Get Your Juice On: Beginner's Guide

Although I am drinking my daily fresh juice as I type, I have written for months now and have (somehow) neglected to post about juicing.  Today is the day!  In addition to enjoying a gluten-free diet, juicing is a tremendous part of our daily lives; Danny and I each drink at least one glass or jar of freshly made organic juice a day. 

Like I described in the post, when we decided to take the phrase "You are what you eat" seriously, we went out that day and purchased a juicer.  (Now I know you may be thinking, "Don't you mean, 'You are what you drink'?"  and I guess I do.  I wholeheartedly believe that, more accurately, you are what you consume--by that I mean what you eat, drink, watch, inhale, listen to, read...) 

In case you are intimidated by the thought of juicing, I was too!  First of all, as some of you may know, I'm cheap.  I wondered: How much is this going to cost me?  Why can't I just use a blender or something?  Secondly, I don't agree with needless waste. What about all of the leftover juice guts?  And the loss of fiber?  Though these were reasonable questions, the evidence provided by several documentaries and informative websites helped to sell me on the idea that I might actually like it.  The most influential concept--the deal breaker for my stubborn resistance--was that these would help me consume vegetables I would not otherwise be eating.  It was almost mind blowing to get the health benefits of several carrots, a few stalks of celery, a half a cucumber, and part of an apple in one delicious drink. 

It helped the cheapskate side of me that we still had gift cards for home stores from my recent bridal shower.  The one we purchased is made by Cuisinart (called the CJE-1000 1000-Watt 5 Speed Juice Extractor) and it looks like this:

Image Source: Amazon
It is not the most expensive model available (about $120), nor the cheapest, but we've been very happy with it.  The five speeds, according to the manual, help to keep the machine working longer by providing different strengths to different fruits and vegetables.  Check out Consumer Reports for other options.  A woman shopping during our purchase suggested, as I may suggest to you, to consider putting a plastic grocery bag (if you have those) into the black plastic catcher to easily transport the juice guts.  With these, you can make various recipes; I usually make vegetable stock, throw into recipes for increased fiber, contribute to our compost, or add to my dogs' food (our girls enjoy carrot leftovers).
The juice we make for most days is primarily vegetables.  Danny likes his a little sweeter than mine, so sometimes I juice the vegetables first and pour for myself then add a little fruit before pouring his.  Depending on the week, often we juice a few days' worth, pour into canning jars, and store in the fridge.  This is not ideal for optimal nutritional value, but we've found some juice is better than no juice.  Technically, you should drink fresh juice within 20 minutes of juicing, but sometimes it doesn't work out for our schedules.  In case you too are fairly busy (or just don't want to clean your juicer every single day), here are some tips on how to store fresh juice for maximum freshness from  This website also has some wonderful recipes and ideas--check it out.
In terms of what the vitamins, minerals, and photonutrients from juicing vegetables and fruits can do for you and your health, they provide high absorption of these nutrients as well as help prevent cancer, risk of cardiovascular disease, and a variety of inflammatory diseases. 
We keep our juicing regimen relatively simple.  This winter, we've stuck to differing combinations of the following vegetables and fruits (with the following benefits):
carrots: sweet, provides vitamin A, multiple antioxidants including beta-carotene, but has also demonstrated cardiovascular, vision, and anti-cancer (particularly colon cancer) benefits

celery: high water content/ more juice, contains vitamins K and A, fiber, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties
apples: sweet, contain potassium, provide antioxidants called flavonoids and vitamin C, which reduce risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke
oranges: sweet and smell lovely, provides vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, reduces inflammation, and balances blood pressure
kale stems (leftovers from our delicious morning smoothies!): kale contains vitamins C and K, calcium, beta-carotene, and antioxidants
kale stems washed and saved for juicing
Sometimes, we add:
cucumbers: high water content/ more juice, provides vitamin K, copper, and calcium
red cabbage: provides vitamins C, K, and B6, potassium, fiber, manganese, as well as protective phytonutrients (polyphenols/ antioxidants)
We haven't been really successful with kale or spinach leaves, but some recipes call for them and they are delicious.  Also, small additions of ginger or lemon can brighten juice up as well.
To Juice:
- wash all fruits and vegetables and prepare (remove orange peels, nasty spots...) before juicing
- if your juicer has power levels, I suggest you juice according to your owner's manual's recommendations
- the amount you use will depend on the amount of juice you'd like to produce--experiment and go slowly to find your favorite combination
- ice cubes help make the juice more palatable for hesitant sippers!
fresh organic carrot juice in Danny's Buffalo, NY glass
fresh organic celery, kale (stalk), and cucumber juice in my nerdy Edgar Allan Poe glass
from Charlottesville, VA (where Poe attended and dropped out of UVA)
Now, have fun getting your juice on!

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