Over the weekend, I broke down and finally purchased a juicer—after eyeing one on Amazon for almost two months—and was immediately impressed by the solid heft of the new machine hulking on my countertop. I’ve always liked to eat colorful vegetables and gorgeous greens, and this addition to my kitchen promised fresh new flavor profiles.
Juicing—a term that first entered American lexicon in the late 1970’s—was once relegated to cleanses and fasts, but is currently making a big comeback as a supplement to healthy diets. The most common juicer machines use centrifugal force to shred food and extract liquid. Proponents of juicing claim that fresh juice is a super-charged and nutrient-dense shot of energy the body readily absorbs, particularly in the morning. High-water-content fruits and vegetables provide the best yield of juice but even savory all-stars like carrots and beets contain considerable amounts of liquid. Many recipes utilize a rough 2:1 ratio of vegetables to fruits for a sweeter and more palatable taste, though it’s helpful to look at recipes as starting points and adjust to taste. Produce that will be juiced with the skin on should be organic whenever possible to reduce exposure to chemical and pesticide residues present on conventionally grown varieties.
Joe Cross—creator and star of the 2010 documentary Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, and founder of the Reboot Your Life blog—completely believes in juicing’s restorative powers. In his documentary, Cross began his juice experiment 100 pounds overweight, plagued by an autoimmune disease, chained to prescription steroids, and riddled with guilt about his life choices. Over the course of two months, he embarked on a 60-day juice diet as he crossed the United States meeting people, talking about food choices, and challenging the status quo. He experienced a marked improvement in his disease and was able to completely eliminate the steroids from his daily regimen. Cross’ diet was closely monitored by a doctor and, though it was an extreme example that is certainly not recommended, it led to a remarkable recovery which was nothing short of inspiring.
Almost immediately after watching the documentary, I thought of replacing my morning coffee with juice. Since my morning routine before the juicer usually consisted of a grain and fruit, the upgrade to include vegetables seemed like a reasonable, and tasty, addition. Armed with The Funky Fresh Juice Book by Jason Vale, my first forays into the world of juicing included the “Pure Purple Power” recipe with blueberries, blackberries and beets, and then moved on to take advantage of winter citrus with the delicious “Sunrise Sensation,” recipe below.
Juicing, besides being as simple as assembling a salad, is fun to do and tastes great. It’s also filling and is a great pre- or post-workout snack. Juicing has caused a few interesting shifts in my life—a dramatic, upward spike in my vegetable consumption and a renewed interest in backyard gardening—and is something I highly recommend as a supplement to a healthy diet.
From The Funky Fresh Juice Book by Jason Vale
½ peeled pink grapefruit
2 peeled blood oranges
1 peeled banana
3 tablespoons live culture yogurt
Peel the grapefruit and oranges leaving as much of the white pith as possible for a more nutritious and creamier tasting juice. Juice the grapefruit and oranges. Pour the fresh juice into the blender and add the banana, yogurt and ice. Blend until smooth.