Juice bars are popping up all over these days. Fresh juices and smoothies are seen as a great way to add loads of nutritional value to the daily food intake.
While juice bars may seem like a new health craze, it appears that the first recorded effort to mix together fruit to be used as medicine is found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Pomegranate and figs were mashed and used “for profound strength and subtle form.”
Ayurvedic medicine began in ancient India where fruit and vegetables were juiced in a variety of ways and praised for their medicinal and healing properties. Healers and health practitioners throughout the ages have ground together fresh herbs, seeds, fruits and vegetables to be used in the treatment of disease and to boost overall health.
It wasn’t until the 1930s when Dr. Norman Walker invented the first juicing machine that juicing became mainstream. Dr. Walker was an advocate for raw food diets, and his “Norwalk” juicing machine grated and squeezed raw fruits and vegetables which were then placed in a cloth bag and pressed with a hydraulic press to extract the juice.
Modernized versions of the Norwalk juicer are available to this day. As juicers have evolved since the 1930s, there are a number of other juicer types available including masticating, auger and centrifugal. Based on what you are trying to achieve with juicing, doing some research on the different types of juicers will help you pick the right machine for your needs.
There’s a big difference between juices and smoothies and it’s important to understand how to use them for optimum results, whether using them as a meal replacement to add nutritional value to your day, or as part of a cleansing or detox diet.
A true juice is made by extracting the water and nutrients from vegetables and fruit and separating them from the pulp. This can only be done by using a juicing machine. The extracted juice is filled with nutrients and quickly enters the bloodstream because the digestive system does not have to break down fiber.
Smoothies can be made in a kitchen blender. Just like with juicing, it’s important to determine what health benefits you want to achieve with smoothies and then research the many models of blenders available in order to find one that suits your needs. There is virtually no limit to the combination of ingredients that can be used to make a healthy smoothie. Start by choosing fresh, quality fruit and vegetables.
If you like frozen fruit smoothies, cut up and divide the fruit into small portions then freeze so you can simply pop it in the blender when you are ready to make your smoothie. Instead of water or juice for the smoothie base, experiment with coconut milk, almond milk or soy milk (these will add protein as well). Add even more protein with oats or quinoa, peanut or almond butter, egg, or a variety of seeds such as flax, chia, hemp, sunflower or pumpkin.
While protein powders may seem like an easy way to boost protein in your smoothie, be aware that they can contain chemicals, processed ingredients, sugar or artificial sweeteners, antibiotics and heavy metals. Adding unsweetened yogurt or avocado will make an extra smooth smoothie.
If you like a little more sweetness to your smoothie, try natural sweeteners such as agave, coconut sugar or honey. Adding fresh turmeric, ginger and/or wheat grass will boost the nutritional value and disease fighting properties of your smoothie too. Again, the combinations virtually are endless!
Buying your juice or smoothie from a local vendor is convenient and a great way to find ingredient combinations that you like. Be sure to choose only fresh ingredients and no powders or mixes, whether you buy your drinks or make them at home.
BERRY VEGGIE SMOOTHIE
½ cup each of fresh raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries
½ cup spinach
½ cup thinly sliced carrots
1 thinly sliced radish
6-8 slices cucumber
2 stalks celery
1 tablespoon each fresh turmeric & ginger
Juice of ½ fresh lime
Water or juice
Place all ingredients in your blender and blend until the fruit and veggies are pureed. Add more water or juice to reach desired consistency.
Have fun in the kitchen!