I had read a lot about juicing and decided to give it a try when a doctor mentioned to me that sometimes juicing and smoothies can give your digestive system a break for a day or so. I went to a local juicery for cold pressed juices and purchased seven bottles for about $48. It was easy and I didn’t have to spend my time buying the ingredients and cleaning up the mess.
However, if you do want to juice, making your juices from scratch can save a considerable amount of money. Finding the right balance of ingredients can be tough but not impossible. Here’s a foolproof formula for building the perfect green smoothie:
- Choose a Base: almond milk, coconut water, filtered water, apple juice
- Choose Leafy Greens: kale, spinach, swiss chard, romaine, dandelion greens
- Choose Fruit: green apple, grapefruit, banana, pear, mango, berries
- Choose a Booster: ginger root, chia seeds, protein powder, wheatgrass shot, cayenne pepper, maca powder
Here were some of the questions and concerns that came up during my experiment with juicing.
My smoothie isn’t sweet enough. It tastes too “green.” There are many natural sweeteners you can add like chopped dates, pure maple syrup, honey or agave. As you get used to the “green” taste, slowly wean yourself off of the added sugar.
I don’t have enough time in the morning. On Sunday night, wash and cut all juicing ingredients and freeze them in individual portion bags. Each night, take out one bag and toss it your blender, add the liquid, cover and refrigerate. In the morning, blend away. This also works great for smoothies—just wait till morning to add the ice.
What’s the best green to use? Bitter greens tend to offer more health benefits but they can be a bit much if you’re new to juicing. I started with spinach and lettuce, then moved up to kale and swiss chard before heading to the bitter (though beneficial) collards, mustard greens and dandelion greens. I also learned it’s important to rotate your greens, and not just for variety. Different greens have different benefits and some juicers believe that eating the same greens over and over can cause alkaloid buildup, which could have negative side effects.
Why do so many juice recipes call for ginger root? Ginger has a vast amount of health benefits and is known to boost your immune system. It’s also classified as a diaphoretic, which means it can help you sweat out toxins. It’s an acquired taste, so start by adding a small, quarter-inch slice to your smoothie and work your way up.
If you’re all about convenience, then buying already made, cold-pressed juices may be the ticket. It doesn’t come cheap though. It is not uncommon for a three-day juice cleanse to cost anywhere from $150 to $200. If you find one for significantly less, realize that the bargain price could be too good to be true.
Many of the higher-end juicing programs charge so much because they are packed with produce. For example, a three-day cleanse with Blue Print juices will cost nearly $200, but one 16-oz bottle of their Green Juice contains six pounds of produce! So read the fine print and make sure your bargain juice isn’t just a bargain because it’s loaded with water.
Before you shop: You can buy Blue Print at Whole Foods or online. Check out our coupon codes and see how to save on their cleanse products. Other popular brands include Life Juice, Organic Avenue, and Suja.