The day after I gave birth to my second child at home, my father-in-law brought over his juicer and a box full of delicious produce—beets, carrots, greens, apples and I am not exactly sure what else.
He worked quite a while in the kitchen and then handed me a glass of thick, dark red juice. Of course I was tired, famished and quite thirsty from labour.
I had never had a drink like this before! Not only was it incredibly delicious, but it felt like it was saturating my cells with pure goodness and energy.
That was the first of four glasses of fresh juice that I had that day—I just couldn't get enough!
At the time, I didn't know much about juicing or the benefits of fresh juice, but now I do and I want to share it with you.
I don't know a lot about juicers, as I have only ever tried one. The one I have is a heavy duty, powerful juicer called the Omega 2004. I am very happy with it, even though it is pricey ($300).
I definitely recommend it—I can throw a large, whole carrot, fresh from the garden, in without any problems!
There are many health benefits that come from juicing fresh produce. Juice provides:
Antioxidants and phytochemicals, which can help fight against cancer and eliminate toxins;
An easily digestible form of nutrition;
Vitamins and minerals the body needs for increasing immunity and aiding general health;
Nutrition from peels, seeds and leaves, which we don't usually consume.
I have juiced broccoli, Brussels sprouts leaves and broccoli flowers from my garden, which I wouldn't have otherwise consumed.
They are just as nutritious as the rest of the plant! You can also use skins from citrus fruits, which are absolutely packed with vitamin C and other nutrients;
An excellent snack or meal that is filling and satisfying. This can replace one meal/day for those looking to lose weight;
A digestive aid, especially when taken first thing in the morning before any other food.
If you try this, give your digestive system a complete break and refrain from eating for at least an hour or two after your juice.
This can help cleanse your system, especially your intestines/digestive tract, and again is helpful in weight loss.
So what should you juice, especially in our Yukon winters when good produce is few and far between?
I have been experimenting with freezing my more hearty garden greens, such as beet greens and broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts leaves, for juicing purposes (for some reason, I haven't had luck with spinach leaves, though).
I find they do not juice in a frozen state, but if left to thaw, they will juice fine.
It's worth experimenting with these frozen greens and your own juicer—the more you can get out of your garden year-round, the better!
I use lots of my garden's carrots and beets that I have stored in sand in our crawl space, and they juice just fine, too.
I have also purchased large cases of B.C. apples in the fall that I store in my crawl space for use throughout the winter. You can juice any produce really, especially with a good juicer.
I do recommend adding some fruit to your juices for flavour, especially if you are trying to get your kids to drink it. It's a good way to sneak in their daily quota of greens.
They can also help with the process—our kids think it's great!
As for the fibre that is left behind from your juicer, you can use it in soups, loaves, fruit leathers, salsas and more. A good source of recipes is http://www.all-about-juicing.com/juicer-pulp-recipes.html.
I would caution you, though: if you are juicing daily, or close to, keep in mind the "dirty dozen" list of fruits and vegetables.
Because producing a glass of juice takes so many pieces of produce, you could be concentrating toxins into your glass if you are using fruits and vegetables that contain pesticides or other chemicals.
I suggest using as many organic vegetables as possible and avoiding the "dirty dozen" (unless you can find them in organic form).
See the list of the "dirty dozen" at http://ca.shine.yahoo.com/blogs/healthy-living/2012-dirty-dozen-plus-clean-15-buying-organic-000700620.html.
Another thing to keep in mind is fibre. The indigestible fibre that aids our digestive process and eliminates waste/toxins is mostly discarded by juicing. So keep consuming fresh fruits and vegetables in whole form daily, even if you are juicing, and use the pulp as often as you can.
Consider buying a juicer or at least trying one out if you know someone who has one.
Juice, juice, wonderful juice, as my family would say!
Amoree Briggs lives in the Yukon countryside with her family and has just completed her diploma in holistic nutrition.