A few months ago my parents expressed interest in learning how to make green juice, and I was so happy to hear that they were interested in taking up this great wellness habit. I wrote a long email and then turned it into a blog post! Here are my 15 green juicing tips and 10 green juice recipes for you (for my Mom and Dad too)!
I’ve been juicing for years now, and still do it (at minimum) once a week. Over the years I’ve experimented with the myriad of flavors and colors that can be achieved with fresh, organic produce, but my go-to is cucumber, parsley and/or cilantro, celery, and lemons.
Fresh juice is super delicious and healthy, and it ensures that we both get a daily dose of green things. Unlike smoothies, juices should not be used as a meal replacement, but can be thought of as a multivitamin, something to help boost your health everyday. If you are considering a juice regimen, please confer with a health care professional or nutritionist, as some juices are counter-indicated for certain conditions.
There are so many reasons to try fresh fruit and vegetable juice! According to the Mayo Clinic, juicing is beneficial because our bodies can better absorb nutrients from juice. Additionally, green juice can, “reduce your risk of cancer, boost your immune system, help you remove toxins from your body, aid digestion, and help you lose weight.” But most importantly, green juice tastes great, and make you feel zesty from the inside-out. I find that fresh juice gives me a ton of natural energy. By removing the fiber from the plants, juicing allows the body to divert energy from digestion to cleansing, and the raw, live nutrients are absorbed quickly into the body.
Some words of caution: as juicing removes the fiber from the fruits and vegetables, it allows the natural sugars to be absorbed rapidly into our system. I definitely recommend juicing fruits and sweet vegetables (carrots and beets) in small proportions to keep blood sugar in balance.
The focus should really be green-based juices, with the bulk of the juice made of celery, lettuce and/or cucumbers. Tomatoes and red peppers are water-rich and work great as bases too, but are often more expensive.
But how do you choose a juicer when there are so many juicers on the market to choose from? We purchased the Omega auger juicer, which is best for greens. Centrifugal juicers are quicker and easy to juice, but some reviews say that not as much nutrition is juiced out of the individual fruits and juices. The trade-off is that auger juicers are much more expensive. We’re super happy with our Omega juicer, but the downside is the small feed tube– all the vegetables need to be chopped before juicing. Otherwise, it’s easy to use and easy to clean. I timed myself: it took just 15 minutes to wash, slice and juice my veggies ,and then clean up. Everyone can find 15 minutes each day to boost their health!
15 Green Juicing Tips!
1. Focus on green juice: As mentioned above, removing the fiber means the sugar in fruits and veggies goes right into your bloodstream, so you want to keep the amount of veggies high and fruit low. Choose good green bases like cucumbers, celery and lettuce. Good green additions are parsley, kale, spinach, cilantro, dandelion greens, broccoli, red peppers. Garlic if you’re feeling insane. Tomatoes are a great base too.
2. A note about greens: Kale, spinach, parsley and cilantro are very good for you, but as you can imagine, they are not as juicy as a cucumber. So don’t try to make a whole juice with kale as the base; use one or two ounces of the dark greens and herbs with an watery base of about 4-6 ounces.
3. Use sweet stuff moderately: Apples, pineapple, carrots, beets all taste amazing, but they taste amazing because they are loaded with sugar. The sugar content of fruits and sweet veggies can be very high, and thus should be drank in moderation. One cup of carrot juice provides more than 9 grams of sugar. It’s not as bad as soda, but since we’re trying to boost our health here, let’s try to avoid the super sweet stuff. Eating carrots/apples/etc is not bad for you because all the fiber slows the breakdown of sugar.
4. Other veggies: Technically anything can be juiced, but vegetables with very strong flavors or weird textures (I’m looking at you, eggplant, potatoes, bittermelon, cabbage, radish) might not juice so well. But, give it a try to see what you like!
5. Citrus: Oranges, grapefruits make excellent juice, but don’t juice the rind and remove as much pith (white stuff) as possible, which is insanely bitter. Citrus fruits can be high is sugar too, so always mix with greens or drink sparingly. Lemon and lime are not high in sugar but super good for you. We use a lot of citrus for the health benefits and big flavor boosts it gives to juices. Always remove the rind and pith, and remove as many seeds as possible.
6. Ginger: Perhaps the best juice ingredient, ginger makes all juices taste better. It’s spicy, warming and is great for digestion. Use about 1/2-inch piece per 4-6 ounce glass of juice.
7. Drink juice on an empty stomach. I like it either first thing in the morning or as a late afternoon snack. Give your body time to digest before eating food. This helps with assimilation of the nutrients and makes digesting it easier.
8. Chew. I know, sounds dumb. But chewing your juice (rolling it around in your mouth a few times) can help stimulate the digestive process in the mouth. Don’t roll your eyes, just do it a few times when you start drinking juice to maximize your digestive process.
9. Stick to 3 or 4 veggies/fruits maximum per juice: This is not a rule, but it seems to work best. Once you start combining a ton of different foods in a juicer it ends up looking and tasting like dirt. Skip the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink juice and choose just a few items for a better flavor. You can always go back and add a few more pieces of produce if you think it needs something, but it’s really hard to undo a gross juice.
10. Drink juice as soon as possible! The longer it sits out, the more the juice oxidizes and loses its vitality. However, don’t let that stop you: a day-old juice is still better than no juice at all! If you need to store your juice, put it in an airtight container in the fridge as soon as it’s gone through the juicer. Shake before drinking.
11. Clean the juicer asap: Unless you want to scrub for hours, rinse and wash out all juice parts as soon as you finish. I usually just rinse the parts since the pulp comes right off when it’s fresh, and there’s no need to scrub. The centrifugal juicers have a mesh basket that is a huge pain to clean, which is one more reason I love our Omega juicer.
12. Give yourself time to adjust. Green juice is going to taste really green and weird and maybe a bit gross until you get accustomed to it. In the first weeks, start with some Apple-Parsley juice or Carrot-Cucumber-Lime to begin to enjoy liquid greenery. Once you begin to like the taste more, try stronger flavors like Celery-Dandelion-Lemon, or Cucumber-Spinach-Ginger-Lemon. It’s really up to you to experiment and find what works and what doesn’t for your palate.
13. Know how to fix it: If you make a terrible juice (see #10, above), lemon, apple and/or ginger are good band-aids: if you make a terrible juice, these ingredients will usually make it better. If it’s really bad, use in soup or as a base for pasta sauce.
14. Be prepared to see changes in your body: You might poop some red (beets) and witness some other changes to your digestive system because these veggies are going to change your body a lot. You might experience some flushing of your system. Perhaps start on the weekend when you’ll be home all day!
15. Choose organic: Not only is organic better for the environment, it’s better for your body. As you enjoy more juice, you are including even more fresh produce in your diet, and if it’s covered in pesticides it’s not going to be very good for you. This is especially true since you don’t need to peel any veggies for juices. Check out local CSA programs and even Costco; they have a great selection of organic veggies from what I hear!
10 Green Juice Recipes
- Spicy Kale-mato Juice from Eat. Drink… Better
- Mixed Fruit & Veggie Juice from Eat. Drink… Better
- Neon Pink Smoothie Juice from Oh She Glows
- Apple Ginger Juice from Seamus Mullen via Well & Good NYC
- Balanced Green Juice from Serious Eats
- Spring Green Juice from The Little Red House
- Green Lemonade from MindBodyGreen