and remain in the flesh of the produce.
Another consideration to take into account is that commercially grown fruit and vegetable are not as nutrient rich as those grown via natural methods. Chemically fertilized produce is usually quite low in vitamins and minerals as it has not had these nutrients available in naturally occurring chelated forms which it can take up and incorporate into its structure.
If you can purchase fruit or veg which is organically grown in an earth and soil friendly manner, by all means do so! You will not only be doing your body and all of its functions a flavor, but also investing your buying power in farmers who are supporting healthy soils and pioneering how to grow food in a way that can continue for generations to come.
Cleaning Your Fruits Before Juicing
You will want to clean your veggies and fruits before you juice. This involves washing them in water. Even better, if you ‘soak’ your veggies for a few minutes before rinsing, you clean them even more. If there are chemicals and pesticides on the skin of the veggies, this will help to remove some of it.
One natural method of ‘cleaning’ your veggies and fruits is put a few few teaspoons of white vinegar into a container then wash or soak your veggies & fruits in it for a few minutes. This has the effect of naturally disinfecting the veggies and fruits, killing bacteria and other pathogens. It won’t kill ‘everything’, but it’s much better than just washing your veggies in regular water.
Again, we suggest you invest in organic veggies and fruits that do NOT have pesticides. While this won’t necessary ensure 100 percent pesticide free (who knows what’s in the soil or what the veggies come in contact with during the processing phase), it’s certainly gives you a better product than non-organic.
Many people use their smoothie and juice making as the perfect time to add in any additional superfoods or supplements which they want to include in their diet and consume on a regular basis. Whether it is protein powder, chia seeds, cayenne pepper, ginger, parsley, kelp powder, apple cider vinegar etc, incorporating these dietary boosters into your smoothies or juice can be super convenient from the point of view that it means you just have to be sure to have your smoothie or juice, and you know you have taken all the supplements you would have had to remember to take individually.
Keep it Fresh
While it is tempting to just juice like a crazy person and stock up the fridge for the week with fresh live juice, unfortunately by the end of the week in question, one’s juice will have lost most of its live components and freshness. It will still be a lot better than any factory made juice, free of preservatives, sugar and other harmful additives, but if you really want to get the most out of your juices and smoothies, you should be making them either on the day of consumption, or the day before. 72 hours is the maximum recommended time you should keep your juice for, and even then some of the enzymes and phytonutrients will have deteriorated. In fact, the very best is to drink your juice or smoothie within 20 minutes of making it. This is because as the fruits and vegetables are processed, their cells are crushed and the contents exposed to air. This immediately causes oxidation, the same thing that happens when you cut an apple in half and the exposed inside goes brown if left for an hour.
If you want your fresh juices to serve as on the go energy and refreshment, then the best is to make it in the morning before leaving the house. To save time in morning, you can try getting everything ready the evening before, and then it is merely a matter of doing the juicing. As many of us already do not have enough time in the mornings for everything, the second best alternative is to make your juices in the evening, seal them up tight and put in the fridge, ready for you in the morning. If you are set on drinking them down within the 20 minute time window in order to make maximum use of the live elements, then it is best to drink your juice at home when you have time to make it and consume it in one go.
The Final Word
Once you get into it, juicing can be quite addictive and loads of fun. If you come across any interesting combos and flavors, or already have – and would like to share, remember you can hit us up in the comment box below.