Sunday, March 20, 2016

At Home Juicing: Tips and Recipes

I'm a big fan of fresh vegetable juices but I'm not a fan of the high price that's usually associated with them. Matt has also started taking an interest in juicing but as he would be one of the last people to spend $9 on a 16oz juice, he decided it was time to get a juicer of our own. 

I've been the main beneficiary of this new habit as he's taken the lead on first finding recipes, then coming up with his own combinations, shopping, prepping, and cleaning. For the first month or so he'd juice daily, now it's down to several days a week and unfortunately before work I just don't have time to pitch in with the process, but on weekends I can help (and drink more juice!). I also help by providing crucial taste test feedback.

A few things we've learned along the way:
  1. Prepare in advance - make a list of ingredients you want to include and prep as many of them as possible the night before. Prepping can take some time so if you're short on time in the morning, this is crucial. Also, put all the veggies, fruits, ginger, etc. that you'll be using in a large ziplock bag or container in your fridge so all you have to do is pull it out in the morning.
  2. Be strategic in your shopping - juicing does require a lot of fruits and veggies so checking prices and knowing where you can get the different ingredients at better prices is important. As is planning ahead. Once we accidentally spent $6 on two cucumbers at an organic grocer because it was 8:30 at night and we didn't have time to stop by another shop on our way home from dinner. 
  3. Organic is best, except when it's not - when possible, it's good to go organic for greens, veggies, and fruits like apples, which you'll eat the skins of, but conventional oranges are just fine. 
  4. It's good to experiment - after you try several recipes found online (like the two below) or in juicing recipe books, you'll quickly learn which tastes you like and which you aren't so fond of. You'll also notice how much juice certain ingredients make, for instance kale and chard typically create more juice than spinach. Texture is also important as carrots are actually pretty creamy and a green-based juices tend to be thinner. Once you know what you like, start mixing and matching ingredients to create your own flavor combinations.
  5. Clean right away - juicing is not a clean endeavor but it's even worse if you don't clean up right afterwards. Not only can the remnants stain the machinery, but putting it off won't make it go away magically. 
For now, here are two of our favorite recipes. I'll share more periodically as I expect we'll be juicing quite a lot as the weather warms up.

Fresh Greens
  • 2 cups (about 3 oz) of spinach (could also use a mix of greens)
  • 2 small green apples
  • 1 cucumber
  • 6 stalks of celery
  • 1 small lemon
  • Handful of mint (including stems)
  • Handful of parsley (including stems)
The flavor of this one is pretty light and a bit sweet because of the apples. The mint and parsley aren't too strong but they definitely come through. I'd say this would be good as a starter juice and it's quite refreshing.

Sunday Morning Beets
  • 2 beets (with outer layer cut off)
  • Beet greens from the 2 beets
  • 5 medium carrots
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 1 navel orange
  • 1 small lemon
  • Ginger - about the size of a golf ball
While beets can be a bit overwhelming and intimidating, I find this juice to be quite enjoyable. The carrots and orange help to balance the beet flavor and you can add or reduce the amount of ginger based on how much you like it. I'm not a huge ginger fan but it certainly wasn't an overwhelming flavor in this combination.

If you're a fan of juicing, what are your favorite flavors? | Do you have any questions about juicing? | What did you do this weekend?

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