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Authors: John Chatham

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BOOK: Green Juicing Diet
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GOING GREEN: THE BASICS

I
f you're like most people just starting down the mean green path, you probably have a long list of questions. This is a good thing — if you are simply throwing vegetables in a juicer or blender because you heard that it's good for you, then juicing probably isn't right for you anyway. There's a certain level of dedication required and potentially a significant financial investment, so the decision to start juicing isn't one to make lightly.

Top Ten Questions from New Juicers

Q.
Why should I drink juice or make a smoothie rather than just eating my raw fruits and vegetables whole?

A.
There are two main reasons why it's better to drink your vegetables: time and space. If you consider how long it would take you to eat two apples, four kale leaves, a sprig of mint, and three cups of sprouts, you'll realize how much quicker it is just to juice it.

Also, that's quite a bit of food to actually eat, so physically, it's not feasible. By juicing it, you're getting all of those nutrients in one quick, easily digestible burst! Also, what are the odds that you'll eat a huge salad without drowning it in dressing? Yet another benefit to juice or smoothies: you're skipping all of that added fat and sugar consumption.

Q. Am I limited to green vegetables only?

A.
Absolutely not. Though greens should definitely be a part of your juice or smoothie, you can also use green fruits or multicolored fruits and vegetables. The only requirement is that the juice actually be some shade of green.

Q. Can I make enough juice in the morning to get me through the day?

A.
Drinking your juice immediately is definitely the best way to go, because as soon as air comes into contact with the juice, it begins to oxidize, and the nutritional value fades. That being said, drinking juice that you made three hours earlier is certainly more beneficial than a chocolate cupcake.

To keep your juice as fresh and nutritious as possible, store it in an airtight, opaque container and fill it all the way to the top so it contains as little air as possible. If you don't have enough juice to top it off, use filtered water. A little bit of lemon juice will help prevent oxidation as well. Keep the juice refrigerated until you're ready to drink it.

Q. Can I juice all fruits and vegetables?

A.
Unfortunately, no. Extremely soft fruits, such as bananas, eggplant, overripe peaches, olives, peas, beans, and avocados, are only good for smoothies, though they offer a ton of nutrients. Some people say the same about melons, but unless they're really ripe, they work just fine for juicing.

On the other end of the spectrum, extremely hard or dry produce, such as certain squashes and coconut, aren't ideal for juicing either. They're pretty hard on your juicer and don't yield much juice. Also, some seeds, such as lemon, apple, or orange seeds, are bitter.

Q. I don't really like the taste of green vegetables but really want to juice. How can I improve the taste?

A.
Even people who love broccoli or beets sometimes cringe at the thought of drinking the juice. Try adding a few green grapes or a couple of apples to your cocktail. Also, some vegetables produce rich juice, so keep celery, lettuce, and cucumbers on hand, because they'll add some sweetness to your juice and lighten it up significantly. Don't be afraid to use herbs, too, such as basil and cilantro, as well as spices, such as cayenne, to add zing to your savory juices. Lemon juice adds a nice flavor snap, too.

Q. Do I need a special blender or juicer?

A.
Yes, you do. We'll go into greater detail on this subject in the next chapter, but you'll need to buy a good blender if you plan on making smoothies, and a quality juicer if you want to make juice. If you're going to use grassy or leafy produce frequently, you'll need a specialized juicer for those, but it can be used for all of your juicing needs.

Q. I tried some green juice and got stomach cramps. Does that mean I can't juice?

A.
Absolutely not. It's actually pretty common for green juices (or any fresh juice for that matter) to have this effect simply because your body isn't used to such a concentrated burst of nutrients. Just ease into juicing a little slower and try adding common ingredients your body is already accustomed to, like apples and celery, then work your way up in volume and originality!

Q. Why can't I just buy my juice at the supermarket?

A.
There are a number of reasons why you should make your own fresh juice. To begin, packaged juices have usually been pasteurized, which means that they've been heated to kill bacteria. Many states require that juices be pasteurized prior to sale for safety reasons. The problem is that the heating process kills the beneficial enzymes and nutrients inherent to the juice.

Many store-bought juices also contain preservatives and added sugar; plus the produce was possibly treated with some form of chemical pesticides, and you have no way of knowing if it was even washed properly prior to being run through production. Finally, you don't get to create your own flavor profiles, so you're missing out on half the fun of juicing!

Q. Why is juice cleansing better than water fasting?

A.
When you're juice cleansing, your body is still getting all of the nutrients it needs while cleansing and healing. Since it's receiving them without the interference of fiber, it can use the pure nutrition to heal and rejuvenate faster. Because you continue to get your nutrients with juice cleansing, you're not as prone to feel hungry, either, and you can fast for longer periods of time without worrying about starvation.

Q. Why should I limit my consumption of fruit juices?

A.
While fruits are certainly good for you in small quantities, when you drink fruit juice, you're absorbing a huge shot of sugar into your bloodstream all at once. This can cause unstable blood sugar, which can lead to dizziness, and can be disastrous if you're diabetic. Many diseases, including cancer, feed on sugar, and the extra calories can cause unwanted weight gain, so take care to limit your fruit juice consumption.

Tips, Hints, and Little Secrets to Help You along Your Way

Now that we've hopefully answered some of your questions as a beginning juicer or smoothie maker, we're going to offer you some tips that will help set you on your way.

• If at all possible, buy organic produce. If it's certified organic, there won't be any chemical pesticides, hormones, or other “unnatural” chemicals that can harm you. Always wash your produce thoroughly anyway, and if you're not using organic fruits and vegetables, then you probably shouldn't eat the peels.

• If you've created a concoction that tastes absolutely disgusting, try adding cucumber, lettuce, or celery to it — these mild lifesavers may just bring your disaster back from the edge. If it seems logical to add fruit, throw an apple in, too. The apple will sweeten it up a bit and improve the palatability. Lemons are a good option as well — because they're so alkaline, lemons are great for covering up that green taste.

• Mix up your produce so you're not drinking the same fruits and vegetables all the time. Some people subscribe to the idea that continually eating the same thing can lead to allergies, and some research supports this theory. You should change things up anyway so that you're getting a broad range of nutrients.

• Do your homework before you rush out and buy a juicer. Because there are so many options out there, it's easy to buy one that works well for you now but won't meet your needs as your juicing skills and tastes evolve. Think ahead when you make your purchase.

• The softer and riper a fruit or vegetable is, the thicker and richer the juice will be. Some fruits such as strawberries, mangos, peaches, beets, and spinach yield extremely dark, hearty juices, so you may want to combine them with lighter, milder juices, such as cucumber, carrot, or lettuce juice.

• To get the most juice out of leafy vegetables like kale, parsley, or beet greens, roll them up tightly into roll-ups or balls before you feed them through the juicer.

• Don't forget to clear the pulp catcher on your juicer frequently. Neglecting to do this will greatly reduce your juice yield and can cause spillage that will produce a sticky mess.

• Feed your juiciest produce through last so it can clean out the chute and moisten up any pulp from your dryer produce.

• If you don't have a juicer but want to make juice, you can blend your produce in the blender and then mash it through a masher or strain it through cheesecloth or a coffee filter. This is extremely messy and time consuming, but it works.

• Use your leftover pulp for muffins or stews instead of throwing it away.

• When you first start out, it's a good idea to dilute your juice with filtered water by half in order to avoid upset stomach or diarrhea. If you're fasting, this is a good way to make sure that you're getting enough water, too.

• Always take the time to clean your blender or juicer when you're finished so bacteria and mold don't start growing in it. Not only will it taint your next batch of juice, it also can make you really sick.

• Have fun and experiment! This is a new adventure that will keep you healthy and happy for years to come. Discover flavors you love and don't be afraid to try new combinations. You never know what you'll like until you try it!

If you follow these simple tips and use a bit of common sense, you'll be making delicious, healthy juices and smoothies in no time. You'll surely come up with a few “yucks,” but as your palate progresses, you'll get a feel for what works well together and what doesn't. And remember, just because your friend loves a certain combination doesn't mean that you'll be jumping for joy over that flavor, too.

BLENDER OR JUICER: PICKING THE PERFECT MACHINE FOR YOUR NEEDS

D
eciding whether to juice or blend is a choice that depends upon what you want to achieve. If you just want to add some nutrients to your diet along with some fiber, then blending will suit your needs perfectly. If your goal is quick absorption of large amounts of nutrients, or if you want to undergo a cleansing experience, then juicing is the way to go. Here are a few more points to consider when making your decision:

• Juicing requires very little digestion, so if you are experiencing problems with fiber (due to illness or otherwise), then juice is the best way to increase your nutrients without stressing your digestive tract.

• Smoothies require additional digestion to extract the nutrients from the plant fibers, but the fiber helps with elimination on its way out.

• Juicing is a more concentrated, rapid source of nutrients, because the nutrients are readily available, and you can drink much more because there's no fiber to fill you up.

• If you're one of those people who hate to eat green vegetables, then juicing is a great way to get all of your daily nutrients in just a few swallows.

• Some professionals postulate that the chewing action required by food is a necessary part of the digestive process, so according to that theory, if you're drinking a chunky smoothie that requires a bit of jaw action, you may be taking the healthier route.

• If your goal is a complete cleanse, fiber is usually discouraged so the body can use the energy it saves from the digestive process to heal and cleanse, thus making juice the best option.

When it comes right down to it, the decision to drink juices or smoothies (or a combination of the two) depends upon your goals. If you're healthy and just want to add some extra nutrients into your diet, then smoothies are a great idea. If you don't like the texture of ground fruits and veggies, are short on time, or want the extra burst of nutrients without feeling full, then you may prefer juice. As with all decisions about your body, do your research and make an educated choice based upon what's personally best for you.

Whether you're making a juice or a smoothie, you're going to need a good piece of equipment to take your produce from chewable to drinkable. There are dozens of different blenders and juicers on the market, and what kind you need depends upon a few different variables, including:

• How often are you going to use it?

• What are you going to be blending or juicing?

• How many people are you using it for?

• How much space do you have?

• How quiet do you need it to be?

• How much money do you have to spend?

Since there aren't quite as many factors that go into buying a blender as a juicer, and you can get one for a fairly decent price (usually under $100), let's review the blender choices first.

What to Look for in a Blender

A blender is a blender, right? Wrong. There are as many different blenders out there as there are things to put in them. The choices can be overwhelming, and there are some things to watch out for that you might not consider as a first-time buyer. That's why we've gone to longtime smoothie makers to find out what problems they've encountered, to ensure that you avoid those pitfalls on your journey to the perfect smoothie. Here are a few of the top tips that should help you on your way:

• Try to stick with metal blades and internal parts, avoiding plastic, especially if you're going to be using your blender frequently.

• Anything under 500 watts probably won't be effective.

• Choose a blender with at least two different speed settings, plus a pulse function, because it's best to start on low to chop, then work your way up through the speeds to get the finest consistency with the least amount of nutrient-killing heat.

• Look for products with warranties, and buy your blender from stores that stand behind their products. It's frustrating to invest good money in a blender just to have it break two weeks later, only to find out that the company or store won't stand behind the product.

Blenders range in price from about $20 to well over $500, but there's really no need to go to the top for a machine that meets your needs. That being said, a $20 blender probably won't do the job, at least not for very long. If you're serious about making smoothies, it's best to invest in a good blender that will last, rather than buying several cheap blenders over time that continue to break — and have no warranty.

Some Good “Smoothie Blender” Suggestions

A few excellent choices broken down by price include:

$300+ Range:
The best in form and function

• Vitamix 5200:
1000 watts, powerful 2 HP motor, 64-ounce carafe, 7-year warranty, BPA-free carafe, variable speed dial as well as the ability to pulse, plus a patented tamper so you can quickly blend even thick ingredients.

• Blendtec Home Pro Choice Total Blender:
1500 watts, 3 HP motor, 64-ounce carafe, lifetime warranty on blade and coupling, 3-year warranty on base, 29K RPM, 6 blending options plus pulse. Features Smart-Touch Tec-nology© that automatically speeds up and slows down as necessary and shuts off at the end of the cycle.

$200–$300 Range:
Top quality

• Breville 800BLXL Hemisphere:
1000 watts, 67-ounce polycarbonate carafe, uniquely shaped carafe, blades that allow for zero dead space around the edge of the carafe, 1-year limited warranty, 2 speeds plus pulse.

• Cuisinart CBT 100 PowerEdge:
1000 watts, 1.3 HP motor, BPA-free carafe, 3-year limited warranty, high and low settings plus preprogrammed smoothie, pulse, and ice-crush settings that intermittently speed up and slow down for best results.

$100–$200 Range:
Very effective

• KitchenAid KSB560MC Blender:
720 watts, 0.9 HP motor, 56-ounce polycarbonate carafe,
1
-year replacement warranty, 5 speeds plus pulse.

Under $100:
Great value for the price

• Oster Beehive:
600 watts, 40-ounce glass carafe, 1-year warranty, 2 speeds plus pulse.

More expensive isn't always better, but in the case of these blenders, you really don't want to go with anything under $50. Most likely you'll just be wasting your money on a product that's not going to work well and will only break within a few months. Spend the extra money and do it right!

What Type of Juicer Is Right for You?

Most of us have used a blender at some point in our lives, so purchasing one isn't completely alien territory. When it comes to juicers, however, it's like learning a whole new language. They often look awkward, and figuring out exactly what all of those pieces are for is an exercise in physics. Yet there's no need to feel intimidated; we're going to clear up any confusion and give you a preliminary sense of what to look for on your search.

Did You Know?
Juicers come in six basic styles: centrifugal, masticating, upright masticating, twin gear (aka triturating), wheatgrass, and hydraulic press.

Buying a juicer can be a major investment, so knowing the facts about the equipment prior to making your purchase is only smart. Each type of juicer is great at producing the juice for which it's been specialized, but buying one that doesn't meet your overall needs can be an expensive, messy mistake. Let's break these down and discuss the pros and cons of each.

• Centrifugal Juicers
are the least expensive juicers on the market and the type that most department stores carry. They extract your juice by shredding the produce and then using centrifugal force to spin the pulp against a strainer at extremely high RPMs. This is OK if you're juicing soft produce, but these machines produce much more waste (wet pulp) than other types of juicers.

Pros
: Speed and affordability.

Cons:
Low efficiency (high waste); decreased shelf life, because the extraction process spins oxidizing air into the juice; and difficulty juicing grasses or leafy produce.

• Masticating Juicers
extract juice by literally “chewing” the food using a single auger or gear and then separating the juice as it chews. This process results in more nutrients, fiber, and enzymes being extracted from the pulp because of the chewing action.

Pros:
Greater efficiency, less air in the juice, more nutrients extracted from the produce, and less nutrients lost due to heat or oxidization, because it operates at a lower RPM than a centrifugal juicer. Also, masticating juicers often do a good job with leafy greens and grasses. Many masticating juicers also homogenize your produce, so you can make baby foods, ice cream, sauces, or nut butters.

Cons:
Higher cost, larger size, and more noise. A masticating juicer also takes significantly more time than a centrifugal juicer does.

• Upright Masticating Juicers
have all of the benefits of a typical, single-auger masticating juicer but are designed to operate in an upright position in order to be more space-efficient. There are also a couple of design differences. Instead of being chewed and extracted, the juice is squeezed out first, then the pulp is crushed and pressed again in a second phase to extract even more juice.

Pros
: Higher juice yield and less waste, a smaller space requirement, and less waste due to heat or injected air. They can capably juice just about anything.

Cons
: Significantly higher cost, and they're often noisy.

• Triturating (Twin Gear) Juicers
extract juice in much the same manner as a masticating juicer, except that they squeeze the pulp between two interlocking gears. Because they're designed to be slow and powerful, these juicers crack the nutrients from the cells, so not only do you get a higher yield of juice, you get more nutrients, too. Triturating juicers are typically the most expensive juicer, but because you can do so many things with them and they produce so little waste, they're worth it if you can swing the cost.

Pros:
The higher juice/nutrient yield, less waste from either heat production or the extraction process, the ability to efficiently juice grasses and leaves, and the capability of the machine to homogenize in order to make baby foods, nut butters, ice creams, sorbets, and even pastas.

Cons
: High cost, greater space requirements, and more time due to slower RPMs.

• Wheatgrass Juicers
do exactly what the name implies: juice grasses. They aren't designed to juice anything other than grasses, with the possible exception of a few small, soft fruits, such as grapes. These juicers come in both manual and electric styles.

Pros
: The fact that you can get an efficient, affordable model if all you're looking to do is make a nice green shot for health reasons or to add to a recipe.

Cons
: It's an expensive piece of equipment given its specialized, limited capabilities, and the fact that they're often bulky. Especially considering that most decent juicers can handle leafy greens and grasses, this isn't a necessary piece of equipment for green juicing anymore if you buy a suitable standard juicer.

BOOK: Green Juicing Diet
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