At the beginning of 2011, I dusted off my parents’ old vegetable juicer that had been sitting dormant in their basement for about ten years. After reading a number of books about veganism and the magic of juicing, I figured it was time to try it. My dad and I cleaned off his commercial Champion juicer and decided to put it back into action. We made a trip to Whole Foods and picked out organic produce to put through the machine (it’s important to only juice organic fruits and veggies so the pesticides don’t get in your juice and then in you). After two months of juicing, we have juiced the following fruits and vegetables: cucumber, celery, fennel, broccoli stalks, kale, romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce, Boston red lettuce, green bell pepper, spinach, tomato, carrot, apple, pear, and lemon – not all in the same juice of course! I try to mix and match but pretty much always use cucumbers and celery as a base.
I am amazed at the health benefits of drinking vegetable juice and will share a few:
Easier and faster nutrient absorption. Juicing helps you absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables which is important because most of us have impaired digestion as a result of making less-than-optimal food choices over many years. Juicing allows the body to quickly absorb larger amounts of nutrients because the process of digestion that is necessary when you eat whole food is bypassed.
Optimal amount and variety of vegetable consumption. If you tend to eat a lot of carbohydrates, you should eat one pound of raw vegetables per 50 pounds of body weight per day. Some people may find eating that many vegetables difficult, but it can be easily accomplished with a quick glass of vegetable juice. Juicing also allows you to add a wider variety of vegetables to your diet. Many people eat the same vegetable salads every day. This violates the principle of regular food rotation and increases your chance of developing an allergy to a certain food. But with juicing, you can juice a wide variety of vegetables that you may not normally enjoy eating whole.
Enhanced immune system. Juicing also ensures that the body is getting sufficient amounts of phytochemicals, substances in plants that are considered among the most powerful ways to fight disease. In addition, antioxidants and other immune enhancing properties are concentrated in juices. Drinking juice recipes regularly is going to give you a wide variety and more than adequate amount of antioxidants which are essential for a healthy immune system.
Increased metabolic rate. Enzymes in fresh fruits and vegetables have the vital role of converting food into body tissue and energy. Enzymes are also involved in metabolism, so one of the more valuable health benefits of juicing is that it can increase metabolic rate.
Juicing is a process – I don’t recommend starting with “hard to drink” veggies like kale, collard greens, or mustard greens. If you are new to juicing, I recommend starting with vegetables that are easy to digest in juice form: celery, fennel, and cucumbers. Also start by drinking smaller amounts of juice at one time (try 8 ounces) to prevent you from getting nauseous or turned off from the juice. When you are ready to tackle more vegetables, try lettuce (red leaf, green, and romaine), spinach, cabbage, and bok choy. You might then try adding herbs to your juice, like parsley or cilantro. Once you are a pro juicer, try those “hard to drink” veggies that I mentioned above – they are unbelievably good for you.
Juicing is best first thing in the morning but I seem to consistently juice late afternoon as more of juice-snack. I’ve read that it’s best to separate juice consumption and food consumption so I usually don’t eat solid foods an hour before or after I drink juice. For healthy juicing, I recommend juicing three vegetables to one fruit to minimize sugar intake (carrots count as a fruit with this rule since they are higher in sugar than other veggies).
Here is my go-to juice recipe:
Green Juice Recipe
(makes about 16 ounces)
- 2 organic cucumbers
- 2-3 organic celery stalks
- 3 romaine lettuce leaves
- 2 organic kale leaves
- 1 Macintosh apple, pear, or 2-3 carrots
- ¼ lemon
Making vegetable juice is almost impossible to do while traveling since you need a vegetable juicer (or a blender) and fresh produce. Vegetable juice isn’t great to store or pack either since the nutrients will be the most beneficial right after the vegetables or fruits are juiced. So if you are a business traveler, and are interested in drinking juices on the road, I would recommend finding a local restaurant or café that has a commercial juicer and serves vegetable juice. When you do get a break from the road, I highly recommend doing some juicing at home – your body will thank you for it!