Full of Juice
For a vital new year, drink the freshest produce.
Party’s over! Empty booze, soda, and Champagne bottles are jumbled in the recycling bin, buried beneath 2013 calendars. Don’t pout. Now that the revelry is over, serious drinking can begin. Just rev up the juicer.
Powerful home juicers extract liquid vitality, leaving the roughage behind. It’s a small investment with high returns. “What’s great about juicing is you can glean so many nutrients so easily,” says Sarah Reilly, founder of Get Nourished in Lafayette. “You get the big bang of health benefits.”
Reilly, a certified nutritionist, talks excitedly of bioavailability, alkaline shifts, chlorophyll, and hemoglobin. But her message can be boiled down. “Here’s the nugget,” she says. “It pays to go to that farmers market.”
So we did just that, enlisting help from chef Kevin Weinberg.
If you think you don’t have the energy for juicing and weekly farmers markets, think again. Weinberg’s strategy is buying just enough fruit and vegetables for six days of juicing—no more, no less. He can be in and out of the market in 15 minutes, the same amount of time he spends each morning juicing.
Buying a Juicer
Juicers come in two types: masticating and centrifugal. Masticating juicers tend to be bulkier and more expensive, but they are easier to clean, and are said to yield more nutrients.
The heat generated from centrifugal juicers can break down enzymes, but the juicers’ relatively small size makes it more likely you’ll actually use one, even when on the go. (The sources interviewed for this story preferred juicers from Breville and Omega.)
We caught up with Weinberg at his restaurant, Walnut Creek Yacht Club, for the short stroll to the Sunday farmers market. Not all the produce is organic, which Reilly prefers, but it’s all local, with a visible vitality that screams, “Nutritious!”
Weinberg bought fruit and vegetables sourced from five farms, spending just a little more than $30. “I haven’t bought supermarket produce in I don’t know how long,” says Weinberg. He estimates he saves 25 percent shopping for juice ingredients at the farmers market.
So what did $30 buy? A three pack of blackberries, a bunch of leafy broccoli, 18 carrots, three Pink Lady apples, two small heads of romaine, a big head of celery, a bunch of dino kale, one bunch of beets with tops, and a two and a half pound bunch of grapes with nutrient-dense black-purple skins.
Weinberg drinks his juice naked (no boosters or add-ins) to start his day. On shopping Sundays, he skips juicing and splurges on a big breakfast.
Not Too Fruity
Reilly stresses the importance of using primarily greens in juicing. For a big glass of juice, she suggests an apple, and a few carrots or a beet for sweetness. If you use primarily fruit, you’re likely to end up with low energy, the 3 p.m. slump, and brain fog.
“You’ve got to be very careful with the sugar [in fruit]; you add too much, and you start running in circles,” she says. Greens, on the other hand, are rich in chlorophyll, which oxidizes the body and promotes health.
A popular breakfast choice, this juice gives your energy level a boost and wakes up your digestive system, while giving your body a nutritious yet gentle start to the day.
4 sticks of celery
2–4 handfuls of spinach
8 lettuce leaves
Any other greens
Juice all vegetable ingredients, and mix 50/50 with filtered water. Optional: Add parsley, alfalfa sprouts, and lemon juice.
Healing Detox Juice
A sweeter, more subtle juice that still packs a nutritional punch. The combination of the carrots, spinach, and parsley provides an excellent source of antioxidants, while the celery lends its cleansing properties.
3 cups packed fresh spinach
Handful of flat leaf parsley
2–3 sticks of celery
Juice all ingredients (putting celery through last). Mix with water to taste, or drink neat, if you prefer.
Take a peek at her juice: a small bunch of kale, a few handfuls of spinach, half a cucumber, a couple of carrots and celery stalks, a little lemon perhaps, and a teaspoon of ginger.
“That’s my daily gig,” she says.
Reilly recommends starting off with a protein-based breakfast and having juice as a midmorning boost. For the sake of nutrients, it’s always best to drink the juice right away. Double batches, however, save on time and cleanup, and allow you to take the second juice with you. Just store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container, and never keep it for more than a day.
Reilly cautions against prolonged juice fasts. They affect the liver, and the lack of protein can cause muscle breakdown. But as a supplement, juice can’t be beat. And here’s another reason to embrace juicing: The by-product of this booming trend is tons of material ready for the compost bin.
Boosts, Juices, and Smoothies
If you’re not up to putting out cash for a juicer (and if a glass of dark green sounds a little too virtuous for your tastes), whip up a smoothie with the standard blender you already have.
Angela Stanford, a registered dietitian and founder of Vital Nutrition & Wellness in Danville, pits juice against smoothies and offers recipes at simplegreensmoothies.com.
Her smoothie base is pure water and almond milk or coconut water, with an equal volume of greens, and a half-cup of fruit. To this, you can add your favorite superfood: goji berries, açai, spirulina, or protein boosters.
Green-flecked smoothies aren’t entirely smooth, so Stanford says to always chew. “It tells your brain to start digesting,” she says.
Reilly recommends adding pea protein powder, chia, and flaxseed for boosters. She also suggests throwing in good fat in the form of avocado or coconut milk. She emphasizes that if your smoothie is a meal substitute, it should have a balance of fiber, fat, and protein.
So plug in the juicer, and drink to your health.