Juicing And Blending 101
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Juicing And Blending 101Crazy, Sexy, Juicing Tips From Kris Carr
You probably have a friend who’s always toting around a green smoothie, or maybe you’ve heard of a new juice bar opening near you. So what’s this “drink your fruits and veggies” thing all about? Why is everyone sipping their produce?
I began incorporating juices and smoothies into my diet over a decade ago, when a diagnosis of incurable stage IV cancer had me searching for ways to give my body the support and nutrition it needed. Juicing and blending became—and have remained—staples in my feel-great plan. I’ve experimented with countless recipes, written several how-to’s, made juicing and blending videos… In other words, I love spreading the message and cheering on others as they guzzle the good stuff!
New to the wonderful world of super-beverages? Allow me to give you a guided tour.
Here’s your Juicing & Blending 101:
What Exactly Is Juicing?
At its most basic, it’s pretty much what it sounds like: squeezing the juices out of fruits and veggies, and drinking them up. Now, as a health practice, it’s a tad more complex: You take a large assortment (sometimes over a pound!) of fresh, raw, nutrient-packed produce and chop it all up. Then you use a juicer to press the pieces, which extracts the juice. Pour all that goodness into a glass and you’re golden.
What goes into each juice varies considerably and typically aligns with objectives like increasing energy, improving mood and clearing up complexion. Specific health goals are also on the list of reasons people juice, including things like reducing inflammation, boosting immunity and protecting against certain ailments such as heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers. Of course, there are also endless combinations and additions folks use to make these drinks as delicious as they are nutritious.
What Is Blending?
While a juice is the result of extracting the liquid from fruits and veggies, blending (a.k.a. making a smoothie) means using the whole food, and simply mixing everything up together with a good whir in a blender. You can still include lots of produce like you would for a juice, but you can also add other exciting, nourishing ingredients to your blended beverage, too!
Smoothies often contain more hearty ingredients (nut milks, nut butters, avocados, etc.), and sometimes fun superfoods like maca, raw cacao and goji berries. Smoothies, like juices, can be remarkably nutritious and help achieve many of the same health goals as juices. Plus, with the added fats and proteins that come with the more substantial ingredients, some smoothies can even replace snacks and meals.
Why Should I Juice?
By juicing your fruits and veggies, you’ll get the vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and enzymes of a bounty of nourishing plants—all in one concentrated mega-dose. It would be nearly impossible to eat the same amount of produce at one sitting that you’d typically juice—imagine chowing down on a large cucumber, a handful each of raw kale and sweet pea sprouts, two stalks of celery, a big broccoli stem and a green apple. Holy fiber and fullness!
But wait—isn’t fiber good for me? Shouldn’t I just stick to smoothies?
Fiber is fantastic and very, very good for you—a strong immune system, reduced cholesterol, healthy balance of gut bacteria and reduced risk of heart disease are all associated with adequate fiber intake. Fiber is like a broom for your insides, sweeping up bad bacteria, excess cholesterol and stagnant bodily waste (and we don’t want that stuff sitting around, do we?). It also helps regulate appetite and blood sugar. So why on earth would we remove the juice from the fiber?
Well, the first thing to note is that juicing is not meant to replace eating, which is to say, if you’re following a healthy eating plan with plenty of plants—raw or lightly cooked fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds—you’ll be getting tons of fiber. Why remove fiber by juicing? Because with juice, you get a near-instant hit of nutrients—the vitamins and minerals are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, because the fibrous plant material doesn’t get in the way and slow them down. You’re also giving your digestion a little vacation by drinking your veggies, which is great given how much many of us put our bodies through.
That said, smoothies are also a great choice! A choice I love, support and participate in on a weekly basis. Both have a host of amazing benefits (more on that below), and you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor to get in more of either kind of super-drink. I drink plenty of smoothies myself—wouldn’t go without them.
What Are The Benefits Of Juicing And Blending?
There are many, but here are three biggies:
1.Reduced inflammation: Inflammation itself isn’t bad, but rampant, chronic inflammation is. It can lead to all sorts of health challenges: allergies, hay fever, persistent pain—it can even contribute to the development of heart disease (via atherosclerosis) and some cancers. How to cool it? Reduce stress, exercise, get plenty of sleep, avoid or limit inflammatory foods (refined sugars, processed grains, junk food, meat and dairy) and bump up your intake of inflammation-fighting fruits and veggies! Juicing and blending make it easy.
2.A flood of phytonutrients: Plants—and only plants—contain phytonutrients, natural chemicals that protect against free radicals and disease. These little bodyguards are what give fruits and veggies their gorgeous, vibrant colors, and they’re associated with immunity, eye health and prevention of a host of cancers. Just one juice or smoothie can pack a serious phytonutrient punch.
3.Increased hydration and improved elimination: It’s been beaten over our heads to drink lots of water, and hey, I make sure to get in plenty of water, and encourage you to do the same. But one thing a lot of folks overlook about produce is that many fruits and veggies are incredibly water-rich. By juicing or blending them, you get hydration and vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and enzymes. Bonus! Staying hydrated can do a lot to keep your digestion moving along smoothly, but just as helpful is getting in plenty of fiber. Smoothies to the rescue again!
Will Juicing And Blending Help Me Lose Weight?
It sure could. If your juices or smoothies replace sugary sodas or coffee drinks, you’ll be taking in less sugar and less junk (and possibly less calories), which can help with weight loss. And even if you’re simply adding juices or smoothies to your regular diet, you’ll be taking in a whole lot more nutrients, which make all your body’s processes work better—that could further support weight loss, if your body needs it.
How Can I Get Started?
Yay! I love this part. So exciting. So, the main things you’ll need are a juicer and blender (obviously). There’s a wide variety of both on the market to fit all budgets, goals and lifestyles. Take a few minutes to determine your plans for fitting juicing and blending into your life (be realistic), the health challenges and/or goals you have and the price tag you can afford and go from there (if budget is tight, just start with one appliance for now—you’ll still be in for a bounty of benefits).
Reading reviews is always helpful, and there are tons of tips and tidbits over at my website, KrisCarr.com. I’ve even created a juicer buying guide that many have found useful. Oh, and word to the wise: If your juicer doesn’t come with a scrub brush, definitely pick one up—it makes the cleaning process a whole lot easier.
A few more items that can enhance your juicing and blending journey include:
●a great peeler
●a sharp knife
●a good cutting board
●a canning funnel (maximize your juice by using this to run already-pressed produce through another cycle or two)
●mason jars (to store your liquid nutrition!)
If you’re new to juicing and blending, definitely give ‘em a shot! You won’t regret it. Experienced juicer or smoothie-maker? I hope you’re inspired to stick with it or recommit to a regular juicing and blending practice.
For more juice and smoothie knowledge and some creative, healthy and delicious recipes (and even indulgent nut milk concoctions), you can check out my new book, Crazy Sexy Juice. It’s overflowing with 100+ nourishing drink recipes (What can I say? I’m passionate about healthy beverages!), as well as tips and tricks for integrating juicing and blending into your life for an overall healthier, more vibrant you. Cheers!
Classic Green Lemonade
Green lemonade is the Cadillac of juicing recipes. This is my take on the beloved classic. The juice is a little sweet (thanks to the apple) and a little spicy (gracias to the ginger). The natural bitterness of leafy greens is cut by a bright squeeze of lemon. You can use almost any type of leafy green in place of chard or kale. Romaine, baby spinach, collard, bok choy, broccoli—you name it! In fact, I love adding broccoli stems to this recipe. Get creative. This juice is a perfect vehicle for all of your greenest fridge scraps.
Makes 2 Servings (16 to 20 Ounces)
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 small cucumber
- 1 apple, cored and seeded
- 1-inch piece ginger, peeled
- 3 leaves Swiss chard or kale
- 1/2 lemon, peeled
1. Wash and prep all ingredients.
2. Juice all ingredients.
This recipe was inspired by my favorite summer fruit stand—the peaches are out-of-control delicious and juicy. I buy one for my bike ride home and the rest for smoothies!
Makes 2 Servings (16 to 20 Ounces)
- 1 large banana, frozen
- 1 cup peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into chunks or slices (fresh or frozen)
- 1 tablespoon flax seeds, ground
- 1 1/2 cups nondairy milk of choice
- 1 cup Swiss chard, washed, stems removed, and torn into pieces (about 2 large leaves), tightly packed
1. Wash and prep all ingredients.
2. Blend and serve.
Turmeric in your milk? Are you cray cray? Yes! Don’t tell the other nut milks, but this recipe is my favorite. Once upon a time, the only thing I knew about turmeric was that it had a brilliant yellow-orange color, which makes it a perfect addition to tofu scrambles. But with the right combination of supporting spices and sweetness, this turmeric twist is out of sight. Plus, it contains incredible anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric milk can be served cold or warmed on the stovetop for an after-dinner treat.
Yields 3 1/2 Cups
- 3 cups almond milk
- 4 ounces canned coconut milk (full or reduced fat)
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons turmeric powder or 1-inch fresh turmeric root, peeled
- 1⁄2-inch piece ginger, peeled
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1⁄4 teaspoon cardamom
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
1. Blend all ingredients together in a blender till smooth. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
I am so excited about Crazy Sexy Juice, with over 100 recipes to keep your juicer and blender humming with variety through every season, you’ll be able to easily fit this life-changing practice into your busy day—helping you make health deposits instead of withdrawals. Cha-ching!