Last year, Kim Wilcox and his wife, Tamara, were flipping TV channels when they stumbled on a movie with an attention-grabbing title: “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.” The 2010 documentary follows Australian entrepreneur Joe Cross as he reboots his health with a 60-day fruit and vegetable juice fast.
After watching it, the Wilcoxes bought a juicer and stocked their fridge with produce. They started juicing for breakfast and lunch on weekdays but continued eating whatever they wanted for dinner and on weekends.
The couple loved the energy boost they got from all that nutrient-dense juice, but they didn’t want their friends to think they were hard-core health nuts.
“We initially hid (the juicer) when our friends came over,” says Kim Wilcox, “but after a few months, we came out of the closet and put the juicer on the kitchen counter.”
A few years back, juicing was associated with people on strict raw food diets. But recently, it has spilled into the mainstream, thanks in part to documentaries, kale-sipping celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and many new books filled with recipes for juice blends that you can make at home. Juice bars have become about as common as coffee shops.
Just don’t overdo it on the fruit, warns registered dietitian Kodi Watson.
“You wouldn’t sit down and eat three oranges, four stalks of celery, an apple and three bananas,” Watson says. “When you juice all of that, you’re getting concentrated sugar and no fiber.”
Once you get a taste for fresh juice — which is often less sweet and more opaque than the stuff on grocery shelves — bump up the vegetable-to-fruit ratio by adding savory selections such as celery, kale, cucumber and spinach.
Watson suggests making green juice even more satisfying by blending it into a smoothie with ice, Greek yogurt, protein powder, peanut butter, flax or chia seeds. She says those ingredients add protein and healthy fats that make you feel fuller longer.
The dietitian doesn’t recommend long-term juice fasts because she says they lack calories, fiber, protein and healthy fats. The lesson: You don’t have to drink juice for 60 consecutive days to reap the health benefits of juicing, which, at its core, is just another way to replace processed meals with fresh vegetables and fruit.
Take it from Kim Wilcox, who says he and his wife now crave their spinach-loaded smoothies more than fast-food cheeseburgers: “We feel better when we eat better.”
Books on juicing
Want more info on juicing? Check out the health or cookbook section of your local library or bookstore: Chances are, they’re overflowing with books on the juicing trend. Here are a few that debuted this year.
- “The Juice Generation: 100 Recipes for Fresh Juices and Superfood Smoothies,” by Eric Helms with Amely Greeven (Touchstone 2014)
- “The Reboot With Joe Juice Diet: Lose Weight, Get Healthy and Feel Amazing,” by Joe Cross (Greenleaf Book Group Press 2014)
- “Superfood Juices: 100 Delicious, Energizing &Nutrient-Dense Recipes,” by Julie Morris (Sterling 2014)
- “Juice: Recipes for Juicing, Cleansing, and Living Well,” by Carly de Castro, Hedi Gores and Hayden Slater (Ten Speed Press 2014)
- “Best 100 Juices for Kids: Totally Yummy, Awesomely Healthy, &Naturally Sweetened Homemade Alternatives to Soda Pop, Sports Drinks &Expensive Bottled Juices,” by Jessica Fisher (Harvard Common Press 2014)
1 large raw red beet
2 Golden Delicious apples
1/2-inch piece fresh ginger
With its sweet, earthy flavor and bright red color, this juice is a fun way to start the day. Process all the ingredients in a juicer and drink immediately.
Makes 1 serving. Per serving: 169 calories (4 percent from fat), 1 g total fat (trace saturated fat), no cholesterol, 38 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 76 mg sodium, 8 g dietary fiber.
Source: “The Medicinal Chef: Eat Your Way to Better Health” (Sterling 2013)
I Yam What I Yam
3 large carrots
2 medium orange sweet potatoes
1 medium navel orange
1 medium lime
1/4-1/2 inch slice fresh ginger
It might sound strange to juice a raw sweet potato, but when you mix the bright orange juice with fresh citrus, it’s a revelation.
Trim the carrots. Peel the sweet potatoes, and cut the orange and lime in half.
Juice the carrots, sweet potatoes and ginger according to the directions on your juicing machine.
For a larger yield of juice and less waste, juice the orange and lime with a citrus juicer or reamer. (If you prefer, you can juice them in the juicing machine. Peel the fruit, if desired, prior to juicing.)
Pour the two juices into a pitcher, and whisk to combine. Add water to taste if you prefer a milder juice.
Makes 2 servings. Per serving: 224 calories (3 percent from fat), 1 g total fat (trace saturated fat), no cholesterol, 54 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein, 56 mg sodium, 9 g dietary fiber.
Source: “Best 100 Juices for Kids: Totally Yummy, Awesomely Healthy, &Naturally Sweetened Alternatives to Soda Pop, Sports Drinks, &Expensive Bottled Juices” (Harvard Common Press 2014)
2 cups cubed honeydew melon
2 cups cubed cantaloupe
2 or 3 sprigs fresh mint
This refreshing juice tastes like summer in a glass. It’s fairly sweet, so it’s a great pick for kids and those who are new to juicing.
Juice the honeydew, cantaloupe and mint according to the directions on your juicing machine. Whisk to combine. Add water to taste if you prefer a milder juice.
Makes 2 servings. Per serving: 126 calories (3 percent from fat), trace total fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 32 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 35 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber.
Source: “Best 100 Juices for Kids” (Harvard Common Press 2014)
10 celery stalks
1 romaine lettuce heart
3 large kale leaves
1/2 bunch fresh parsley
1/2 lemon, juiced
Expert juicers will love this veggie-heavy green juice. Not sweet enough? Add an apple.
Juice the celery, romaine, kale and parsley, and stir in the lemon juice.
Makes 2 servings. Per serving: 58 calories (8 percent from fat), trace total fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 11 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 188 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber.
Source: “Superfood Juices: 100 Delicious, Energizing &Nutrient-Dense Recipes” (Sterling 2014)
Hail to Kale
1 cup kale
1 cup watermelon cubes
1 medium apple
1/2 medium lemon, peeled
You can’t taste the kale in this juice blend, which is a best-seller at the Juice Generation, a popular chain of fresh juice bars in New York City.
Makes 1 serving. Per serving: 202 calories (8 percent from fat), 2 g total fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 42 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein, 33 mg sodium, 6 g dietary fiber.
Source: “The Juice Generation: 100 Recipes for Fresh Juices and Superfood Smoothies” (Touchstone 2014)