Juices and Juicing (For Health, Pregnancy, and Toddlers!).

My latest ambition has been to start juicing for my family (mainly, myself and the little). I’ve written blog posts before on how I feel about juices and with new information coming out about them all the time, we’re trying not to buy bottled juices at all anymore.

There the basic information — most juices contain a TON of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and are made from concentrates. I’ve read articles about parents wondering WHY it’s bad to give your children juices. “If it’s made from fruit — then it’s like letting them eat fruit!” If you believe this, then you’ve probably never read a juice label. There’s a lot more in a bottle of juice than “just fruit.” And then there’s the fact that most kids are all the same — they like sweet. If you let a tiny little one start sucking down fruit juice (with lots of sugar) then that’s all they’re going to want. Try to get them to drink water after that and see how easy of a time you have — just look at so many kids out there — they will almost ALWAYS reach for a juice/soda than a glass or bottle of water.

On top of those things, there’s the big arsenic debate that’s relatively recent. I even blogged about Babies & Juice back in December. Just knowing what effects arsenic can have on the human body — and then knowing that it’s in apple and grape juices that are given to so many children all the time — makes my stomach turn. I check EVERY single label on any juice we’ve bought or consumed since then to see if the base of the juice is made from apple or grape juice. Almost EVERY SINGLE juice in the juice aisle — whether it’s an apple or grape juice or not, is made from apple and/or grape. The only juice we have bought and let our little one drink has been a 100% all natural cranberry juice with no added sugar, no high fructose corn syrup, and ONLY cranberry juice in it. But in the last few months we haven’t even purchased that — he only drinks cow’s milk, almond milk, kefir, and water.

And one of the more recent stories? Orange juice imported from Brazil has been found to have pesticides that have been banned in the U.S. for years in them. Well, there goes my glass of orange juice in the morning.

So, I want my kiddo to have fruit and vegetables. He eats grapes by the handfuls and whole bananas for lunch. But it’s still nice to have a glass of juice. So we’ve taken to the best option we can find. We’re juicing our own.

My juicer — a Hamilton Beach that cost about $50. 

I made the first step by heading off to BJ’s Wholesale to stock up on produce. We must’ve spent somewhere around $40 on produce. We bought 8 pounds of oranges, 5 pounds of apples, 3 pounds of bananas, 3 pounds of lemons, 5 pounds of [organic] carrots,a pineapple, a bag of celery, 3 pounds of grapes, and a 20 oz. bag of spinach.

In the morning, usually somewhere around 8am, I head to the kitchen to make us our juice for breakfast. I have my juicer on the counter, along with a mini cutting board and a few different sized knives. Some juicers allow you to just put whole pieces of fruit right in without cutting them up at all, but I take the one extra step and cut it down just a little. For example, I’ll cut an apple in quarters or a piece of celery in half. And you should peel your citrus, you don’t really want to juice the peels — but you do want to juice as  much as the white membrane as possible, so I take the peels off with a knife and juice the rest of the fruit.

When you first start juicing, all you really need are the “basics.” Most fruit juices will be based off of apples, so you’ll want to have a lot of those on hand. Apples yield a lot of juice, but the flavor also disappears easily behind other fruit flavors so it makes a good base. And when thinking veggies, you want to add carrot to almost every juice you make. Carrots offer tons of vitamins, nutrients, and are great for digestive health. Too many carrots can make for an overly carrot flavored juice, but I usually add atleast 2 to any basic juice I’m making. Another great thing said to be a juicing basic are beets — which I have yet to try, but will be purchasing at my next trip to the grocery store. Two other things that yield a lot of liquid and make a good base are celery and cucumbers.

Some great basic combinations that I’ve tried so far include apple/orange/carrot, apple/carrot/lemon, orange/pineapple, and more. This morning I made two different juices — the orange/pineapple one, and then a celery/cucumber/orange/lemon juice. I mixed the two together and the kid drank his whole cup! So on top of all the healthy foods I give to him, I know he’s getting a healthy serving each morning of whatever I juice myself for him.

And it literally takes me 10 minutes at MOST. That’s from pulling everything out, minor cutting, juicing, and CLEANING the juicer, too. Tell me that’s not worth it! My kid gets healthy juice and I get healthy juice, so I know I’m getting plenty of vitamins that I need, too. I would rather spend 10 minutes juicing fresh fruits and vegetables, than pour myself or my child some sugary, full of chemicals junk from a bottle. And it’s easy to hide things like green vegetables in them, too!

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