Juicing and blending: What you need to know

Juices? Blends?
Juices? Blends? Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

It’s time to break out your blender.

Spring is here, bringing with it warmer temperatures, as well as the season of cleanses and farmer’s markets.

If you’re looking to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle, up your daily intake of fruit and vegetables or put that head of kale you spontaneously bought to good use, here’s a primer to juicing and blending.


Juicing vs. blending

Pulverizing your fruit and veggies in a blender versus a juicer doesn’t result in the same drink. The key difference is that a juicer, as the name implies, extracts the juice from vegetables and fruits while eliminating the pulp — a source of fiber — while a blender keeps the whole food intact, resulting in a fiber-packed smoothie.

For LuliTonix founder Lianna Sugarman, keeping that fiber is key.

“Fiber is what grabs on to toxins and takes them out of your body,” said Sugarman, who created a line of blended greens, elixirs and cleanses. “You really need that.”

All that fiber also means a smoothie is more filling. So while a juice is considered a supplement, a blended drink is a meal replacement.

Which you make is all a matter of taste.

“There’s room for both,” said Eric Helms, founder of the chain Juice Generation and the author of “The Juice Generation: 100 Recipes for Fresh Juices and Superfood Smoothies.” “It’s all about balance.”


Don’t front a lot of money

Have you avoided a juice and smoothie habit because you think it’s expensive? Think again, said Helms.

“If you have five minutes in the morning and $20 a week, you can have a healthy green habit every morning,” said Helms.

You don’t have to go out and buy a $300 juicer or an even pricer Vitamix to start, either.

“If you’re new to juicing, don’t run out and buy equipment,” said Helms. “Pull out your old blender and start there.”


Keep it simple

Juices and smoothies can be an easy way to work on getting your nine servings of vegetables and fruits each day. Starting out, you should keep your concoctions to three to four ingredients that include greens like spinach or kale, which have a more neutral taste than something like, say, collard greens.

“Keep it simple,” said Helms. “As you progress, you can have all these exotic super fruits and different greens.”

One of Sugarman’s favorite combos is her green blend “Fresh,” which contains a mix of raw greens including lettuce and kale with avocados and lemon.

“They all work in concert with each other to make each element even better,” said Sugarman. “Still, there’s no real way to mess up. Just play around.”


Go easy on the fruit

You may be tempted to load up on strawberries, blueberries, pineapples and other sweet fruits to add different flavors and colors to your juices and smoothies, but don’t overdo it.

“Fruits are great, especially for the beginning juicer — it’s a fantastic way to gently acclimate your palate to the taste of spinach and kale,” said Helms. “But you don’t want to drink that much sugar.”

Because it lacks fiber, juice is absorbed more quickly into your bloodstream, too, so a juice packed with sugar could cause a dramatic rise in blood sugar levels that could offset your mood.

To get some sweetness along with those leafy greens without the high sugar count, Helms recommends using green apples instead of red apples, which naturally have lower sugar levels.