Green Juicing 101
Congratulations if you have decided to add juicing as part of your health and wellness plan! Juicing is a key component to giving you a radiant, energetic life, with truly optimal health. Fresh vegetable juice is therapeutic. It’s liquid sunshine in a glass! It’s like receiving an intravenous infusion of vitamins, minerals and enzymes that are absorbed by your body with little or no effort.
What Are the Benefits of Juicing?
First off, cooking and processing food destroys micronutrients by altering their shape and chemical composition. While eating cooked food that is nutritious isn’t entirely “bad” for you, getting your veggies in primarily cooked form isn’t the desirable way to receive all of the amazing micronutrients from plants. This is especially true for those with advanced disease and impaired digestion. Plant fiber is excellent, and we still recommend that you incorporate it into your daily menu, yet adding fresh juice to the mix dramatically increases your nutrient intake.
Raw vegetable juices furnish your body with live enzymes, bioactive vitamins, minerals and trace minerals that are otherwise decreased and destroyed by cooking.
Another thing to take into consideration is that it’s pretty difficult to receive these micronutrient gems from raw veggies, because of our inability to fully masticate (chew) raw plant fiber. Therefore, a lot of vitamins, proteins and minerals stay locked in the plant fiber as it moves through the intestinal tract.
Virtually every health authority recommends that we get 6-8 servings of vegetables and fruits per day, and very few people, even healthy eaters, actually achieve that. Juicing is an easy way to guarantee that you will reach your daily target for vegetables.
Top Reasons to Juice
There are many reasons why you will want to consider incorporating vegetable juicing into your optimal health program:
- Juicing helps you absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables. This is important because most of us have impaired digestion as a result of making less-than-optimal food choices over many years. This limits our ability to break down and absorb nutrients. Juicing literally helps to “pre-digest” them for you, so you will receive most of the nutrition, rather than having it go down the toilet.
- Juicing allows you to consume an optimal amount of vegetables in an efficient manner. How many of us can realistically and consistently incorporate a wide variety of plant foods (6-8 servings) into our daily lives? Not many. It can become time consuming and frustrating, but it can be easily accomplished with a quick glass of vegetable juice.
- You can add a wider variety of vegetables in your diet. Many people eat the same vegetables or salads every day. Also, wonder foods like kale and dandelion are tricky to prepare, and don’t really taste that good. So if you are a picky eater, or texture is a deciding factor, juicing provides you the opportunity to include a wide variety of vegetables that you may not normally enjoy eating whole.
- Juicing helps reduce over acidity in the blood and improves your pH.Due to many years of poor dietary habits, most people tend to be on the acidic side. Meat, dairy, processed grains, sugars, sports drinks, soft drinks, alcohol, etc. are all very acidic.Vegetable juices are highly alkaline and improve your blood’s pH. This is why so many feel energized after drinking vegetable juice. It’s like a shot of oxygen which helps to maintain balanced pH for optimal health. Balanced pH is key to optimal health.
- Juicing can help reverse disease. Alkalizing minerals from vegetable sources help to restore the alkaline and mineral balance in the cells. They speed the recovery from disease by supporting the body’s own healing response and cell regeneration. The added oxygen and micronutrients also help to rebuild the blood, especially if juicing with wheat grass.
- Kids can fall in love with juices. There are a million ways to make vegetable juice, and usually with the addition of fresh fruit, a child’s pallet can be rewired. Adding beets also masks the green look, so it will seem less like “swamp in a glass.”
But Wait, Can’t I Just Buy Juice From the Store?
Not unless that store has a juice bar. Fruit and vegetable juice that is pressed and stored in bottles begins the process of oxidation as soon as it comes in contact with oxygen, and a major loss of nutrients begins to occur. It is typically recommended that you drink a juice within 20 minutes of preparing it; this is when the nutrients are most intact. Therefore, even when juicing, it is not recommended to save juices in the fridge after making one. Just down it!
Furthermore, profit is generally the sole motivator for food trends. Unfortunately most companies that bottle “green” drinks use poorly grown and vitamin/mineral deficient greens. You don’t know how fresh they are, or if the greens contain mold. You can certainly guarantee that if the bottle doesn’t say organic, it is choc full of pesticides.
Then there’s pasteurization and irradiation (most commercial veggies are irradiated with cobalt-60). Yeah, cobalt-60, a radioactive isotope. Pretty pointless to drink bottled juices when they include a heaping serving of radioactive cobalt-60, pesticides and mold… So bottom line, if you’re wanting to juice to receive benefits, save your money for fresh produce and a juicer.
Not Necessarily a Green Goddess in a Glass
When you first hear the term green juice, it may conjure up images of a powerful health tonic or potion, a well-kept secret only privy to some. But really, the term green juice, is meant to signify any such juice – that is in fact some shade of the color green. Green juice may be a combination of fruit and veggies or it may be 100% veggies.
Your juice doesn’t necessarily have to consist of a wide array of exotic greens or other veggies, although it certainly can! Starting with romaine or field greens is perfectly suitable and will provide you an abundance of nutrients.
You may be surprised to find that your “green” juice may turn out to be a rainbow of colors.
Many people might logically assume that if they hate veggies, they will hate green juice. They’d rather juice Cheetos than be subjected to the taste of greens. If you find yourself having an aversion to veggies or greens, you may be pleasantly surprised. When properly prepared, green juice is a delightful intermingling of flavors. Salty with sweet. Spicy with sour. Pungent with mild. Tart with warm. Each ingredient produces a unique juice property – and with a little creative license, you can easily craft your perfect variation of “Green Juice”. Here are a few favorites, and a few steps to creating your own…
Arugula – spicy, grassy
Basil – sweet, spicy
Celery – zesty, hydrating
Chard – grassy, sweet
Cilantro – sweet, fragrant
Collard greens – grassy
Cucumbers – hydrating, sweet/sour
Endive – bitter
Fennel – zesty
Green apples – very sweet, tart
Green grapes – very sweet, tart
Green onion – zesty, spicy
Green pears – very sweet
Honeydew – sweet, hydrating
Jalapeno – spicy, zesty
Kale – grassy, dark
Kiwifruit – tart, sweet, zesty
Romaine – mildly grassy
Limes – sour, zesty
Parsley – grassy, zesty
Spinach – grassy, dark, pungent
Wheatgrass – very grassy
Zucchini – mildly bitter
Mint – vibrant, minty, cooling
assorted green herbs
Non Green Ingredients
Pears – very sweet
Apples – sweet/tart
Ginger – very spicy
Orange – zesty, sweet
Lemon – tart, zesty (remove seeds)
Pineapple – zesty, very sweet
Carrots – sweet, thick
Grapefruit – sweet/tart, mildly bitter
Blueberries – sweet, thick
Jicama – thin, mild, cooling
Radish – zesty
Beet – sweet, dark
Garlic – zesty, spicy
Tomato – sweet, zesty
Black Pepper – spicy
Spirulina – seaweed/nutrients
Cayenne – spicy
More Recipes and Green Juice combos to try…
- leafy greens/cucumber/mango
- basil/tomato/celery/black pepper/cayenne
- bell pepper/romaine/apple/lemon
- and on and on and on….
Get Creative and discover what Green Juice blend you fall in love with.
Cucumbers and Celery as Your Base
Cucumbers and celery are perfect as a base to your green juice. Cucumbers are an excellent source of vitamin C, and celery is high in minerals (especially potassium) and B vitamins. Both are highly alkalizing and cleansing. They are full of water, and have a kind flavor that is easy on the tummy. If you get nauseas when first starting to juice, a cucumber and celery cocktail with a little apple or pear is a nice way to ease yourself in. Organic cucumbers are okay to juice with the skin on, but conventional cucumbers should be peeled.
Juicing is for alkalizing, detoxing, and purifying. Juicing veggies and fruits coated in pesticides kind of defeats your purpose. Try your best to get as much organic produce for your juicing as possible. Many of the staples for juicing are actually laced with the most pesticides, such as apples, celery, and greens. Cucumbers, carrots and other veggies that can be peeled may be better (kind of) if you buy them non-organic. See the Dirty Dozen for the top 12 fruits and veggies with the most pesticides.
Low Glycemic Fruit is a Better Choice
While you can certainly juice fruits, if you are overweight, have cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes or other degenerative disease it is best to limit using fruits. The added sugar, although natural, may pose metabolic complications. Stick to low glycemic foods like pears or apples. Lemon and limes are good to, because they have virtually no sugar. Additionally lemons or limes are amazing at eliminating the bitter taste of the dark deep leafy green vegetables that provide most of the benefits of juicing.
Small amounts of more sugary fruit are okay from time to time, as long as you use small amounts. The ideal ratio should be 3:1. Three veggies to one piece of fruit. Be careful when juicing with carrots and beets. They are higher on the glycemic index, so try to avoid super sweet fruit with these combos.
Take Your Juice on an Empty Stomach
The best time for juicing is on an empty stomach, especially first thing in the morning. Make sure to “chew” your juice to activate enzymes in your saliva. Avoid gulping it down. Wait at least 30-45 minutes after your juice before taking in solid food.
Important to Listen to Your Body
It is very important to listen to your body when juicing. Your stomach should feel good all morning long. If it is churning or growling or generally making its presence known, you probably juiced something you should not be eating. For beginners, it’s best to start with cucumber and celery as your base, then gradually experiment with different types of greens. Stronger greens like kale, beet greens, and dandelion may be too much at first.