When I was a kid, I can remember seeing those hysterical infomercials of Jack Lalanne, in his royal blue jumpsuit, juicing everything under the sun — fruits, veggies, you name it. And in the back of my mind I always wondered if juicing was really the way to go.
I did my own research on a variety of popular cleanses. Some of the best knowledge came from living in L.A. – arguably the cleanse-mecca of North America if not the world. One of my former Pilates teachers in LA favoured the apple cider vinegar with paprika cleanse — notorious in Hollywood for being a cleanse that stars do, pre-red carpet, to shed that extra weight and look cut. I can recall her greeting me one day for a Pilates session feeling like she was going to pass out (not exactly a ringing endorsement). I also heard stories from friends and peers who were working as assistants in Hollywood about their bosses cleanse-induced behavior (occasionally violent, often unstable) so I decided to steer clear of cleanses altogether.
Then, after I moved back to Toronto and became convinced that I was living in a more temperate juice cleanse culture, I decided to invest in a juicer. Before making the purchase, my Mom and I tested a series of bottled juices from a Toronto-based company (that shall remain nameless), which we immediately spit out due to a flavor I’d imagine falls somewhere between urine and rotten celery. (We also tested them on my husband and Dad, just to be sure that we weren’t overreacting.)
Ultimately, I decided to use the recipes from Gwyneth Paltrow’s book, “It’s All Good” that were included in her detox week. We followed them to a T but instead of goat’s milk, we used almond milk.
Types of Juicers: Centrifugal Juice Extractors or Cold Press Juicers aka Masticating Juicers
We ended up buying a masticating juicer by Omega:
A masticating juicer produces less heat than the centrifugal juicer, which uses a fast-spinning metal blade. Masticating juicers, albeit more expensive, keep more of the fresh nutrients intact, which means you are getting more of the enzymes in the fruits and veggies you are juicing.
Most of the juices were delicious, but as with any dietary change, there is always a period of withdrawal…so I decided it would be better to experience that withdrawal with company and I enlisted my husband and parents – all of whom were very curious to do the cleanse. Ok, admittedly that is partly a lie…I had to coerce my husband to try the cleanse. In truth he had absolutely no interest, probably more so because he’s vegetarian and justifiably felt limited by the idea of doing 3 days with no bread, a mainstay for his body.
The Dreaded 3rd Day
I received a text from my husband saying that he had caved and was eating a slice of pizza. Hs explanation was that his stomach was hurting and that the pizza “made his stomach feel better.” Right around the same time, I was working up the nerve to tell him that I too had caved. I had prepared “Bernardo’s Pumpkin Pie Shake” and after taking one sip I couldn’t go the distance. Combined with not one but TWO Pilates workouts that day, I felt a bit light headed and made myself a salad. I felt much better.
Kale: The Super Hero.
Perhaps the most shocking result of my juice cleanse was the fact that my husband became the biggest convert of all of us. In his words, “the cleanse set me on a path to eating better.” I complained through most of it, but that was just schtick. When it was over I was surprised that I wanted to have the green juice on a daily basis. Green juice became a satisfying fix in the morning giving us an energy hit. I equate it with what coffee must be like for coffee enthusiasts. I’ve never been a huge coffee drinker (only in film school, where I used it to keep me up late at night in the editing suites), but I definitely noticed a big boost in energy from the green juice – which is made up primarily of kale. So, on an ideal day, I will have 2 green juices and 1 almond kale smoothie. The almond kale smoothie is more like a meal replacement because of its high caloric intake – it’s perfect on a day where I know I will be out running around during lunchtime.
Is juicing something I’ll continue to do? It’s great as a detox periodically – for example, after an overly indulgent vacation. It’s great for keeping your energy up! When it comes down to it, it’s no secret that eating healthy is hard work. It takes time and effort to do all the food prep, but is it worth it? A resounding YES!
The Best Green Juice
5 large leaves of kale, ribs discarded, leaves roughly chopped
1 lemon, zest and pith removed
1 large apple, roughly chopped
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
1 sprig of fresh mint
Almond & Kale Smoothie
Blend everything together in the blender until smooth. Drink immediately.
1 packed cup torn kale leaves (discard the thick rib in the centre of the leaf)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 tablespoon *soaked raw almonds
1 date, pitted
1 tablespoon coconut oil
*Soak raw almonds for at least half a day in water to release all healthy enzymes – omegas, protein, magnesium, vitamin E, zinc.