I love preparing my own fruit and vegetable smoothies at home. This past weekend, when I was coming down with a bad cold, I juiced a mixture of two inches of ginger, with kale and chard (from my garden), frozen pineapple cubes, an orange and coconut water to help get me back on track. It not only tasted great, but the ginger is so healing and good for you that I automatically got a boost of energy and was feeling better.
I always advocate drinking your vegetables because sometimes it’s difficult to squeeze in the recommended 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables per day. If you have a traditional juicer or a high-powered blender, they both will do the job well but believe it or not, there's a big difference between the two. A traditional juicer extracts water and juice from fruits and vegetables and leaves you with soluble fiber. The insoluble fiber, like the skin and core of an apple is discarded in this process. This makes the juice easily digestible and easier to to consume. For people with a sensitive digestive system this is a great way to achieve or even exceed the required servings of fruit and vegetables per day. The bad news is, you lose the fibrous materials (insoluble fiber) and your body quickly absorbs the nutrients. The sugars in the juice goes straight into your blood stream and spikes your sugar levels. If you are diabetic, juicing is not right for you, especially high sugar vegetables like beets and carrots.
For everyone else who is not on a sugar-restricted diet, there is a solution: follow up your juice by eating fibrous foods. For example, in the morning after drinking your freshly made vegetable juice, have a small bowl of high fiber cereal or oatmeal. Be mindful of getting more fiber at every opportunity throughout the day.
On the other hand, using a blender to make juices or smoothies is the ideal option. Adding whole kale with the hard spines, chopped apples with the skin, oranges with the white pith included, and unpeeled ginger-all into a blended drink retains a great deal of insoluble and soluble fiber. The juice will be thicker than juice from a traditional juicer-resist the urge to strain! Because it’s thick and contains both types of fiber, it slowly digests, releasing more nutrients over a longer period of time. You can have a fresh juice smoothie for breakfast and feel full. It’s a great weight loss aid and healthy eating habit. Have it between meals for a healthy snack-all while feeding your body healthy vitamins and nutrients.
While I am on the topic, lets touch on juice cleanses. Juicing, specifically cold press juices that are being sold as cleanses, can cost as much as $1300 for a 21 day program! Any such business should be looked at with a suspicious eye. While juicing is good for you, there's no scientific evidence that it "cleanses" your colon or rids your body of toxins. It’s a trend that scientists are still trying to understand. While eating more fruits and vegetables is good for everyone, the science doesn’t support many of the claims that are being made by these juice cleanse marketers. Tip from Sam: buy a good blender and make your own smoothies-enough for a few days at a time using organic produce. Read more on this topic from the New York Times.
Healthy On You Recipes and cooking tips by Samantha Binkley. Many of these recipes use Samantha's 100% Organic Spice Blends that take the guess work out of cooking.