A week or so ago, when I posted my recipe for homemade raw, vegan Brazil nut milk, my friend Elizabeth commented to ask why I don’t suggest the purchase of a nut milk bag (like this one) to my readers. Why indeed: as far as culinary purchases go, nut milk bags (about $8) are one of the least expensive, and they make homemade nut and seed milks that much easier and stress free. So consider it suggested! Cheesecloth works fine for nut milks, but it’s not any cheaper (less so, actually, if you have to continually restock), and it’s also messier.
Then Elizabeth mentioned that having a nut milk bag has compelled her to make more green juices in the Vitamix, by blending and straining. And that’s where I got really intrigued.
There is an age old debate in green-beverage-loving circles about the benefits of blending vs. juicing. Vitamix fanatics, among others, claim that keeping the fiber in juice intact helps one to avoid spikes in blood sugar, and thus makes the juice healthier. Juicing purists insist that the whole point of juicing is to remove fiber, and thus make the juice easier to digest—you get all of the vital nutrients without activating the digestive process.
Me, I’ve always seen the benefit of both blending and juicing. Juicing can be helpful for those with very delicate digestive systems, because it is so remarkably easy to digest. It also helps us to maximize volume of nutrient intake: it’s a lot easier to drink a green juice made from a whole cucumber, five stalks of celery, 4 stalks of kale, an apple, a bunch of parsley, spinach, and a bunch of carrots than it is to drink an entire Vitamix full of those vegetables in blended form. (In the latter case, you’ll almost definitely fill up before you finish all of the beverage.) The downside? Cleaning your juicer.
On the other hand, it’s true that juices can cause a more rapid surge in blood sugar, and so blending is fantastic for those whose blood sugar is more sensitive than others. Blended drinks—smoothies, rather—are also more filling than juices, so they’re much more suitable for denser snacks or breakfasts. And there’s no denying that it’s easier to clean a blender than it is a juicer.
I love both smoothies and juices, and I drink them depending on my needs. I like juices first thing when I wake up, before or with my breakfast. I also like them as light, energizing snacks when I’m fighting the urge to caffeinate. I enjoy smoothies, on the other hand, for breakfast, as a more filling snack, or sometimes after dinner, when I’m up late studying.
Until this past weekend, however, I never really thought about using my blender (and then straining) to make juice; in my mind, the two pieces of equipment were destined to remain separate. I’ve always known that people use their Vitamixes to make green juices (there are many tutorials online already), but I figured that it didn’t make much sense to do that if one has a juicer already. Until Elizabeth pointed out that she’s much more likely to make green juice if she doesn’t have to clean her juicer.
I haven’t juiced since Christmas, and it’s because I’m so pressed for time lately. The idea of breaking out the juicer, with all of its component parts, first thing in the morning is a little painful. It finally dawned on me that if I could simply make green juice in the Vitamix and then strain it, I’d be drinking more green juice. Period. And so this past weekend, I set out to make my first Vitamix green juice. Here’s how it all went down.
For my juice, I used the following:
- 1/2 of a large cucumber
- 4 large stalks spinach
- 3 large stalks kale
- 1 large handful of parsley
- 1/2 lemon, peel cut off
- 1 inch ginger
- 1/2 large navel orange, peel cut off
- 1 pear, seeds removed
I gave them all a whirl in the Vitamix (a minute or two on high), till the mixture was totally blended. I used about 2/3 of a cup of water to get it all blending (I could have used less—1/2 cup would have done it). As Elizabeth noted, this would probably be anathema to juicing purists, but my juice still tasted potent and flavorful in the end.
I then affixed my nut milk bag over the mouth of a 1 quart mason jar, using a rubber band, like so:
And poured in the juice:
When it had drained through, I gave the bag a good squeeze (this part’s a little messy) to extract all of the remaining juice:
And there I had it—two large servings of an absolutely wonderful green juice. No juicer needed. Here’s my finished product along with one of my favorite express breakfasts for busy days—sprouted toast with almond butter and banana (or apple):
A few thoughts on the process:
- I could certainly have used less water than I did to get the juice blending. Even in spite of 2/3 of a cup, though, my juice tasted great, and I didn’t feel that it was dilute.
- The process, overall, was so much faster than regular juicing. The only part that slowed me down was waiting for the juice to strain, so I do recommend going ahead and squeezing the nut milk bag to expedite. Careful not to be too forceful, though—I’ve broken some bags!
- Though this experiment did absolutely persuade me that Vitamix green juice is possible and tasty, my blended mixture was also really delicious pre-straining. So I think I’d gladly drink without straining on very busy days, if I was just as game for a smoothie as I was for a juice.
- Would a regular blender work for this process? Depends on the blender. My old blender, pre-Vitamix, wasn’t powerful enough to blend greens well, so I imagine that it wouldn’t have made a very good juice. That said, many blenders that are not high-speed are nevertheless powerful enough to blend greens well. Give it a shot, and see how it goes with your blender at home!
The whole process also inspired a few more green drink experiments, which I will be sharing in the upcoming weeks/days. Green drinks are so incredibly helpful for maximizing fruit and vegetable intake when one is stressed and doesn’t have time in the kitchen (which I haven’t lately). Juice, smoothie, blender juice—it’s all good. If you don’t have either a Vitamix or a juicer, using a low cost blender and choosing spinach as your green (it blends easily and tastes mild) in a green smoothie is also wonderful. Just be sure to find a way to make more room for greens in your life!
Before I go, a big thank you for some really extraordinary comments on my post on Friday. I rarely feel nervous before I press publish, but that one was pretty personal, and your feedback was very kind.