This article was first published in Kari’s When Hunger Strikes food column in the Khaleej Times in July 2011.
If you’ve been packing lunches and making your own meals, you might have found that it is sometimes hard to get in optimal amounts of vegetables daily, or that you may have a tendency to not consume them fast enough and have to throw out quite a bit on a regular basis. Juicing your vegetables is one way of avoiding both issues.
Yes, you read right, I am encouraging you to start juicing not only fruits, but vegetables on a daily basis. You may be aware of the regular carrot or beet juices, but I want you to take it further. I want you to start juicing every vegetable in your fridge.
Each vegetable has its own nutritional components; many are good and some may have awkward side effects when consumed in large quantities. Due to its high sulphur content, cabbage juice should be taken in very small quantities or it could lead to very painful stomach cramps. Take my word for it, I learnt the hard way.
Juicing vs Blending
When juicing, you may either do it in a juicer or a blender. Whereas blended juices need a liquid base (like water, coconut water, or other juices) to liquefy solid vegetables, those extracted with a juicer do not. Ice may be blended into the purée to create frozen smoothies. Blended juices may also be turned into smoothies by using milk as the liquid base — whether cow’s or goat’s milk or, for vegetarian options, almond, soy or rice milks. Protein powders, nuts, flaxseed and chia seeds can be added to make them fortified enough as meals.
When you juice, you push the produce down the chute of a juicer into a centrifugal barrel containing many blades. This barrel spins very quickly, pressing the produce and extracting the juice which it then separates from the insoluble fibre, which it discards into a compartment while pressing the juice along with the soluble fibre through a spout where you catch the juicer with a container or glass. This juice is loaded with important micronutrients, including digestive enzymes and phytonutrients that are much easier to absorb.
Another great feature of juicing is that it allows you to consume way more vegetables than you would if you tried to eat them. Compare a kilo of carrots in volume to the final juice pressed from it and you will see what I mean. The comparison is even more alarming with leafy vegetables like spinach, chard, kale and lettuce, which simply means that you cannot eat anywhere as much as you can drink! Therefore, by creating an all-liquid product, the body consumes more phytonutrients at once.
Consuming vegetable juices daily helps to put the body in an alkaline state, which is optimal for keeping illness and disease at bay since diseases thrive in an acidic pH. Many persons with lifestyle illnesses like diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure) also see marked improvement in their conditions when they consume fresh green juices daily.
What can you juice?
All veggies and fruits in your fridge, though I would stay away from the onions and herbs other than coriander and parsley. Ginger and lemon may be added to every juice combination. Ginger improves digestion and lemon brightens the flavours to make the juices more palatable. An apple or pear adds some sweetness to bitter juices. I strongly suggest using organic ingredients where possible but take special care to wash non-organic produce thoroughly in all-natural fruit and vegetable washes before juicing.
Chef Lij’s Beet, Carrot & Apple juice
1 green apple
2 inches ginger
This juice is called “ABC Juice” in India, according to our epicurean archeologist friend, Kurush Dalal. We are used to carrots and beets in the Caribbean/WestINdies but we don’t grow green apples back home. We just added it here because it stabilises blood sugar, adds a little sweetness and a lot of tartness. It’s funny how tastebusd can be in sync! If making for children, use much less ginger.
1 cup pomegranate seeds
2 cups blueberries
Sparkling water (pour into glass of finished juice)
*Adapted from Juicy Drinks, by Valerie Aikman-Smith.
The best time to juice?
Most prefer to have fresh juices first thing in the morning. Many consume them instead of breakfast and others do so about an hour before breakfast. Juices are best had immediately after extracting as this is the optimal time to absorb all the nutrients.
Some may even have juice fasts until midday, or for entire days leading up to one or more weeks in a bid to detox. However, such drastic dietary changes are best under the care of a doctor or registered dietitian/nutritionist.