Do you want to make juice but all you have is a blender? There are lots of opinions out there about juicing vs. blending, which veggies are better for each technique and whether one method is truly healthier. We've recruited Magen Banwart, NYC fitness guru, to help us debunk some of those juicy myths. Which is better for you? Cheaper? Easier? MB's got the scoop.
Unlike when I started juicing as an undergrad, juicing is pretty trendy these days. And thanks in part to people like my friends Joe Cross, director of the documentary Fat Sick & Nearly Dead, and Doug Evans, Director of Organic Avenue, juicing has become more mainstream. City dwellers have more juice choices than ever. Many people are choosing to make juices and smoothies at home. Deciding which is best can be daunting.
Either way, you're doing your body a favor
An easy way to get your daily vegetables."Both blended and juiced vegetables pack a mighty nutritional whallop," notes Joe. Both juicing and blending are an exceptionally good way to get a large quantity and wider variety of veggies and fruits (at least your recommended 6 to 8 servings) that otherwise would be difficult to eat.
(pictured above: Joe Cross of Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead)
- Both juices and blended drinks make it easy on your body to absorb nutrients. These processes "pre-digest" the produce for you. As a result of years of less-than-optimal food choices many of us have impaired digestion, which limits our body's ability to absorb all the nutrients from the veggies we eat.
- Both curb your appetite and reduce cravings for sugar and processed foods. When you consume fresh produce in any form, are getting the real nutrition that your body craves. Smoothies tend to make you feel fuller, since they have all the fiber. For everyday consumption (i.e. if not doing a juice cleanse), I'd suggest you have two green juices or green smoothies a day on an empty stomach approximately 30 minutes before lunch and dinner. But anytime in the morning before lunch and late afternoon is optimal.
- Cost-effective.Juicing or blending at home is much less expensive than buying your juices, though there are great, high-quality options on the market, too.
Advantages of blending
"Blending is actually consuming the whole food, including the fiber, and is healthy but for a different purpose," says Doug.
(pictured above: Doug Evans of Organic Avenue)
- Cost of equipment. The only equipment you need is a blender, which is less expensive and a little easier to clean up than a juicer.
- Cost of produce. Blending your juice requires fewer veggies and fruits, even though they're more filling. You'll also typically add water and ice when blending.
- Fiber helps to fill you up. "Smoothies can have a high yield in terms of bang-for-your-buck fullness, since the fiber is left in," says Joe.
- You can add non-vegetable ingredients. You can add lots of fun, interesting things, like a scoop of protein powder (I recommend Innate Response's Vanilla Bean), ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, and more to make them even more nutritious and more like a meal. (Note from Lactic: "SERIOUSLY YOU GUYS. Listen to Magen. That protein powder is DELICIOUS.")
Advantages of juicing
- Even easier to digest the nutrients. Juicing extracts almost all of the water and nutrients from vegetables, leaving behind only the plant fibers. This means your body is able to absorb the nutrients without having to digest the dense bulk of the plant. Joe notes: "The difference is that juice, the liquid without the fiber, allows your digestive system to work less to extract the benefits. Fiber is indeed great and an important part of your regular diet. However, for people who want to really re-set their system, taking a finite break from fiber has the benefit of allowing your digestive system to have a bit of a rest."
- More vegetables per glass. You can fit more vegetables into a single glass of green juice than you can in a blended serving.
- Some produce is only good for juicing, not blending. You can also use several different kinds of veggies, like root veggies, that in blended form might not be palatable or are just better for juicing. Joe notes: "The really dense veggies—root vegetables like parsnip, parsley root, carrots, sweet potatoes—are great and tasty to juice but blended wouldn’t be as enjoyable. They add too much density to smoothies, and uncooked, their flesh isn’t as flavorful."
- Cold-press juicing is more nutritionally pure than blending, or juicing with a regular juicer. If you use a blender, the fruits and vegetables are being cut and ground by a blade. Any cutting into a fruit or vegetable starts the oxidation process and causes some of the vital vitamins, enzymes, proteins, and minerals to leech out. The same is true for eating your fruits and veggies as soon as they're cut or chopped for maximum nutrient benefits.
- No heat damage.The blender also slightly heats the ingredients (this is why I put ice in my smoothies), so the sooner you drink your juice after blending the more nutrients you get.
What about that 'cold-pressed' technique that juicing companies use?
Cold-pressing veggies uses a pressing action (instead of grinding), which prevents the oxidization of the fruit and vegetables and helps keep the nutrients and enzymes intact. "The primary benefit of cold-pressing organic vegetables to make juice is that it is done with low temperature and low speed," says Doug. "Cold-pressed juicing is the most dense way of extracting vitamins, minerals, and enzymes from fresh produce."
Which is easier to use? How about clean-up?
The blender is easier to use and clean in my opinion. There's only one piece to rinse out or throw in the dishwasher. Joe, on the other hand, says that clean-up time is about the same for his blender and juicer. "Both get rinsed out in the same amount of time. The key is to clean right after you juice, so the fine fibers of the fruits and vegetables don’t start to adhere. I use a Breville with a wide feed tube so I can cut down on my prep time. And I always use a bio-degradable bag in the pulp bin to make clean up a bit easier."
Clean your equipment immediately after you juice to prevent any remnants from contaminating the juicer with mold. I find that using an old toothbrush works well to clean any metal grater. If you buy a high-quality juicer, the whole process should only take about 5 minutes.
Which juicers and blenders are best?
You don't need to spend more than $99 for a good blender or $149 for a good juicer. But if you want, they go up to several thousands of dollars.
Breville Juicer: There are fancier ones, but this one will do the trick and is Joe the Juicer's personal recco. "I used a Breville Juice Fountain Plus during the filming of Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead," says Joe. "It wasn’t a strategic choice. In fact, I knew nothing about juicers at all. I found myself in a Crate & Barrel in Manhattan and selected a Breville because it’s an Aussie company, and I thought it was a good omen. I bought two, so I would have a back-up when the first one inevitably failed. Well, the first is going strong and the second one is still in the box. For me, that’s pretty powerful evidence that they make a great product." Cost: $149
Omega Juicer Low Stream Vert 350: If you want a machine that presses rather than grinds or cuts your fruits and veggies, this is one of your better options. Cost: $380
NutriBullet blender: A top-notch high-powered blender on the market. Cost: $99
VitaMix blender: Some of the old versions had issues with the base overheating, but they have fixed the problem in newer models. Cost: Starts at $329
What should go into your juice
- Know where it came from. I like to always use organic produce unless I know where your produce is coming from and is produced without pesticides.
- Beware of sugar. Limit using fruits or buying juices made with mostly beets, carrot, and/or fruits, as the sugar can sneak up on you.
- Use citrus to your advantage. The exception to the above rule would be lemons and limes, which contain very little sugar and are amazing at eliminating the bitter taste of the dark deep leafy green vegetables that provide most of the benefits of juicing. If your juice is too bitter, add more lemon.
- Use ginger to your advantage. "I use ginger in most of my juices, and I like to run it through the machine first and then push other things—greens, apples, etc.—behind it to maximize the flavor," says Joe. "I generally leave skin on most of my produce after a thorough scrubbing."
- Experiment.Don’t be afraid to be playful and experiment. Throw in a handful of berries, or nuts, or some extra greens to really supercharge your recipes.
Tips on drinking your juice
- "Chew" your juice with each sip. Don't chug. This activates the secretion of saliva and enzymes that prep your body to absorb the nutrients that are in the juices. I know, it sounds weird, but this is true of everything you put into your mouth. I recommend for my clients to chew each bite of food until it's the consistency of baby food. It improves digestion and, therefore, your chance of absorbing the nutrients.
- Drink slowly and mindfully. Give your brain a chance to let you know when you're full before you overindulge. The best rule of thumb: Drink or eat until you are 80 percent full.
- Drink now, not later. Vegetable juice is HIGHLY perishable, so it's best to drink your juice immediately. If you are making some to take to the office or drink later, you can store it for up to 24 hours with only moderate nutritional decline.
How to store your juice
- Put your juice in a glass jar with an airtight lid and fill it to the very top. There should be a minimum amount of air in the jar - the oxygen in air (air is about 20 percent oxygen) will oxidize the juice.
- Purchase a food vacuum pump, like Food Saver, with a Ball jar attachment. You can pour your juice into a pint jar, put the lid on, and use the Food Saver to suck out the air in the jar to vacuum pack it. This will remove most of the oxygen that can damage the juice.
- Immediately store it in the fridge and consume it when you are ready. Try to drink it as soon as possible - within 24 hours of juicing.
Never juiced before? Try a transition plan.
To go from an unhealthy, highly toxic diet to straight juice cleansing can sometimes be too extreme. A transition food protocol like a high fiber diet that consists of eating mostly fruits and veggies before and after your cleanse is highly recommended.
My Mind Body RE BOOT protocol is a combination of protein shakes, salads, lots of veggies and a couple juices or green smoothies. The first five days of any cleansing program, in my opinion, should be about cutting out all the processed, fried, gluten, and dairy foods, as well as alcohol and coffee (if possible).
Eat whole, nutrient-dense foods, like gluten-free grains (quinoa, buckwheat, etc.), veggies, and sprouted nuts and seeds. For a deeper cleanse, the second five days can be a mostly liquid or all liquid protocol to give the system a rest.
Magen's favorite blending recipes
MB Greens Smoothie
This is a very simple, cleansing, easy-to-drink, easy-to-digest smoothie and is especially good for beginners who are not used to the darker, more bitter greens. For a lighter, lower calorie juice, make it without the avocado.
- 1/2 bunch cilantro or parsley
- 1/2 lemon, without the skin
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/3 cucumber, cut into 2-inch pieces (skin on)
- 2 celery sticks
- 2 pieces romaine
- 1-inch piece of ginger
- 8 to 12 ounces filtered water (the amount of water will vary depending upon your personal taste and consistency preferences)
- 1/2 cup ice
Directions: Place all the ingredients in the blender. Denser items—like the lemon, cucumber, and ginger—should go in first. Blend on high for approx. 45 seconds or to desired consistency.
MB Lemonade Smoothie
This is my fave all-day cleansing drink. I recco making it every chance you get. It's based on the Master Cleanse drink. It's easy to keep these ingredients on hand, and it's effortless to make.
- 1 peeled lemon
- 1 bunch of cilantro or parsley
- 1 tbs (or less) pure maple syrup
- Couple dashes cayenne
- full blender of water or use less water for a more potent drink
- 1/2 cup ice
Directions: Same as above.
You can find more recipes on Reboot With Joe. The site customizes recipes for juicing or blending, not both. A few sample juice recipes:
In case you don't already love Magen...
We challenge you to take a cute photo of yourself drinking juice (not HOLDING juice, DRINKING it). Magen is hilarious and sent us these outtakes. This ain't no juicin' elitist. We love this down-to-earth gal.
ALRIGHT. JUST PUT DOWN THE JUICE AND LAUGH. :)
Get more from Magen Banwart at magenbanwart.com.
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