I am definitely on a green juice kick right now. Let’s chat a little bit about juicing today.
We’ll start with a quick primer on the differences between fresh juice and smoothies because this is a question that many people have.
(This was Carrot Apple Ginger Juice – it’s one of my favorite non-green juice combos!)
Juicing extracts the liquid from fruits and vegetables, bringing much of the plant’s nutrients, vitamins and minerals along with it, while leaving the pulp behind.
One concern that many folks have about juicing is that juice has no fiber. This is true, but if you already eat plenty of plant foods, nuts, beans or whole grains, you’re probably getting enough fiber already.
Although fresh juice lacks fiber, it is very nutrient dense. It takes more vegetables and fruit to make an 8 oz glass of juice than it would take to make an 8 oz smoothie. This means that juicing is more expensive, but you get more nutrition in a smaller package. With the pulp and fiber out of the way, you can take in more nutrients with less volume. Juicing is basically a very efficient way to consume and get the benefits from a boat load of vegetables without all the chewing.
If you’d like to make fresh juice but don’t have a juicer, the Internet tells me you can make juice with a blender and a nut milk bag. (You can get started as soon as you’re done laughing at the term “nut milk bag”.) (My green juice kick has obviously done nothing for my level of maturity.)
I’ve never tried the nut milk bag trick, but I wouldn’t be afraid to do it either!
(A young coconut banana smoothie. I miss straws. I do not miss the requests for a straw for every. single. glass. of water by unnamed little people.)
While juicing has it’s perks, smoothies certainly have their place too. If you are trying to improve your diet and could use a little help with eating more fruits and vegetables and/or need more fiber, smoothies might be the better choice under these circumstances.
A smoothie is an easy way to eat more fruits and vegetables, and you can easily add other foods to make it more of a meal – yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, nut butters, protein powders, etc. (Just be mindful of the total calories if you’re trying to lose weight!)
Unlike juicing, what you put into your blender is what you get out of your blender – pulp and all. Ounce for ounce, juice is more nutrient dense than a smoothie, but a smoothie can still be a healthy choice. Smoothies are likely to be more filling too, your blender just does the chewing for you. Both smoothies and juice can be a part of a healthy lifestyle.
With that said, here are a few of juicy tips and tidbits I’ve learned after a couple years of juicing. From this mornings juice-fest:
Cut the skins off your lemons.
If you’re juicing lemons, that is. (Green lemonade!) Some people juice lemons with the skins on because it’s easier, but I prefer skinless lemons.
The pith of a lemon has a very distinct, bitter flavor – a flavor I don’t enjoy. It doesn’t take long to cut most of the skin and pith off a lemon, especially because I’m only aiming to get most of it off, not every last piece of it – I don’t notice or mind a small amount of pith. I shave off the top, bottom and sides of the lemon and into the juicer it goes.
You can run pulp though again.
I’ve discovered that if I transfer the pulp into a separate bowl and then run it through again, I can often get a few more ounces of juice that way. Some days I feel like it’s worth it the time and effort, some days I don’t. If you’re feeling like you want to get every last penny out of your produce, send that pulp through the juicer again!
Fresh is best.
I’ve mentioned before that if I make juice when Zak isn’t home, I put some away for him to drink later. It is best to drink fresh juice immediately as it oxidizes quickly (the addition of lemon in your juice cocktail is believed to slow oxidation) but drinking it later is still better than not drinking it at all!
Storing fresh juice made in centrifugal juicer for up to 24 hours seems to be an acceptable practice. It will separate, but swirling it gently before drinking will fix that. It’s best to store your juice in glass container with an airtight lid, filling to the very brim before covering to help keep out as much air as possible.
Wash juicer parts immediately.
When it’s time for juice, I do my best to get my juicer parts into hot and soapy water as soon as possible. The parts are dishwasher safe, but I find it easier to wash them sooner rather than later – they take up a ton of space in the dishwasher too.
It is much easier to get everything clean when the pulp is still wet and loosens easily, as opposed to trying to scrub off dried pulp cement. If the juicer feels like a pain to clean, I’m less likely to use it. After watching Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead I’ve been wanting to juice nearly every day, and getting into the habit of getting the juicer cleaned up immediately has made juicing more frequently a lot easier and more appealing.
Cleaning up the juicer immediately might seem like an obvious thing to do – it’s easier said than done for me right now though with three kids to chase after. I’m always getting sidetracked or called away from what I’m doing – I’ve found that even if I can’t wash the parts right away, getting everything into some bath water at the very least makes clean up that much easier when I am finally able to get back to it.
Fresh juice is not a meal replacement.
At least for me it’s not. Juice has no protein or fat, so it’s not really a meal like a smoothie has the potential to be. When I juice, I typically do so in the morning on an empty stomach (1 – 2 hours after a cup of coffee) and usually wait 45 – 60 minutes before I eat a meal. Some days juice holds me over for a while, other days it doesn’t.
What do you think? Do you prefer smoothies or juice, and why? Do you have any juicy questions or juicy tips to share?