The Beginner’s Guide to Juicing

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Hi, my name is Jenna and I’m an addict. Addicted to my Breville juicer, that is. I started juicing three years ago but I become more serious about it after I watched the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead about a year ago. Aussie businessman Joe Cross, unhappy with being chronically ill and 45kg overweight, embarks on a 60-day juice fast while trekking across the US that transforms his life. It was absolutely inspiring. (The full documentary is available for free on YouTube but I downloaded it because I like to go back and watch it for inspiration every now and then.) Since the movie came out, Cross has built a ‘juicing empire’ including a very comprehensive website/community Reboot With Joe and his pre-packaged range of juices, Reboot Your Life, which are 100% natural, cold-pressed, and have nothing added. I now drink two fresh juices every day, one carrot, celery and apple juice, and one green (recipes below) which are very tasty and so nutritious.

Juicing can seem intimidating but it’s really not at all. Here’s how to get started on your own juice journey.

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Image courtesy @healthhotspot on Instagram

How to juice

1. Juicing vs blending: know the difference
Juicing is the process where water and nutrients are extracted from fruit and vegetables (leaving only juice – sorry to be obvious) and the pulp is discarded. This removes the indigestible fibre, meaning the resulting liquid can flood your cells with easily-absorbed nutrients which gives your digestive system a break. Typically only fruit and vegetables are used, but supplements (eg. maca powder, Vital Greens) can be stirred in afterwards.

Blending is where whole fruit and vegetables are used, which retains all the fibre, but digestion is still easier than with solid food because the process breaks down the cell walls of the produce. Normally people blend to make smoothies but you can also make desserts like healthy chocolate mousse(out of avocado and cacao powder) for example. Blending results in a thicker liquid that is much more filling, especially when you can add ingredients such as chia seeds, coconut oil or nut butters that are high in good fats and therefore very satiating. Other ingredients can include protein powder or sweeteners like stevia or honey.

I love drinking both juices and smoothies, but it all comes down to your health goals and personal preferences.

2. Buy a juicer
I’ve had my Breville juicer for three years and use it daily as mentioned. It looks a little worn but it still runs as perfectly as the day I bought it. It was about $180 from memory. I can’t remember the model number but I think the closest one would be the Breville Juice Fountain Plus.

I have heard that cold-pressed juicers are better, because they use low-speed technology that avoids heat, which apparently helps retain more of the vitamins, nutrients and enzymes of the fruit and veg. If price isn’t an issue then go for it, but personally spending the extra $100-300 wasn’t in my budget.

At the other end of that, I have seen cheaper juicers ($60-$80, eg. the Sunbeam Juice Streamer) but don’t know much about them. But as with anything, you get what you pay for. (I have a $270 blender/food processer that I use at home which is amazingly powerful and I never have any problems with it, but I have a blender that cost $50 that I keep at work (to make smoothies for lunch) which does the job but the food can get stuck and sometimes it takes ages to blend properly.) So do the research for yourself (look at reviews online or ask for recommendations from anyone you know that has one), decide on your budget, wait for a sale if possible and buy the best quality one you can afford.

3. Find (or create your own) recipes
I have included recipes for the two juices I drink every day but don’t let these limit you! The good thing is you can include almost anything you want and it will probably taste OK, as long as you some kind of fruit to sweeten it (ie. apple or pear) – but try to keep it mostly vegetable based. Another good thing is that you can use produce that’s a bit older – if the skin on a cucumber looks a bit old and I wouldn’t serve it in a salad, I still know it’s going to be fine in a juice. (Use common sense for this though – nothing so old it smells or makes a mess in your fridge!) Good recipes can be found here:

3. Go shopping
I shop at the farmers markets on the weekend and stock up on fresh, local produce that’s about the third of the price of the stuff at the supermarkets. (Bonus points if you use recycled/ fabric/ environmentally-friends shopping bags or boxes instead of plastic to carry everything home.) And it’s even better value to buy the big bags that are labelled “for juicing” (such as carrots and apples) – the quality of them is fine, it’s just that aesthetically they may not be as uniform as everything else.

If you can afford it, buy organic. Although it’s much more expensive than the conventional produce – sometimes by up to four times, which I know is crazy – try to think of it as an investment in your health. The cost of type 2 (preventable) diabetes averages $4,000 per person per year if there are no associated complications and $10,000 per year for people with complications. That’s $75 to $190 per week! (I’m not linking non-organic produce to developing diabetes, but this statistic helps put the cost of a healthy vs unhealthy lifestyle into perspective.) Plus, I don’t spend my money on a lot of pre-packaged food which is seriously expensive – I think if you replaced soft drinks, potato chips, muesli bars, lollies, kids’ snacks and takeaway frozen meals with organic fruit and veg then it wouldn’t be that much of a price difference. That said, juicing with non-organic produce is better than not juicing at all – just do your best.

4. Prep the ingredients
I wash all my fruit and veg (conventional and organic) before storing them in the fridge to get rid of any pesticides, insects or dirt. (It’s good to be familiar with the “Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen”, a list of the fruit sand vegetables likely to contain the highest and lowest amounts of pesticide residue.) To wash produce, fill up a sink with water, add a few drops of fruit and vegetable wash (I use this one or you can make your own). let everything sit in the water for five minutes then drain and rinse with water. Pat each item dry with paper towel or just let it dry on your bench tops or a clean tea towel for half an hour.

Always store produce correctly in the fridge. For example, divide the amount of kale you use for each juice into plastic containers so you can easily grab each portion out of the fridge when you go need it. For celery, chop it up, wash it and store it standing up in a container with water at the bottom. For fruit like bananas and mangoes, peel them and store them in the freezer in individual portions.

5. Make your juice
Make it, drink it, love it! The recipes below each produce 700ml, which is a 350ml serve each for myself and my partner. If it’s just for yourself you can drink the whole large serving, halve the recipe, or just drink half when you make it and leave the other half in the fridge for later. To store it for later I use 350ml jars. I couldn’t find any brand new ones online that were suitable, so I searched through the supermarket shelves until I found jars with the exact volume I wanted, which were jars of olives for about $3. (I don’t like olives though so I gave them to a co-worker to eat and she returned the jars to me washed!) I use jars because I prefer them over plastic bottles – they’re easier to wash, last longer and are more environmentally friendly.

Recipes

These are my favourite recipes that I make every day. The green juice is a little tough to drink, it’s not bad but it definitely takes some getting used to. But the carrot, celery and apple one is delicious because it’s so sweet, you’ll love it right away.

THE BEST GREEN JUICE RECIPE
Makes 700ml (2 x 350ml serves)

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Ingredients

  • 3 large leaves of kale, or approx 1/3 of a bunch
  • 3 large leaves silverbeet, or approx 1/3 of a bunch
  • ½ lemon, skin cut off (white pith is fine)
  • 1-2cm cube of ginger (depending on how strong you like it)
  • 1 Lebanese or ½ burplass cucumber
  • 1 medium green apple
  • 4 stalks of celery (~25cm each)

Method

Feed the green leaves into the juicer first and finish with the harder ingredients. I recommend feeding everything through in this order:

  • Kale/silverbeet (either one first)
  • Lemon and ginger (at the same time because the ginger is so small)
  • Cucumber/apple (either one first)
  • Celery

Notes

  • I add some supplements but these are optional. I use ¼ teaspoon of maca powder and ¼ teaspoon of macqui berry powder, which are very distinct so I don’t use any more than that. I also use 1 teaspoon of Vital Greens, which adds a nice bit of sweetness.
  • Spinach and rocket (arugula) don’t juice very well because they don’t yield much liquid . Silverbeet yields a lot and kale is a powerhouse of nutrition, which is why they’re a good combination.

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CARROT, CELERY AND APPLE JUICE
Makes 700ml (2 x 350ml serves)

Ingredients

  • 4 medium carrots (~500g)
  • 1 medium green apple
  • 4 stalks of celery (~25cm each)

Method

  • Juice all ingredients in the following order: carrots, then apple, then celery.

For more check out the posts in my juicing series, Diary of a Juice Cleanse and What I Learnt From My 5-Day Juice Cleanse.

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