So you’ve just returned from a fresh produce buying spree eager to kick-start some seriously healthy eating this week. You’re positively beaming—feeling so good about your efforts! But then your palms break a sweat and your heart begins to race because you now have no idea what to do with that 8 pounds of kale sitting in your reusable grocery bags!!  Should you juice? Should you blend? You’d better decide because that mountain of kale is looming. It starts to grow bigger and bigger, threatening to take over your kitchen and envelop you in a gargantuan kale quagmire. It’s getting harder and harder to breathe…

And then you wake up. Whew.

Have no fear! This week’s post will help you decide what to do with that lofty bunch of kale or other fresh produce.  Whether to juice or to blend (or maybe just eat it?). We’ve gotten several questions about juicing vs blending and where it fits into the paddling lifestyle. Sounds like many of you are aiming to incorporate more veggies into your life—hooray! And juicing and blending are pretty easy ways to up your intake considerably.  There’s plenty of info out there to confuse us—one blog says juicing is the end-all-be-all, and another favors blending. So what’s a well-intentioned SUPper to do? To help you make your own informed decision, I’ve compiled a list or benefits and drawbacks based on my own knowledge as well as recommendations from nutrition experts. I favor blending, and I think you’ll see why after reading this.

Juicing Benefits

  • Provides a super-concentrated source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants because you can fit a huge amount of fresh produce into a single glass of juice.
  • Easier to digest because juicing removes the bulk of the plant fiber—may be beneficial for people sensitive to fiber.

Juicing Drawbacks

  • Takes a ton of produce to yield just 8 to 16oz of juice—OK, maybe not a TON, but several pounds for sure.
  • Removes most of the fiber, and thus the benefits of fiber (improvements in cholesterol, more stable blood sugar, keeping the colon rollin’, etc)
  • As mentioned above, juicing removes fiber while concentrating sugar content. The result can be soaring blood sugar followed by a dramatic dip—ie, sugar roller coaster. It’s important to note that sugar content will vary depending on the produce used. Greens such as spinach and kale contain much less sugar vs fruits or high-sugar veggies like beets and carrots. Go heavy on the fruits and high-sugar veggies, and you can easily consume just as much sugar from juice as you would from a 12-16oz can of Coke. The bottom line is that juicing is typically not the best option for people with blood sugar imbalances or diabetes.
  • Does not provide balanced nutrition because juices are low in protein, fiber and essential fatty acids. Previous StrongRabbit posts have covered the importance of healthy proteins and fats, especially for those with an active lifestyle.
  • Consumed solo as a meal or snack, juices typically will not satiate—especially for active people who expend more energy than more sedentary folk.
  • Prep and clean up can be time-consuming.

Blending Benefits

  • High fiber content is retained—thus, no blood sugar roller coaster. Plus you get the fiber benefits listed above.
  • Prep and cleanup time relatively quick vs juicing
  • With a high-powered blender, whole fruits and veggies can be emulsified to create a mega-nutritious drink with smoothie-like texture. Throw in some chia seeds (or flax seeds or almonds or even avocado) and some yogurt or protein powder and voila! You’ve got a healthy, well-balanced meal or snack that will keep you steadily operating for much longer than a straight-up juice.

Blending Drawbacks

Potential bloating and gas, especially if sensitive to fiber or not accustomed to a fiber-rich diet. Solution—increase your fiber intake gradually. If you don’t presently consume a lot of fiber-rich foods, ease yourself into it to give your body a chance to adjust. And paddle up-wind as a courtesy to others until your digestive tracts acclimates.

Other considerations

If you enjoy a straight-up juice, go ahead and partake in moderation (8 to 12 oz per day)! Lean more heavily on the greens relative to fruits to lighten the sugar load. If you’re using only fruit for juicing, the Nutrition Diva recommends limiting your intake to 4 ounces a day.

Add in healthy fats (avocado, nuts, nut butters, or seeds) and proteins to your veggies and fruits to provide nutritional balance and to prevent dramatic spikes and dips in blood sugar.

The Mullet and I made the ultimate investment in a Vitamix a couple years ago. (It’s probably among the 5 most valuable items in our home.) We use it twice daily on most days. Yes, it’s pricey, but it does EVERYTHING! Automatic settings for hot soups, frozen desserts, and smoothies. Cleans up super easily. Chews through ice cubes and frozen fruit, and blends kale (stalks and all) into oblivion so that even my 2-year old sucks in down in her chocolate smoothies. I’m sure there are other high-quality blenders out there that may be less painful to the wallet. But the better blenders will still be pricier than the 3-payments-of-just-$19.95 variety. IMO, they are worth it a thousand times over because they are built to last and can tackle pretty much anything you throw in them without overheating.

If you’re torn between buying a juicer or blender, get the blender. As mentioned above, a good blender can give you a juice / smoothie-type texture without the lumps and dregs. Juicers can be expensive and are only good for juicing! Plus, I personally don’t have the patience for cleaning a juicer everyday.

So where might blending / juicing fit into the life of a fitness enthusiast?

  • Pre-paddle / workout nutrition: fruits and veggies plus a bit of fat in the form of nut butter or avocado or flaxseed plus a protein can give you everything you need to power through your session. If you’re consuming this just before a workout, you may want to ease up on the fiber in order to ease digestion.
  • Post-workout recovery—a well-balanced smoothie within 45 minutes post-workout can help replace fluids and electrolytes lost through sweat; aid in muscle rebuilding; reduce inflammation; and replenish glycogen stores. A freshly made juice consisting of greens and fruit is also a great recovery drink, but ideally paired with some source of protein to aid in muscle recovery and to stave off hunger crashes later.
  •  Everyday life.  Smoothies made with healthy ingredients are a great way to sneak in those extra servings of veggies.  Juicing with greens and some fruit is also great in moderation—probably best paired with a meal or snack that has some sort of protein and fat.

Recipes to Try

Mullet Monster Smoothie (courtesy of the one and only Distressed Mullet; endorsed wholeheartedly by the one and only Mini Mullet Stella Beausang—this recipe makes roughly 6 cups)

o   1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder

o   1 tbsp raw cacao powder for healthy and chocolaty goodness

o   ½ tsp maca powder (kinda stinky on its own but you can’t taste it in this smoothie)

o   ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

o   ¼ cup GF rolled oats

o   frozen bananas (roughly 2 & 1/2 to 3 bananas sliced into ¼ inch slices pre-freeze)

o   1 tbsp almond butter

o   1 & ½ cups almond milk (unsweetened)

o   1 cup coconut water

o   ice cubes—2 handfuls

o   ½ avocado—makes this smoothie super velvety!!

Put dry ingredients into blender first! We use Vitamix, but other high-powered blenders should be OK. It takes a good blender to chew through the ice and frozen fruit without overheating / burning out the motor.

Blend and enjoy!! It may take 2 runs through the blender. If too thick, add coconut water. If too frothy, add ice. If too thin, add ice or fruit.

Morning Get Me Out of Bed Smoothie
(courtesy of http://www.makinggoodchoicesblog.com/2011/05/green-smoothie-time.html)

o   2 cups baby spinach

o   1 banana

o   1 – 1 1/2 cups almond milk

o   1/4 cup blueberries

o   1 tsp maca

o   1 tbs chia seeds

o   1 large scoop SunWarrior Chocolate Brown Rice Protein (note that this was the author’s recommendation—the Mullet and I use Whole Foods store brand (365) whey protein powder—I have not tried SunWarrior brand)

o   1 large tbsp peanut butter

o   2 cups crushed ice

o   Add the banana, spinach and almond milk to the blender and blend. Add the rest of the ingredients, and enjoy!

Recipe: Plant Power Breakfast Smoothie (courtesy of http://www.wellandgoodnyc.com/2012/06/08/recipe-the-plant-power-breakfast-smoothie/#)

o   4 kale leaves

o   1 cup organic frozen blueberries

o   2 Tbs of chia seeds

o   1 Tbs organic peanut butter

o   1/2 avocado

o   1 cup coconut milk

o   1 Tbs raw honey

o   2–3 ice cubes

o   Squeeze of lemon, optional

Green Juice (courtesy of http://www.fitsugar.com/Green-Juice-Recipe-20622450)

o   1 handful parsley

o   2 apples

o   1 handful spinach

o   1 cucumber

o   1 lemon

o   1-inch piece ginger

o   To make juice: In a fruit and vegetable juicer, juice all ingredients. Discard solids. Pour juice into glass and add a few ice cubes if you prefer a colder beverage.

o   To make smoothie: Prior to blending, chop apple and discard the core. Chop cucumber. Peel and chop ginger. Zest and juice lemon, throwing out remaining rind. Combine all ingredients, and blend until smooth. Add water and a few ice cubes to help thin smoothie out for better blending results.

Go Green Juice (courtesy of https://www.gabbyandlaird.com/recipes/go-green-juice)

o   ½ inch ginger root, peeled

o   1 cup spinach

o   1 cup kale

o   1 cup green cabbage

o   10 stalks parsley

o   ½ lemon peeled

o   1 large cucumber

o   6 stalks celery

o   DIRECTIONS: 1. Juice the Ginger
 2. Add other vegetables, one at a time; starting with spinach, kale, cabbage, parsley, lemon, cucumber, and then celery 3. Serve and drink immediately.

Tunage: This week’s tune put me in a trance during my cardio workout—must be turned up to the max for full effect.  “You’re so High” by Eli and Fur. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/youre-so-high/id669635798?i=669636610

Sources Used

1.     Juicing: Healthy Habit or Blood Sugar Bomb? By Monica Reinagel MS, LD/N, CNS (aka Nutrition Diva) http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/health-fitness/healthy-eating/juicing-healthy-habit-or-blood-sugar-bomb?page=all

2.     The Debate: Juicing vs Blending, by Alana Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN http://www.healthyhand.com/juicing-vs-blending/#.UiMTMhaaby8

3.     Juicing vs Blending: Which is right for you? http://blog.integrativenutrition.com/2012/01/juicing-vs-blending-which-is-right-for-you

A Quick Guide to Help You Decide

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