Healthful Juices

The many reasons why using your own blender to mix healthful ingredients makes best sen$e.

By: Tara Coleman
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With the juicing industry accounting for nearly 4 billion dollars in yearly sales, for some very important reasons, it makes perfect sen$e to blend your own. Tara Coleman, Clinical Nutritionist, prefers blending over juicing, explaining how the blending process has health benefits from the fruits and vegetables while maintaining the all important fiber, which is all so important to a balanced and healthful diet

The Many Reasons Why

Choice of ingredients tops the list in determining the quality of the product. Store bought juices range from certified organic to GMO processed vegetables. Given the difference in freshness, quality of flavor and healthful benefits derived from certified organic ingredients, it understandably should always be the much-preferred choice.

Although we use the term juice universally, when it comes to your fruit and vegetable drinks they are not all made the same way. When vegetables are juiced the fiber is removed, creating a high density in nutrients, and in some cases, a high sugar intensity. Coleman much prefers blending, which has the health benefits of the fruits and vegetables while maintaining the fiber. This helps balance blood sugar, satisfies hunger and gives you long-term energy. Even with cold processing, which is the most efficient method that could be used by manufactured juices, it comes sans fiber, and its shelf life without preservatives is limited from two to four days.

Nutrient Density
Most shelf bought juice products are prepared in large batches, transported and then place on store shelves for purchase. The longer and further your juice has to travel to get to you, the more nutrients are going to break down. This is true as well as for a local juice company, which may batch their ingredients, but once a week, lessening the nutrient benefits over the course of hours and days that it sits on the shelf or when being delivered to homes. Coleman further explains that even if you are going with an organic labeled product, they may have sourced their ingredients from the other side of the country or even the other side of the world. Buying your own local ingredients from the farmer ensures that you are creating the most nutrient dense drink possible.

As noted  by nutritionists Coleman, homemade juice allows for ultimate control over the ingredients and the customization of flavors. Perhaps you feel a cold coming on so you want to add the immune boosting ginger or you have had extra tough workouts this week so you want to throw in some pineapple for the extra bromelain. Making your own combinations not only improves the taste and helps keep you from being saturated with common flavors; it also allow you to make the perfect combo for you nutritional needs. The selection of known certified organic ingredients, the combination of nutrients recommended for one's personal needs, and customizing the flavors, all prepared in blended fashion, can dwarf the nutritional benefits derived from processed juicing products.

A not-so-hidden benefit derived from blending at home is a weekly visit to the farmer's market, where you have the opportunity to meet with the farmers who have produced your ingredients, mingle with your neighbors and support the local economy. San Diego has several markets to choose from, all very vibrant and fun to visit on the weekend. There is a wide range of choices, including some delectable food selections prepared on site to readily satisfy the most discerning of palates.

Deciding on the mix for the week is a simple process of slicing up whatever variety of produce you have chosen and placing the week's supply into a freezer bag to await the morning's call to action. Blending at home allows one to select the finest of ingredients and benefit from their highest nutritional value. The ideal combination is a 3:1 ratio of veggies to fruit. Place a portion of the mix into the blender, add chilled water, and depending upon the ingredients, perhaps a bit of honey to sweeten the flavor. Cleanup is a breeze.

Considering that some store bought juices are selling for as much as $12 per 16oz container, it doesn't take much calculation to understand how this 4 billion dollar industry can become quite pricey, especially compared to what a grocery bag of certified organic produce can be purchased for at a farmer's market. An excellent blender can be paid for in relatively short order on the savings alone. The real beauty of it is that you have the blender to use in creating a highly fresh, nutritional drink along with an innumerable variety of other food creations.

Cold-pressed juice has powerful cleansing properties and should be used to supplement a healthy diet, not replace one. The body needs protein and fat in order to thrive. Juicing vegetables also means getting rid of fiber, which is critical for healthy digestion, reducing cholesterol and managing your blood sugar. Juicing, hyped as a pure method to rid the body of toxins, can in some cases do more harm than good. The concern is genuine and caution should be taken before experimenting with juice cleanses.

Suggested Blends

Anti-inflammatory Smoothie
Inflammation is the root cause of a lot of our most devastating health problems. This smoothie is packed full of anti-oxidants to help fight inflammation and protect your health on a cellular level.

Active Ingredient: Turmeric. Turmeric is a spice traditionally used in Indian food, and has been used medicinally to fight inflammation for centuries.

1 cup iced green tea 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup blueberries 1/8 tsp turmeric
1 inch sliced ginger 1 scoop protein powder (optional)

Post Workout Smoothie
Your post workout meal is hand down the most important meal of the day. This smoothie has both the protein your body needs to repair the damage to your muscles as well as healthy carbohydrates to refuel you glycogen stores and keep you energized. Make certain to have this smoothie within 30-60 minutes after you stop exercising.

1 cup coconut water 1/2 banana
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1-2 cups spinach

Blood Sugar Stabilizing Smoothie
Rises and crashes in our blood sugar can impact our mood, concentration, weight gain and ultimately lead to diabetes. This smoothie is high in fiber, healthy fat and protein, which act a speed bumps to help slow the release of sugar into our bloodstream. It will give you a consistent balanced energy.

Active Ingredient: Cinnamon. Beyond adding flavor, cinnamon helps glucose metabolism and can improve insulin resistance.

1 cup water (milk if preferred) 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 cup spinach 1/4 cup oats
1 cup whole strawberries 1 tsp chia seeds (optional)
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Immune Boosting Smoothie
What we put into our bodies can either build or immune system up or break it down. This smoothie has probiotics to keep your digestive tract healthy as well as key nutrients to help you fight any sickness that comes your way.

Active Ingredient: Vitamin C is still the go-to ingredient when it comes to maintaining your immune system. It is found in citrus and dark leafy greens

1 cup kefir 1/2 banana
1 orange, peeled 1/2 cup frozen pineapple

Mood Boosting Smoothie
We often think of mood as caused by things that are happening externally (ie. co-workers, traffic, bills) however, our ability to manage these things is actually caused by what is going on internally. The ingredients in this smoothie increase the production of endorphins and will leave you with a smile on your face.

Active ingredient: Tryptophan breaks down to serotonin and helps give you that warm fuzzy feeling. It is found in cashews, which are nicknamed "nature's anti-depressant."

1 cup water 1 banana
1/8 cup cashews 1 tsp raw cacao