COMING CLEAN: Drink Your Veggies

Senior editor Courtney Lewis Opdahl enjoys the benefits of juicing.

Last summer, we planted a vegetable garden. It was full of herbs, lettuces, tomatoes, squash, spinach, peppers and dino kale. The spinach and lettuces died midway through the summer, the squash plant yielded only a few, but the herbs, tomatoes, peppers and kale were abundant. So much kale, in fact, that there was still plenty come October.

I loved having fresh veggies and herbs, but such a surplus! And as a first-time gardener, I wasn’t prepared to eat or store my crop. (This year we kept it a bit more modest but still kept a few favorites.) I shared some with friends, but I found myself getting creative with kale.

All the veggies aided in helping me eat a plant-based, whole food diet, but I still saw waste, which made me sad. It’ll happen occasionally when I go to the farmers’ market: It all looks so good, and reasonably priced, that I buy more food than I can eat before it goes bad.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t been introduced to the world of juicing. A coworker was talking about the juice bar at a nearby co-op, and I assumed she meant apple juice or perhaps a smoothie like you’d get from Jamba Juice. Juicing vegetables was an entirely foreign concept to me, which meant I had to try it immediately.

green juice
I went bold to start: a green juice made with kale, cucumber and parsley with some green apple for sweetness. It was delicious in a whole new way, like those smells in nature that are so clean and fresh you wish you could bottle it and consume it. That’s the green juice for me. I’ve been getting this one (pictured) at Seward Co-op fairly regularly.

You can read all about the benefits of juicing in our June article, but do I really need to convince you that it’s good for you? We recently shared our knowledge with our CBS affiliate, WCCO, and I’m pretty sure I sold anchor Jamie Yuccas on carrot juice.The news moves fast, though, so this was just an introduction for those new to juicing.

Some helpful points from the article that we didn’t have time to discuss:

  • Keep your juice focused on veggies, aiming for three parts vegetables to one part fruit. Trick from Kris Carr’s green juice: try the broccoli stem for sweetness.
  • Use organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible.
  • Pair water-dense vegetables like cucumbers, romaine and squash with heartier greens to get a a smoother liquid. You can also add coconut water, but the right mix of veggies should do the trick.
  • Experiment with spices. We made a carrot-ginger juice that was fantastic. Healing spices are a great addition, and studies have found that some spices can help lower inflammation in the body and balance blood-sugar levels.
  • Have fun! Play with flavors you like, and look online for recipes. Invite friends over for a juice party and have everyone bring a different ingredient. But also remember your juice can be simple. Plain, fresh carrot juice is an easy option.

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