Sunday, February 3, 2008

Juicing (fresh juice, that is)

I'm using green on my font today since I'm writing about juicing. And I have to explain why I wrote "fresh juice" in parentheses in the title.

When I went down to Hollywood a little over a year ago to film some exercise videos for Beachbody (which I'll definitely write more about later), I was shown how naive I am to the drug world when I told the Beachbody CEO's assistant, Heather and a few other people that I love to juice. Their eyes grew wide like I'd said something I shouldn't say and they questioned me on it. I affirmed, "Yes, I juice practically every day!" Then I went on to talk about juicing greens and Heather asked me if I knew the other definition for "Juicing." I was clueless. She told me that's what they call it when people use steriods for muscle building. I had no idea.

So I thought I might have to clarify just which kind of juicing I was doing in case anyone thought I was into steroids or something. I do love to lift weights, but have no desire to bulk up like that or to take drugs. :)

So back to the healthy version, yes, I love to juice! It's so fresh and makes me feel alive. I love how my breath tastes fresh for hours afterwards. It's truly a wonderful feeling.

It hasn't always been that way. I remember going to a juicing demonstration at church and they kept passing around little cups of juice samples. "Try this!" they'd say with all kinds of concoctions -- most having some vegetable in it that I wouldn't want to eat, much less taste even more STRONGLY in juice form. It was all pretty awful.

I did like fresh fruit juice. In fact, I like all things fruit-related. So I bought myself a juicer just like the one in the pic off of e-bay several years ago for $20. (Braun doesn't make it anymore, but it's a great little juicer). I came down with a cold not much later and a friend told me of a recipe that consisted of apples, carrots, spinach & garlic. It was strong, but I was able to drink it just fine. And it worked at chasing that cold away.

I mostly used it for apples and oranges, but a few years ago when I looked into the raw food diet, my palate was getting used to vegetables and I decided to get a little more creative. Now whenever I juice, I make sure I get a lot of greens. I'm not a big salad person, so this is a great way to eat a 1/2 bunch of chard or collard greens -- anything I can find in the fridge. I look at juicing like how I make soup. I start out with a base and create the rest as I clean out the fridge.

My basic formula is several apples + wet veggies (Cucumbers or Celery) + 1 lemon for freshness (or pineapple) + greens (1/2 bunch to a bunch -- spinach, chard, collard greens, kale, parseley) and maybe some carrots. I haven't tried beets yet, but I've heard they're good too.

The trick with the greens is to make sure they're in small enough sections (torn like you would for a salad) so they don't jam up the spinning blade. Also, be sure to use the rough part (maybe it's the stalk) of the greens. It has a lot of juice in it like celery does and I'm sure lots of nutrients.

Also, when you juice the greens, make sure you have a few more apples or another cucumber or something to run through afterwards to get the rest of the green out of the blade. What happens is you get all this juice from the other foods, then you get to the greens and hardly anything comes out because it's so dry. Just run something really wet through afterwards to until the juice comes out clear (or the color of the apple/cucumber) and you know you've gotten the most out of your greens.

I usually make a pitcher full -- drink a big glass right away, hand another one to my husband (he works from home), then save the rest for later throughout the day -- or use some later on for a green smoothie (which I'll write about tomorrow). I hope you try it because it's truly invigorating.

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