I have always wanted to try making my own green juice. I've heard all the health benefits and imagined how nice it would be to get almost all the recommended daily veggies in one glass. I never pulled the trigger on purchasing a juicer, but one day, my mom (who lives with us) came home with a juicer she bought on a whim because she walked past one on super clearance at the grocery store. I just about jumped for joy when I saw it appear in my kitchen! Before she even had a chance to try it, I opened the box, read the directions, cleaned the parts, and set out on my very own juicing experiment. After over a week of daily juice intake, I am ready to shout from the rooftops how great I feel!
How It Worked
The first juice I made was a concoction from whatever I had in my fridge and fruit basket. I didn't measure anything; I just threw things in — a cucumber, celery, spinach, some carrots, an apple, a lemon. I was mesmerized by the colorful juices pouring out the spout and couldn't wait to taste it. And I'll tell you what: when I did, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the flavors!
It was smooth and light with just the right amount of sweet from the apple and carrots, and a little tangy from the lemon with a little bit of yummy froth on top. Almost immediately after I enjoyed the drink, I felt a burst of energy (which was needed, because there are a ton of juicing machine parts to clean!). I was bouncing around the house and felt better than I ever had after drinking cup after cup of coffee. I couldn't believe how great I felt, and while the burst didn't last all day, my energy level did. I have two young kids, and most days I'm pretty tired by dinner time, but not that day. So I decided to do an experiment and juice every day for the rest of the week.
Now it's been almost two weeks since my experiment started and I don't see an end in sight! My 4-year-old has enjoyed some of the juices, and my husband has also jumped in on my amateur juicing experience.
What I Learned
I didn't expect to have that initial jolt of energy every time I drank the juice, but I did a little internet sleuthing and found that green juice can actually give you a bit of an energy buzz. I looked up some recipes, the best vegetables to juice, why it's good for you, and common mistakes when juicing. I am a researcher by nature and wanted to know everything that was happening to my body when I was drinking this juice and find the healthiest ways to do it.
Here's a brief overview of what I learned from experience and research:
- Always drink the juice on an empty stomach.
- Radishes make a beautiful pink juice but give a spicy twist to the juice that none of us liked (even my husband, who snacks on radishes by the handful).
- Cucumbers and celery produce a lot of juice and taste delicious and refreshing.
- Juicing even just one garlic clove is a bad idea (I LOVE garlic, so I thought, "Hey, why not?").
- Adding spinach every day can cause mouth sores due to the high concentration of oxalic acid (a sore spot in my own mouth and an internet search confirmed this).
- Big flavors like ginger should be used in moderation.
- Green juice should not be used as a meal replacement.
- It's even more beneficial to "chew" before swallowing (or swish the juice around in your mouth to mix with the digestive enzymes in your saliva).
- There are quite a few things you can do with the leftover pulp.
- And lastly, organic produce is best to use when juicing.
Where I'll Go From Here
My husband actually went out and bought more veggies for us to try because he loved how it was making him feel too. Along with the increased energy, we were sleeping better, had better digestion, and experienced less hunger and less sugar cravings throughout the day. So every morning, I continue to tweak the recipes and portion sizes to see how my body will react. As mentioned above, there were definitely some recipes I will not be repeating, and I'm still finding my groove in the world of juicing.
At this point, the way my body is feeling is just a bonus to how much fun my daughter and I are having watching the brightly colored juices flow every morning! I can only admit to saving and using the pulp once to make a bread (that I'll also have to tweak because it was extremely dense) so I could reap the benefits of the whole fruit and vegetable, so the only drawback for me is feeling like I'm wasting part of the fruits and veggies and a lot of good fiber by throwing it all away. But there are plenty of things you can do with the pulp, like make bread, crackers, or muffins; use it in soups; add it to smoothies or baby food; compost it — the list goes on.
For now, I'm going to focus on the juice aspect and maybe give the bread recipe another try. Even if it seems like a small change, I know I'm doing something good for myself every day. Aside from what I have tried, I also recently stocked my fridge with more variety, like beets, kale, and cabbage. The possibilities are endless and I'm excited to keep trying them all! After almost two weeks, I keep expecting my energy level to dip again or to regain the cravings for something sweet throughout the day, but it hasn't happened yet, so I plan to continue to let the juices flow!