Thursday, December 16, 2010

Citrus Carrot Juice

Cheap Eat Challenge Count Down: 16 days

I think it's time for a little detoxification.

I know that it seems we just sit around here inhaling sugar and cocoa and almond paste all day. But we actually do eat many healthy things. We eat, or at least put on the table to be eaten, spinach potato soup. We eat winter smoothies. And when the citrus goes on sale, as it has recently done, we make juice.

I know what you're thinking: Homemade juice isn't cheap. Which, compared to some store bought juice or water, is certainly true. First of all, you're saying, there's the juicer. And those things can be pricey. Secondly, there's the produce, some of which goes unused in the making of juices.

Now, allow me to defend myself. And perhaps make an argument for homemade juices as well.

First of all, while homemade juice is expensive compared to some store bought juices or water, it's quite cheap compared to soda or bottled water or Welch's or any juice you buy in the refregerated section and not the frozen juice section.

Secondly, juicer's can be pricey--very pricey. But they needn't be, especially for our humble purposes of just getting an added burst of nutrition. I got mine off of freecycle from the nicest lady ever. It's a Juiceman II juicer and not the greatest juicer in the world, but it gets the job done. My brother and sister-in-law love their Black and Decker juicer, which cost them $50 last winter from WalMart. They claim to get twice as much juice from their fruits/veggies as I do from mine and I believe them. Furthermore, you can get a simple citrus juicer for cheap and that can give you a nice dose of all the nice citrus fruits that are in season this time of year. I see these things at yard sales all the time. And even though they're only good for citrus, they're a heck of a lot easier to clean than the other juicers.

Thirdly, citrus fruits are on sale at this time of year, sometimes for very very cheap. I got 4 lb or oranges for $1.49 this week from Aldi. Grapefruit are well under $1/lb as well. And carrots are usually cheap. I made about 12 oz of juice yesterday for about $.50. People often spend that or double that on a soda or bottled water without thinking twice.

Of course, you may also be asking, Why Juice? (And, yes, you are definitely asking it with capital letters.) This is a good question. In our family, there are many answers.

First, it's a great way to use produce that you realize isn't very good when you bring it home--that bag of oranges that looked so promising, those apples that are all bruised, the grapefruit you bought from Sam's that your kids don't like and that you can't finish off before it goes bad. Juicers are a great way to use the orange you may or may not have given your baby to play with one morning when you were busy in combination with that apple that your toddler only half ate. This was one of my main reasons for getting a juicer and also a reason I didn't want to spend a lot on mine. I wasn't sure how much I'd use it.

Secondly, my husband and kids have a little problem getting enough fruits and vegetables in their diets. But they like juice and it's easy to give them a glass and nice to know that they're getting a good punch of raw fruits (and sometimes veggies depending on how good I am at getting that stuff in). In the summer we make smoothies with summer fruits, but in the winter those are expensive and not very good. Juicing seems the logical way to fill that gap.

Thirdly, there's a very convincing argument for juicing. It goes like this: Some nutrients are bound up in the fibers of fruits and vegetables. Thus, when you eat the fruits and vegetables whole, they are not absorbed, but rather travel through your digestive track with the undigestible fibers. When you juice, you remove the valuable vitamins, minerals, and enzymes from the produce and absorb 100% of it. The statistic I kept finding on the Internet was that if you ate a carrot, you'd get about 1% of the beta carotene, but if you juiced it you'd get 100%. I think those numbers are a little sketchy, since most of us do spend a couple of minutes chewing our carrots, but the principle (that fiber can inhibit the absorption of some vitamins, etc.) seems sound to me. Furthermore when you juice you get the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes into your system faster since there's no fiber to work through. By the way, most of the juicing advocates are not saying to do away with fiber completely. They are only saying that it can inhibit the absorption of some vitamins, etc. and that therefore juicing is a very good addition to a healthy diet.

And as a last question, Why Not Buy Cheap Juice From the Store?

First, it has been pasteurized and stored. Heating the juice makes it no longer a raw food. That means the enzymes get destroyed and that the food simply isn't as nutritious as it would have been.

Secondly, it has additives/preservatives.

Thirdly, sometimes sugar is added. And there are those who believe that even in juices that claim to be 100% fruit juice, there is a use of extra sugars from the fruits to make it sweeter. So, yes, it's 100% from fruit, but they've used extra fruit sugars to sweeten it. I don't know if it's true, but I certainly wouldn't put it past the food industry.

Fourth, the the homemade stuff tastes something awesome.

Now, before we get to the juice recipe, which is itself very simple and can be jimmied in 1000's of ways, let me give a few tips for juicing and using the refuse.

1. Drink your juice quickly. Homemade juice oxidizes quickly, meaning the enzymes and nutrients start to die. The sooner you drink it, the better.

2. Clean your juicer quickly. The stuff will harden on the little bitty holes and the stickiness with be there forevermore. If you don't have time to clean it immediately, soak it till you do.

3. You can use the refuse in soups or smoothies. I personally don't like it in smoothies as I miss the juicy stuff. But the carrot juice refuse is good in soups.

4. Compost it. This is what I do. It breaks down quickly. If you have even a small garden, you can put it in a large rubbermaid bin outside and compost it in that.

And now for the recipe.

Citrus Carrot Juice
Serves 1

1 orange, peeled
1 grapefruit, peeled
1 carrot

Feed them into your juicer and drink up.

My sister-in-law makes great juice. She adds a few strawberries and about a cup of spinach. If I'd had spinach I would have added it too, but strawberries are too rich for my blood at this time of year.

Only have a citrus juicer, skip the carrots. You're kids will like it better that way anyway:).


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