You may already know that I'm a big fan of smoothies. Drinking a glass of smoothie is such a simple way to consume a ton of vegetables, and that's what I'm trying to do every day. But my latest obsession is juicing. I have myself made a glass of deliciousness pretty much every day since getting a juicer a couple of weeks ago.
I kind of wanted to get a juicer for some time already, but always put it off because I thought it is a pretty big investment. Besides, because I have never been a big juice drinker, a juicer it wasn't anything I absolutely needed to have.
Couple of weeks ago I eventually decided to put couple of Amazon gift cards that I had in a good use and get some kitchen necessities. I don't like shopping otherwise, but I love to spend money on three things: Books, workout equipment and kitchen tools.
After doing a little research on the juicers out there, here's what I bought: Hamilton Beach Juice Extractor. The price and the reviews were good, so I went with it. I've been really happy with it thus far. It's fast, it doesn't take too much room in my small kitchen and it's pretty easy to clean.
Juice or Smoothie?
Both juices and smoothies are healthy and easy to make. Even if this drink is your only veggie packed meal / drink a day, you are done something awesome for your health.
But there are some differences between juices and smoothies:
- By juicing, you remove the insoluble fiber (pulp) from your drink. Pulp is all the small veggie and fruit pieces that are left in the juicer. Of course, we need to get fiber with our food, because it keeps the stomach full longer and also slows down the absorption of sugar. But not having fiber in your drink makes it easier to absorb the other nutrients from veggies.
- By making a smoothie, you simply blend the ingredients and drink them all – there will be nothing left. A smoothie comes with all the insoluble fiber.
- Because of the fiber, smoothies are more filling. You can actually drink one as a meal and be full for hours. Juices are lighter and I can't really see myself having only a glass of juice as a meal. It's not as satiating as a smoothie.
- You need a great amount of veggies for both juice and smoothie, but you definitely need more for a juice. You can put 3 large handfuls of spinach, half of a banana and some berries in a blender and get a nice glass of smoothie. For a glass of juice, you need way more, especially leafy greens – 3 handfuls of leaves gives you just a little bit of juice.
- In a smoothie, you can use softer, “blendable” fruits and veggies, but not root veggies. That's what I love about juices – I can make them with beets, carrots, apples and celery. There are still a ton of other veggies to try out.
- In a smoothie, you can use softer fruits like bananas or avocados. But don't put them into your juice extractor.
- When I'm making a smoothie, I like it a bit sweet, so I usually add one of these ingredients: Dates, more banana, protein powder or stevia. But I don't care whether my juice is sweet or not, so there is no need to add anything to them. That's just a personal preference.
- Juicing is a little messier – cleaning up can be a bit more work than washing the blender.
- Having said all that – Both juices and smoothies are really tasty and healthy if you make them right!
What to Put Into a Juice
Compared to smoothies, you can put a greater variety of fruits and veggies into a juice. However, just like with smoothies, I would emphasize veggies and use less of fruit. I would aim for 3:1 ratio – 3 parts of veggies, 1 fruit.
Note that also some root veggies are pretty rich in sugar. Beets and carrots taste awesome, but they are sweet. Just like with smoothies, leafy greens and other green veggies should dominate in juices as well. It takes a lot of leafy greens to get a small amount of juice, so be ready to have a huge bag in hand if you are going to juice them.
Try experimenting with these green veggies:
Celery, cucumber, zuccini, various cabbages (also red cabbage).
I have still not tried too many colorful veggies, but here's what I'm looking forward to try: Bell peppers (remove the seeds), tomatoes (I hear that homemade tomato juice tastes heavenly!), turnips, parsnips and even sweet potatos.
Don't put soft fruits like bananas or avocados into a juice. They are perfect for blending though.
You Don't Have To Go On a Cleanse to Get the Health Benefits of Juicing
It's a common belief that to start drinking homemade juices, you have to go on a cleanse and only drink juices for thirty days.
Sure, you can do it if you want to, but it's absolutely not necessary! Those cleanses can turn out pretty intense and extreme if you are used to eat solid foods like most of us are. Going on a juice cleanse cold turkey leaves you hungry and hangry and instead of learning to love juices, you may end up hating them because you really miss your solid food.
I think that if you get a nice glass of juice (or smoothie) once a day, you have already done a lot for your health. That's not to say that you should have junk food for the rest of the day, but you have provided your body with ton of vitamins.
So, don't think that the only way to drink your juice is to go a diet or cleanse. Let your daily juice be one part – a very heathy one – of your diet.
Juicing is great. Whenever I'm drinking a homemade juice, I can pretty much feel the energy flowing. I love to have my juice in the morning so it sets a healthy tone to my whole day, but a glass of refreshing and healthy juice is good any time of the day. Once you make your own juice, you never want to go back to store bought stuff again.
Your turn: Juice or smoothie?
Me: Both. If I need something more filling, I go with a smoothie. Smoothie can also be a nice dessert. But otherwise, it's juice.