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Blog of the month

Here is the second author in our new series of guest bloggers, Robin Asbell
She not only is the author of many books on real food,
but also a knowledgeable food activist and contributor to the fight against overly processed food. Her latest book is out: 


We do look forward to hear your comments and contributions on this and anything else we post. 
Let us know your thoughts either here or on our Facebook page and enjoy the read.


The Joy of Juice

Juicing is in vogue, like never before. As someone with a front row seat for the evolution of juicing in America over the last 20 years, I think we are finally getting alot of things right.

You see, juice used to be a very hard core health food-y thing. At the Coop where I cooked and baked in the 80's, a small but intense group bought 50 lb bags of organic carrots to juice. Some were health seekers, others were making carrot juice for someone being treated for cancer. Back then, carrot juice was credited with saving people. I knew of several.
In the 90's and 00's I built my personal chef business, and was often hired to cook for people with cancer, heart disease, and other serious conditions. Many of these clients had healing diets prescribed by their practitioners, and I learned a great deal about the healing qualities of foods, and juices. It made perfect sense to treat the whole body with real, healing foods, and resort to big pharma only when necessary. I saw amazing successes.

In recent years, as people have been waking up to the benefits of plant foods, juicing has transformed from something prescribed for sick people into an everyday and fabulous way to enjoy more vegetables and fruits. Of course, the amazing rise in all things green, from spinach to kale, has given us green juices and smoothies. If it's called a superfood, it's probably being made into a drink.
So the evolution of juice, from where I stand, is that we now see juices as a potent addition to a balanced diet. You don't have to be hard core. A tasty glass of juice is more like taking a multi-vitamin, but better, perhaps a way to catch up on our vegetable servings on days when we might not have hit the mark. Blended for flavor, color, and fun, these juices are not just about health, but they can't help but be full of phytochemicals, antioxidants, and nutrition. You can have a whole-food smoothie in the morning, full of blueberries and kale, and drink a juice blend made with honeydew, spinach and cucumbers in the afternoon. Who needs to chew?

So how does one commit to juicing? 
Well, step one is to get a good juicer. Look for a slow or masticating juicer. You can use a blender to make smoothies. This is about juice. Yes, the juicer takes out most of the fiber, but you should be eating a high fiber diet anyway, with whole grains, beans and vegetables. Juice just allows you to drink an entire bunch of greens, or a pound of carrots or tomatoes in a glass, and still have room for your healthy meals.
It's important to be balanced, in your approach to juicing. Adding large quantities of sweeter juices to your diet, like fruit or even carrot, should be a replacement for other sugars, like soda, cookies and treats, and you should balance with less sweet vegetable juices, so you don't overdo it. These raw, fresh, enzyme rich and alkalizing plant juices are infinitely better for you than other sweet beverages, but they are sweets.
To make juicing more affordable, I seek out my local organic growers at the Farmer's Market or my local coop grocery. I also plant a juice garden.
My juice garden is unbelievably easy to grow. Kale, spinach, carrots, beets, cucumbers, and parsley rule the grounds, and tomatoes flourish in pots. At peak season, I can stroll through my garden and pull veggies, take them in for a quick rinse and juice them within minutes.

Once my juice is made, there are lots of options for the pulp to find another purpose. Carrot, beet, and other sweet, crumbly pulps are great in muffins, bars and burgers (recipes on my blog at robinasbell.com) and can slip unnoticed into various loaves, casseroles and baked goods. A nearly instant stock can be extracted from a veggie medley, since it's already pulverized, it takes barely any simmer time. You can even mix pulps with a little coconut oil for a facial mask.
And there is no shame in composting pulp, once you are done with it. It's part of the cycle of life.

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