It seems everyone I know — most recently, my longtime hairdresser, David — is into juicing these days. I’d never considered getting a juicer myself. Who needs another space-hogging appliance? But the more I learn about juicing fruits and vegetables, the more I think it might be a good way to eat (or drink) more of those key foods, especially for those who fall short of the recommended daily intake. Plus, David (who is 50, like me) looks fabulous. If you’re thinking of giving juicing a try, here are some things to keep in mind.
- Juice can be “a very healthy addition to a healthy diet,” says Jolia Allen, online managing editor for Vegetarian Times. Fresh juice delivers a concentrated dose of vitamins (particularly antioxidants such as Vitamin C), minerals and other nutrients without filling you up. Allen notes that a single glass of carrot juice may contain the nutrients of up to 10 whole carrots.
- You can put whole fruits and vegetables in a juicer, letting the machine do the work of removing the inedible parts.
- If you create the right combination of ingredients, fresh juice is by all accounts
- “Juicing is processing,” says Manuel Villacorta, a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association. “With any whole food, the more you process it, the less nutrients you’re going to get.” Removing pulp gets rid of a lot of fiber, and without skin you miss out on such “micronutrients” as carotenoids and flavonoids that have the potential to reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
- Cleaning the machine afterward is almost universally regarded as a pain in the neck.
- Juice supplies a lot of sugar at once and adds more calories per ounce than whole fruit or vegetables.
Think green. Allen suggests going for green vegetables. These taste plenty sweet (toss in a bit of apple if you need it sweeter), she says, and have far less sugar than fruits.
Key nutrients. If you’re looking to boost your intake of certain vitamins and minerals, toss these in your juicer. For Vitamin C: carrots, pineapple, parsley. For calcium: kale, collards. For potassium: oranges, tomatoes, spinach.
Save money. Juicers go through vegetables fast. Allen suggests buying seasonal produce (such as strawberries and spinach) at their peak and freezing them to use during the offseason, when they cost more. Or buy in bulk from a local farm. Better yet: Grow your own.
Chill out. Because friction from the juicer warms up the juice, use frozen produce or toss a couple of ice cubes into the machine to cool things down.
Preserve. If you have a bit left over, add a squeeze of lemon or orange juice to keep your juice from oxidizing (which makes it turn brown) and save it, no longer than overnight, in the fridge.
Your choice of a juicer depends largely on what you intend to juice and how much you want to spend. Here’s a sampling of what’s out there, from low-end to high, including two popular mid-priced models.
Jack LaLanne’s Power Juicer Express. A “no-drip spout” tilts upward when you’re done, preventing juice from messing up your counter. The recipe book includes more than 100 LaLanne-inspired blends. This is the one my hairdresser uses. $100 at www.powerjuicer.com.
Juiceman Wide-Mouth Juice Extractor. With a 4-inch tube opening (most others are just 3 inches), this machine can accommodate whole apples and even cuts of pineapple with the rind intact. Model No. JM550S, $100 at www.juiceman.com.
Hurom Slow Juicer. This works by “chewing” the produce instead of chopping and separating juice from solids by centrifugal force. It’s slow-going but can handle tougher items such as nuts and soybeans. Model No. HU-100, $359 at www.amazon.com.
A main difference between juicing and blending is the thickness of the juice. A blender’s blades mix pulp and juice together, whereas most juicers use centrifugal force to separate juice from solids, producing a thinner liquid. With a juicer, you can use whole fruits and vegetables, including small seeds, skins and rinds. When using a blender, remove peels (though some skins, such as apple and pear, can be left on), rinds and seeds — anything you don’t want to end up in your belly.
Recipes. From “The Everything Juicing Book” by Carole Jacobs, Patrice Johnson and Nicole Cormier (Adams Media, March 2010):
- Popeye’s Secret: 2 kale leaves, 1 beet top and greens, 1 fist of spinach, 1 / 2 cup broccoli florets. All of these vegetables contain Vitamin C, an antioxidant that may help reduce the risk of cancer.
- Salad in a Glass: 1 cup broccoli, 3 butterhead lettuce leaves, 1 carrot, 2 red radishes, 1 green onion. Broccoli is rich in Vitamin K, which helps blood clot normally.
- Garlic Delight: 3 Roma tomatoes, 2 red apples, 1 clove garlic, 1 sprig Italian parsley. Tomatoes and parsley are both good sources of vitamins A, C and K and of potassium, which helps keep blood pressure in check.
Add it to foods such as casseroles, soups and meatloaf.
Eat it just as is; it’s pure fiber.
Chuck it on the compost pile.
Citrus peels. The pungent, bitter oils will overshadow the taste of the juice.
Pits. Remove the hard pits from cherries, peaches and other stone fruits to avoid damaging the blades.
Your fingers. Always use the food pusher to avoid contact with the ultra-sharp blades.