Remember this guy?
That’s right, friends. I am now the proud owner of the Jack Lalanne Power Juicer, thanks to Alex’s dad who graciously donated it with instructions to pursue a new avenue of food and cooking on my blog. And pursue I will! So far Alex and I have successfully used it twice. Yes, I was a bit skeptical at first and wondered whether it would be worth the extra effort (particularly in cleaning all the darn parts!). But with the small amount of research I’ve managed to do so far, I do believe I am well on my way to becoming a juice freak.
Our first attempt came after Alex’s league soccer match Sunday morning. I was hoping for something refreshing and energy-restoring, so the first juice we made was called Pink Pear:
– 2 pears (we used Bartletts)
– a handful of raspberries (ours were frozen)
– a handful of strawberries (fresh)
Here’s all the ingredients ready to get whizzed up:
And here’s the beautiful juice it made:
(It made 2 glasses). Lovely, right? And it tasted delicious–so fresh! But did it satisfy my craving for something salty and crunchy after being outside watching soccer all morning? Not really. Obviously I don’t consider myself a good candidate for juice fasting.
The thing about fresh juice is you have to drink it right away in order to take advantage of the vitality of all the vitamins and minerals. Don’t even think about storing it in the fridge or a thermos for later! (Okay, but if you’re a renegade, be sure to squeeze some lemon juice into it first to help preserve the flavor). So we gulped ours down. And then faced this catastrophe:
TEN separate things to wash (not all pictured here) just for a glass of juice?!? Whoa now. I see why these appliances often become dust magnets in the back of kitchen cabinets all over the country. Any quick search on a health discussion forum will bring up strings of complaints about the hassle of cleaning a juicer.
While I still wrestled with this question, I started doing some more reading about the benefits of juicing, and found myself asking another question: why expend all this effort juicing fruits and veggies when you could just eat them whole and/or raw? I mean, the Power Juicer extracts the froth and juice on one side, and the pulp and fibrous material on the other side. What is so special about this elixir called juice that I have to submit my poor fruits and vegetables to the centrifuge in order to get to it?
Luckily, Elaine Lalanne had some answers for me. Here’s a list of benefits that I’ve found most helpful so far from her book Total Juicing (Remember, I’m not a doctor, these are not recommendations, and drastic dietary changes or considerations should be discussed with your physician, not with me.):
1. Supplement what you’re already doing: Lalanne says that juicing helps your body absorb the unadulterated, unaltered vitamins and nutrients from the fruits and veggies you eat. But juicing is not necessarily meant to take the place of a meal.
2. Juice – it does a body good: Among other benefits, daily juicing provides fluid to cells and flushes toxins from them; it also replaces expended vitamins and minerals while building a store of them to be called upon as needed by the body.
3. Give your digestive system a break: In answer to my second question about why juice instead of just eating the fruit or vegetable itself in raw form? Lalanne says that pure juice gives the body faster access to the vitamins and minerals the juice contains. In other words, the stomach will use less of the body’s total energy than it would if it had to digest raw foods, while still benefiting from maximum efficiency in nutrient absorption.
4. So fresh and so clean, clean: It turns out that fresh juice is incredibly vulnerable. Even just half an hour after juicing, all the good stuff seems to greatly diminish. So when you think about it, juices that you buy by the bottle or jug at the store are not like those commercials where you reach out and someone hands you a carton fresh from the orange groves. They have to contain some amount of preservatives or have undergone significant pasteurization in an attempt to salvage even the slightest amount of nutrients for a lengthy shelf life. That, or they don’t contain that much actual juice to begin with and make up for it with sugars, high fructose corn syrup, and other “natural flavors.” Either way, it becomes clear that fresh juices pack way more power for the punch.
5. Economic advantage: I mentioned earlier that my Power Juicer produces both the fresh juice and the pulp. Lalanne encourages saving the pulp to help thicken sauces, salsas, and soups or to serve as fillings to pies, cakes, and breads. In this way one can use the entire fruit, not just its juice. (So far my pulp has only made it to the compost, but eventually I may come up with a pulp-saving system).
And as I got to thinking about it, slowing down to enjoy my glass of juice reflected a lifestyle choice: one that values a do-it-myself and do-it-right approach to real food, using all the parts of a food that I can, and seeking out fresh, healthy ingredients. I value making my own bread because I can control the ingredients, and I know it’s fresh. Why should juice making be any different?
So I can’t say that we’ll enjoy fresh juice every day. Right now we’re shooting for a couple times a week, maybe more as cold season kicks in and our immune systems need a boost. But overall, juicing has been a thoroughly positive experience. I look forward to seeing what other adventures we’ll have with this crazy machine, particularly as I try to sneak some vegetables into the juices without Alex noticing!
Oh and if you’re wondering where we’re keeping this would-be bulky appliance, I found a space for it in one of the cabinets under the island. I can just place it carefully on the island and plug it in when I’m ready to use it.
We’re curious to know what your experiences with fresh juices might be. Do you (or did you) own a juicer? Do you have one that hasn’t seen the light of day in ages? Are you perhaps re-inspired to give it whirl? Or maybe you think juicing is a hoax or fad? Why don’t you squeeze something out in the form of a comment?