Hot Mess: Liquid Gold

Ok, so technically it’s green. Photo by Jasmine McNenny

It’s almost summer- hot, sunny, swimsuit weather. Now more than ever, a dedication to healthy eating seems within reach.  Fad diets are everywhere and almost every newspaper and magazine is boasting articles on health foods, eating strategies, and fast-result exercises.  Amidst all this commotion, there appears to be a growing popularity for two health fixes: eating kale and juicing.

First, why kale?

Photo by Jasmine McNenny

While spinach is recognized for its large supply of iron, potassium, and its appearance in the Popeye cartoons, kale is may be edging it out nutritionally.  Seemingly the newest trend in the veggie world, kale is delicious served fresh, sautéed, or baked into those tasty chips.  A salad of this dark-colored green is packed with more calcium than a glass of milk and is a great source of Vitamin A and C, as well as potassium and fiber.

Now, what is this juicing thing?

Setting aside the more intense “juice diet” or “juice cleanse,” the idea behind juicing is simply to make it easier to get your daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.  In one juice, for example, you could put in four cups of spinach, an apple, three carrot sticks, and a splash of orange juice, and drink the whole thing down for breakfast.  You save yourself the time of munching through all those fruits and vegetables, yet you have not lost any of the nutrients.  In fact, the best thing about juicing is that you can mask the flavors of vegetables you may not like very much on their own with the sweetness of fruit.  It’s a clever way to trick your five-year-old palate that keeps telling you that you hate anything green.

So with these two great health components, the most logical thing to do is to combine them.

Kale Juice!

Photo by Jasmine McNenny

Now, don’t wrinkle your nose.  It may be true that kale is a little more bitter than spinach, but with the right fruits the flavor of the kale will be tempered, and may even become something you enjoy.  As a purist, I choose to make my kale juice 80% kale, 15% orange juice, and 5% water/ice.  You of course can create your own perfect recipe using any sweet ingredients you happen to like.  Fruit choices I’ve found work well are: apples, mangos, and oranges.  If using mangos, I highly recommend mango nectar. You could consider Naked Juice brand, because they use very ripe, sweet mangos, which helps to hide the bitterness of the kale better than a fresh mango from the store.  Apples are also great sweeteners, though you could also experiment with Granny Smith if you prefer your juices to be more tart than sweet.  I like oranges because the citrus helps to cut the rich flavor of the kale, but I have settled for calcium-infused orange juice these past few days for convenience and for a second boost of calcium.

There is also the decision of how you are going to make your juice.  Unless  someone has another method to add, I have found that there are three ways to create liquid health: blender, blender and strainer, or using juicer.

My mother finally broke down and bought us a Vitamix, which if you find that you love smoothies, frozen sorbet, and soup more than anything else in the world, I highly recommend.  Needless to say I have been choosing the blender method.  If you want to retain the fiber in the fruits and vegetables you chose to use, you only have to blend the ingredients with some water or juice and pour.  The mixture will be thick and slightly fibrous, like pulpy orange juice.  If you’re a texture person and prefer your juices smooth, you’ll either have to use a juicer which automatically takes out the pulp and fibers, or you’ll have to go old school like me and strain your mixture after you use the blender.  If you choose to strain your juice, make sure you are using a fine net sieve to get out as much pulp as possible.  You’ll also need to use a spatula or spoon to work the mixture through the sieve.  It’s an extra step but the flavor is worth it in the end.

When it comes to kale I think I’m becoming an addict.  I’ve been drinking kale juice now every day for a week.  Maybe it’s because it’s summer and I seem to have nothing else better to do than to mess with the Vitamix or maybe it’s because if you google “kale” you immediately find at least a dozen articles prompting it’s health benefits and I for one don’t want to miss out.

Photo by Jasmine McNenny

Yeah, let’s go with the second reason.  Cheers!