Equipment for Juicing: Pulverizing vs Extracting
This is a second follow-up to my guest post on the pros and cons of juicing on Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s site. I’m not a huge fan of juicing—it seems inherently wasteful to me—but it turns out there may be good reasons to do it under certain circumstances. (See my earlier post on the GAPS diet here.) Here are my basic tips:
* Emphasize vegetables over fruits; make and drink juices fresh
* Cook cruciferous vegetables rather than juicing them
* Take juices as part of a meal or balance with fats and protein for best nutrient absorption and to prevent an insulin spike
* Flavor a veggie smoothie with raw sauerkraut and fresh herbs, even chicken stock if you need to dilute it
* Try Lacto-fermenting some fresh vegetable juice
* Don’t rely exclusively on raw juice for your diet.
For details on how I came to these recommendations, see my guest post on Kelly’s site. Here’s a post from Primal Toad on primal green smoothies, yum.
If you want to make your own fresh juice, the basic choices in equipment are between a juice extractor and a heavy-duty blender such as Vita-Mix or BlendTec. (Kelly the Kitchen Kop loves her Bosch Universal Kitchen System blender, another good choice.)
These machines are far more versatile than specialized juicers. You can pulverize vegetables and fruits with the powerful Vita-Mix motor, but the results are not like extraction juicers. You get to keep all the fiber and nutrients, which is both good and bad. All the nutrients are intact, but it can make for a very thick, undrinkable mass unless you adjust with ice cubes (or chicken stock, buttermilk, etc). Ignore the accompanying Vita-Mix cookbook’s advice to use nonfat yogurt, milk and faux sour cream, of course. Go for full fat, and fewer fruits.
You may not get as many vegetables down with a Vita-Mix as with an extraction juicer, but you get to eat the whole thing. You can also just make pureed soups with your vegetables and a base of bone stock, cream added to taste.
A great way to season fresh veggie juice is to toss in a few tablespoons of raw, lacto-fermented sauerkraut or kimchi—and a generous scoop of sour cream or crème fraiche.
If you go for extraction, make sure you get a juice extractor and not merely a citrus or wheat grass juicer, which won’t be able to handle vegetables. In addition to familiar major brands such as Black & Decker, Cuisinart, Jack LaLanne, Juiceman and Oster, serious juicers include the Champion, Green Star, Omega, Hurom and Samson.
Dr. Joseph Mercola recommends and sells Omega Juicers. His advice: choose a juicer that is easy to clean or you won’t use it. Good point—who needs more expensive junk in the kitchen? He says the Omega can be cleaned in 5 minutes and can also be used as a mincer/chopper and food mill. Try getting a used juicer at a garage sale to test whether you’ll actually use one.
Living and Raw Foods, a raw foods site, recommends and sells a number of juicers in a wide price range, and has information on lots of other equipment (spiral slicers, dehydrators, blenders, etc), at http://www.living-foods.com/articles/benefits.html. They have a forum discussing juicing and juicers if you want user reviews.
More juicers and advice on raw foods at: http://dimondhealth.com/VitamixJuicers.htm
Beware the advice you’ll find on the raw food sites. The purported benefits of an all-raw diet are similar to those given for juicing: more energy, healing from disease, increased absorption of nutrients and enzymes, weight loss, detoxification, clearer skin, healed allergies, strengthened immunity, etc. Remember, if you’re moving from the Standard American Diet (a truly SAD way of eating) to raw foods, by definition you’ll be increasing your intake of vegetables and fruits and reducing damaged fats and grains, and so you’ll benefit.
HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean an all or mostly raw foods diet won’t cause its own problems in the long run. I don’t believe 100% raw will meet your long-term nutritional needs, unless you’re prepared to eat raw meat (including lots of fat) and dairy. (If you’re not willing to cook anything, you won’t get the highly absorbable minerals and amino acids from long-simmered bone stocks, and that would be a real shame.)
This item on the list of purported raw food benefits at http://dimondhealth.com/RawDiet.htm stopped me cold: “Reduce or eliminate menstruation.” That is a sign of seriously ill health.
In another forum on the site, there was a thread on “switched puppy to a raw vegan diet today.” I wanted to call the ASPCA.