Juice – overrated?
Highly. But wait! Let me explain.
Here are the things that can make juice more of a gimmick and less of a nutrient powerhouse that’s going to give you superpowers and/or make you look like Giselle. Beyonce? David Beckham? The Hemsworth brothers? What were we talking about again?
Typically, you’ll find juices either in the grocery aisles or specialty juice shops charging you anywhere from $6-$15 for one small bottle of juice. I’m not even here to make the argument that the steep prices are necessarily unfair or anything, because, I mean, you’d gladly pay $6-$15 for a fried Oreo at a fair, I’d bet.
What I’m trying to get at is that there’s probably not a ton of bang for your buck there in terms of nutrition in the first place. The ones in grocery stores were bottled up days or weeks prior and are probably just sitting on the shelves slowly losing nutritional value, not to mention, at this point you’d actually want it to be pasteurized, which is less ideal nutritionally (except for children, pregnant women, and those who are immune-compromised). Secondly, the juices in grocery stores or specialty juice shops are typically packed with fruit, making the sugar content unnecessarily high.
A couple points on fruit;
There are actually some important rules when it comes to combining ingredients in juices, and many times the safest bet is to exclude them all together. The exceptions are typically a small amount of apple or a small amount of pineapple. Overdoing it with too much fruit can cause gas and bloating, and we don’t want that!
Secondly, while it’s great that you can pack a bunch of nutrients into a small container, you still need to beware of the sugar spike! Nothing wrong with some fruit in moderation, but wouldn’t you rather just enjoy a nice, whole mango instead of blending it up?
Now, another thing people tend to put on a pedestal is kale. Yes, leafy greens are great. However, if you could just take the extra bit of time and effort to lightly steam and rinse your greens before throwing them in your juice – you get an A+. Many leafy greens contain oxalic acid, a compound that, over time or in excess can accumulate in the thyroid gland and impair its thyroid.
I’m not immune to the fun, fancy marketing and constant pushing of juices. My very own school has hammered the therapeutic uses of green juice into my head. The point here is not to say that they aren’t good. The point is to teach you how to be smarter about your juicing choices. I’m also not trying to make you feel bad about juicing, simply trying to help you juice smarter. Time, place, and context, people. Finally, I’m only being picky for those of you interested in making the next tweak to your health journey. If I see someone on a standard American diet chugging a green juice instead of a soda, I say heck yeah!
So, okay, what do I do then?
First off, if you can just make it yourself, awesome. It will be so much cheaper and you’ll have so much control in tailoring your juice to what you’re wanting or needing on a given day. If you want a conventional juice, go for a cold-press juicer. I prefer a blender. I know it’s an investment, but truly, a Vitamix or other powerful blender is so worth the price tag. Though this does mean that you can squeeze in fewer veggies for a given volume, you’re keeping that fiber in there and helping to keep that blood sugar a bit more steady.
Making your juice in a blender doesn’t necessarily mean a gritty texture, either. Doing it strategically actually does yield a perfectly smooth juice. The trick is first to start blending the dense, heavy, or fibrous stuff (like carrots and celery), and then add in enough water or other liquid-rich add-ins (cucumber, lemon, etc.). Finally, continue to add liquid or blend until you get your desired consistency. Bonus tip: use ice or cold liquids to avoid overheating your ingredients.
This brings me to my last point. How you drink your juice matters. As digestion begins in the mouth, make it a point to “chew” every now and again, and drink fairly slowly.
Have some fun with recipes!
Take advantage of this fun new experimentation process and include powerful ingredients that you don’t normally enjoy (such as ginger, turmeric, parsley, and other herbs, and spices).
Recipe 1 – a juice I’ve been into recently (nothing extraordinary but created by Sean and yours truly):
- 1 large carrot
- 1-2 stalks celery
- 1/4-1/2 beet (I prefer it steamed for better digestion and then frozen to keep my juice cold)
- 1/2 cucumber
- 1/2 large lemon
- Small chunk of ginger
- Ceylon cinnamon
- Coconut water (definitely recommend Harmless Harvest)
Recipe 2 – my mom’s go-to when she first got her Vitamix about 5 years ago and was a juice fanatic):
- A ton of kale (steamed then rinsed)
- Handful of swiss chard or spinach
- Small chunk of pineapple
- Optional: romaine lettuce
Recipe 3 – one which I never use specific measurements for, make it to taste!:
- Lemon or lime
Let me know your thoughts in the comments, PN fam!