Are you new to juicing? It can be really beneficial to your health. But, as with most things, there is a right and wrong way to do it. When made right, a juice can offer a lot of easily absorbed nutrients that your body can use to heal and repair. In this post, you’ll learn about the benefits and the equipment required for juicing. You’ll also pick up some tips and tricks, and learn the best practises to make a health-promoting juice. So let’s get to it, how to start juicing the right way.
Benefits of Juicing
There are some definite benefits that make juicing a great idea. The process of juicing extracts the liquid content of the vegetables (and fruits) along with the nutrients and polyphenols (beneficial plant compounds, like antioxidants) while leaving the fibre behind. This allows you to ingest a high volume of nutrients quickly. They can go right to your bloodstream and get to work without a lot of digestion required. This allows your digestive system to rest a bit while still providing vital nutrients to your cells.
For many people, juicing also allows the intake of nutrients they may not be getting elsewhere, from vegetables they wouldn’t normally eat. When I started juicing, I would always add a vegetable or two that I wasn’t eating at the time. This allowed me to get a taste for those vegetables without being overpowered by them. Ultimately, it’s been a big help in converting from a veggie avoider to an avid veggie lover. Juicing allows your palate to become used to vegetable flavours, making it easier to begin eating more of them.
However, don’t think of juicing as a replacement for eating vegetables. The fibre present is really important to your digestive and overall health. Instead, think of it as an addition. Extra nutrients to add alongside your normal healthy diet.
Juicing vs Smoothies
What’s the difference between juicing and blending? Well, both result in fruits and vegetables presented in a drinkable form. The concept is similar, but the difference boils down to the fibre. Where juicing removes the fibre and skips digestion, smoothies retain the fibre of your ingredients and requires digestion to fully absorb the nutrients present.
It’s not an either-or thing, or even a better or worse thing. I believe there is a place for both in a healthy whole food, plant-based diet. Smoothies make great nutrient-dense snacks or meals, while juices offer up an extra dose of nutrients that your body can utilize quickly.
For more on smoothies check out “How to Make Super-Healthy Smoothies”
Types of Juicers
If you’re interested in juicing, there are a few different options in terms of appliances you can use.
Centrifugal juicers shred fruit and vegetables with a spinning blade or disc. The juice is then pulled through a strainer with centrifugal force. These juicers work quickly and tend to be easy to clean. They also tend to be the most economical. A common complaint is that centrifugal juicers tend to warm the juice, which can contribute to nutrient loss. However, some brands are getting wise to this and designing juicers that allow minimal heat transfer.
Masticating juicers work by grinding your produce and squeezing the juice from it. They are also sometimes referred to as cold press juicers. This process results in less heat transfer than centrifugal juicers. However, as a result, they juice slowly and can be very difficult to clean, but the upside is that you’ll get a higher juice yield with a drier pulp. The feeding tube is smaller on masticating juicers, so more time and care need to be given to prepping ingredients so they are small enough to fit. They also tend to be more expensive than centrifugal juicers.
If you’d rather not buy a juicer, you can get similar results with a good high-speed blender and a nut bag. It’s not as efficient in terms of yield and a little messy as you’ll have to hand strain the pulp out with the nut bag. However, if you don’t want to buy an appliance specifically for juicing, it gets the job done. High-speed blenders are still fairly expensive, but they can be used for other things (like smoothies), so they can be a good value.
Making your juice is a pretty simple process. Let’s quickly run through it now.
You’re going to start by prepping your produce. You want to give it a thorough wash as you will leave most skins intact. Keep the skins on, except for anything with a thick rind or skin. Slice off any thick rinds, leaving behind some of the white pith (from citrus fruits). Just a word of warning, that pith, while full of nutrients, can be quite bitter. So, if you’re new to juicing, you can start by leaving a small amount behind, and gradually working your way up.
Next, you’ll want to remove any hard stems or pits and cores. Then cut produce down to whatever size you need to fit through the feeder of your juicer.
Once you’re produce is prepped, you’re ready to juice. For easy cleanup, line your pulp catcher with a compost bag and make sure everything fits together snugly (to avoid messy leaks). Then make sure you have a container in place to catch the juice and fire up your juicer. Begin feeding your produce through the chute. If your juicer has multiple speeds, you can switch back and forth as needed, using the higher speeds for harder fruits and vegetables, and the lower speed for softer ones. You’ll also want to alternate a bit. For example, adding a chunk of apple or carrot after soft greens. I find that following up a soft item with a harder item improves the yield.
Pro Tip: Do not try to juice things like bananas or avocados. They will just make a mess and gum up your machine.
That’s it! Then just stir and enjoy your juice.
How to Store
It’s best to consume a juice right away as nutrients will begin to degrade quickly. If you make more than you can drink in one sitting, you can store some for later. Use an airtight container, glass mason jars work really well. You’ll also want to fill the container as close to full as possible. This is because any air present will increase nutrient loss. So, use the right sized jar and fill it right up. If you’re short, you can always top it up with something like coconut water. Then pop your juice in the fridge until you’re ready for it.
Pro Tip: The flavour of a juice tends to deepen the longer it sits (kind of like soup). So, you may find the vegetable flavours more pronounced in a juice that has been sitting in the fridge for a while. If you don’t like these flavours, try to drink your juice fresh.
Things to Consider
As mentioned above, juicing removes the fibre present. This becomes problematic for sweet fruits, as the lack of fibre allows the sugars to hit your bloodstream quickly. To avoid this, be careful with the amount of fruit you use, and stick to lower GI (glycemic index) fruits like green apples, pears, and citrus fruits like lemons, limes and grapefruits.
A good rule of thumb for your juices is the 80/20 rule. Stick to 80% vegetables and 20% (or less) of fruit. Think of it as a vegetable juice, with fruit added for flavour. Juicing only fruits can lead to huge blood sugar swings, so it’s best to avoid that and juice responsibly. If you’re craving just fruit, you’re better off eating it whole. The fibre present slows the release of the sugars it contains.
It’s best to enjoy your juice on an empty stomach. When your stomach is empty it more easily absorbs the nutrients you consume. When you drink a juice after a big meal, you may not be able to take advantage of all those nutrients as some will not be fully absorbed. So, consider starting your morning with a fresh vegetable juice.
Juicing is a great way to add some extra nutrients to your day. A big dose of nutrients can help your body heal and repair, as well as building your immune system. Just remember the 80/20 rule and get your juice on.
If you found this post helpful please don’t hesitate to share it with your friends. Also, be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on upcoming posts full of tips and tricks to make your plant-based life easier.