Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Green Juice Recipe My Entire Family Loves (Yes, Loves)

Here we are in January yet again. Clean starts. New goals and resolutions. Here are my three for 2014:
  1. Finish Baby Step #3.
  2. Read more books.
  3. Eat more vegetables.
Granted, I've got a bunch of other little goals and ideas, but these are my main three for the year. I figure a lot of those aforementioned "little goals and ideas" of mine fit somewhere in those three goals.You can be sure that there will be posts on here about my progress on each of them.

These goals also happen to branch out to my aspirations for my family. Take the whole vegetable thing. I'm just as concerned about getting more vegetables into my boys' little bodies as I am mine, if not more so. These boys of mine are growing like crazy and they need all those vitamins! One way I've been getting more vegetables, particularly of the green variety, into everyone in my family (including the husband) is with our juicer. 

Years ago, my parents gave us (and each of my brothers) a juicer for Christmas. My parents had just gotten into juicing months before and wanted us to benefit like they had. They got us a Jack LaLanne juicer from Costco. It was something I probably wouldn't have bought for myself, but we ended up being so glad we got it. One reason: it got more vegetables and fruit into our diets, including then three-year-old Max. Max has never been a picky eater and loves fruits and veggies (I used to bribe him to be good at the store when he was four with promises of Caesar salad). Jonah, however, is definitely the pickier eater of my two kids and getting a balanced diet into him is much harder. Enter: our green juice. 

This green juice mostly consists of vegetables, but it still deliciously sweet and refreshing. I believe I got the original framework for the recipe from Dr. Oz when he was on Oprah. I can remember Oprah tasting it and saying that it tasted like "a glass of fresh" or something like that. Really, that's a perfect way to describe this juice. 

Now I know there is some debate between the benefits of juice vs. smoothies. I love smoothies but have yet to master smoothie making, especially when it comes to green smoothies (mine always turn out looking like brown sludge). Some say that juicing is more healthful, others argue that smoothies are better. There is also the issue of waste -- there's no leftover pulp when you make smoothies. That said, juicing works well for our family. We all love coming up with various concoctions with our juicer, though this green one is our favorite and go-to recipe. 

What does this have to do with frugality? Not only is juicing a great way to get nutrition and stay healthy (an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, after all), but it's a great way to prevent produce waste. Instead of tossing out over-ripe fruit and wilting vegetables, juice it. Produce that might not look too appetizing to eat out of hand or in a salad, works well and tastes fine when it's juiced (as long as nothing is spoiled, of course). I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who buys produce with great aspirations to eat all of it but then doesn't get around to it. Juicing (same goes for smoothies) is a great way to make sure the produce you buy gets where it needs to go: into our bodies and not into the trash.

So, here's how I get a good portion of these fruits and vegetables...

...into this almost three-year-old's tummy, all before 9 AM. (See how he's still in his Mickey jammies?)

To make our family's favorite green juice (the amounts in the parenthesis will yield about four cups of juice) you'll need the following: 
  • spinach (about 2-3 big handfuls)
  • cucumber (1 medium sized)
  • celery (2-3 ribs, 4 if small. Be sure to include leafy tops.)
  • Italian parsley (about 1/3-1/2 of a bunch)
  • apples (2 medium apples)
  • lime (1/2 of a small one)
  • lemon (1/4 of medium one)
  • ginger (1-inch chunk) {I don't always use this but it does add a nice flavor and helps with digestion.}
This recipe is certainly not one of absolute measurements -- I mostly just eyeball it -- and it can be adjusted to how many servings you need. In the past, I've substituted pears for apples and beet greens and chard for some of the spinach. I also leave the peels on the apples, lemons, and limes. 

Juice according to your juicer's directions. My boys love helping with this part -- it's what got both of them to drink it at a young age. They think it's a lot of fun. Jonah loves to put the ingredients down the chute and Max likes to push the ingredients down with the...what's the word?...pusher-downer thing. Yeah. That's what it's called. *ahem*

Once all the juice has been extracted, give it a good stir. Again, my boys love this part -- when they're both helping make juice, they each have to have a turn with stirring. It's like stirring some kind of potion to them.

And there you have it: our family's favorite green juice. Some people balk at the idea of drinking something green, but it really is so tasty. Any doubter is quickly converted after a sip or two.

My boys seriously guzzle the stuff. Jonah had his finished before I even started mine. 

About the pulp...

One of the big arguments against juicing is the pulp that goes to waste. It's a valid argument -- that is beneficial fiber. It doesn't have to go to waste, though. It can easily be used in recipes. My mom has used the pulp from her homemade carrot juice to make muffins. You can find all sorts of recipes online; this book also has lots and lots recipes using the pulp. I've never really baked or cooked with the pulp, but I still don't waste it. It always either goes to the compost pile (to help grow new vegetables!) or to the chickens (though I take the citrus peels out before I give the pulp to them).  The ladies in the backyard love it when I take the pulp out to them -- I love that it makes for even more nutritious eggs.

After I'd been juicing for a while, I picked up a book that my mom suggested. Along with a bunch of recipes, it also has a section that lists the health benefits for each type of juice. I thought it was interesting so here are some of them: (Note: I'm just sharing what's in the book. Take it for what it's worth and check with your doctor if you have questions. I'm certainly no doctor; I got my degree in English, people.)
  • Spinach juice helps cleanse the kidneys, liver, and digestive tract. Improves regularity. Helps prevent bladder cancer and stomach ulcers. Fights infection. Helps lower high blood pressure and maintain acid-alkaline balance.
  • Cucumber juice cleanses the kidneys. A weight-loss tool. Helps lower high blood pressure. Excellent for skin problems. Excellent daily source of fluid.
  • Celery juice cleanses the kidneys and liver. Useful for weight loss. Helps maintain both acid-alkaline balance in the blood and calcium levels. An excellent mixer with other, stronger juices. Treatment for gout and ulcers. 
  • Parsley juice cleanses the urinary tract and the blood. Treats conditions of the kidneys and liver. Helps prevent many cancers such as kidney, liver, urinary tract. Good for circulatory deficiencies. Good for general heart health. Can be used for weight loss. Good for the eyes.
  • Apple juice is good for healthy skin and hair. High vitamin C content protects against cold and flu. Pectin cleans out toxins and helps maintain regularity. Eases indigestion. Good juice for a weight-loss program. Flushes kidneys and liver.
  • Lime juice is good for colds and flu, indigestion, and skin problems, liver problems, constipation, anemia and other blood problems.
  • Lemon juice is good for treating minor bruises, for pregnant women, as a tool for weight loss, and to prevent colds and flu.
  • Ginger helps relieve upset stomach and aid digestion.
If you have a juicer and it's collecting dust in your pantry or cupboard, get it out and give this recipe a shot. Your body will thank you. Quite a refreshing way to start the year.

Note: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

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