As eating raw has become popular among the health-minded, juicing has developed as an equally popular counterpart in the never-ending quest for keeping trim and healthy. More and more people are reaching for less familiar vegetables like kale and chard leaf in the produce section of the local market rather than going for the usual cold cuts for lunch.
So why can’t you just take a handful of vitamins to get the nutrients your body is missing? And what’s the difference between having a colorful plate of cooked veggies and juicing?
“Many people are lacking sufficient enzymes due to a highly processed and predominantly cooked-food diet," says Marra St. Clair, co-owner of Ritual Wellness in Irvine. “Juices provide enzymes, the catalysts which allow cells to absorb nutrients. While multivitamins deliver vitamins, most fail to deliver the enzymes which are essential for cellular absorption.”
According to Alexis Schulze, co-owner of the Costa Mesa-based Nekter Juice Bar, “a lot of people don’t realize that by cooking vegetables, you are destroying some, if not all, of the nutrients – vitamins, minerals, enzymes, etc.”
Schulze was first introduced to juicing by some fellow yoga classmates. “They would take me to a juice bar after class,” she says. “At first I would look at the juice and say, ‘There is no way I can drink this stuff!’ But then I started having them add apples (which adds a bit of sweetness) and put it over ice. That made it much more palatable. After a few, my body started craving it and I told myself, ‘I could make this!’”
With a lot of nutritional research and after testing out several recipes on her trusty guinea pigs (aka family and friends), Schulze put together the menu that is now featured at the Nekter Juice Bar stores in Costa Mesa, Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, Dana Point, Long Beach, and Anaheim Hills. When asked about her target customer, Schulze says, “We see everyone come through the door. From students to moms on-the-go to fitness fanatics or those who have had a rough weekend and need a shock of nutrients.”
So as a newbie to the juicing world, what do you need to get started? Before you go out to the nearest kitchen appliance store to spend a pretty penny on a juicer or buy out the produce section at your grocery store, you may want to know the health benefits of what you’re putting into these healthy concoctions.
Here is a list of some popular ingredients found in most juicing recipes at Nekter Juice Bar and what they can do for you:
Acai berry: aids in weight loss; increases energy; improves blood flow; promotes healthy skin; strengthens heart; detoxifies body; boosts immune system; improves digestion
Kale: rich in antioxidants; nutritional powerhouse full of fiber, B6, magnesium, vitamins A, C and K; rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorous
Spinach: high in fiber, which aids digestion; cancer fighting; anti-inflammatory; lowers blood pressure; protects eyes from cataracts; antioxidant; fights infection; keeps skin hydrated; promotes healthy nervous system; strengthens bones
Apple: low in calories, rich in dietary fiber; rich in vitamins C, K, B6, and potassium; full of antioxidants
Ginger: anti-inflammatory; reduces nausea and migraine headaches; mild appetite stimulant; rich source of many essential nutrients and minerals
Beets: greens have vitamins A, C, iron, and calcium; root has manganese, fiber, potassium, and folic acid; helps fight cancer; improves digestion; reduces cholesterol; helps memory
Parsley: rich in antioxidants; anti-inflammatory; strengthens immune system; helps ward off cardiovascular diseases
Carrot: cleanses and restores liver; rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene; improves vision; aids in cancer prevention; has anti-aging benefits; helps prevent heart disease
Williams-Sonoma Breville Juice Fountain Plus, $149.95
This juicer extracts eight ounces in only five seconds. It has two speeds: a low speed for leafy vegetables and soft fruits and a fast speed for harder vegetables.
Bed Bath & Beyond Omega Model 8006 Heavy Duty Nutrition Center Juicer, $299.99
Designed for the home, but built for commercial use, the juicer can juice everything from fruits and vegetables to wheatgrass. Its low speed helps prevent foam, making cleanup easier.
Sur La Table Hurom Slow Juicer, $359.95
A rotating brush cleans the bowl while it juices, extracting more juice and expelling drier pulp. It also breaks up more of the phytonutrients for a deeper colored juice with more vitamins and minerals.