Whether you’d like to lose weight, do a juice cleanse, make your own smoothies, protein shakes, or fresh juice at home, blending and juicing is in! Some people claim freshly extracted veggie and fruit juices help boost their immune systems - one thing’s for sure - it can’t hurt, and it can taste great! When juicing first started hitting the home consumer market, the machines were big, bulky and pretty expensive. And most times, the end product didn’t necessarily taste that great. But the machines, techniques and ingredients have come a long way. AND, these type machines are now being used for so much more than just making your healthy drinks.
There are lots of machines to choose from, like a quality blender priced under ten dollars for homemade smoothies, to juicers that can turn anything from limes to grapefruit into fresh juice. Some juice extractors take vegetables - even hard vegetables like carrots and broccoli, or produce like wheatgrass - and turn them into the tasty beverages you’re going for while staying healthy.
So let’s look at blenders first. Recently there has been a lot of interest in the single serve blender where you blend and store in the same container, or blend and then take with you for your morning drive. Many now come with multiple containers so you can mix a variety of drinks, or enough for a few days to just pick up and go. These vary from a basic model that will crush soft fruits and a liquid, to those with a powerful enough motor to break down fruits and harder vegetables like apples and carrots to allow you to make a really healthy drink with lots of nutrients. The NutriBullet Rx model has a built in heated base function to blend your vegetables and then heat them for a great tasting, healthy soup.
The traditional full size style blender is still popular for making drinks while crushing ice for larger amounts. The motors are heavy and the blending speeds vary from 5 to as many as 16 different functions or speeds. Glass or plastic is available for home use and they come in a variety of base colors, including stainless steel. Capacity will vary but usually ranges from 4 to 8 cups. Glass is the most preferred container as it is sturdy and easy to clean. Plastic is less expensive, but will scratch or get cloudy over time, and after uses, may start to pick up the odors of stronger ingredients. A great cleaning tip for this style blender is to add a small amount of detergent to the container, add some warm water and blend. The soap gets under the blades and cleans well. Just rinse thoroughly and you’re ready for the next mixing session. Also, many models have replacement jars in case of an accident.
If you are just looking for fresh squeezed citrus juice, there are both manual and electric juicers that are inexpensive, but will only handle those type fruits easily.
Think about what you’ll be juicing. That will help you decide just how powerful and the type of equipment you will need. If you’re going for the vegetables along with the fruit, consider the size of the feed tube on the juicer. Sounds like a small thing, but if you use it a lot - and you probably will - cutting the ingredients to fit could get old after awhile. That’s when you may step to a bigger, more powerful unit that takes full size vegetables like carrots or denser produce like kale to incorporate more fresh fruits or veggies into your diet.
You may want to investigate whether you’d be better off with a centrifuge extractor, which chops with a rotating blade and whirls at high speed to extract the juice, or whether you want a low-speed cold-juice extractor that crushes your fruit or vegetables and can even handle seeds and stems. The more you juice, the more you’ll value the power of the motor and the size of the pulp bin and size of the feed tube.
You might also want to check out the combination food processor/blenders that are now on the market. The blender is great for your drinks and the food processor can tame down those big vegetables in no time. Plus food processors are used for additional functions in kitchens every day. This model is both useful and space saving.
Eating healthy does not mean it’s not going to taste great. We’ve added just a few tips to help you get on the road to healthy, delicious and easy to make beverages.
Before you start, remember that putting liquid in first will help your blender move easier. Start slow and work your way up to high speed if you have multiple speeds.
- Try to get the most out of your juicing by adding as many fresh ingredients as possible. In most cases, adding water and a little bit of ice will not dilute the flavor, and will make your drink more like a shake consistency - without adding extra calories. If using milk, you won’t need a lot - just enough to get those fruits moving. Use the low fat version and you get calcium too!
- For a richer texture, try adding a couple of tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt to your mixture. It’s full of protein and not a lot of calories. You can use any flavored type yogurts as well, but check the labels because some are pretty high in sugar. You’ll get a nice rich flavor from using fruit, so in most cases you won’t need that extra sugar.
- Some protein drinks are low in sugar and in calories, and they too make a great base for a healthy drink. Remember, you won’t need a lot unless you are blending more than one drink.
- While many first time juicers are put off a bit by the color of the drink when using spinach, collard greens or kale, the benefits of these high vitamin and mineral vegetables are worth the first try. By using fruits like strawberries, blueberries and some banana, the flavor is amazing. You won’t taste the veggies!
- Once you have the basics under your belt, you’ll start experimenting with just about anything. One of the top favorites we’ve had was a mixture of oatmeal, blueberries, coconut, a small amount of vanilla protein drink, blended up with ice in a blender. Yummy and so healthy!
By making your own drinks, you know what’s going into the mixture so calories and sugar intake can be controlled while you add all your own favorite flavors.
For more tips and how-to videos visit our Answers Lab: http://www.brandsmartusa.com/answerslab