What is one thing you do every day to improve or support your health? Mine is juicing! I juice because it tastes great and I adore doing it! I love knowing that I’m gifting my body all the electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals it needs to stay healthy—especially during a time when maximizing my health is of the upmost importance.
(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. These claims are based on my own experiences. Be sure to consult with your physician before making any dietary changes, especially if you have known health concerns.)
We all know fresh fruits and veggies are good for us, but with the unpredictable pace of life (and the need for a lot of comfort food lately), it can be hard to find ways to squeeze them in. Juicing makes it easy to pack all. the. fruits. and. vegetables. into a single, tasty serving. In fact, you may find you are finally able to ‘eat the rainbow’ and include produce you don’t usually like. This is because most flavors are easy to mask in a more palatable juice. (Fresh apple juice can camouflage almost anything!)
Aside from a better supported immune system and more vibrant health and well-being overall, juice can help boost your appearance, too! When I juice regularly, my skin looks brighter and more youthful, I tend to feel hungry less often because my body is satiated by the nutrients it really craves, and I have way more energy!
If any of these benefits uh-peel to you, then I highly encourage you to give it a try! The hardest part about juicing is that getting started can feel super overwhelming. Here are some ideas to help streamline the process and get you started in no time:
Choose a juicer that’s right for you.
It’s easy to find yourself in a state of ‘analysis paralysis’ when attempting to decide on a juicer. There are tons of options and several popular styles, so how do you know which one is right for you? My aunt once said to me that the best juicer to buy is the one you will actually use! This has proven to be sage wisdom in my life.
A long time ago, I was gifted a hand-me-down masticating juicer (one that has a slowly turning gear that crushes produce, making it very efficient at extracting a lot of juice and leaving dry pulp behind). It was a top of the line item and a beautiful gift. However, it required a lot of prep work to ready the produce, was complicated to assemble and dismantle, and very time consuming to clean. I used it exactly once. After that it took up a large amount of my limited storage space for several years before I finally gave up and let it go. (And that’s exactly why its former owner gifted it to me in the first place!)
Later on, I purchased a centrifugal juicer (one with a high-speed, spinning blade that tends to be less efficient at extracting juice). Though they extract less juice than their counterparts, I feel these are a great choice for people just getting started with juicing. The mouth that receives the produce is wider, which means less prep work cutting the veggies down. Also, it fits together and comes apart easily, and is far easier to clean. (The one I use is dishwasher safe, so I only rinse most of the parts in warm water and scrub the blade free of pulp before I plop them all in the dishwasher.) Ultimately, you know you best! Pick something that suits the amount of effort you’re willing to expend.
Another important consideration is how much money you are willing to invest. I’ve seen juicers range anywhere from 50 to over 400 dollars and all have great customer feedback. Once you know how much you’re comfortable with spending, you can narrow your search pretty significantly and reduce the overwhelm.
Try to go organic when possible and be choosy when you can’t.
Organics are always my preferred choice when buying produce, especially for juicing. They use fewer pesticides, are better for the environment, and tend to be fresher because they don’t contain preservatives that would make them last longer on the shelves. But let’s be real, sometimes the budget just won’t allow for them, and it would be a shame to let that stop you from obtaining the many benefits juicing has to offer. Juicing at all still means you’re absorbing the added nutrients of the plants you consume, that you may not have otherwise. When I can’t justify all organic produce in the budget, I just prioritize by using the latest ‘Dirty Dozen’ list on ewg.org, and then buy as many organic ingredients as I can before switching to conventional fruits and vegetables for the rest. (I make sure to peel these before I use them!)
Okay, but what can I juice?
The nice thing about most juicers is they come with instruction manuals that usually explain how to prepare most produce for the juicer. This includes information like whether or not certain veggies should be peeled, have their ends cut off and/or greens removed, etc. The manual will also explain what speed to use when you juice them, and how and for how long to store them once juiced. They also include some recipes to help you get started.
Over time you will learn what works best in your personal juicer and what you enjoy the taste of most. I’ve juiced everything from apples and cabbage, to sweet potatoes and broccoli and enjoyed all of them. (Though, not necessarily together!) I’ve only ever made one juice I ended up throwing out. Hint: lemon cooks things. (Think ‘ceviche.’) I once made the mistake of adding a whole lemon to a juice that contained cabbage, and then left it in the fridge all day until after work. It was a really, really bad idea.)
In general, I choose a base to make up the bulk of the juice, like carrot, celery or cucumber juice. Then I add in a couple of leaves of something nutrient dense like kale, collard or mustard greens, or a handful of spinach. Finally, I use green apples or beets to sweeten the drink, or lemons or fennel for lower glycemic sweetener options. The combinations are endless and it’s really fun to experiment!
When getting started, I wish I had used recipes.
At first, I used to prepare what I now affectionately refer to as ‘Everything but The Kitchen Sink Juice.’ There was no rhyme or reason to what I was making, or any consideration for what flavors would enhance each other. It wasn’t terrible or inedible by any stretch, but it did taste a lot like liquid salad.
As I began to use recipes, I learned which ingredients pair best together and discovered which combinations I really enjoyed. In the beginning, less is really more when it pertains to learning which flavors you love. In addition to the recipes included in your juicer’s instructions, there are countless recipes online, in books, and even on juicing apps! You’re one search away from a whole host of deliciousness.
Start small, then see where the journey takes you.
When I first started juicing regularly over six years ago, I began by replacing the juices I purchased at the store. I enjoyed fresh apple, orange, and grapefruit juices, and discovered that they were not only far more delicious, but I felt way better after drinking them. Those single ingredient juices allowed me to get comfortable with my juicer and make the process a habit.
Afterwards, I began making more complex juices in the morning, several times a week. Carrot juice with lemon and ginger, or cucumber with a little spinach, celery, lemon, and green apple became regular pairings alongside my breakfast. About a year into my juicing journey, I did my first juice fast, and now I do one at least once a year. Juicing has become a valuable tool that I use to benefit my health, well-being, and joy, and I hope this will help you to utilize it, too! Cheers!