Welcome to Week 12 of One Simple Change: my year-long series of holistic lifestyle tips!

Today I want to follow up on my discussion of Healthy Drinks and talk about the benefits of juicing. I also want to share a favorite green juice recipe with you.

I have been drinking fresh juice on and off for about 20 years. I started when I was in my early twenties: at that time, I was recovering from years of disordered eating and a slew of related health problems.

When I first started drinking fresh juice, I did not have my own juicer. I would buy it from a juice bar or health food store. I pretty much only drank carrot juice at that point, sometimes with beet or apple added to it. I enjoyed drinking fresh juice very much, and I felt that if it had healing properties too, then that was just the icing on the cake.

After a while, I decided to get my own juicer. I loved making my own juices, and got more creative with my recipes, but I hated cleaning the juicer. So I stopped making juice on a regular basis, and after not using the juicer for a while, I gave it away to a friend.

This pattern repeated itself a few more times through the years. I’d get really into juicing (I even did a 10 day juice fast in Hawaii once!) and then, somehow, my enthusiasm would wane completely. I have owned and subsequently given away at least 4 juicers as a result.

About 2 years ago, my husband and I started drinking juice again. We soon realized we were spending way too much money at our favorite local vegan juice joint so we decided to purchase a juicer once more (this is the one we got), and to commit ourselves to making juice only at home from then on. We’ve sort of stuck to this plan, though sometimes months go by and there’s no juicing. I am pleased to say, however, that we’re back on the juicing bandwagon, and I’m excited to share about juicing today for One Simple Change.

I could go on and on about why juicing is good for you here, but instead I am just going to keep it short and sweet. Basically, fresh juice is a raw, live food that’s high in enzymes, and it’s absolutely brimming with nutrients that are well absorbed by the body. The juicer does all the work if breaking down the fruits and veggies, so juicing is excellent for anyone with any sort of digestive issue. Juicing fruits and vegetables is a wonderful way to increase the amount of nutrients from raw foods in your diet, and fresh juice is super high in minerals that can be used by the body to reduce inflammation and potentially heal numerous ailments. Juicing helps the body rid itself of toxins so it can be a valuable addition to a weight loss program…it can also help improve the condition of your skin and hair. If you want to read more about the health benefits of juicing, I think the website of cancer survivor Kris Carr is a great resource. I have her Crazy Sexy Juices & Succulent Smoothies e-book and it’s terrific.

Be aware that even though fresh juice is fabulous for you, it does not have any fiber. So please don’t give up on eating your fruits and veggies whole. Also, as you get into juicing, it’s best not to only juice sweet fruits and/or carrots and beets like I used to do. These are quite high in natural sugars and you don’t want to consume large amounts of them juiced: you may throw your blood sugar out of whack. Balance is key, so make sure to add low-glycemic, high nutrient greens to your juices, as well. Organic produce is recommended for juicing; if you can’t buy organic, make sure to wash your fruits and veggies with an all natural produce rinse to remove any pesticide or other chemical residue.

Fresh juice should be consumed right after you make it (store-bought, packaged juices honestly don’t have a lot of value in terms of nutrients and/or healing properties), and I’ve always heard it’s best for your digestion to drink fresh juice 20-30 minutes before a meal. I’ve also always heard it’s best not to suck the juice down quickly, but to drink it slowly, and to sort of “chew” every mouthful. Yes, it’s a bit of a pain to clean the juicer but think about how much good you are doing your body by incorporating the practice of juicing into your life.

I mentioned last week that I’d been sick with a bad cold and cough. Well this yucky sickness was still lingering so a few days ago, I decided I’d go on a two day juice fast. I have not done anything like this in many years, but it just felt right to me right now. I won’t lie and say it was a breeze- there were definitely some hunger pangs in between juices particularly on day 1- but I have to say that I felt quite good after completing the two days of juicing. From now on, I am going to try to fresh juice a few times a week (maybe even daily), and I am gearing up to do a longer juice fast (3-4 days) again next month.

The recipe below is what I made for breakfast on the two days I was juice fasting. I love how the lemon, ginger, and green apple offset the bitter greens and make it taste really good. If you are new to juicing, you might love this, but you might hate it. I personally think a combination of carrot, beet, apple, kale, and ginger might be a better place to start if you are brand new to juicing.

Cucumber, Endive, Kale, Green Apple, Ginger, and Meyer Lemon Juice (Green Juice Recipe)

Yield: about 20 ounces

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

*1 organic cucumber
*1 head California endive, ends trimmed off
*4 organic kale leaves
*2 organic green apples
*1 lemon, preferably a Meyer lemon
*1 thumb size piece of fresh ginger

Directions:

1. Slice ingredients so they will fit, then process through your juicer (I have this one). Stir to combine; the juice is best when served right away. If you want to store all or part of your juice for later in the day (or for 24 hours max), transfer it to a glass jar (an opaque jar is even better than a clear glass one), fill to the very top, and cover tightly. The less the juice is exposed to air, the better it will be preserved.