The big squeeze: Back-to-basics juicing delivers nutrition boost
FARGO -- Lindsay Arbach and her husband always followed a healthy diet, but they kicked it up a notch after watching Joe Cross drink nothing but juice for 60 days.
The Fargo couple had done some juicing with their Jack LaLanne Power Juicer, but the 2010 documentary "Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead" featuring Cross inspired them to give the appliance more use.
Arbach has tried Cross' Mean Green Juice, which he drank every morning to help him shed 100 pounds and manage his autoimmune disease, as well as some from the book that came with her juicer.
"We didn't know what we were doing at first, so it's been trial-and-error for us," she says.
Juicing has gained popularity nationwide since "Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead" was first released, and Fargo's Total Balance co-owner Cindy Kloeckner says she's been hearing about it locally, too.
"It's coming up more and more often, and I think it's because we're becoming more aware that we have the power to be healthier and that there are things we can do to make a difference for our own well-being and future," she says.
Kloeckner, who's also a whole-foods coach at her north Fargo gym, says juicing whole fruits and vegetables "floods the system" with concentrated enzymes and beneficial nutrients.
"Literally, it doesn't matter what's going on in your world, it's something that would benefit anyone," she says.
The evidence of juicing success is out there -- in the documentary, in books like Sherry Rogers' 20-year-old "Wellness Against All Odds," and online.
"The body is made and equipped to heal itself when it's given all the raw materials that it needs," Kloeckner says.
But is it worth the cost, effort and cleanup?
Juicers are expensive, with most full-size juicers starting around $100, and if you buy mostly organic, as recommended, costs rise.
However, Kloeckner says the more expensive the machine, the better the results and the easier the clean-up.
"So maybe the dollars invested would certainly be worth it," she says.
There's a lot of gunk left over from making that one glass of Mean Green. Pulp and rinds coat the machine's parts, and whatever doesn't liquefy ends up in the bin.
If you don't mind the fibrous texture, Kloeckner suggests recycling the leftovers into soups or casseroles, or adding it to mulch.
"I personally believe the benefits outweigh the downsides of the hassle," she says. "I think we could all become addicted to the benefits of it."
She recalls a family she met at a bed and breakfast who traveled with their juicer so they could juice on the go.
Arbach and her husband aren't that die-hard about their juicing, but they do it about twice a week, sometimes as meal replacements.
"I feel really good after I drink it. I feel like I have more energy and clarity," she says.
They always throw in a thick cucumber, which yields a lot of juice. They also like leafy greens like kale, carrots, and apples for sweetness.
But never again will the Arbachs juice dandelion greens.
"It was the only juice I couldn't actually finish. It was terrible. It was really bitter. That ruined the whole juice for me," Arbach says.
Kloeckner says juicing purists stick to vegetables, but fruits like apples and pineapples can be added for natural sweetness.
Watch the sugar content, though, which can cause a spike in blood sugar, especially since many liquids are absorbed right through the walls of the stomach.
"It depends on how fast you drink it and if your stomach is full, but you can really get kind of a sugar rush from it," Arbach says.
Kloeckner prefers to use stevia or raw honey as a sweetener. Others add things like oats, flax or ground almonds.
Whether you stick to fruits and vegetables or experiment with adding other ingredients, she says juicing is a way to get "back to the basics."
"When we grab convenience foods, so much of the nutrition and nutrients have been damaged, injured or have been processed out," she says.
Joe Cross' Mean Green Juice
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Yields: 1-2 16-ounce servings
4 celery stalks
6-8 leaves kale
1 tablespoon ginger
1. Wash all produce well.
2. Peel the lemon (optional).
4. Pour over ice.