Saddle up next to me as I dive into my juicing experience – my kick-ass, bullet-proof recipe and the types of juicers I use – as I wax and wane about the health benefits of fresh, home made vegetable and fruit juice.
In recent decades there has always been a base level of ardent juicers, with spikes in interest occurring along the way.
We all remember those juicing commercials by Jack LaLane and Jim Carrey, the “Juice Man”. When their commercials flooded the airwaves, juicers flew off the shelves, as did the carrots and kale.
And, though I have no statistics to point to, I imagine that the latest spate of newly-formed juice adherents were inspired by Joe Cross’ documentary, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. (If you haven’t seen the documentary, check out the trailer.)
In Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, a fat, sick and not quite nearly dead, Joe Cross, transverses America in an SUV outfitted with its very own Breville Juicer
As he ambles along, Joe puts himself on a sixty day juicing cleanse. Yes, all he consumes is juice extracted from a mixture of vegetables and fruits.
As he ambles along, Joe wrestles with the temptations of fast foods and sugary drinks he so liberally consumed in his recent past. From time to time, he wanders into a MacDonald’s or Pizza Hut and just stares wantonly at the sizzling junk as the counter person stares at him, waiting for the order that never comes. For good ole Joe does not succumb.
As he ambles along, people gather, or he goes to them. What next happens is the curious crowd gets an education about how the perfect medicine to debilitating, chronic, self-inflicted disease is not a pharmaceutical pill (which masks symptoms but does nothing to excise the cause), but pure, organic, fresh vegetable/fruit juice.
Joe Cross is a vegetable/fruit juice salesman extraordinaire. Not so much by what he says, but what he does. Joe winds up losing more than 70 lbs. His sidekick, Phil, whom he picks up along the way, loses 200 pounds!
The Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead documentary inspired me to take my Champion juicer out of my closet and begin juicing again with consistent regularity. Once I knew I had reestablished the habit, I took out my credit card, hopped onto Amazon.com and bought the juicer that Joe uses, a high-end Breville Juicer. (See pictures/links at the bottom of this post.)
My Juicing Habit and Recipe
So, with the Joe Cross story behind us, let’s now dive into why I purposely developed a juicing habit and present my main recipe for my near-daily juice.
If you want to improve your health and vitality, getting on the juicing bandwagon is a great way to start. As my friend and Founder of ProHealth.com, Rich Carson, once told me:
“If I could only do one thing, it would be to juice.”
This statement is not particularly remarkable in and of itself, until you consider that Rich Carson is a nutraceutical (vitamins, supplements) expert, and has a company that makes and sells them.
Thus, Rich has unlimited access to free, high-powered supplements that he can conveniently pop into his mouth (which he does), but if it came push-to-shove and he could choose supplements or juicing, he’d chose juicing to maintain his health and vitality.
That’s a pretty darn gold-platted endorsement for juicing.
Who am I to argue? No, it’s clear to me that juicing is the thing to do, so nearly every day, I go to my backyard garden, pluck whatever is available on my ingredient list and shove it into the juicer.
Here are the ingredients and quantities of my (almost) daily juice:
- Kale: 2 ounces, approx. 7 leafs (mine from the garden are small)
- Carrots: 12 ounces, approx. 4
- Apple: 6 ounces, 1
- Celery: 15 ounces, 1 bunch
- Garlic: 0.3 ounce, 2 cloves
- Ginger Root: 1 oz
- Lemon: 3 ounces, 1
- Lime: 3 ounces, 1
Using the Champion Juicer, I wind up with about 26 ounces of juice from this recipe.
Five things to know about this recipe:
1. This is way too strong for a beginner, or someone who will only consume food and drink that is pleasant tasting. My juice recipe tastes strongly of kale, garlic and ginger — purposely so, because these three ingredients help produce kick-ass health. (Keep reading to find out why.) If you wish to try this recipe, reduce the quantities of kale, garlic and ginger relative to the other ingredients.
2. To this base-level group of ingredients, I sometimes add red or orange beets, cucumber, tomato, cilantro, parsley and watermelon rind (purported to enhance testosterone production, a goal of mine). Sometimes I also substitute lettuce for the celery.
3. As mentioned, the quantities listed produce about 26 ounces of juice, as extracted by my Champion Juicer. (Yes, I’m back to the Champion, as described below.) I drink between 8 and 12 ounces after juicing it, and the rest is consumed later in the day.
4. This recipe, which I modified, came to me by the excellent raw foodie, Natalia Rose, whose book, The Raw Food Detox Diet: The Five-Step Plan for Vibrant Health and Maximum Weight Loss is a fine introduction to adding raw food and juicing into your life.
5. This list of ingredients is by no means definitive; meaning, there are many other useful vegetables and fruits that could promote health and vitality, so be experimental.
The Health Benefits of Juicing
In addition to the specific health benefits of each of the juice ingredients I use, enumerated below, here are three main reasons to juice, which I grabbed, then edited, from Dr. Mercola’s site:
- Juicing helps you absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables. The impaired digestion many of us have as a result of making less-than-optimal food choices over many years limits the body’s ability to absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables. Juicing helps to “pre-digest” them, so you will absorb most of the nutrition.
- Juicing enables you to consume an optimal amount of vegetables in an efficient manner. Some people may find eating lots of vegetables difficult, but it can be easily accomplished with a glass of vegetable juice. In this case, drinking your calories is a good thing.
- By Juicing, you can add a more diverse variety of vegetables in your diet. Many people eat the same vegetable salads every day. This can be both boring and violates the principle of regular food rotation, which increases your chance of developing an allergy to a certain food. By juicing, you can juice a wide variety of vegetables that you may not normally enjoy eating whole.
The health benefits derived by juicing are directly related to the quality and freshness of the ingredients, and how fast you drink the juice after making it. To a lesser extent, the extraction method does have a small effect on nutrient output as well, as I’ll soon explore.
If you just use carrots and apples to make your juice, you’ll consume way too much sugar, and although it may be “natural”, it would still spike your blood glucose levels and insulin. In this case, whatever amount of such calories you did not use given your caloric output would have a tendency to be converted to fat.
If you use ingredients that were grown with pesticides, herbicides or in denatured soil, rather than a health benefit, you may be adding toxins and chemicals for your body to deal with.
If you make the juice but then park it in your fridge for days, the nutrition content will degrade. Although drinking it right away is optimal, 24 hours of refrigerated, tightly sealed juice is OK.
With all that as the high altitude view, next up is a dive into the specific health characteristics of each ingredient.
The health benefits of the juicing ingredients:
- Apples are not only high in beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, but are high in cholesterol-lowering fiber and aids in cleaning the digestive system.
- Beets cleanse the blood and kidneys, but are high in sugar, and can potentially upset the stomach, so the amount you use should not dominate your juice.
- Carrots are rich in beta carotene and vitamin A, both good for the eyes.
- Celery contains vitamin C, helps lower cholesterol, is excellent for cleansing the digestive system of uric acid, and is useful for people with gout and urinary infections.
- Cilantro is a powerful antioxidant and heavy metal cleanser that is rich in folic-acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-A, beta carotene and vitamin-C.
- Cucumbers are a good source of potassium, beta carotene, silicon, sulphur, sodium and phosphorus, and is a diuretic that provides nutrients to the skin.
- Garlic has antiviral and antifungal properties and promotes circulation and lung health.
- Ginger is beneficial for digestion because it rids the stomach and intestines of gas. It also aids in the digestion of fatty foods, alleviates high blood pressure, and lowers cholesterol levels.
- Kale is about the most phytochemically-dense vegetable you can eat. It offers lutein, vitamins K, A and C, calcium, manganese, copper, potassium, iron, magnesium, vitamin E, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins B1, B2 and B3, protein, foliate and phosphorus. Whew!
- Lettuce has different levels of nutrients depending on the type. Stay away from iceberg lettuce and you’ll be OK. Red leaf lettuce is a good source of Vitamin A, C folate and magnesium, which can keep the skin healthy and promote colon health.
- Lemons contain phytonutrients with antioxidant, anti-cancer and antibiotic effects, and is a good source of vitamin C, potassium and calcium.
- Lime is much like lemons in terms of its health benefits. You may then think that it’s redundant, but some Chinese medicine types think that the combination improves eyesight, and that’s good enough for me to add it to the mix.
- Parsley helps mitigate the garlic odor should that be in your juice, but more importantly, it serves as a diuretic and is beneficial to the kidneys, as it assists the body’s elimination of toxins.
- Tomatoes offer vitamin C, fiber, lycopene, potassium and folate, and are considered to possess antioxidant and anti-cancer capabilities, and to protect joints and brain cells.
- Watermelon Rind contains a compound known as citrulline, which is thought to yield an antioxidant effects that protect you from free-radical damage. Additionally, citrulline converts to arginine, an amino acid vital to the heart, circulatory system and immune system. There’s also speculation that watermelon rind might relax blood vessels, and have a role in treating erectile dysfunction.
Which Juicer is Best?
As mentioned, my juicing life began with the tried and truce, powerful and bullet proof, old style diesel – the Champion Juicer (affiliate link). I then moved to the Breville Juicer (affiliate link), the one used by Joe Cross in this documentary, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. I’m now back to the Champion Juicer.
But let me digress a bit to mention a few basics about juicers and then return to my tale of my two juicers.
There are several different ways to make juice from vegetables and fruits, but mainly you’ll encounter two types:
- The type represented by the Breville and Champion juicers grind/cut the juice from the produce, which the Breville does by a fast spinning, wheel shaped, centrifugal grinder, and the Champion does by a slow, powerful spinning metal teeth embedded auger, both shown here, first the Breville, then the Champion:
- The other type presses, or masticates the juice from the produce. Some people think that more juice and nutrition is extracted from this method. A popular brand is called Omgea, sold both by the aforementioned ProHealth, and of course, by Amazon.com. (Both are presented at the bottom of this post.) This is a picture of the Omega’s auger, which presses or masticates the produce:
Although it looks similar to the Champion’s cutting auger, notice that the Omega’s has no cutting blades, as it does not cut the juice from the pulp, but rather presses it out.
Which should you choose?
The answer to this question depends upon what you favor most. Here are some considerations relative to performance, durability and price:
- Grinding extracts the juice faster than pressing or masticating, whereas masticating gets more nutrition from the juice.
- The Breville has a larger opening to insert the produce and its centrifugal grinder spins faster than the Champion or Omega, so it’s faster. Typical of the masticating type of juicer, the Omega is the slowest of the three.
- Although slower, more juice is extracted by the Champion and Omega, so the remaining pulp is dryer.
- There are only three or four versions of the Champion, and about the same for the Omega. The Champions are priced between $250 and $300; the Omegas between $250 and $350. There are several versions of the Breville, from price points not much over $100 to $400.
- The Champion is hardier; certainly it’s grinding auger lasts longer than the Breville’s cutting mechanism, as the next point enumerates.
- The reason I’ve returned to using the Champion is that I need to replace the Breville’s so-called Juice Filter Basket (containing both the grinding teeth and metal mesh strainer) before I can use it again. It lasted a little over one year. The teeth still cut but the strainer is clogged up and no amount of lemon juice, vinegar or scrubbing will clean it. Mind you, I’ve been meticulous at cleaning it after every use. I’ve never had to replace anything on the Champion and have used it off and on for ten years. (My currently inactive Breville Juicer pictured below.)
In yet another long-winded post, I’ve tried to shower my dear readers with some insights born of my experience. In this case, t’ was about juicing.
My intention was to underscore how healthy juicing is, particularly for those who follow the (not) Great American Diet of fast and processed foods and drinks, and, who thereby, do not consume enough vegetable and fruit-based nutrition.
I presented the recipe I use for my daily juice tonic, with the big disclaimer that it ain’t for everyone; in fact, this recipe is for the very few who are both experienced juicers and willing to get their ass kicked buy some powerfully nutritious but ugly tasting juice.
Happily, by reducing the amount of the offending ingredients; namely, the garlic, kale and ginger, the punch is slighter and the taste, better.
Finally, I waded into the different kinds of juicers you can use, and ruminated about my experience with the Breville and Champion juicers. Hmmm… now that I think of it, I’ve also used the Omega several times at a friend’s home, but have never owned one.
The net of the juicer dance is that the one right for you is dependent on which attributes are most important to you, about which I examined in the “Which should you choose?” section above.
OK, then, next up are the juicer images linked to where you can get more information about them, and should the muse whisper affirmatively, buy one.
If you have any experience with juicing, don’t be shy… let us know your favorite recipe and juicer in the Comments section below.
Published on October 1, 2012