Published in Sisters Magazine, September 2013 issue
Drink Your Greens!
Have you always been told to eat your greens? Or maybe you keep on finding your little one’s veggies in strange places, like under the sofa? We all know about the amazing health benefits of fruits and veggies, yet most of us, big or little, just don’t eat enough of them. A trend that is on the increase, though, is juicing your greens. Sounds like a good alternative to chewing away your lettuce, broccoli and cucumbers? In fact, juicing has become a quite popular way of boosting your health. From raw health gurus going on a rigorous 60-day juice fast, to a suburban mum juicing some carrots and oranges for a healthful breakfast-on-the-go. You may have seen a documentary about it, or maybe you even know some juicing sisters. So, what’s this juice craze all about, and why should you try?
Juicing for health
Essentially, juicing is the quickest and easiest way to dramatically increase your fruit and vegetable intake. Freshly extracted, raw juice is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and phytonutrients (nutrients only found in plants, which play a key role in preventing many serious diseases, subhanAllah). Juicing supplies your body with all these wonderful nutrients in a concentrated, easily absorbed form. Not surprisingly, the blessings for your health are numerous. One of the first things you may notice when you start juicing is better skin and more energy. Other than that, juicing stabilises blood pressure, boosts your immune system, relieves PMS symptoms, and helps your body get rid of toxins. And did I mention losing weight? Going on a juice fast, a period in which you only consume fresh juice and water and no food, is an excellent way to detoxify your body, but it’s not for everyone. When you have never juiced before, it’s a better idea to start out with a cup of fresh juice a day.
For pregnant or breastfeeding mums, a juice fast is also not advisable, but supplementing your diet with juice might give you just the boost you need! And if you’re on medication, please consult your doctor first.
The first thing you’ll need is a juicer. Or maybe you’ve already had one for years, hidden safely in your kitchen cupboard? Be careful to get a juice extractor, which is not the same as a blender. A blender will work for making smoothies, but does not get the juice out of your greens. There are many types available and you may want to do some research first to decide which one is best for you.
You should wash (or peel if need be) the fruits and veggies and cut them up in small pieces to fit the feeding tube of your juicer. Use organic produce when you can, but if not, just wash your greens extra carefully (you can use a small amount of soap, just rinse very well), or remove the peel. Churn the pieces in the juicer, and enjoy watching the juice come out in the most sparkling, vibrant colours. It’s probably best to start with fruits and vegetables that you’re already comfortable with. Carrots, apples, cucumbers and oranges are usually good choices. You can gradually introduce new fruits and veggies and start experimenting with combinations along the way.
Remember, the fresher you drink your juice, the better. Fresh juice and freshly cut produce start oxidising right away, which leads to a loss of nutrients. Cut the fruits and vegetables right before you use them and then drink the juice straight away. When you’re busy, and you do need to prepare the juice beforehand, store it in a (preferably dark) glass bottle or stainless steel thermos in the refrigerator, and consume within 24-48 hours. You can also store the already cut fruits and veggies in the fridge so they’re ready to go into the juicer the next morning: add a few drops of lemon juice and store in a container.
For the kids
Fresh juice is nature’s liquid fuel for growing bodies. Children will love helping you and seeing how their favourite fruits and veggies are turned into a colourful juice. It’s a great opportunity for them to learn about the importance of veggies and fruits and you can have fun with creating new combinations and coming up with names for them, like Jamilah’s Jungle Juice. And even your pickiest eater will like a popsicle made with fresh juice. Children can do with smaller amounts of juice than adults, depending on their age. Start out with a quarter of a cup diluted with one part water and build up from there.
Power up your juice
There are plenty of things you can do to power up your juice concoctions and make them even tastier and healthier:
Spices are a great way to boost your juice and your health too, as they are very high in antioxidants. Cinnamon and ginger (root or powder) add great flavour to most concoctions. You also might want to try turmeric, cayenne pepper, curry powder, saffron, or even a clove of garlic, depending on your taste or the recipe.
Alternatively, you can make a smoothie and add soft fruits or live yogurt to your juice. Avocados and bananas are great for this purpose. Or combine coconut milk and shredded coconut with pineapple, papaya or mango juice to make a delicious, tropical healthy cocktail.
And why not add those blessed foods from the Qur’an and Sunnah? Honey has magnificent healing properties and mixing in a teaspoon works wonders to disguise the taste of those super healthy, but bitter-tasting greens (like cabbage). You can also try black seed or olive oil, two other examples of Sunnah Super Foods.
Juicing is for everyone and doesn’t need to be expensive. A lot depends on the type of produce, how often you juice, and for how many people. When you’re on a budget, or when you’re, say, juicing for a family of eight, there are several things you can do to keep the cost down:
Buy in bulk. The more you buy, the less you pay. Look out for offers, or ask for a bulk discount at your regular shop.
Buy from market stalls. A wonderful place to get great deals, especially towards the end of the day.
Buy what’s in-season. While it might be tempting to sip fresh raspberry or pineapple juice in the middle of winter, it’s better to stick to what’s in season if you want to keep the cost down.
Grow your own. Some fruits and veggies are easy to grow, for example tomatoes, cucumbers, or strawberries. It saves money and you don’t need to worry about buying organic anymore.
Now head over to the Lifestyle section for some of Maryam’s delicious juicing recipes!
Juicing: Get Started!
Maryam Mujahid’s recipes to get some juice into your system.
A classic with a bite, featured in the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”. Absolutely great for beginners!
• 1 cucumber
• 1 bunch of kale
• 4 celery stalks
• ½ a lemon (with rind)
• ½ inch (or less) ginger root
• 2 Granny Smith apples
Mums’ revitalising cocktail
Beetroots are known to build up blood cells and boost iron levels; exactly what you need during pregnancy or after childbirth. Together with ginger, they also soothe menstrual cramps. The cranberries are helpful in preventing urinary tract infections.
• 1 bulb of beetroot, peeled
• 1 cup of cranberries
• 2 apples
• 2 carrots
• ½ inch (or less) ginger root
Kids’ Green Power Juice
Leafy greens, delicious fruits and funky colours! Both you and your kids will love this one.
• 1 handful of Swiss chard, kale, spinach or a combination
• 1 pear
• 1 cup strawberries
• ½ lemon, peeled
• 1 apple
Maryam Mujahid is a psychology graduate who loves to write about things that inspire, encourage and motivate Muslim women to lead positive lives. She is passionate about natural health, and a juicing enthusiast herself.