Juicing is a great way to get in your fruits and vegetables in a simple, healthy way. This guide to juicing will tell you everything you need to know to get started.
Chances are if you’re giving any thought to juicing, it’s now. With the New Year upon us, our health usually becomes one of our biggest priorities and juicing is a great complement to that.
Eight years ago on our honeymoon in Tahiti, we drank fresh pineapple juice that was probably the best liquid anything I’ve ever consumed. Wanting to recreate that when we got home, I bought a juicer and starting juicing. I can’t say the pineapple juice ever tasted as good as it did in Tahiti (we’ll just have to go back one day for that), but it got me hooked on fresh juice and all the endless possibilities out there.
That said, there are a few things you should keep in mind while juicing so you’re not left with a bitter, too-vegetably (if you want that – try making your own homemade V8 juice) or, overly sweet juice. It’s a bit more complex than throwing all the produce from your fridge in and hoping for the best.
So let’s get started on this guide to juicing.
A Guide to Juicing
While you could always use a blender and then run the mixture through a sieve to extract just the juice, juicing does require specialized equipment. I personally have the Breville compact juice fountain and really like it. It’s compact (hence the name) and so as far juicers go, it takes up minimal space. It’s easy to clean, and everything can go in the dishwasher but I won’t be one of those people that lies and says it’s not annoying sometimes. Reality is, it is kinda annoying to clean a juicer but that’s just a fact of juicing. Either accept that or just don’t juice.
Juicing, unlike healthy smoothies, separates the pulp and therefore the fiber (don’t throw it away though, there are lots of things you can use the pulp for like blending into a smoothie or baking it into things like these pineapple carrot cake muffins) from the fruits and vegetables and just leaves you with the juice. While everyone needs fiber, juicing leaves you with a concentrated glass of nutrients. Those nutrients, since they’re in a liquid state, are also absorbed by your body a lot quicker than if you were to eat all the ingredients prior to juicing. Juice can be very calorie dense so it can be a great option when you’re not feeling particularly hungry, like when you’re sick. However, juicing won’t keep you feeling full very long even though it can be calorie dense, something that can be both good or bad depending on the situation.
Knowing how to put a good juice together is crucial to enjoying juicing. The right balance of base vegetables, green leafy vegetables, fruits and other add-ins is necessary for a good tasting glass.
Celery and/or cucumbers, my preference being cucumbers, are great bases for juicing. They have a high water content without a really distinct taste and will help fill up your glass without a ton of calories.
Green leafy vegetables for juicing
After the base, I like to add 2-3 green leafy vegetables for nutrition to my juices. Options here are spinach, lettuce, kale even dandelion.
Fruit for juicing
Fruit is what is going to give you sweetness and the most flavor to your juice. I happen to love green apples, pears, pineapple when I have it and any citrus for this. While not really a fruit, carrots are great for sweetness too. In fact, carrots and orange is one of my favorite combinations.
Other juicing add-ins
For an earthy vibe, I’ll add beets to my juice. They also make a great addition to healthy smoothies like in this blueberry beet smoothie. When I want something spicy, a chunk of ginger root is perfect. Fresh herbs like parsley are another great add-in for a finishing touch.
One of the best things about juicing is that you don’t have to peel or prep any of the fruit or vegetables. Since the fibrous stuff gets separated from the juice there’s just no need. Since this is the case though, buying as much organic produce as possible is something to consider when juicing. I don’t buy everything organic but when I plan to juice, I’ll be mindful of it or at least of the “dirty dozen”.
Here are a few great juice recipes to get you started:
How to make your own V8 juice (while this recipe isn’t for a juicer, you could absolutely make it that way!)
Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.