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Juices and Smoothies: Fruit and Vegetable Elixirs

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Juices and Smoothies: Fruit and Vegetable Elixirs

The Juice Bar Diaries

Throughout college, I worked at a local vegan cafe and juice bar near my hometown, and it’s still one of my favorite jobs I’ve ever had. I learned so much about vegan cooking – working with seasonal produce, “veganizing” traditional recipes, and discovering ingredients and cooking methods to make plant-based food taste amazing. Part of my job was to help run the juice and smoothie counter, and it was there that I learned about using frozen bananas to make smoothies creamy, balancing the bitterness in kale juice with apples and celery, and so much more.

I was lucky to work with the loveliest group of coworkers, and we’d talk, laugh, and experiment with our own juice and smoothie combinations during lulls throughout the day (one of the best perks of the job was that meals were on the house!). Whenever I even walk past a juice bar today, the fresh, happy scent of juiced ginger and celery wafting from the front door always brings back wonderful memories of my time working at the vegan restaurant. It’s one of my favorite things about making juice at home – I love the way it fills my home with that joyful, familiar scent. And of course, every sip of fresh juice feels like a big, nourishing, invigorating hug. (And yes, I know I’m a weirdo :P)

Finding the Perfect Juice

I started developing this Winter Elixir Green Juice recipe a while ago. I usually don’t follow recipes when I’m making green juices – I love to just use whatever fresh produce I have on hand that will taste good together. But, every once in a while I’ll accidentally make something that tastes AWESOME, and I’ll write down the ingredients I used and keep adjusting the recipe from there, so that I can share something delicious with you! And that’s exactly what happened with this Winter Elixir Green Juice.

Made with kale and grapefruit as the star ingredients, this green juice is a delicious way to take advantage of seasonal winter produce. Apples and celery bring some mellow sweetness to balance out the astringency of the kale, and ginger adds some spicy warmth that brings it all together. If you don’t have a juicer at home, you can easily make this recipe using a blender or food processor instead! Just add some filtered water to the vegetables, blend until completely smooth, then strain with a cheesecloth.

The Sugar Addict’s Elixir

My name is Kate and I am a sugar addict. Cakes, brownies, cookies, and candy? I’ll take two of each, thanks. That pint of ice cream – it’s great for me, but what are you going to eat? Chocolate croissant to get through the 4 pm slump? As long as it’s paired with a café mocha.

I know refined sugar is not a healthy food choice. I know it is totally addictive and provides zero nutritional value. I know all the awful things it does to my body. I know, I know, I know. However, that information has never stopped me from getting down and dirty with a pack of Oreo cookies. I have never been able to quit sugar.

Because of my sugar addiction, when I was asked to try out a juice cleanse from Jujubeet, a Seattle based artisan juice bar, the most compelling motivator was their claim that it reduced cravings. Losing weight, boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, and increasing energy were all additional benefits they listed, but it was the potential for diminishing cravings that got me to commit. You know my cravings must be bad if I was willing to consume nothing but juice and water for three days in order to conquer them!

A Juice Cleanse Journey

So, how does a Jujubeet juice cleanse work? Before a sip of juice crossed my lips, I was contacted by Elena Razmpoosh, a Jujubeet dietitian, for a pre-cleanse interview to determine the best cleanse for me. She asked me about prior cleanse experience, my daily activity level, and my taste preferences. We determined that I should try the three-day signature cleanse, which is their most popular program. It is primarily fruit and vegetable based and contains 6 juices and 2 elixirs a day. Razmpoosh also added one protein smoothie to my first day of juice since I told her I would be working out that morning before the cleanse officially started.

The night before the cleanse, I went to the Jujubeet store and picked up a cooler bag filled with my pre-labeled, pre-numbered juices and elixirs. The cleanse program could not be more simple. You pick up your juices every day and drink them in the order they tell you. If you are doing the cleanse with officemates or roommates, they even offer juice delivery with a $100 minimum order. There is no mess, no shopping, no thinking, and no planning with this program – just drink your juices in order. Outside what is in the labeled bottles, you should only consume water if at all possible. If you are really struggling, you can eat some raw cucumber or other easily digestible veggie, but that is not encouraged for optimal results.

The Cleanse Experience

Day One was fine even without my regular coffee. I drank my Lemon H2O and started the day. It wasn’t until about noon that things got rough for me. My brain was a bit fuzzy and I was totally preoccupied with how I was feeling. Am I hungry? Am I full? Am I thirsty? Am I dizzy? Am I about to pee my pants? My brain was going a little bit bonkers from noon on. By the end of the day, I was back to my normal self, but I was very thankful I didn’t have any meetings or serious plans that day.

The juices provided were all delicious. My favorites were the Crantastic Smoothie and the Master Cleanse, the sweeter of flavor profiles. The Coco Probiotic elixir had an easy to drink, mild flavor, but the Super Immunity elixir was another story. Packed with garlic, lemon, and cayenne, this tiny bottle packed a major punch. I told Elena that I was fine with spicy food before the cleanse started, but I was surprised by how spicy that elixir really was. It didn’t keep me from drinking it at any point during the cleanse, but if you are going to try it, be prepared.

Another element of the Jujubeet cleanse that happens on the first day is that you get a call from a nutritionist to make sure everything is going as planned. This is a great time to tweak anything or talk about any concerns or issues you have. I loved that this was a proactive call from Jujubeet rather than the generic “call us if you have any questions” move.

Day Two was a completely different ballgame for me. I woke up in a great mood with a ton of energy. I was pretty much a big ol’ ball of sunshine all day. I never felt hungry or cranky. In fact, by the end of the day, I had to force myself to finish the last juice bottle because I just wasn’t hungry for it. I know it sounds totally insane to not be hungry after two days with no real food, but it is true. Day two was a good day.

The final day of the cleanse was fine to start, but by about 2 pm, I was pretty much over drinking juice all day. I was ready for some additional protein, and for the whole thing to be over. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel good – I was just done with not chewing. The novelty and excitement had worn off, and I could tell my body needed something more than the juice was providing. I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t cranky. I was just looking forward to the end. I was also pretty tired of peeing so much.

The Aftermath

Since the Jujubeet cleanse ended, I can honestly say that I haven’t had any sugar cravings. I have been to one birthday party, one baby shower, and one potluck brunch where I was surrounded by cakes, cookies, and candy, and none of it called to me. It wasn’t that I was internally drooling over the dessert table and white knuckling my way to the end of every party. The sweets really just didn’t even sound good. Jujubeet held true to their promise to reduce the cravings.

As for the other promised benefits, some were true. I did lose a few pounds, but I would never do a juice cleanse for weight loss alone. If my only goal was weight loss, I would try a clean eating diet like the Whole 30 which seems like more of a lifestyle change. The juice cleanse weight loss feels more temporary. I did manage to avoid the runny nose my children recently acquired, but I don’t know if that was luck or the increase immunity promises from the cleanse. I have absolutely been eating healthier since the cleanse, and it is much easier to do so than it has ever been before. Jujubeet also mentions that the cleanse will give your skin new vibrancy, and I was told I looked “glowey” by someone that was not affiliated with Jujubeet. I guess that validates that listed benefit!

Overall, the juice cleanse was a great experience. It rebooted my system, reset my taste preferences, and gave me a newfound appreciation for the power of fresh fruits and vegetables. While I don’t plan on doing a full cleanse again anytime soon, I’ve definitely incorporated more juicing and smoothie-making into my daily routine since then. And you can bet that whenever I walk by a juice bar, I’ll be taking a big whiff of that ginger-celery aroma and reminiscing on my time as a juice slinger!

A Post-Holiday Elixir

Normally, you won’t find me making or sipping a smoothie. Or a green kale juice thing. I like to chew my food, and I don’t subscribe to the need for detoxes or cleanses. BUT, after a season of too much—sweets, rich and bountiful meals, chocolate, whipped cream, politics, tweet-storms, everything—a sparkling glass of green goodness suddenly seemed awfully appealing. Something fresh and chock full of foods that are natural and good for you—and nothing else.

In this mindset, I came across Matthew Kenney’s “Green Juice” recipe in the New York Times. Yes. This recipe was the right starting point, from which I could quickly create my own green concoction that would taste good to me. For example, I opted against using a whole lemon (skin and all), which I suspected would make it bitter, and I wanted to include the flavors of pear, parsley, and celery. I also don’t own a powerful juicer, so I needed to adjust the amount and ingredients so they would come together in a blender. But I loved the concept and what this beautiful beverage had to offer.

Besides the fiber of the whole lot, many of the ingredients are reputed for their high concentrations of nutrients (apple, pear, kale, spinach, parsley), antioxidants (lemon, fennel, ginger, celery, pineapple), and possible digestive benefits (ginger, pineapple). The beauty of smoothie and juice blend recipes is that you can tailor them to what you can get and enjoy, as I have done with my version. And if you don’t like the flavor, you can simply blend in more of what you do like (say, apple) to change the balance.

The key to keeping this to what I’m calling a “post-holiday elixir” is using all fresh vegetables and fruits and not adding anything you’ve been eating too much of—no fat, no dairy, no processed foods, no added sugar (and sorry, no wine or whiskey, either). The drink’s texture is something in between juice and a smoothie—it’s slightly thick from all the vegetables and fruits, but not frozen. I love the spice of the ginger and the sweet notes from the fruit, but most of all how fresh it tastes. A one-cup serving was surprisingly filling, and I saved the rest covered in the fridge for the next day (it was just as good). Best of all, the drink satisfied my psychological need to give myself a nutritional boost.

I wouldn’t shop for and make this drink every week. But I see it being a regular part of my year, particularly after stints of rich and festive eating. And I think it will be ideal during Passover—a time when one especially needs a good green something (or five) after all that matzah. Here’s to a healthy and delicious new year!

Juicing and Blending Power

The juicing and blending world is sort of my jam. In my eyes, there’s no easier, tastier, more efficient way of getting a ginormous amount of nutrients into your system than via fresh juices, superfood smoothies, and creamy nut milks. When you whip up a boatload of fruits and veggies and other plant-based powerhouses and start sipping, you get a quick, easily digestible hit of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phytonutrients and other goodies. And as a wellness activist and cancer thriver, you better believe I practice and rally behind something so beneficial to our health. That’s why I’ve been a super-drink guzzler and cheerleader for over a decade.

When I was diagnosed with a stage IV incurable (but thankfully slow-growing) cancer on Valentine’s Day, 2003, I threw myself into learning all I could about how best to support my health and happiness. Enter juicing and blending. Since then, I’ve experimented with countless combinations for nutritious fruit and veggie elixirs while sharing overall healthy lifestyle insights, tips and tricks with the KrisCarr.com community. And after years of juicing and blending, I’ve gathered all of my know-how and created a huge collection of new, delicious, nourishing juice, smoothie and nut milk recipes, and put them all in one place: my newest book, Crazy Sexy Juice.

Inside this book, you’ll find everything you need to know about incorporating healthy beverages into your life. I’ve detailed the whys and hows, mapped out a 3-day cleanse and packed it with more than 100 amazing juice, smoothie, and nut milk recipes. I’m thrilled to get this book out into the world, so I’m doing a little sneak peek for Home Cooking Rocks readers! Below, you’ll find two of my fave Crazy Sexy Juice recipes – give ’em a try!

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