Juicing or Blending?

 

I love to juice and blend for different reasons, but keep in mind, these are two different things. Both offer wonderful health benefits. Today I’m going to talk about some of the benefits of juicing. P1010477

What is raw juicing? Raw fruits and vegetables are placed into an electric juicer, removing the fibrous parts and leaving the juice, which is full of nutrients. Juicing can also be done with a blender and nut milk bag (pouring the blended mixture through the bag and drinking the juice).

What is blending? On the other hand, when you add fruit and veggies to a blender and leave the pulp in the mixture, this is called a smoothie or “complete juice.” This also has many benefits – mainly that you’re getting lots of plant-based nutrients with the fiber. While this doesn’t give your digestive system a complete break (read about the importance of this below), it is certainly a health-supportive, nourishing thing to do for your body on a regular basis.

Why juice? At The Kicking Kitchen, we encourage you to eat a real, whole, plant-based diet (finding your own variation within that description). Juicing removes part of the food, so it is not a whole food. However, it offers some amazing health benefits. Juicing gives you a blast of nutrients without the fiber. Fiber is important on a daily basis, but giving your body a break from the fiber can be supportive as well (see why in #3 below). Focusing on juicing mostly vegetables reduces the amount of naturally-occurring sugar that is found in fruits.

Juicing is something I began after receiving a cancer diagnosis several years ago, and I have continued with it, sometimes on a daily basis, sometimes much less often. It has made a tremendous difference in my health – my energy has increased, and I feel stronger, lighter, and more focused. My skin has improved and it has helped in fighting off cold and flu and in alleviating aches and pains. But don’t take my word for it – see how YOU feel!

Juicing is beneficial because it:

  1. Helps to move toxins out of the body. Detoxification must happen on a daily basis. Toxins exist in our bodies from environmental pollutants, foods and stress and need to be excreted regularly to prevent toxic buildup, which can lead to disease.
  2. Provides light energy and life-supporting nutrients. The body receives a large amount of nutrients that are absorbed quickly into the body – a very efficient way of ingesting many vitamins and minerals! Because the fiber is removed, these nutrients enter the blood stream more quickly. (For this reason, it’s better to juice mostly vegetables, as they are naturally lower in sugar than most fruits. It’s important to avoid a spike in blood-sugar, which could result from drinking fiber-free fruit juice. However, some fruit does help to sweeten juices, can make them more palatable, and add supportive vitamins and minerals.) All of these nutrients provide energy and support every last cell in the body.
  3. Gives your digestive system a break. Remember, the fiber is removed, which allows your energy to be used in other areas of your body besides working hard to break down food. This does a few things: 1) Gives you more energy. 2) Boosts your immune system. The majority of the immune system is located in the gut, so giving this system a break from doing its digesting job, allows it to work on its immune supportive functions. 3) Lets the digestive system rest, rebuild, and rebalance.
  4. Jump starts weight loss. 50% of your body’s ability to lose weight depends on how many toxins are in your body. Helping the body to remove those toxins can jump start weight loss. Juicing helps to cleanse your body of toxins.
  5. Restores balance in the body on many levels. Juicing supports the blood’s pH balance, which is (or should be) slightly alkaline. Eating too many processed, sugary and animal foods contributes to an acidic environment in the body, which can cause inflammation, imbalance and ultimately disease. Disease cannot thrive in an alkaline body.

The Juice Clinic provides a page with links to lots of research on the benefits of juicing HERE. Pretty amazing!

There’s still time to join our 7 Day Juicing Challenge! It started July 28th, but you can jump right in! Sign up here.

 

Juicing for Life

 

Mean Green Smoothie

Mean Green. By Michelle Reaves.Chellereaves / Wikimedia Commons

Are you considering jumping on the juicing bandwagon? There’s no denying the juicing movement that’s sweeping the nation. Food and health blogs post creative concoctions, touting the health benefits of juice and its tastiness. It’s easy to get swept along in a sea of vibrant oranges, deep green kale, and bright yellow lemons.

Due to the recent rise in popularity, grocery stores are flooded with “natural” and “fresh” juices in the grab-and-go aisles. With so many easy choices, why bother with juicing at home? These neatly packaged bottles are a much faster option, and much easier than having to buy the produce, spend the time juicing, and then cleaning up afterwards.

Homemade juices are worth the effort. First of all, you have control over what goes into your juice. If you don’t like kale, but do like blueberries, you can easily make a spinach blueberry juice instead of having to stick with predesigned flavor combinations. Also, when you are making the juice yourself, you know exactly what goes into it. You can’t say the same for store bought ones. Naked juices have long marketed its line of juices as “all natural”—and recently the claims have been found to be false advertising (to the tune of $9 million).

Here are a few more reasons why fresh juice made at home is better than pre-packaged varieties found in a store.

Pasteurization. Almost all commercially produced juices are pasteurized to prolong the shelf life. Pasteurization involves heating the juice to 160 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, and then cooling it down quickly. The heating process kills all the microbes that can cause spoilage or food borne illnesses, but it also destroys any heat-sensitive vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants.

Since juices are supposed to be packed full of nutrients, manufacturers often add the vitamins back in after the pasteurization process. However, the vitamins and minerals added after processing may not be as readily absorbed by the body as naturally occurring ones. Making fresh juice when you want to drink it ensures that your drink retains all its nutrients.

Added sugars. Pasteurization also mutes the flavor of fresh juice, so many companies add in sugar to improve the taste. Making your juice reduces the need to add sugar; or, if you do find the need to sweeten your recipe, you can add in sweeter fruits, or a sweetener of your choice. Manufacturers are likely to rely on corn syrups or artificial sweeteners, neither of which is healthy. Drinking fresh juice rather than bottled juice ensures that you don’t end up consuming empty calories.

Fiber. Some bottled juices are processed in ways where almost all of the insoluble fiber is stripped away, and some of the soluble fiber is removed as well. Fiber helps slow down the absorption of sugar in the body, reducing insulin spikes—which over time could lead to insulin resistance and diabetes. Fiber also has a host of other health benefits like lowering cholesterol levels to keeping you regular. Most home juicers allow you to keep at least some of the fiber from the fruits and vegetables.

When it comes to juicing, try to buy organic since you’ll be using most of them whole, especially if you use a juicer. Be sure to wash the fruit and vegetables prior to using them—a quick and inexpensive produce cleaner is to dilute a little bit of vinegar with water and spray on the produce before rinsing. If you use cherries, plums, peaches or other fruits with large seeds, pit them prior to tossing them in the juicer.

Here are a few simple and nutritious juice recipes to get you started on your juicing habit.

Mean Green. The original “Mean Green” juice featured in the movie Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead kicked off the current juicing craze. Packed with leafy green vegetables, the Mean Green is a great way to sneak in some extra heart-healthy fiber into your daily diet. It’s also highly versatile, as you can swap ingredients for others as needed.

Serves one. Juice the following ingredients together and serve immediately over ice.

6 kale leaves (try baby kale for a less fibrous final product)

1 cucumber

4 celery stalks

2 green apples

1/2 lemon

1 piece of ginger

Orange You Glad to See Me. This juice is packed with vitamin C from oranges and

Mango Kiwi Juice. Image courtesy of Alexandre Duret-Lutz / Flickr.com

Mango Kiwi Juice. Image courtesy of Alexandre Duret-Lutz / Flickr.com

lemon to boost your immune system and beta-carotene from the carrots to help keep your eyes healthy. Ginger helps with digestion, and gives the juice a spicy kick!

Serves one. You can opt to use a manual citrus squeezer for the oranges and lemon, before switching over to a electric juicer for the carrots and ginger.

8 carrots

2 oranges

1 Meyer lemon (try to find Meyer lemon instead of regular lemon as it imparts a smoother, sweeter flavor)

1 small piece ginger

Juicing is a great way to increase your vegetable and fruit intake—rather than slowly chewing through eight carrots, you can juice them with some lemons and oranges for a delicious afternoon drink. Making them at home may take a little longer than just grabbing a bottle from the store, but the health benefits are worth the effort.

 

 

Virginia Cunningham is a freelance health and wellness writer from Los Angeles. She is a big fan of juicing and always tries to have a pitcher of some fresh concoction in the fridge!

Cancer-Kicking Gorgeous Goji Smoothie

 

gorgeous goji smoothie recipe

This smoothie is a simple one to make, and tastes so delish! Smoothies are generally a great option for people undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, since experiencing nausea, mouth and throat sores are common side effects. Smoothies allow you to consume some nutrient-rich calories, they go down pretty easily, and they don’t take much time to make. You can also take your smoothie and pour it into molds to make popsicles! – another ideal food during cancer treatment, and perfect during the summer, whether you’re facing cancer or not.

Whether you are going through conventional treatment or working on healing naturally,* this smoothie is full of restorative, healing, cancer-kicking foods that will nourish your body. Goji berries are full of antioxidants, those handy little cancer-fighters. Antioxidants minimize free radical damage that injures cells and damages DNA, causing cells to grow abnormally (which can lead to what we know as cancer in the body). Gojis are also a great source of Vitamin A, which is not only important for good vision, but also healthy cell growth and a strong immune system. Some preliminary studies using goji berry juice have found benefits in mental well-being and calmness, athletic performance, happiness, quality of sleep, and feelings of good health (1).

If you take warfarin (a blood thinner), you may want to avoid goji berries in large amounts or in supplement form: There may be some possible drug interactions with gojis. Goji berries may also interact with diabetes and blood pressure drugs (1). If you have concerns, check with your doctor, but enjoying goji berries in moderate amounts (even a couple times per week) is not likely to be a problem. And that’s a good thing, because you won’t want to miss out on this healthy, yummy treat!

Gorgeous Goji Smoothie

12 ounces cold water

1/4 cup dried goji berries

1 large very banana, preferably frozen

1 cup strawberries, frozen

2 tablespoons hempseeds

Add water and gojis to a blender and let sit for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. If the banana is not frozen, add a few cubes of ice and blend. Serve and enjoy.

 

*Does healing cancer naturally (without the use of conventional medicine) sound crazy? It’s been and continues to be done successfully! Annette and Kendall chose to take an integrative approach to healing from cancer, which means they combined what they considered to be the best of both conventional and alternative (natural) therapies. Look for more info on this in a future blog post!

(1) Source: WebMD

 

5 Food Habits to Get You Energized this Spring!

 

5 Food Habits to Boost Your Energy this Spring, including green smoothies!

Green smoothie to-go!

When spring time comes around, many of us get the mental and emotional awakening –  we feel happier, more positive, ready to get outdoors, explore, try new things and new foods! This explosion of energy and excitement also often comes in a physical sense, and we wake up feeling fresher, energized and ready to take on another beautiful day.

If you’re NOT feeling that way this spring, it may be due to your diet. If you wake up feeling sluggish, perhaps with a headache and would prefer to go back to sleep, you may need to revamp your food habits. And this can be easier than you may think!

Below are five fabulous food habits to add to your life. Try one or try them all, but you will undoubtedly be feeling far more energized, fresh, healthy and ready to jump into another spring day!

  1. Get Your Green Juice On. By juicing on a regular basis (especially green juices and mostly veggies!), you add in some alkalizing foods that will help to balance your body’s natural pH level (which should be a little alkaline) and give you a burst of nutrients that might be difficult to eat in their whole food form all at once. By juicing, you’re getting this super-dose of vitamins and minerals and helping to flush out toxins that may be contributing to your low energy. New to juicing? Check out our 7 Tips for Getting Started or take on our 7 Day Juicing Jumpstart Challenge!
  2. Eat Green Veggies Daily. Kale, spinach, collards, bok choy, dandelion greens, watercress, dark lettuces – these superfood veggies will boost your energy and moods, helping you feel happy, light and vibrant. Try using these veggies in salads, smoothies, give them a quick water sauté with some garlic and a pinch of sea salt, or try out Cashew Kale recipe.
  3. Get Smart with Smoothies. If you need an easy and quick breakfast in the morning, please don’t grab that bagel with cream cheese. That just won’t sustain you or give you the vibrant springtime energy we know you’d love to have! Instead, blend yourself a power-packed smoothie with some almond milk or water, almonds, avocado, banana, kale or spinach, berries and coconut. Or experiment with your own ingredients – just stick with whole foods, good sources of protein (like nuts/seeds), healthy fats (avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut), and some green veggies. For more tips on how to create the perfect smoothie to kick-start your day, try our Smoothie Tips for the Newbie here.
  4. Drink water. A general rule of thumb is to drink about half of your body weight in ounces. If you weigh 150 pounds, drink about 75 ounces daily – more if you’re pretty active. Dehydration can bring us down (our energy and moods) fairly quickly. Plus, if you’re drinking more water, it should help you to drink less soda and other sugary drinks that will only compromise your immune system, blood sugar balance and energy. Squeeze in some fresh lemon juice to bring some alkalizing power to your body (remember tip #1 about keeping your body’s pH on the alkaline side?).
  5. Eat More Plant-based Protein. While eating some quality meat or animal protein can be beneficial for many of us, overdoing it can often lead to low energy and feeling sluggish. Our bodies work hard to digest meat, which means less energy is available for the rest of the body. Try swapping your steak for black beans or tempeh (or another plant-based protein source). Need some ideas for plant-based protein recipes? We have a whole bunch in our book: Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen and some on our Recipe page. You can also check out Forks Over Knives for yummy recipes.