January 5, 2014

It was Love at First Juice. {Recipes}

It happened innocently, I swear.

“First it was the yoga, now it’s juicing,” my grandmother said, “Next thing ya know, you’ll be running a crystal shop in Sedona.”

Well, I got engaged in Sedona several years ago, so I think I’ve got that one covered already, but yes, first it was yoga and now I’m addicted to juicing, which actually is kind of yoga’s fault.

A few months ago, the studio where I practice yoga began selling locally made, cold-pressed, fresh juices and I resisted. I swear I did and mostly because the juices were eleven dollars a bottle and not for a very big bottle. I’m not criticizing that price. I know the amount of produce and labor that it takes to make the juice is expensive, but regardless of the reason for the cost, I can’t afford to indulge in too many eleven dollar bottles of juice. Still, the bottles beckoned. Their beautiful jewel tones, the exotic flavors and concentrated nutrients—I wanted them! One day I broke down and bought an eleven dollar bottle of juice. It was pretty much the most delicious and nourishing thing I had ever tasted.

Best eleven dollars I’ve ever spent, but it was gone so quickly!

Then I wanted more.

Pretty soon all I could think about was how I wanted another bottle of fancy, expensive, delicious, healthy juice. I was like a juice crazed maniac. I needed a solution.

Obviously, I should make my own juice, I thought.

Problem was I didn’t have a juicer. I have a great blender, but when I tried to make juice in it, I ended up with a very sludgy smoothie with a head of totally unappetizing, grainy, kale foam. Blech. Not what I was going for at all. I wanted the smooth, gulpable and easy to digest juice they sold at yoga. In other words, I wanted juice that didn’t need chewing. Some people like the chewing, but I don’t.

Luckily, the Universe intervened on my behalf or I like to think it did anyway because I’m pretty sure that juice is my destiny.

I’d mentioned to my mom that I wanted a juicer for Christmas but that I didn’t want to ask anyone for one because they were way too expensive and that I understood that everyone was on a tight budget this year.

“Oh, there’s one out in the garage,” my mother replied, nonchalantly.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Of course, your dad bought it a few years back, used it twice and lost interest. Please, take it.”

Knowing my dad, this was very plausible and when I thought back, yes, he had gone on a brief juicing kick, which had been preceded by his ear candling and coffee enema kicks, followed by a Bikram yoga and apple cider vinegar with oregano oil kick.

Look, I come by this stuff honestly. It’s in my genes. Maybe that Sedona crystal shop isn’t so far off after all.

I took the juicer from my parents garage. It sat there, dust-covered on a cluttered rack that could have been named The Island of Twice-Used, Fancy Kitchen Gadgets. Don’t worry deli slicer, slushy maker and complicated Japanese rice cooker! I’ll be back for you soon.

It was love at first juice.

Excited to use the thing, I cleaned it off and proceeded to juice the contents of my drawers: apples, oranges, carrots, a lonely beet, some celery, a lemon and a somewhat limp cucumber. Delicious!

I haven’t missed a day since. I juice every single day and it’s become a bit of a hobby and enriched my life in more ways than I could have imagined. I mean, I started off just wanting to drink some delicious juice and not have to pay a fortune for it, but I got so much more than that.

Juicing became a creative outlet—like cooking, but simpler and quicker and since I have an active three year old, simple and quick in the kitchen is a must.

Did I mention that said three year old loves my juice?

I’ve struggled with getting my daughter to eat vegetables, but in juice form she’s all over it, especially if I add a beet and make the juice pink. Seriously, the child will drink anything as long as I make it pink.

Through juicing, I’ve also made amends with kale. I hate kale. I know kale is the thing to eat right now. Kale has taken the Internet by storm. Kale is everywhere. It’s like the new bacon, although it’s pretty much the opposite of bacon. It’s like bacon’s backlash but that’s another story. I’ve found that while I cannot eat kale, that I can drink it! Try drinking bacon. Actually, don’t. Yuck. Definitely try drinking kale though.

I like to spread the love with my juice too. I’ve had a great time making specialized juice blends for my friends and I made big yummy mason jars of my favorite recipes as Christmas gifts. They were very well received.

Experimenting with what can and can not be juiced has been a blast. Prickly pears, papaya, parsnips? Sure! Radishes? Eh, they made a lot of juice but it tasted pretty funky. Beet greens didn’t work out so hot for me either, but the mint that grows in my yard is fantastic with pineapple and cucumber!

It’s been a couple months now and I’m still going strong. I’ve found my juicing groove, each morning starting off with a ginger lemonade I make with raw honey (and strawberries if it needs to be pink). Afternoons are for my fruit and veggie blends with lots of ginger and turmeric.

Sure, making the juice, being creative, giving it to my loved ones and getting my kid to happily consume her vegetables has been wonderful, but the benefits of juicing don’t stop there.

Strangers have begun to compliment my glowing skin and shiny hair. My hair has always been pretty shiny, but lately people seem to be noticing it more. I thank the juice.

My nails stopped breaking. I realized that I didn’t need the steroid eye drops I take for an autoimmune condition anymore because my eye didn’t hurt! Not only that, my joints weren’t aching. Without realizing it, I gave up my afternoon coffee. That happened fairly quickly, and I just noticed that for the past week or so, I haven’t wanted my customary cup of Earl Grey in the morning either. I don’t need caffeine anymore! I have better stamina in yoga and my painful menstrual cramps were nonexistent this month. That may be TMI, but if you suffer from painful periods, you know what a big deal that is.

I’m hooked on juicing and can’t imagine life without it now. It’s easy, fun, meditative even. I feel great, look better and I love knowing that I’m preparing something nutritious for myself, my family and my friends. If you invest in one fancy kitchen gadget, absolutely let it be a juicer, and no, you don’t need the five hundred dollar one that Gwyneth Paltrow uses. There are plenty of affordable juicers out there. Maybe even in your parents’ garage.

Since I can’t bring each and every one of you a mason jar of yumminess, I’ll share a couple of my favorite recipes with you right here.

Strawberry Ginger Lemonade

2 peeled lemons

1 pear

10 strawberries (cut off the green part)

1 to 2 inch chunk of ginger to taste (I like it spicy)

Raw honey to taste

Filtered water

Juice the fruit and ginger. Stir in raw honey and filtered water (I usually make it in a mason jar and fill with water to the top) to taste. Chill, shake well and enjoy!

Cucumber, Pineapple, Mint Juice

2 cucumbers

2 cups of pineapple chunks

Handful of fresh spearmint (about 1/2 cup, eyeball it)

1/2 lemon peeled (optional, but I like it tart)

Victoria’s Afternoon Blend

1/2 cucumber

1 apple

4 carrots

1/2 beetroot

1 cup pineapple chunks

1 cup chopped kale leaves

1/4 fennel bulb

1 small, peeled lemon

1 inch chunk of ginger

1 inch chunk of fresh, raw turmeric root

Juice into a jar, stir well and drink up!


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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo: elephant journal archives


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