People who aren't big on fruit and veggies can use a juicer to get them in. Plus, it is a great way to use up extra produce lingering in the crisper drawer. (Kate Lawson / The Detroit News)
January remains the unofficial month when we cleanse our bodies of all the holiday indulgences and start taking (or recapturing) care of our health. Now that Americans are becoming increasingly conscious of the importance of healthy eating, fruits and vegetables have earned their starring role in our diets and “juicing” has entered the lexicon with increased enthusiasm.
You don’t have to stop at using the juice, though; the pulp left behind can be incorporated into dishes from muffins and soups to desserts and more, to get even more health value from the process.
Juicing is nothing new, of course; juice bars have dotted the eatery landscape for years, making juices and smoothies for a loyal fan base. Unfortunately, in the beginning, “juicing” was often associated with a foul-tasting, bitter green (yet incredibly healthful) concoction of wheat grass. But juice doesn’t have to taste bad to be good for you.
An important trick is to pair ingredients well. For instance, one cup of spinach, which delivers more than the daily recommended allotment of vitamins K and A, is packed with antioxidants to promote cardiovascular health and magnesium to help lower high blood pressure, is a great partner to apples and/or pineapples. Ditto the ever-popular kale, parsley and even beet greens.
For many years, my breakfast has consisted of a morning smoothie. In the blender, I’d whirl up a banana with a handful of fresh or frozen fruit and a handful of baby spinach, add some kefir (ke-FEER), a fermented liquid yogurt that is loaded with probiotics, and a dash of cinnamon (which helps control spikes in blood sugar) and turmeric (which contains curcumin, a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammation properties). The smoothie kept me sated until lunch time, and I felt good about giving my body the vitamins it needed in one drink.
Then, once I began reading about how juicing can help the body cleanse and detoxify (with green juices) and help repair damaged cells (with red juices), I graduated from the blender to a juicer, to extract the juice from a wide assortment of vegetables that would take me much longer to conventionally prepare and then consume. I loved the various combinations that I could create and being surprised by how much I loved how the flavor of the celery blended with the pear or that fresh oranges and carrots could create a sinful-tasting drink, but without any regret. I realized that folks who weren’t big fruit and vegetable fans could rely on the juicer to keep them healthy. Plus, what a great way to use up extra produce lingering in the crisper drawer.
But as with all things that are too good to be true, there is a downside to consuming only juices as the vehicle for proper nutrition. The juicer extracts pure, raw juice, but it also leaves behind the pulp that provides the body with much-needed fiber (an incredible shame to waste).
That’s when I proceeded to take juicing to the next step and incorporate the pulp into a variety of dishes to fortify our meals. Then I began making my smoothies with homemade juice. Then, to give them some body, I added whole fruits (bananas, apples, strawberries and a handful of spinach) as well as some of the pulp from the juicer to get a complete benefit.
I now peruse the produce section with additional curiosity about how different fruits and vegetables will taste together; my kitchen has become a juice laboratory of sorts, and I marvel at the concoctions. Kale, broccoli and sweet potatoes don’t need to be roasted, sauteed or baked for me to enjoy them. I come home from the market with a rainbow of ripe produce and with the flick of a switch, I’ve got a vitamin bonanza in a glass.
■Juicers can be expensive, ranging from $50 to $400. Some more expensive juicers will break down a lot of the fruit by grinding the core, rind and seeds.
■You may not need a juicing machine to make juice. You can even use a blender for most whole fruits or vegetables to keep the fiber — add water if it becomes too thick.
■Fiber aside, the blender versus juicer debate might come down to a matter of taste: drinking celery juice mixed with carrot juice will probably taste better than drinking a celery and carrot smoothie.
■Save the stems from broccoli, the bottoms of cauliflower and the stems from fresh asparagus and juice those. It’s a great way to reduce waste.
■Don’t leave whole veggies behind altogether if you don’t need to. An Academy of Nutrition of Dietetics spokesman, Manuel Villacorta (who also is the founder of Eating Free, a weight management program), recommends eating two whole fruits and three to four vegetables a day in addition to juicing, and that they should come in different colors, as the colors have different vitamins and minerals.
Use fresh ingredients, organics whenever possible, and local and chemical-free is even better. Also, you’ll want to rotate the vegetables you use, as consuming the same vegetables every day for an extended period of time can cause you to develop sensitivities or allergies. So switch things up regularly and try different recipes. Here are some possible components.
■Dark greens, such as collard greens, beet greens, Swiss chard and kale
■Ginger root, for its anti-inflammatory properties
■Lemons, limes, which are high in vitamin C and bioflavanoids. If organic, you can also juice the rind. Only juice organic lime rinds however, to avoid contaminating your juice.
■Oranges and grapefruits (never juice the peel from oranges or grapefruits, as they contain toxic oils)
■Apples, both red and green
■Celery, has alkalizing effect and hydrates the body
■Cucumbers (leave the skin on if organic)
■Parsley, which is rich in vitamin C, bioflavanoids, iron, minerals and chlorophyll
■Beet greens (the beets are good for your liver, but they’re high in sugar, so use them very sparingly)
■Organic carrots (avoid conventionally grown carrots, as they tend to be highly contaminated with pesticides). Use carrots sparingly, however, as they’re very high in sugar. Rich in B vitamins and folate. Cleanses and restores liver.
Gingery Carrot Soup
Recipes from “The Joy of Juicing” by Gary Null
10 medium carrots, tops removed and cut into halves lengthwise
1 piece of ginger root, cut into thirds (about 2-inch squares)
1 large lime, peeled
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large Vidalia onion, peeled and finely chopped (about 2 cups)
10 large cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1½ teaspoons sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional)
2 cups water
1⁄3 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1 large lime, sliced into quarters
Push the carrots, ginger and 1 lime through the juicer feed tube. Collect 1 cup of the carrot pulp and all of the carrot juice and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, saute the onion, garlic and ginger in the oil over moderate heat for 7-8 minutes. When the onion becomes translucent, stir in the carrot juice mixture, carrot pulp, salt, pepper, if desired, and water. Simmer partially covered for 10 minutes.
Serve hot or chilled, garnished with a dollop of yogurt, a sprinkling of cilantro and a lime wedge. Makes 6 cups.
Per serving: 248 calories; 18 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 65 percent calories from fat); 20 g carbohydrates; 1 mg cholesterol; 630 mg sodium; 3 g protein; 5 g fiber.
Celery Potato Soup
1 potato, steamed and chilled (½ cup juice and ½ tablespoon pulp)
2 celery stalks (½ cup juice)
¼ cup chopped leeks
½ cup cubed potatoes
1 tablespoon safflower oil
1¼ cups unsweetened soymilk
½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley
¼ teaspoon celery seeds
½-¾ teaspoon sea salt
¼-½ teaspoon black pepper
2 sprigs fresh dill, as garnish (optional)
Separately juice the potato and celery. Set aside ½ cup of the potato juice, ½ tablespoon of the potato pulp and ½ cup of the celery juice.
In a large saucepan, saute the leeks and potato cubes in the oil for 3-4 minutes.
Add the juices, pulp, soymilk, dill, parsley, celery seeds, salt and pepper, and bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
Serve hot, garnished with the dill sprigs, if desired. Makes 2 servings.
Per serving: 273 calories; 10 g fat (1 g saturated fat; 33 percent calories from fat); 39 g carbohydrates; 0 mg cholesterol; 696 mg sodium; 7 g protein; 3 g fiber.
4 carrots (½ cup pulp)
1 cup cooked red lentils
¼ cup lentil sprouts
¼ cup ground unsalted cashews or cashew butter
2 tablespoons chopped unsalted almonds
1 tablespoon diced yellow onions
2 teaspoons curry powder
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Push the carrot through the juicer. Set aside ½ cup of the pulp.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the carrot pulp with the lentils, lentil sprouts, cashews, almonds, onion, curry powder, coriander and salt, and mix well.
Shape the mixture into 2 patties, coat the patties with the bread crumbs and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake the patties for 10 minutes, turn the patties over and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.
Serve hot in pita bread pockets with hummus. Makes 2 servings.
Per serving: 526 calories; 22 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 38 percent calories from fat); 66 g carbohydrates; 0 mg cholesterol; 862 mg sodium; 22 g protein; 14 g fiber.
Apple Pecan Cobbler
2 pears (½ cup juice and ¾ cup pulp)
2 apples (½ cup juice and ¾ cup pulp)
1 orange, peeled (¼ cup juice)
½ lemon, peeled (1 tablespoon juice)
3½ cups sliced apples, unpeeled
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2⁄3 cup chopped apricots (dried or fresh)
3 cups coarsely chopped unsalted pecans
1 cup coarsely chopped, unsalted macadamia nuts
1 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons safflower oil
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ cup chopped dates
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Separately push the pears, the 2 apples (not the slices), the orange and the lemon through the juicer. Set aside ½ cup of the pear juice and ¾ cup of the pear pulp, ½ cup of the apple juice and ¾ cup of the apple pulp, ¼ cup of the orange juice and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the apple slices with the pear, apple and orange juices. Stir in the pear and apple pulp, lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and apricots, mixing well.
In another medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all the topping ingredients except the dates and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, mixing well.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the dates with the remaining 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and mix well.
Pour the apple slice mixture into a greased 9- by 12-inch baking dish, spreading the filling evenly so that it touches all sides of the pan.
Pour the topping over the filling and spread it evenly with a knife.
Bake the cobbler for 30-35 minutes, or until the apples are soft. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the cinnamon and dates mixture.
Serve hot or cold with rice or soy ice cream. Makes 8 servings.
Per serving: 670 calories; 46 g fat (5 g saturated fat; 62 percent calories from fat); 70 g carbohydrates; 0 mg cholesterol; 6 mg sodium; 6 g protein; 10 g fiber.
Old Man Arthritis
1 large sweet potato, quartered
1 cup cubed pineapple without rind, cored
1 large orange, quartered
1 cup chopped kale
½ cup chopped walnuts
Push the sweet potato, pineapple, orange and kale through the juicer.
Blend walnuts with the juice mixture in a blender until the liquid thickens.
Serve immediately. Makes 3 cups.
Per serving: 244 calories; 13 g fat (1 g saturated fat; 48 percent calories from fat); 31 g carbohydrates; 0 mg cholesterol; 18 mg sodium; 5 g protein; 5 g fiber.
The PC Smoothie
4 large limes, peeled and quartered
1 pineapple, peeled, cored and quartered
8 large peaches, peeled, pitted and quartered (about 2 cups)
1 small cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cubed (about 2 cups)
4 peeled bananas, frozen
12 ice cubes
Push the limes and pineapple through the juicer.
Blend the peaches, cantaloupe, bananas and ice cubes with the juice mixture in a blender on high speed until smooth.
Serve immediately. Makes 12 cups.
Per serving: 96 calories; 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat; 5 percent calories from fat); 25 g carbohydrates; 0 mg cholesterol; 4 mg sodium; 1 g protein; 3 g fiber.
Date Fudge Brownies
3 parsnips (½ cup pulp)
1 cup whole spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup safflower oil
Vegetarian egg substitute for 1 egg or 1 egg
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 cup pure unsweetened cocoa powder (unsweetened carob powder may be substituted)
2½ cups chopped dates
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup ground unsalted almonds or almond butter
1 cup coarsely chopped unsalted walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Push the parsnips through the juicer. Set aside ½ cup of the pulp.
In a small mixing bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the oil, egg or egg substitute, maple syrup and cocoa. Add the parsnip pulp, dates and vanilla extract, and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix again. Stir in the almonds and walnuts.
Pour the batter into a greased 10-inch square pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until firm.
Allow to cool slightly before cutting into 12 squares. Makes 12 brownies.
Per serving: 375 calories; 19 g fat (2 g saturated fat; 46 percent calories from fat); 51 g carbohydrates; 0 mg cholesterol; 42 mg sodium; 6 g protein; 8 g fiber.
Super VJ Cocktail
1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley (about ¼ pound)
8 large tomatoes, cored and quartered
8 large celery stalks
4 large carrots, tops removed and cut into halves lengthwise
4 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into quarters
4 large limes, peeled
Sea salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon)
4 celery salts, as garnish (optional)
1 large lime, sliced into ¼-inch-thick half moons, as garnish (optional)
Bunch up the parsley and push through the juicer, alternating it with the tomatoes, 8 celery stalks, carrots, peppers and 4 limes.
Add salt to the juice mixture and stir well.
Pour into tall glasses filled with ice and garnish with celery stalks and lime slices, if desired.
Serve immediately. Makes 12 cups.
Per serving: 71 calories; 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat; 13 percent calories from fat); 17 g carbohydrates; 0 mg cholesterol; 164 mg sodium; 3 g protein; 4.5 g fiber.