For several years I started my day with a green smoothie, carefully avoiding juicing because I felt the fibre that’s discarded in juicing was good for me and also I didn’t want yet another kitchen gadget cluttering up my kitchen.
A TV advert convinced me to try juicing, and for the next six months I started my day with freshly made juice.
So, what are the ins and outs of smoothies and juices?
A green smoothie is a blend of fruits and green leaves whizzed up in a blender.
My typical green smoothie includes: mango/pineapple/apple + banana/avocado + spinach/kale/lettuce + lemon slice + celery stick. Yum!
Because of the fibre content a smoothie is quite satisfying – more like a meal.
A green juice is extracted from a mix of fruits and green leaves, with the addition of vegetables.
My typical green juice includes: cucumber + carrots/courgette + celery + mango/pineapple/apple + spinach/kale/lettuce. Yum!
For me, the main advantage of juice is the sheer vitality and lightness I feel after drinking one! I’ve also noticed that a juice including bitter greens such as kale or dandelion leaves, doesn’t taste as bitter as the equivalent smoothie.
To make a smoothie you need a powerful blender, though a stick blender is adequate for occasional use, eg when travelling.
There’s a wide range of electric juicers on the market; do make sure you get one that will juice greens if you want to include them in your juices. The more expensive juicers are more efficient in extracting juice. Modestly priced hand juicers are also available, however it’s worth investing in an electric one if you plan to make juices often, as they speed up the process dramatically.
If space is an issue, a blender will make a smaller footprint on your work surface than a juicer (unless you get one of the new ‘vertical’ juicers). We had to put our food processor away to make room for the juicer!
A mid range juicer is likely to be at least twice the price of a mid range blender, so if already have a blender, it may make sense to start with smoothies, as we did.
Smoothies win hands-down for preparation time. It only takes a couple of minutes to load and run the blender, pour the smoothie into a glass, and rinse the blender. A smoothie is always my choice on mornings when I’m in a hurry.
It takes me about 7 minutes to cut up the fruit and veg, keep loading the juicer, and then dismantle and wash the parts. On the other hand, when I do have time, the whole juicing process is now so automatic, it’s become a morning meditation!
With a smoothie, your body receives the whole of the fruit and greens. When the cell walls of greens are broken down by the blender, amino acids – which are the building blocks of protein that are needed for growth and repair – are released.
With a juice you get a more nutrient-dense drink, with a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals, which is helpful for cleansing and healing.
The ‘whole’ food in a smoothie is more balanced since there is less concentration of the natural fruit sugars that you get with juicing. Sugar is released over a longer period, and blood sugar remains more stable.
However, depending what you will be doing next, the quick energy boost from the more concentrated sugars in fresh juice may be what you’re looking for!
A big advantage of juices is the ease with which the body can assimilate the liquid and all the vitamins and minerals it contains. This can be helpful when you’re ill, convalescing of have a compromised digestion which would struggle with the fibre in a smoothie.
On the other hand, fibre has a regulating and cleansing effect on the digestive tract which many people find beneficial.
If you use the same ingredients to make a juice and a smoothie, you’ll get around twice the quantity of smoothie, because the smoothie is bulked up by the fibre that is discarded from juice. This makes juicing appear more expensive.
On the other hand, since juices use more vegetables such as carrots, beet and celery, which are generally cheaper to buy than fruit, the difference in cost my not be as much as it seems when you look at the pulp coming out of the juicer!
Having spent extensive periods of smoothie only, followed by juice only, I now oscillate between the two as the mood, hunger level, available ingredients and my time takes me. If my digestion were upset, or I were recovering from illness I would take juices for a while. Best of all, check each day what your body would like!
The Delicious Nugget: Green smoothies and juices are both good for you – smoothies give all-round nutrition includthe building blocks of proteis from greens, while juices yield a higher concentration of micro-nutrients and fruit sugar and are more easily assimilated and good for cleansing the body. If you have the equipment for both, check ‘Which does your body want today?’