Primer: Vegetable Juice/Smoothies

Here’s my disclaimer:  I do not personally drink my vegetables.  However, I know that more and more people are finding this to be a convenient and tasty way to maximize their consumption of healthy fresh produce.

This week’s box is fairly loaded with ingredients that are perfect for juicing or smoothie making, as many of our winter boxes are.

As you probably know, if you want to juice anything more than oranges, you need a serious juicer.  And if you want vegetable smoothies that aren’t mealy or full of chunks, you need a serious blender.  I’m not making any recommendations, but these machines require investing more than $100, unless you find one at a yard sale.

If you’re just looking for a light, healthy nutrition you can go with a simple carrot/apple/mandarin combination.  The carrots add richness, and the apple (cored) adds body.  Add mandarins (juiced first in a citrus juicer, or at least peeled) last, as this will thin the drink.  More = “juicier”, less = “smoothy-ier”.  If the drink is too sweet, add a small piece of fresh ginger or a few tablespoons lemon juice.

Want a beautiful magenta smoothie or juice?  Add a red Beet.  Raw Beets are very sweet, although they have a slight astringency when juiced on their own.

If maximizing your intake of nutrients is your goal, it’s time to add the greens.  Spinach is mild and tender enough that you can add it to your juice/smoothie without affecting the flavor much.  Kale, on the other hand, will assert itself in the mix. (Remove the stems, which are tough and are likely to make your drink lumpy).  Extra lemon juice will balance it out.

Looking for a thicker, more “milkshake-y” smoothie?  Sure, frozen bananas are a common, nutritious way to do this.  But avocados work just as well without adding any more sugar to a drink that is already sweet enough.  They have healthy oils that will keep you feeling full if you are “drinking your breakfast (or lunch)” instead of eating it. And most of the year they are also available from California, so you’re keeping your smoothy a little more local.

Whatever combination of ingredients you use to make your juice or smoothie, remember that even a high powered juicer or blender needs plenty of time to turn large amounts of cellulose in things like kale or carrots into a smoothly drinkable substance.  It’s not juice, or a smoothy, if you have to chew it while you’re drinking.  Enjoy.

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