juicesIt seems that juicing has been around forever. Jack LaLanne began touting its benefits more than 50 years ago, and it continues to be the subject of infomercials and cookbooks. There’s no doubt it’s here to stay—and for plenty of good reasons. Here’s how you can get in on this enduring “trend” and the compelling reasons you should.

First, a quick rundown on what you need to start juicing: In addition to a juicing machine, all that’s required is a sharp knife and a cutting board so you can cut your ingredients into pieces that will fit into the opening of the juicer. And, of course, you’ll need plenty of fresh fruits and veggies.

Now back to the juicers. As with most kitchen appliances, there’s a wide range of juicers available, each with their own pros and cons (see page 34 for more information). You can find brands such as Hamilton Beach and Juiceman with models for about $70 and others, such as some Omega models, in the mid-$200 range. If money is no object, you can spend upwards of $500 for a Green Star or other higher-end Omega juicers.

Now that you know what you need to juice, let’s talk about why you may want to. It can be a challenge to meet the daily recommended intake of fruits and vegetables, but juicing makes it easy and appealing. Fruits and vegetables are fantastic sources of an array of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that have been shown to contain powerful antioxidants and anticancer agents. But whole fruits and vegetables are great sources of fiber, so you don’t want to meet all your daily needs through juicing. Still it’s certainly a tasty way to get extra servings you might otherwise miss each day.

Making your own juice is preferable to buying bottled or canned products for several reasons.spicy-tomato

You know exactly what’s in the juice and can be sure that it’s all natural and wholesome—no artificial preservatives, colors, or other additives. Commercial juice and juice beverages sometimes contain only a minimal amount of real juice and a great deal of sugar, other sweeteners, and water. If you make your own, you’ll know that it’s 100% fruit and vegetable juice that’s not sugared up or watered down. In addition, with a do-it-yourself approach, you’re not limited to the flavors you can find in stores. You can combine any mixture of fruits and vegetable you desire in whatever proportions you like—the possibilities are virtually endless.

Another big bonus of juicing is that it offers an opportunity to enjoy fruits and vegetables you might not otherwise consume. For instance, cranberries are so tart that most cranberry juice makers add sugar to  balance the taste. When you make your own juice, you can combine cranberries with a sweet fruit such
as apple or watermelon and skip the added sugar. The same goes for nutrient-dense greens such as kale, spinach, and cabbage. Some people shy away from their strong flavors, but if you pair them with sweet fruit, you’ll get loads of vitamins A and K and a much more pleasant taste.

Finally, juicing gives you the opportunity to get the benefit of nutrients in the skin of produce, which so often is peeled and discarded. As long as you wash your foods well, you can usually juice the fruits or veggies peel and all, giving your body those important vitamins and minerals instead of tossing them in the garbage can.

Hail Kale! Carrot, Ginger, and Kale Juicecarrot-juice

Parsley may help cleanse the blood, while ginger is believed to be good for the lungs. Consider ginger when making other juice recipes, even fruit juices, as it adds a spicy tang to any concoction. But beware its flavor punch. Start with small amounts. You can always add more to taste.
Yields two to four 4-ounce servings

1 kale leaf
A small handful of parsley
About 8 large carrots (peeled if not organic)
A small knob of ginger, about 1 inch (peeled if not organic)
1 apple (peeled if not organic), cut in half

Wash all ingredients. Juice the leafy greens first, followed by one or two carrots. (This helps ensure the greens are thoroughly juiced.) Then juice the ginger, the apple, and the remaining carrots. Pour into clear glasses so you can enjoy the rich colors of the fresh juice.

Beets Mebeets-me

Yields two to four 4-ounce servings

3 to 4 sprigs of parsley
1⁄4-inch piece of ginger (peeled if not organic)
1⁄2 beet (including tops if organic)
8 carrots (peeled if not organic)

Wash all ingredients. Juice the parsley, ginger, beet, and carrots. Pour into clear glasses and enjoy the rich color.