Saturday, February 13, 2016

Juice recipes and the American recipe for disaster

Chris's brother-in-law (and sister) gave me a Nutri Ninja for Christmas. I have used it every day since. I had been wanting a juicer/food processor for awhile, and this model is both. For his family Christmases, I like to ask for something that will benefit us both; last year was a crockpot (which is awesome. I'm cooking tonight's dinner right now!)

Chris has some health issues, so I wanted something that could help in that regard. I have been making him two juices a day, sometimes three, as well as using the Ninja to make sauces or to chop up veggies for meals. (I say juice - you might say smoothie.) For the first couple of days, I was guided by the recipe book that came with the device; now I'm pretty much on my own, though every now and then I like to get ideas online. Juice is a great resource, especially the section for health conditions where you can find recipes to match whatever ailment you may have.

We live a block away from a Harris Teeter, which we usually visit every day in winter so we have fresh food. (I go to Eastern Market farmers market in the warm months.)  I've never been one for processed foods, as all the evidence points to this as the culprit for the myriad of health epidemics this country faces, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Obesity is a national health crisis, not something to be glorified or excused. Fat pride is among the most ridiculous of movements this country has ever experienced. We might as well celebrate cancer.

That being said, the health crisis in this country did not start off as the fault of the people. That blame lies with the food industry that started pouring artificially made chemicals into food to preserve it so people wouldn't have to go to the grocery every day.  (This is an inconvenience because Americans isolated themselves into suburbs, where no markets are allowed except in stripmalls.) Perhaps their original intention was good, but as we learned more about what these chemicals were doing to our bodies, they turned a blind eye as the profits rolled in.  Now we're letting corporations like Monsanto engineer deadly chemicals into the seeds that grow our food, and it's killing off the pollinators, not to mention what it must be doing to our DNA. But if you say something, you're labeled a "liberal" by those who are profiting and by the sheep that have been suckered by them. Health is not a "liberal" or "conservative" issue. (Although I'm starting to think that only one of those groups is human, and it's not the latter.)

Thankfully, Americans are starting to wake up. Farmers markets have sprung up across the country, even in places where the corn industry rules (the industry that stands to lose the most if Americans start eating fresh foods again.) Juicers are all the rage, and we're eating weird things like quinoa and kale, foods no American had heard of twenty years ago.

I try to make one antioxidant loaded juice and one vitamin C loaded juice a day. I put one cup of kale, a teaspoon of chia seeds, a teaspoon of beet powder, and a teaspoon of turmeric into each one. Why?

Kale has every vitamin imaginable, including Vitamin K, folic acid (B9), fiber, magnesium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. It lowers cholesterol, is high in antioxidants, helps with blood clotting, and may help fight cancer. It's gross raw (anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying to be trendy or has no tastebuds), but you can't taste it when it's mixed into juices. Personally, I prefer spinach, which is higher in some nutrients than kale but lower in others, but kale is cheaper and we eat spinach during meals.

Chia seeds are a good source of omega-3, fiber, antioxidants, and magnesium and a teaspoon has 3g of protein. We're getting the same amount of protein as a serving of nuts in each of these juices, partly due to the chia seeds. I have no idea the relationship between these seeds and the chia pets.

Beets strengthen liver function, improve cognition, boost the immune system, and lower blood pressure. One teaspoon of beet powder equals one beet. Research into beets as a treatment for Alzheimer's is promising.

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, and anticancer potential, especially liver cancer. The curative powers of a chemical in turmeric called curcumin are promising.

Much of the research on these foods is inconclusive, but studies have shown potential, and since none of these influences the taste of the juice, I always include these four ingredients.

As for the others, this is what I try to keep on hand and how much I use (each juice requires a liquid):


bananas - I almost always use a half per juice
apples - when used, a fourth of a cup
pears - a fourth of a cup (use instead of apple)
mangos - a fourth of a cup
avocado - usually use the whole thing. (Is the fruit named after lawyers or are lawyers named after the fruit? Ha. Here's the actual story of the name.)
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries - one fourth to one half a cup, depending on what else is in there, fresh or frozen
peaches - a half a cup, fresh or frozen (When you use peaches, the flavor is dominant.)
grapes - a fourth of a cup (excellent source of liquid, too.)
cherries - I've only used frozen, and they are awesome. A half a cup. Goes well with pomegranate juice
carrot - half, doesn't add to flavor, full of vitamin A
butternut squash - half a cup
yogurt - plain or vanilla, usually Greek, four ounces (under solid because still requires a liquid, otherwise, too thick)
ginger - tablespoon-sized slice, don't even need to peel it, flavor dominates
seedless orange- use one whole one
pineapple, fresh or frozen - fourth of a cup
nuts - almonds, pistachios, walnuts - an eighth of a cup


pomegranate juice - usually four ounces, sometimes eight
coconut water - eight ounces. I use this the most. Loaded with potassium.
coconut milk - eight ounces. Excellent source of vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, folate (B9)
almond milk - four to eight ounces
kefir (yogurt drink, better for juices than yogurt) - four to eight ounces
green tea - freshly brewed. Another "superfood" loaded with antioxidants
apple sauce - four ounces, sometimes requires additional liquid
juice from a lemon


nutmeg - goes well with almond milk
cardamom powder - goes well with almond milk, butternut squash, apple, apple sauce
cinnamon - goes well with apple, apple sauce, or butternut squash
agave nectar - instead of sugar, used to sweeten if necessary
honey - instead of sugar, used to sweeten if necessary
unsweetened cocoa powder - goes well with almond milk, vanilla yogurt, needs agave nectar to sweeten

I also like to use the frozen fruit to make the juice cold. A couple of pieces will do.

Fortunately, I'm in a position to be able to afford these foods. They are mostly expensive if you're on a limited budget, and that's ridiculous. I look at the price tags and see "WIC approved" on selected produce (but not all, which is also ridiculous) and wonder if low income folks have to choose a couple of fruits a week when I buy them all. And then there's the veggies, the broccoli and asparagus and spinach and kale and cauliflower and zucchini and carrots and beans...If this country didn't grow so much damn corn, instead growing foods we can eat (most corn goes into the production of livestock feed, biofuels, or high fructose corn syrup, the drug of the nation), the price of produce would go down. We are a very cornfused nation.

Food - just another of the many lessons I learned from traveling.

No comments:

Post a Comment