You break out the blender and whip up smoothies and shakes like it's NBD. But when it comes to juicing, you're a late adopter, confused by lingo like "cold pressed" and "centrifugal." Sound familiar? You've landed in the right place. With the help of New York City-based dietitian Tanya Zuckerbrot, M.S., R.D., we've outlined the basics, from equipment to ingredients to juicing on the go. But first, why you should be gulping the green stuff in the first place...
The Body Benefits
Because your body doesn't need to work at breaking down the ingredients, juicing delivers big doses of vitamins and minerals to your system faster than eating foods whole. The nutrients you get from juicing can boost your immune system, keep your energy levels up, and help you take in multiple servings of fruits and vegetables at once. Think about it like this: Would you rather gnaw your way through an overflowing bowl of kale, or sip a single glass of juice?
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Picking out a juicer (or a blender that's powerful enough to pulverize produce) can be intimidating. With so many models offering high-speed this and extra-blades that—and many with jaw-dropping prices—it’s hard to figure out what you actually need. But if you're just starting out, most machines will do the trick. “There are a number of relatively inexpensive juicers on the market that let you discover the world of juicing before committing to a pricey Vitamix-type juicer," Zuckerbrot says.
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You've scored a juicer, now what? The best thing you can do to ease your taste buds into drinking a glass of vegetables: "Start off with fruits and vegetables you already like when you eat them whole," advises Zuckerbrot. "Try introducing new fruits or vegetables one by one to eventually get the best variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants into your juice."
Sure, you can make some pretty gnarly looking juice combinations, which is why many people run away when you try to hand them something murky and green. But not all juices have to taste like salad in a glass. “To put together a tasty green juice, first decide what base you want to start with. Green juices do not just have to be composed of solely green fruits and veggies," Zuckerbrot says. "A few bases I like to use are 1 carrot and 1-2 green apples; 2 green apples and 1/2 lemon [with peel]; or 1 small cucumber and 1-2 celery stalks. Next, add in all of your main green ingredients such as kale, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kiwi, and so on.”
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How often you juice should depend on how balanced your diet already is. “If you have a healthful, well-rounded diet that consists of whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein, then it does not really matter how often you juice, because you already have a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants," explains Zuckerbrot. "But if you don't have a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, then it is a good idea to supplement with juices on a regular basis. I recommend 1-2 juices per day in order to receive the equivalent of 2-4 servings of fruits and vegetables." Another reason juices should serve as supplements rather than meal replacements: Unlike smoothies, which retain their ingredients' fiber, juices are stripped of all their dietary fiber.
While juicing is a fast and efficient way to squeeze multiple servings of vegetables into one easy-to-consume concoction, you're not always going to have time to prep your produce, run it through a juicer, and wash the contraption afterward. If you're in a hurry, let somebody else do the work. Try the freshly squeezed Kale, Apple, Pineapple, and Chia Seeds juice blend at Jamba Juice.