Holly Ebel: You can drink your way to better health
What has been the latest diet trend on both coasts has now also arrived in our part of the country.
And, as it turns out, unlike some food fads, this is a very healthy one. The Kardashians do it, as does Gwenyth Paltrow, and a host of other celebrities swear by it.
What is it? Juicing, both organic raw vegetables and fruits. Salad in a straw?
One who is especially passionate about it is Nicci Sylvester, owner of Tonic, the local kitchen and juice bar, 1217 Second St. SW, which has quickly become a favorite. In the short time Tonic has been in business, she has converted hundreds to the process.
"I am passionate about this," she said.
Sylvester has been juicing for years and has felt its benefits.
"I noticed a difference in how I felt right away," she said. "I had much more energy, my skin looked better and so did my hair and nails. Since you get a powerhouse of nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants in a glass, it can't help but be good for you."
A couple of places to start
For someone new to the juicing concept, a trip to Tonic or Inta Juice, 2550 S. Broadway, is a good place to start.
Sylvester mentioned several customer favorites, the most popular being the Easy Being Green mixture, which combines two cups spinach, two cups kale, a Granny Smith apple for a little sweetness, some mint, fresh ginger and lemon, as well as leafy greens.
Citrus-based Coastal Sunshine is another popular juice. Here, oranges, lime, lemon and locally grown organic carrots come together in a juice full of vitamins A and C.
"The great thing about juicing is that you can mix and match ingredients depending on your mood and what appeals to you," Sylvester said. "It's all good.".
Inta Juice offers seven different blends or customers can make up their own with what fruits and vegetables are available, said owner and manager Jessica Shindelar.
"We try to be consumer friendly and to make the juices palatable — some can be pretty strong tasting," she said.
A favorite combines freshly squeezed vegetable juices with frozen fruit.
"It comes out like a smoothie," Shindelar said.
Her favorite combines the juices of carrot, lime, cucumber, celery, apple and ginger.
Mike Brekke, food and beverage manager at the Rochester Athletic Club, has just one juice, but it is a favorite — orange.
"I have a special juicing machine just for oranges that cuts, slices and squeezes out the juice," he said. "It takes six oranges to make a 12-ounce glass."
For those wanting to get on the juicing bandwagon, there are some things to consider.
First, you can definitely make juice in a blender, but juicers have become popular kitchen items and probably do a better job of extracting juice. If buying one, make sure that it is also able to handle leafy greens.
Since you should use organic ingredients, you do not need to peel the fruits and vegetables, but wash them very well.
Important to know is that these juices are not a meal replacement. You still need to eat your fruits and vegetables.
The hitch, and Sylvester points this out, is that the pulp of what is being juiced is separated from the liquid, so that the fiber with its many nutrients is left behind. She points out, however, that it can be used in a multitude of ways, like in baking, in soups, and some can even be added to the juice.
In the mix
So what are some of the fruits and vegetables that are best to juice?
"They are all good, " Sylvester says.
One of the most frequently used is kale. If the taste is too intense, use spinach instead, or use half kale and half spinach for a milder flavor.
Cabbage, celery and cucumbers work well because of their water content. Beets, carrots and apples add a little sweetness. Other good additions include pineapple, cranberries, raspberries, papaya, tomatoes, melons and pears.
Here is a good mix for someone new to juicing: In a blender or juicer, put in an apple, carrots or beets, a green leafy vegetable, something watery like celery or cucumber that can dilute the flavor if you think it is too strong. You can also add a little mint or fresh ginger. And do put in some of the pulp.
If you have any questions about the process stop in to Tonic or Inta Juice — both Sylvester and Shindelar will be happy to walk you through it.