Juicing & Smoothies for Beginners
For anyone who is trying out the juicing/smoothie "thing", I have put together a helpful list of what ingredients to use, their health benefits and how it will make or break your drink.
For Valentines day this year, sweet and thoughtful Ryan surprised me with a Nutribullet and pounds and pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to start us off.
I was ecstatic!
For so long I have wanted to try this new take on food and am learning so much about what works and what doesn't.
Tired, unmotivated and starving by 2pm
Without a doubt, at 2pm every day, I get groggy, lazy and I'm starving. It's crazy because not just two hours before that I enjoy a large homemade salad filled with plant-based proteins, healthy fats and a little dose of carbs. Water is my best friend too. So of course when 2pm hits, I immediately go for a bag of Skinny Pop or crackers or whatever else I can find. Then I feel like I have a food baby the rest of the day and I'm still not energized! Frustrating...
Happy, alive and ready to take on the world...all day
Now that I have my Nutribullet, I suddenly feel excited, awake and totally motivated! Seriously! The benefits of drinking your fruits and veggies go beyond pure nutrition..
- Overall health is rapidly increased - people with chronic illnesses, cancer, disease, or anything else that makes your body unhealthy have been reversed thanks to juices and smoothies.
- Better digestion
- Increased energy
- Better sleep
- Clear skin
- Weight loss (this is not a guarantee and will depend on a number of things)
- Easier absorption of essential vitamins and minerals
- Increase the amount of water you drink every day to stay hydrated
A lot of misconceptions come up on the topic of juicing and it is important to remember that this is not an end-all, be-all. You can easily eat these fruits and vegetables, however it is much harder to do so when you are chewing everything. The biggest plus I found is how much more water I drink every day, because in a Nutribullet you add water before blending, so t's an added glass or two a day. No matter what, once you find what juices/smoothies work for you, I guarantee you will see and feel results.
So I thought I would share a few of my tips and tricks to making your juices/smoothies taste amazing - because in the short month I have owned one, I've made some killer concoctions and some real doozies.
Nutribullet vs. Juicing
There is a big difference here, and my article is all about the Nutribullet.
Nutribullets are different than juicers in that your drink will have pulp from the veggies and fruits whereas a juicer will literally be a juice. They extract the pulp and leave you with only the juice of the veggie or fruit. Both have great benefits, however I feel I am at an advantage because I get all the nutrition from the ingredient - juice and pulp.
Ingredients to make or break your drink
My absolute favorite mix contains half a banana, a handful of kale, half a cucumber (skin on), coconut water, a few pieces of mango and a few pieces of pineapple. The flavor is so fresh and you would never know what you were drinking kale leaves. For added benefit, throwing in some ground flax seeds or squeezing half a lemon are great options too.
Another delicious juice/smoothie that really kicks up digestion is to use coconut water, half a green apple, 1 tablespoon of lime juice, a very tiny piece of fresh ginger and a big handful of kale. I've added in some pineapple as well, however that can make it quite tarte if you're sensitive to those flavors.
Carrots are also a great way to add vitamins to your drink as well as sweeten it up.
To break it down, I've listed the ingredients below to better explain how they work in a drink as well as their benefits. ***I am not a doctor of any sort and simply get my information just like any other human***
Fruits are a great way to add sweetness to a vegetable drink. The one issue I see however is the amount of sugar these drinks can have. It is important to balance your drinks with fruits and vegetables to alkalize the sugar content.
Banana's are a great addition to a drink because it will give a thicker, creamier consistency as well as add potassium, healthy carbs and yummy flavor. Many drinks you will find are very low in calories, so adding a banana is a great way to amp up calories in your drink especially if you are only relying on juices to get you through the day.
Combine a banana with berries, kale, cucumber and coconut water for a yummy drink full of antioxidants.
Apples are great to add fiber and more flavor to your drink. Green apples are recommended because they supply the lowest sugar content out of any apple. Be sure to remove the seeds when adding them to your drink - the seeds are toxic to the body.
When your drink tastes a little bland, adding an apple (or lemon juice) is a great way to freshen up the flavor. Green apples work well in 99.9% of every juice you make.
This fruit goes a long way in a drink and should be used sparingly. Too much will give it a tart taste. Pineapple is found in many bloat-reducing and digestion-helping juices because of its potential anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits. Pineapple contains high levels of vitamin c as well as bromelain, a protein-digesting enzyme that can be found in popular dietary supplements.
Be careful not to combine pineapple with something like lime juice. Those flavors will compete for attention and turn your drink in to a tart overload. Instead, combining it with green apples, celery, kale and pears will give you the health benefits you need without the tartness.
No matter what berry you use, it will also give it a yummy punch of flavor. The antioxidants in berries are wonderful and you just can't go wrong! Throw them in to most anything you make. Most berries will end up taking over the drink, except for strawberries - they give a lighter taste.
Pears are similar to banana's in that they will give a thicker consistency to drinks. They are very high in fiber so a great addition to your morning drink. I like to make a simple green apple, pear, cucumber, kale and water recipe that's hydrating and full of fiber.
Lemons & Limes
There are so many benefits to these that I could go on forever and ever. Here's the nitty gritty on what you really need to know:
Lemons - great for "detoxing" in the morning (flushing your system) and adding flavor. Half a lemon is usually the perfect amount.
Limes - also great for "detoxing" however a little goes a very long way. I generally only use 1/4 of a lime in a juice. It is a very strong taste and can make a drink too tart.
This tropical fruit can be a pain in the bum to cut up and prepare, however it adds amazing taste to your drink and has been known to lower cholesterol, alkalize the body, improve digestion and fight inflammation.
My all time favorite is to blend banana, mango, pineapple, kale and cucumber together with coconut water for a yummy breakfast or mid-morning snack.
Similar to banana's and pears, this will thicken up your drink. Avocado provides almost zero flavor to my taste buds, however it is a healthy dose of good for you fat and a good source of calories for when you are depending on drinks throughout the day. A good mix with avocado is to combine with coconut water, mango, pineapple, kale and a small piece of ginger.
Not my favorite, but definitely a favorite of Ryan's. Grapefruit boosts metabolism, strengthens the immune system and helps fight bloat and inflammation. It has a bitter taste so it's not for everyone, and can easily stand out in a drink. He mixes his with kale or spinach, pear, green apple, celery or cucumber and water.
Vitamin C in it's purest form. This is never a bad option and tastes great paired with a simple kale and coconut water mix for breakfast.
A great source of added water but without a big punch of flavor. You can throw these in just about any drink for a quick refreshment.
So that you don't go on sugar overload, here are some go-to veggies to healthify your drinks.
The consistency in spinach gives drinks a thicker, almost chalky texture, so use sparingly. Rich in iron and potassium, spinach is a great addition to your drinks. Make sure you add some ingredients that are water-based so that the drink doesn't get too "chalky". Grapes, celery, cucumber, orange and pineapple will all help to bring more water in.
My FAVORITE! Hands down, the best. Kale comes in so many varieties but no matter what they all pair well in drinks. Be sure to use only the leaves and discard the stems when using a Nutribullet. If you're using a juicer then it won't matter. Kale doesn't throw off the consistency of a drink like spinach does and has a very light taste so you get all the nutrition and just a little bit of the flavor. No matter what drink I am making, I always throw a handful or two of kale in.
Anti-inflammatory, digestion helper, used for centuries in medicines and teas...ginger is king. My one warning is a little bit, and I mean a little bit, goes a very long way. One of the first juices I made contained spinach, lemon juice, cucumber, green apple and a huge chunk of fresh ginger. Holy hell...it was strong. To the point that I had to pour it down the drain. I thought my days as a juicer were ruined, until I tried it again and only used 1/10 of what I put in the first time. Big difference.
Cucumber is great for hydration and will actually alkalize the sugar content in the drinks you make. The veggie will break down some of the sugars from fruits so your body doesn't go on overload. It adds a fresh taste to drinks - just be sure to wash thoroughly and yes you can leave the skin on. This can be added in to just about any drink and always freshens the flavor.
Ryan said to me yesterday how he has never had so many carrots in one week in his entire life until now. We go through a two pound bag every other week and try to add them in to any drink we make. Carrots are anti-aging miracles containing a ton of vitamin A which helps contribute to a healthy immune system, increased energy and cell growth (hence anti-aging). They give drinks a kind of sweetness you won't find in fruits, but with so much less sugar.
This is Ryan's thing. Beets are great and very healthy, but not for me. If you like taking the glass up to your mouth to take a swig and all of a sudden get a whiff of pure dirt straight from the earth, then beets are for you. The scent isn't all though - even the taste has a slight hint of dirt. If it was up to me, I would add in as many fruits as I could, but then that would defeat the purpose of the beets...
Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and incredibly high in vitamin c. You will definitely be able to taste them in a drink so if you're not a pepper fan, start with a one to two ratio of bell pepper and your fruit of choice.
Adds a very light, watery consistency with a hint of celery flavor. I like to add them because they are similar to cucumbers because they will help alkalize the sugars from the fruit. If your drink is too sweet, add in some celery to help. My favorite so far is frozen mixed berries, banana, kale, celery, mango and pineapple.
Even if you don't particularly like broccoli, you won't really know you're drinking them because their flavor is so slight. Cruciferous vegetables are harder to digest than other vegetables, so start small and see how you like them. They are paired well with green apples, kale, cucumber, lemon juice and water.
Additions to Drinks
Healthy additions to your drinks can be...
- Ground flax seeds
- Nut Butters
- Cocao Powder
- Chia Seeds
- Cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds
- Coconut oil (in very small amounts)
- Protein Powder
- Coconut Water
- Almond, Cashew, Coconut or Soy Milk
- Greek Yogurt
These are all great to add proteins, fats, added texture and flavor and so much more to your drinks.
This I have not tried yet but will update soon! Ryan made a drink with parsley but I couldn't really taste the parsley (if that helps!).
So now what?
Now you have your list, so get creative! The best way to make a drink is to choose two or three from each list of fruits and vegetables and one addition if preferred. This will give you the best balance of flavors in your drink.
Remember that you can't win every time and you're bound to make a few doozies once in a while. Try a bunch of combinations out and see what works for you.
It's important to prep as many of your ingredients ahead of time as you can. That way you can easily throw some stuff together a make a magical drink that will make you feel amazing.