Today veggie lovers from all around the globe celebrate World Vegetarian Day, and we at PackIt were wondering how long it’s been since you “veg-ed out”?
Whether you include meat in your diet or not, it’s an undeniable fact that we all need our veggies. Did you know that someone who maintains a healthy weight at 2,000 calories per day should be eating 2 cups of fruit and 2 and ½ cups of vegetables daily? Depending on caloric intake and activity level, some people should be eating up to 6 and ½ cups of fruits and veggies! For some, it can be challenging to incorporate that much of the good stuff into a daily regimen, especially if the taste or texture is something you find off-putting. Even for those of us that love eating our fruits and vegetables, meeting the recommended daily amount can be a feat, especially when you’re constantly on the go.
Popularized in the early 90s, juicing has gained acceptance and popularity as a quick and easy way to meet the daunting daily veggie requirement. No longer just a health fad, the whole concept has evolved greatly since commercial juicers were first made available to the masses. Juice bars, where you can buy your freshly pressed and customizable juices to go, are popping up all across the world, and for good reason.
Proponents claim that juicing allows your body to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals found in veggies and fruits, while giving your digestive system a much-needed break from processing all that fiber. Juice cleanses have slowly gained popularity as a great way to flush out toxins, energize, and reboot your immune system. In honor of World Vegetarian Day, we put together a list of juicing tips for beginners and pros alike:
Juice only as much as you can drink, and juice often! Freshness is the key. The sooner you can drink your concoction, the better. Although it might be tempting to make a batch that will last you three days, don’t. As soon as juice is exposed to air or light, it begins to oxidize, killing off nutrients by the minute. If you can’t consume your drink right away, always store in an airtight and opaque container, but no more than 24 hours.
Keep it cool, man. Cold is the secret ingredient to a great juice. Chilling your fruits and vegetables prior to pressing helps keep them crisp and easier to extract juice from. It’s absolutely imperative, though, that your juice is kept cold if you can’t drink it right away. Unlike commercial juices you get in a store, your freshly made and delicious juice has not been pasteurized. Pasteurization can prevent bacteria from growing, but it also kills a lot of the beneficial vitamins and nutrients in the process. If you juice in the morning and take it with you to work, make sure you’re storing it in a PackIt cooler to keep it cold enough to enjoy at lunch or as an afternoon pick-me-up!
Rule of Thumb. When you’re using your juicer, never feed in pieces that are bigger than your thumb. We’ve all seen those cool infomercials for juicers showing off how you can just jam an entire apple in there- don’t do that! If you want to extend the life of your juicer, take the time to chop your ingredients down to a manageable size. Feeding in big chunks at once also creates friction, which creates heat, and heat is the enemy to your juice and it’s vital nutrients! Anything with fibrous lengths, like celery, should be cut even smaller, about ½ an inch.
Get in line. You should always juice high water content veggies (like cucumbers or romaine lettuce) first. Make the other guys like celery and kale wait until the end. Those higher-fiber vegetables tend to accumulate in the bottom of your juicer’s auger and can add more pulp to your juice than is optimal if fed in first.
Don’t overdo the fruit. Apples and pears can be a yummy addition to vegetable juices, and they do a great job of masking the bitterness of densely nutritious dark leafy-greens. However, because they contain high amounts of fructose, juices made with more fruit than veggie can spike your blood sugar. A good guideline to follow is that your juice should be no more than 1/3 fruit.
Look local. Search your area farmer’s markets for local and seasonal produce. Sometimes you can look even more local than that, like your own backyard! If you grow herbs like basil, cilantro, or parsley, grab a handful (always wash!) and throw them in your juicer. Herbs are known to have terrific diuretic and anti-inflammatory effects and are nature’s little super detoxifiers. Not to mention, they can add a nice and subtle note to your drink.
Add some ZING! Feeling like your go-to juice recipes need a little something special? Try adding jalapeño, ginger, or garlic to kick it up a notch. Not only are these great flavor enhancers, they are all rich in antioxidants. Ginger has been used for centuries as an immune-booster, and garlic is an excellent source of vitamins A and B-complex. Just one jalapeño can contain more than one day’s worth of vitamin C.
Whether you’re already a master, or just getting your feet wet, juicing can be an excellent way to load up on tons of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals when you don’t have the time to eat your five servings a day. Juicing in the morning, keeping it cool with a PackIt, and enjoying the “fruits” of your labor in the afternoon is an excellent step to take toward surpassing that daily requirement and truly “veg-ing out”!