I share a lot of recipes for smoothies and juices, so I want to take the time to tell you how I got hooked, and give you some tips for both. Five years ago, I was like most people at the store. I bought what I thought was healthy, but most of it was boxed, canned, bagged, or frozen. I worked in the finance field, had a husband who traveled, and was just looking for the easiest and fastest way to feed myself. Then we found out I was pregnant, and I became more interested in diet and nutrition than I ever thought possible. I wanted to learn if what I was eating could be helping or hurting her growth while I was pregnant. I was constantly digging for more information, when a friend recommended The China Study. Once I started reading it, there was no putting it down. The information was so interesting and related to so many health problems, such as cancer and heart disease, I have seen in my family. My diet gradually started changing, less meat, less dairy, and more vegetables.
Then about a year after reading the book, I happened to walk into Whole Foods during a Vitamix demo. I think I stood there for about 30 minutes listening, tasting every thing she made, and quizzing her on nutrition. While the lady hosting the demo was knowledgeable, and well spoken, it didn’t take much to sell that machine. I watched her make a green smoothie, and clean it in about 3 minutes. I had a little one at that time, so anything that could be done in 3 minutes sounded good to me! And she was adding spinach, kale, cabbage, and so on, into these smoothies and they were delicious! Not only in taste but in texture. Far above and beyond the blender I had at the time. So into my shopping cart went the Vitamix. I noticed an immediate change in my grocery cart after the purchase. I was buying twice as much spinach as I was before, started buying kale for the first time, cabbage on a regular basis, and more fruit than ever! And the trend continued, less meat, and almost no diary. I easily added an extra serving or two of fruit and vegetables to my diet a day, and also to my little one’s diet!
Then another year after that, about two years ago, I started hearing about juicing. I did some reading and just as easy as it was to sell me the Vitamix, I was sold on a juicer. My Omega J8006 is the best, and if you are considering a juicer, I would look at that model. It is a masticating juicer, meaning it presses the juice out using a single auger and not a high speed motor. It takes longer to make the juice but it will last longer and is more nutritious. After I had the juicer at home I noticed an even wider variety of vegetables in my cart. Beets are almost always in there, celery, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, and lots of apples. If an apple a day really keeps the doctor away, I’m set for life. :)
One big difference in the blender and juicer is the price. The Omega J8006 is about $300, and a Vitamix is about $450. Yes, pricey, but they are the most used appliances in my house! It is because of the Vitamix blender and the Omega juicer that I get all the colors of the rainbow in my diet every day! Even my 2 and 4 year old have raw spinach, kale, beets, carrots, and celery on a daily basis. I think both Vitamix and Omega are the best at what they do. I get asked a lot, if you had to choose just one to buy, which would it be? Talk about a hard question because I use them both almost every day!! But, I think for most people the Vitamix is something you will use more often. I use it to make hummus, soup, sauces, salad dressing, fresh nut butter, and smoothies. It’s easier to clean the Vitamix; you just put a little soap and water in it, turn it on, and the blending cleans it for you. But I don’t think you can go wrong with either, it’s just what makes the most sense for you.
Tips for making green smoothies:
- If you are using frozen fruit, do not add ice. Using frozen fruit, and no ice, will give the smoothies a thicker consistency, close to that of a milkshake.
- Be sure to peel bananas before freezing them. That is a great way to use bananas that are about to go bad, or any other fruit!
- If you are using a lot of frozen ingredients, you may need extra liquid added.
- If you do not like bananas or do not have any on hand, you can sub with avocado, nuts, or nut butter. The bananas are in smoothies for texture more than flavor most of the time.
- If you do not have a Vitamix (Blend-Tec or other other high-powered blender), try adding liquid, greens, and seeds or nuts first. Once those are well blended add the rest of the ingredients.
- If you are just starting out with green smoothies start with less greens than the recipe calls for, and slowly increase the amount. I like kale and spinach the best. It is important to mix up the greens, so be sure to try new ones. Romaine, swiss chard, or even dandelion greens are all good options.
- Barlean’s Omega Swirl line is AMAZING in smoothies! They have a wide variety of flavors and add lots of important omega 3′s and will also help sweeten the smoothies.
- Chia seeds are a great thing to add to smoothies for added nutrition. They break down easily, have little to no taste, and provide lots of fiber, protein, calcium, iron, and omega-3′s.
- Use smoothies to clean out your refrigerator before a shopping trip. That’s often how I come up with new smoothie recipes! I don’t want any of the produce and herbs to go to waste.
- If you have leftovers, pour in popsicle molds and freeze for popsicles!
- They are great packed with school lunches!
- When you are juicing, you should try to avoid making juices that only have fruit. Since you are removing the soluble fiber the high sugar amounts will spike your blood sugar. When you get the fiber along with the natural fructose it helps maintain healthy levels.
- Since juicing does remove soluble fiber the body more easily absorbs the nutrition in the juice.
- When you are making juice it removes the pulp. You can add some of that back in and it will add fiber to the juice.
- When you juice melons you need to consume immediately. Other juices will last up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
- Add the firmer items, like beets, apples, and carrots, last so they can help clean out anything that gets stuck in the juicer.
- Juicing takes more time than blending a smoothie but you can help cut down on the time but cleaning, chopping, and bagging the ingredients together the night before. Then in the morning it’s all ready to go!
- Juice any produce that is about to go bad, or before you go out of town, and freeze it. You could freeze in popsicle molds or ice cube trays, then use the ice cubes to flavor water or in a smoothie.
- Apples and pear oxidize quickly, so juice them with some lemon to help slow the process.
- Garlic, Onion, and Ginger go a long way when juicing. Start with very small amounts and add more if needed.
- Before doing a juice fast, consult a doctor.