The Right Way to Make a Healthy Green Juice (Or Smoothie)

The variety of businesses in Thailand operating on a shoestring are truly amazing, and street markets seem to pop up out of nowhere.  For awhile I was a regular at a gym, located on Sukhumvit, the famously long, busy road that winds through many important and popular places in Bangkok.  Though less so lately since the government is on a mission of clearing them up, hawkers plying an endless range of products still line many of Sukhumvit’s sidewalks.   Anyways, at the time, I would typically be thirsty upon exiting the gym and would beeline to my juicer guy.  His  simple kiosk was squeezed in among other simple kiosks on a little concrete walkway midway between the stairs leading up to the building housing my gym and the sidewalk.  There, for a buck-fifty, I could buy a fresh juice from this amiable fellow at the moment I needed it most.  Same thing at my local outdoor market in the suburbs.  In this location, it is a grandmotherly women commanding a table stacked with fresh produce, a juicer and an electrical outlet, selling interesting veggie and fruit combinations.

Green juices and smoothies are always popular for people trying to up their health game, and with good reason. The concentration of vitamin, enzyme and mineral goodness one gets from freshly pressed juice simply must be healthy, right?

Well, yes, BUT… there is actually a big problem many people make when going the way of the juicer.

They make their juices waaaaaay too sweet.

And sweet means sugar. Too much fruit in our “healthy” green drinks not only turns to fat but also adds to inflammation and disease in our bodies.

When I decided for my last birthday to give myself the gift of endless juicing possibilities, and invest in my own fancy cold-press juicer, I also tried to figure out the best way to use it for my health.

I learned that:

  • to avoid enzyme death and vitamin shrinkage, the juice should be consumed at most within a few hours of preparation;
  • it should be made from organic produce (obviously);
  • this is key – it should consist primarily of veggies. This will keep the total sugar content low. Again, sugar = fat, if you are looking to lose weight, or are diabetic, then that’s a reason to reduce the fruit load in your green drinks. Sugar also = acid in your body; fruit with a high sugar content is acid forming. Acid in the body = inflammation = disease. The green veggies are alkaline forming, which we need to fight inflammation and therefore fight disease. (There are some alkaline-forming fruit, by the way, which include lemons, limes and grapefruit and avocados; and watermelon is neutral.) So we really need to keep those acid forming fruit to a minimum in our green drinks if we are thinking about our health;  and
  • with a high ratio of green veggies to fruit, the “net-effect” of the juice will be alkaline-forming in our bodies.  For extra nutrients + alkaline-forming insurance, and especially if you are planning to consume only a juice for breakfast, as I do, the addition of a green super food powder may be a good idea.

I have found that for me, along with a lemon water concoction and boosted coffee, a fresh green juice is the perfect breakfast every day.  Since making these powerful liquids my daily breakfast routine, I now get this amazing feeling of success every morning – like I am treating my body 100% right and that whatever extravagance happens after that is probably OK. It even allows me to walk right by another favorite street vendor – the fried bananas guy (always ordered with extra crispy caramelized bits) in the morning with my head held high.  This is something I could never consistently pull off before. (To be fair, fried bananas in Thailand are a marvel and go particularly well with coffee in the morning.)

Drink this for breakfast and no matter what else happens, you have earned yourself a gold star at the end of the day.

HEALTHY GREEN JUICE “RECIPE”

This falls into the category of a “non-recipe” recipe.  It’s more of a formula – and it is what enabled me to transition from juice fast – when I completed my first one this past year – to juice fest, as I have been juicing like a mad (happy-mad) woman ever since. I’m living proof you can drink it daily for breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • Organic (if possible) veggies – any combination with green being the dominant color.  I often use some combo of cucumbers, celery, spinach, broccoli, kale and/or any of Thailand’s amazing array of dark green leafy things I can find from my organic produce vendors.
  • Organic (if possible) fruit – I suggest passion fruit if available (2-3 passion fruit will contain more or less 20% of a 12 oz glass). Aside from being absolutely delicious, the flavor pop of passion fruit can take the edge off the bitterness of the greens. A little bit goes a long ways so it is the perfect add-in. Otherwise I tend to go with pineapple. Half a green apple would also work well.
  • Optional add-in #1: 1 Tablespoon green super food powder (optional) like this or this or whatever is your favorite.
  • Optional add-in #2: 1 Teaspoon chia seeds – for bulk and other benefits.

Instructions:

Keep the ratio in whatever size glass you are using at no less than 70% veggies to 30% fruit (or go harder core with an 80/20 ratio).  Then juice (or blend) it up.  The 70/30 (or 80/20) ratio keeps the sugar low and all those green veggies will likely keep the juice alkaline. Just eyeball it by juicing the veggies first and the fruit second, or vice versa. No need to sweat the particulars.

Your body’s gonna love you for this!