Welcome to the latest post in the Two Generations of Healthy Lifestyles series, a blog series I do with my stepdaughter and fellow health nut, Tori of Earth to Tori. Tori and I have been making smoothies in my Vitamix for many years but we wanted to start juicing as a way to get more nutrients – mostly from dark leafy vegetables – into our diets. So we decided to both get a slow masticating juicer.
I had a centrifugal juicer about 17 years ago – I think it was a wedding gift – and let me tell you, it was such a pain to use. It involved using thin paper filters that were difficult to apply to the inside of the juicer and I could rarely keep them in place. And the leftover pulp was so wet, it seemed like it was leaving a lot of the good stuff in the filter rather than in the glass.
After a particularly messy and dramatic experience with some beets, I decided it was time to get rid of it and just figured juicing wasn’t for me. But, as I would find out a few months ago, juice machines have come a very long way since the early 2000s.
Centrifugal vs. Slow Masticating
One day, I saw an ad on Instagram for a slow masticating juicer which soon found me down the Internet rabbit hole of juice machines, learning about the differences between a centrifugal juicer and a slow masticating juicer, also known as cold press.
A centrifugal juicers have a metal blade that spins very fast against a filter, using centrifugal force to extract juice from the fruit or vegetable. This fast spinning produces heat and that heat can destroy the material’s enzymes and oxidize its nutrients. The good things about centrifugal juicers are they’re usually inexpensive and they’re fast. Some people debate over the heat issue, saying it doesn’t affect the juice’s nutritional value. To me it makes sense that the heat would impact it.
Slow masticating juicers slowly extracts the juice from vegetables and fruit by crushing and chewing and squeezing them. They don’t produce very much heat so not much of a risk of losing valuable nutrients.
After learning all I could about them, I decided I wanted a slow masticating juicer.
My top reasons for choosing this type are:
~ Nutrient retention is much better with a slow masticating juicer.
~ Slow masticating juicers can better process stringy things like leafy greens and even juice unpeeled citrus with ease.
~ You get more juice for your money because slow masticating juicers wring more juice from the fruits and vegetables than centrifugal juicers, resulting in a much drier pulp.
The juicer I saw the ad for on IG was slow masticating (and so cute too) but also way out of my price range at $600. I knew I could find a quality juicer at a better price and maybe, since it was the holiday season, on discount too. And I was right!
After looking at several different brands and reading tons of reviews, I decided on an Omega Juicer. Omega has a wide variety of juicers to choose from and all the reviews I read were high.
Ultimately, I narrowed down my choices to an 8008 model, part of their line of Nutrition System Juicers. Macy’s had it on sale for $250 and they just happened to have one in stock at our local Coddingtown Santa Rosa location.
The Omega 8008 also makes nut butters, extrudes pasta, makes breadsticks, grinds coffee and spices, and minces herbs and garlic.
Once I got my new toy home, it was time to put it to work. I found the directions for set up and use easy to follow and after washing my juicer and setting it up, it was time to pick out my veggies.
What I Like to Juice
I usually juice all green vegetables, then add in a lemon or two and some fresh ginger to cut the bitterness. I am okay with my juice not being sweet. I juice for the health benefits not for the flavor.
I will add a few carrots, an apple or both to Bill’s juice. He once shuddered at the taste of my green juice without them so now I make sure to add something to it for sweetness. If I have berries on hand, I will throw a handful in the juicer for him.
My favorite green juice ingredients are celery with the leaves, cucumbers with the peel, collard greens, dandelion greens, carrot tops, kale, zucchini, mint, lemon balm, broccoli, cabbage, swiss chard and spinach.
I wash all my veggies throughly, then cut them small enough to fit in the shoot. My shoot is pretty big so I can usually get way with big chunks. Celery and carrots I don’t usually have to do much to.
I put it all my goodies in a big bowl so they are ready to be juiced. I read somewhere it’s good to alternate between soft and firm foods when using a slow masticating juicer. So I will start with a stick of cucumber or celery then follow it with some leafy greens.
If I am doing a big batch, I will have to stop and clean the juicer because it can get sluggish if used too much. It only takes a minute of rinsing off and taking the brush, included with the juicer, to the filter .
I have glass bottles and a small pitcher for pouring the juice on hand if I am making a big batch. I don’t like to keep juice for longer than 36 hours so I am careful not to make too much.
I don’t follow any recipes and always just use what I have on hand. And to tell the truth, I don’t really care all that much what it tastes like, as long as I can get it down.
Unexpected Juicing Benefits
A few unexpected things happened after I started juicing regularly:
~ I started buying vegetables I don’t normally buy at the market which means I am getting nutrients from a lot of healthy veggies new to me – namely collard greens, dandelion greens, and lemon balm.
~ I ditched my afternoon caffeine pick-me-up for juice and find that it gives me the little boost I’m looking for.
~ If I have produce that is about to go south, I can get rid of it fast by juicing it. Sometimes I will overbuy produce so if I see I have way too much lettuce, for example, into the Omega it goes.
~ I am making use of material I would usually throw in the compost bin such as radish greens, carrot tops, the ribs of kale leaves, and celery leaves. Someone told me you can put banana peels in juicers. I am going to look into that!
~ I do feel better overall since adding juicing into my weekly routine. My skin has never looked better (my skin care also attributes greatly to that) and my digestion is fantastic.
Currently, I juice about once or twice a week. I would like to start drinking juice everyday and now that spring is here, I just might. Soon farmers markets will be full of wonderful local veggies and fruits. I can’t wait to try some new stuff in my juicer! Oh, and I am willing to give those beets a go again 😉
Be sure to visit Tori’s blog and read her post about juicing. She is sharing her favorite green juice recipes!
Do you have a juicer?
What are your favorite things to juice?
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