Choosing a juicer
Compared to blenders, juicers are designed to separate the liquids of fruits and vegetables from their fibrous pulp. There are two basic types of high-speed juicers: centrifugal juciers and masticating (cold-pressed) juicers.
Centrifugal juicers separate juice from pulp as they are pressed down onto a spinning blade. In some centrifugal juicers, the pulp is collected in a bucket until it is removed. In other types, a pulp ejector ejects pulp into a side container during the juicing process. The latter is recommended for more heavy-duty juicing as it is suited to juice a larger quantity at a time, without having to stop and remove pulp in order to continue.
Masticating (cold-pressed) juicers
Masticating juicers masticate fruits and vegetables at high speeds, creating a paste of pulp and juice. The juice is then squeezed out from the paste through a screen. The Norwalk Juice Press is one of the most revered masticating juicers in the market.
In general, centrifugal juicers are more affordable, produce juice more quickly and easier to clean up than masticating juicers. However their high spin and heat build-up leads to greater loss of nutritional value. It is also less effective in juicing greens. Masticating juicers operate more slowly, heat the juice less, retain more nutrients and give greater output. Investing in a good juicer is equivalent to a health insurance; thus masticating juicers are recommended and is worth their hefty price tag.
Preparing produce for juicing & smoothing
Choose S.L.O.W. ingredients
Use seasonal, local, organic and whole fruits and vegetables in prime condition for optimum nutritional value. Avoid overripe produce which tends to produce excess pulp and clog the juicer, in addition to having less nutrients than properly ripened produce. What you get from your juice or smoothie is only as nutritious as what you put in.
Wash all produce thoroughly before juicing or blending
This is done to remove dirt, residues and pesticides on non-organic produce. For root vegetables, use a brush to scrub the skins. For fruits and leafy greens, use a 100% natural homemade or commercial produce spray. Even for produce with skins such as mangoes, it is important to wash the produce well to minimize transfer of microbes on the exterior to the fruit or vegetable when it is cut. Always inspect for bruises, molds, or other damage to the skin and remove such areas from the produce.
K.I.S.S. your veggies
Keep ingredients short and simple and veggie-heavy, refraining from using too many fruits in your juice or smoothie. Especially for juices, as juicing removes the fiber from fruits and vegetables, any sugar in the juice hits the bloodstream quick. A fruit-laden juice can cause energy highs and lows and mood swings. A good ratio for juice is 75 percent vegetables and 25 percent fruits. An ideal ratio for smoothies is 40 percent greens and 60 percent fruit. For the fruit component in smoothies, try to incorporate at least two fruits: a sweet, soluble fiber-rich fruit such as banana, mango, and ripe pears, and a dark-colored anthocyanin-rich fruit such as acai pulp, berries and pink pitaya. Fruits high in insoluble fiber such as apples and pineapple does not dissolve well in water and tend to produce a gritty mouthfeel. The trick to an unctuous delicious smoothie is to find the right balance between insoluble fibrous greens, soluble fiber-rich fruits and color.
Too many extra add-ins or multiple types of fats and proteins can slow down digestion and interfere with assimilation of nutrients. Personally, I usually use one or two overt fat for creaminess and body in smoothies (avocado, young coconut meat, butter or milk of soaked nuts and seeds, flax, chia), and keep the amount to 2 tablespoons per 16 oz smoothie.
Rotating greens is important to avoid accumulation of alkaloids, nitrates and oxalate eaten from the same plant frequently. Oxalates are known as chelating-poisons that bind to minerals, particularly calcium, and potentially cause calcium deficiency or kidney stones. High oxalate vegetables include spinach and kale and high nitrate vegetables include beet greens and tops of root vegetables.
Save the stems, discard the pits
Save the stems of hardy vegetables like kale and broccoli, which contain surprising amounts of water and also usually rich in nutrients. Remove the pits from fruits that contain pits, such as plums and peaches, before they are placed in the juicer. Otherwise, it may damage the juicer.
Use the outer skins of citrus fruits with caution
The rinds of citrus fruits such as grapefruits, lemons, limes and oranges should not be juiced or blended, or only used sparingly because of their bitter taste.
Plan your drink menu in advance and organize make-ahead single-serving bags. Place cleaned and chopped fruits and vegetables in ziploc bags. Label clearly with a marker the name and any additional ingredients you need to add upon preparation of the drink e.g. liquids and supplemental powders. For juicing, store the bags in the refrigerator, leaving them unsealed so the produce can breathe. Keep in mind ethylene-producing fruits that can speed up decay of vegetables in proximity; you will want to store them separately. For smoothing, the bags can be stored in the refrigerator. Fruits that freeze well are: avocado, banana, berries, figs, kiwi, mango, peaches, pineapple. Freezing fruits and greens has minimal effect on the nutritional value and adds a delicious creaminess and chill.
Cut and dice produce to the right size
Cut your produce to portions that fit easily into the opening of your juicer. Do not overstuff the opening of the juicer and attempt to juice too much produce at once. Doing so can produce unnecessary wear and tear on the juicer’s blade and motor and cause damage.
Pre- and post-run your juicer
Before juicing, run the juicer for ten seconds so that the blade is at full speed when it receives the fruits and vegetables. After juicing, continue to run the juicer for another half minute to ensure all juice that has been extracted runs off into your juice container. Allow your juicer to come to a complete stop before disassembly.
Layer from soft to hard
Pour in liquid first, then layer from softest ingredients (greens) to hardest (frozen ingredients). This method places less stress on the motor and avoids overheating.
Go from low to high
Start from lowest speed and work up to highest speed once the blend smooths out.
Try not to overblend or it will risk oxidation and nutrient loss. Ideally the smoothie should be done in 60 to 90 seconds.
Drinking and storing your blends
Drink on an empty stomach
Drink juices or smoothies at least twenty to thirty minutes before main meals or one hour after eating. Mixing pre-digested juices with undigested food can result in fermentation in the digestive tract and cause bloating and other discomforts.
20 minute rule
Ideally, it is best to drink freshly pressed juices within twenty minutes as the juice loses its nutritional value the longer it sits due to oxidation.
Chew your drink
Juices and smoothies are essentially a potent mixture of predigested nutrients. As such it is best to drink them slowly and fully enjoy each sip, while allowing the body to assimilate the nutrients.
Storing excess juice or smoothies
Store excess juice and smoothies in an air-tight glass container with minimal airspace to reduce oxidation. The maximum shelf-life in the refrigerator for fresh-pressed juices and smoothes is two days. Beyond that time, very little of the nutrients of juice or smoothie remain, beyond calories and some mineral content. Depending on the ingredients of your drink, water separation may occur; simply give a good shake before drinking.
Track your recipes
If you experience bloating, look out for food combining.
Clean your juicer and blender soon after using to prevent opportunistic microorganisms from settling on the remnants. Disassemble the parts, rinse thoroughly of the pulp and wash as you would any other food utensil. If pressed for time, rinse thoroughly and soak in water before cleaning up at a later time.
Repurposing juice pulp
Add to soups and other dishes
Bring it to your garden