Friday, October 3, 2008

Juicing - Tools, Tips and Recipes

My business partner, Mitch Mandell, has the juicing bug. No, he's not a body builder hooked on steroids. Rather he's like a lot folks who don't eat enough fruits and vegetables. To compensate, he bought a juice extractor and started getting some of his vitamins, minerals and phyto nutrients in liquid form.

Most nutritionists agree that Mitch and his kind would do their bodies a better service by actually eating the fiber rich fruits and vegetables themselves rather than turning them into juice. There's good wisdom to this advice, especially if you are trying to shed pounds. But I maintain that for picky eaters who wouldn't otherwise get enough of these important foods, juicing can be a great way to supplement nutritional intake.

But fresh juice is not only about nutrition, there's taste to consider. If you like drinking fresh juice, and I don't mean the kind of juice you can only squeeze out of an orange, then a high-speed juice extractor is what's needed.

Over the 20 plus years I've known Mitch, he has gone through several juice extractors (the man like his fresh juice). Ever since that hyper-active guy with the bushy eyebrows pitched the Juiceman about 20 years ago (not a bad juice extractor according to Mitch), he's been making fresh fruit and vegetable juices several times a week. He's had juice extractors at all ends of the spectrum, from cheap to high end and has come to be a bit of a connoisseur on the subject. Here are tips for selecting one that will do what you need.

What To Look for in a Juice Extractor
Not all juicers are created equal and perform as expected. There are a wide variety of juice extractors available at an even wider variety of prices. In many cases, you get what you pay for, as more expensive models will generally have more powerful motors. But price shouldn't be the only consideration. These tips will help you choose the best juicer for your money.
  • Buy the juicer with the most powerful motor you can get in your price range. Insufficient power will cause your motor to slow, especially when juicing hard veggies.

  • The wider opening for inserting your fruits and veggies, the better. The more narrow the opening, the more you will need to chop your produce before juicing it.

  • Look for a juicer that is easy to clean -- ideally most parts should be dishwasher safe. Juicing can make a mess, so look for a juicer with smooth exteriors -- anything with little crevices and creases will accumulate bits of pulp and juice and take more time to clean. Ease of cleanup will probably become a factor in just how often you actually use your juicing machine, so don't ignore this factor.

  • A finer screen will give you less pulp and vice-versa. Look for one that fits your personal taste.

Recommended Reading

Juice! by Pippa Cuthbert
Anyone who owns a juicer owes it to themselves to pick up a copy of this book. Anyone who doesn't own a juicer will surely be tempted to get one after perusing these pages. You'll find over 110 delicious recipes (you can find many samples in the juicing recipes below). Some are for smoothie type drinks, but many are pure juice. Beautifully styled full color photos show the drinks can look as good as they taste.

The wide variety of ingredients used will put your farmer's markets to the test. Most ingredients are readily found, but any shopping searches for some the more exotic ingredients used in a few of the recipes will prove well worthwhile when you sip the resulting healthful beverages they create. The recipes are creative and innovative. You'll use your juicer and blenders in ways you never dreamed of before.

Beyond recipes, there's a lot of important (and interesting) information about the health benefits of the fruits, vegetables and herbs used in the recipes. Especially handy is the chapter entitled "Juicy Ingredients." This comprehensive reference gives an ingredient by ingredient synopsis of how to buy and store the fruit or veggie, tips for juicing preparation, health benefits and the approximate amount of juice you can expect each ingredient to yield. Another chapter on the medicinal uses of common culinary herbs will make you look at your spice rack with renewed respect. Both resources are sure to inspire you to go beyond the recipes and start concocting your own super healthy juice combinations.

In addition to a chapter on "cleansers," recipe chapters are conveniently divided by time of day (in other words, the type of juices you are likely to want at various points in a 24 hour period) and include: Seven AM : Wake-Up Call; Twelve PM: Hunger; Three PM: Energizers; Five PM: Cocktail Hour; Nine PM: Evening Relaxers. Presumably the Cleansers are appropriate anytime you need them. It's also important to note that while the Five PM Chapter is entitled "Cocktail Hour," there is no alcohol in these recipes.

Favorite Juicing Recipes
Sneaky Juice!
Author Missy Chase Lapine, author of The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kid's Favorite Meals uses healthy juices to infuse some of her kids' favorite dishes with extra nutrients. If you're the parent of a picky eater, you need this book -- it is one of the best everyday family cookbooks we at have seen in years.

Missy, the former publisher of Eating Well Magazine, has a bag of tricks to rival most magicians, only her tricks will have your kids looking forward to eating things like cauliflower, spinach, beans, broccoli, carrots, tofu and even sardines! In most cases, these healthy super foods are hidden in such a way that kids (and even picky adults) will never know the difference.

Most of the recipes are quick and easy to prepare - even for busy moms and dads with extremely hectic schedules. There are even 5 minute quick fixes for Jello and other kid friendly mixes. The Make Ahead Chapter allows you to always have healthy Sneaky Chef components on hand - such as fruit and vegetable purees and juices (see sample recipes below) and whole grain flour and breading mixes.

Instructional chapters will arm you with important information to feed your family healthy wholesome foods, such as the 12 most important foods to buy organic and the twelve most contaminated foods, important foods to stock your pantry with, and strategic ways to introduce your family to healthy eating - slowly and in moderation.

Sneaky Chef Juice Recipes and What to Make with Them

Purple Puree Juice Blend -- Puree healthy greens like spinach or collard greens with blueberries to sneak healthy elements into Brainy Brownies that everyone will love.

Green Juice -- Use to make spinach juice puree to sneak Popeye's favorite food into an Earth Day Milkshake that's perfect for breakfast or a healthy snack.

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