Drink Your Veggies - Whole Food Smoothies Over Juicing

If you watch cable/satellite TV you can't go a day without stumbling upon a juicer infomercial. Whether it be Jack LaLanne's, Montel Williams', or some other brand, juicers are all the rage. In some cities, like New York, juice bars are slowly becoming as popular as coffee shops, sprouting out in every neighborhood. Many New Yorkers have switched from morning coffees to morning juices*.

Then in 2010 the movie Fat, Sick, And Nearly Dead came out, won awards, and got people's attention. Joe Cross drank nothing but fresh veggie/fruit juices every day for 60 days, lost a ton of weight, and reversed his health problems. His message was that you can reboot your body's immune system and health with the huge doses of micronutrients coming from the juices of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Another indication of the growth of juicing is the fact that Starbucks has entered the game. Last year they bought Evolution Fresh for $30 million with plans to enter the juice bar business. They see the future - and the future is juicing.

It's not too hard to understand why juicing has taken off. There are several factors that I see. First is that we are becoming more and more interested in our food - where it comes from, how it's grown, whether it is good for us. We are buying more fresh produce directly from farmers at farmers markets. We ask if our food has been exposed to pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals. We are understanding that processed foods have no nutritional value and that the obesity epidemic is killing the current generations in this country due to poor eating habits.

This leads to a desire to do better by increasing our vegetable and fruit intake. The new FDA ChooseMyPlate.gov recommends that half of our daily food intake be from fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, many of us are picky eaters when it comes to produce. Juicing is a quick way to do so. In one large glass of mixed vegetable juices we can down the equivalent of a giant bowl of vegetables or an entire day's requirement. It's definitely easier than trying to eat it all.

Juicing for yourself means that you are getting the most nutrients possible. Within minutes of juicing many nutrients, like Vitamin C, will start degrading due to exposure to oxygen. Therefore it is important to drink juices quickly. Heat and pasteurization also destroy nutrients. This means that cooking your vegetables is bad if you are trying to get the most benefit from them**. This is why there is a growing group of raw food enthusiasts.


But don't you lose the benefit of fiber if you juice? Yes. Fiber fills you up so that you have less cravings for food. Fiber also cleans out your gastro-intestinal tract while grabbing onto fats and other toxins that need to be cleared out of your system. Finally, eating fibrous foods actually reduces the amount of calories you are absorbing. Here's how...

Let's say you have an apple with 5 grams of fiber, 26 grams of carbs, for a total of 100 calories (for easy math example purposes). It takes 4 calories to burn 1 gram of carbs.

100 calorie apple
5 grams fiber (if < 5 grams you do not subtract the calories)
26 grams total carbohydrates
Subtract fiber from total carbs (26-5) = 21 grams of carbs x 4 calories/gram= 84 calories from carbohydrates.

Your apple is therefore really only 84 calories, not 100.

It's Good to be Red Ingredients
Whole Food Smoothies (Emulsification)

Fiber is why emulsification is the better way to do drink down your veggies. Emulsification blenders will puree the whole fruit or vegetable down to a drinkable smoothie consistency - thus whole food smoothies. (In actuality, Montel Willliams is selliing an emulsification blender versus a juicer.)

While you can get mixed veggie/fruit juices at Jamba Juice, the only place in Sacramento (that I know of) that is now offering whole food smoothies is Yogurtagogo on L Street.

Last month Eric Heffel decided to expand his offerings. He had couples or groups come into his store and while some were getting frozen yogurts, some people were holding back because they didn't want those dessert calories. He decided that he would add the whole fruit smoothies as a healthy alternative.

Eric uses a Vitamix blender to emulsify the recipes he's come up with. He freezes all the fruit and vegetables in advance so that the smoothies will be ice cold without having to add ice that will water it down. The result is an icy, thick concoction that is super tasty.

We blended up It's Good to Be Red for this post. It includes banana, beet, celery, strawberries, red bell pepper, kale, sunflower seeds, mango, grapes, apple and lemon juices. One would never guess that it was made of nothing but fruits and vegetables. I was sucking it down.

A couple of his recipes do contain a little yogurt to add the probiotic bacterias. He uses the Euro tart yogurt to give the smoothies some extra tang.

I have tried the other "flavors" as well. All were very good and tasted nothing like my veggie concoctions I've been juicing home. I've been trying to make a "green" juice at home every day if I can. It can be a bit of a chore. I am also trying to cut down on sweets such as frozen yogurt. I'm glad that Yogurtagogo now offers an alternative that is both nutritious and tasty. 

Juicing is good, but emulsification is better. Get your nutrients and fiber in a glass and drink your veggies!

Disclosure: Yogurtagogo is an advertiser on this site and Eric Heffel has become a personal friend.

Related articles: 

*Pressing Matters: Are Juice Bars Putting the Squeeze on Customers?

The Big Squeeze: The juice-bar craze reaches every-corner status.

Why a juice cleanse is a waste of your time (and money)

** Some vegetables actually are better cooked, such as tomatoes which release their lycopene.