Juice, Blending + Protein Powders, oh my...

Wait, a smoothie, juicing and a protein shake are not the same?

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Really. They’re not. And when I talk about juicing, I absolutely in no way am referring to fruit juice, fruit cocktail mixes or fruity beverages. No juice boxes here. I’m talking about this crazy idea people started talking about in recent years about fresh vegetables and a few fruits being juiced and consumed for their rapid release of health benefits and disease-fighting power.

Juicing raw, fresh vegetables is actually a great way to get a TON of nutrients into your body very quickly and easily, without putting your digestive system through very much effort at all. Yes, really, it’s actually very gentle on your digestion because it’s all nutrients. No fiber. The fiber is removed and all that remains are the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. You’ll still want to focus on organics here, and fresh is definitely best. Therefore, a local juice shop, Whole Foods or your own kitchen is a better choice than something bottled.

Now, blending, on the other hand actually blends your food. That means you’re taking a Vitamix of sorts and pureeing your veggies and/or fruits with fiber and all. Whether or not you include yogurt, a milk or nut milk alternative, protein powders or other ingredients is up to you. Some might call that a smoothie, but I’m not sure if there’s really a formal definition for the two. Take your time to find out what works best for you and your body. You may want to alternate. Vegetable or green juices are best on an empty stomach or first thing in the morning, and will probably not hold you over very long. On the other hand, a blended drink or smoothie can be a meal replacement depending on its ingredients (which I recommend).

I refer to my morning concoction as protein shake because I don’t always add greens and fruit. Sometimes I do, but sometimes I don’t. I use Dr. Axe's Bone Broth Protein with a half banana, chia seeds, a few ayurvedic herb blends, raw cocao poweder and a little nut butter. Sometimes greens.

What you really want in your smoothie or juice and what you don’t...

Greens, vegetables, and more greens. Alright, you can have a little bit of fruit but let me explain further. Many years ago, there was a time, when I too, thought that Jamba Juice and fruit blends were like, the epitome of healthy living. Remember the episode of Friends in the early days when Rachel walks in and distracts Monica after she had clearly just gone for a run or a workout and turned on the blender and fruit got all over the ceiling? (Ok my obsession with Friends is irrelevant here). Yeah, she also thought that adding a ton of fruit to a blender on a day when she was all pumped up to "get healthy" meant weight loss. What is it really? A sugar high. Now you know I love me some healthy whole fruit as a snack, maybe 1-3 servings a day. All that fruit is not what we are looking for, it's just going to be a sugar surge and would be better off as part of a balanced meal. 

What you'll want to do is mix a little of both fruits and vegetables in your drink. When juicing your vegetables, you can mask the stronger flavors of your greens or other veggies with the sweeter flavor of certain fruits. When using a blender to be aware of how much you are consuming overall. Filling up a whole blender is probably way too much for one person. Aim for a smaller version and stick to an 8-12 oz serving.

Experiment and exchange some good recipes that work for you and your taste buds (and tummy). Pinterest is a great place to find them. I go to Kris Carr for anything related to smoothies or juices. She even has a new book called Crazy, Sexy Juice!

For juices, you’ll want to use lots of greens and fruits that simply work in a juicer. By this I mean, avoid foods like berries which they really don’t work in a juicer. Their fiber to water ratio is wonky and you’ll have to use a TON of them to get a small amount of juice, and you’d waste the better part of the fruit. But an apple? A lemon? Ginger root? These are perfect for a big fancy juicer to extract the liquid and nutrients out for your easy consumption and not worry about the rest. Those items are exactly what I order in my green juices because they are super low in sugar and high on the veggie flavor masking spectrum. You’ll notice often when you order green juices at a store or juice shop that your fruit options are typically limited. When it comes to blending, you’ll still want to prioritize your greens in addition to anything else you want to add (such as yogurt, protein powder, or nut butters). 

What are some of your favorite recipes for making vegetable juices or smoothies at home? Share in the comments below!