As baby boomers age, many of them are increasingly concerned about ways to achieve better health.
“People are looking to staying fit and agile and as they age they have the patience to try any meaningful way to do it,” says Pat Crocker, a culinary herbalist and home economist.
And her simple remedy to better health for any age group is to capture the benefits of juicing.
As juicing bars and “elixir cafes” spring up in cities across North America one might think it is just another trend.
Not so, Crocker says. It is really a centuries-old health practice revived in this age of over-refined, chemical-laden non-food, she says. In an effort to guide those who want to make juicing a regular activity, her book “The Juicing Bible” (Robert Rose, $27.95, paperback) has been updated.
First published in 2000, the new edition has 100 new recipes to create fruit and vegetable juices, tonics, cleansers, digestives, teas, smoothies, milk and coffee substitutes and frozen treats.
Also new to the book are details on juicing therapy for 80 common conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, depression, quitting smoking, menopause and migraine headaches.
As a regular juicer, Crocker and her husband prepare juices once or twice a day to enjoy fruits and vegetables at their peak of freshness.
Here are several useful tips on the method and equipment.
“You want to purchase a good juicer because if you don't, you will be disappointed by the outcome,” she says.
Also as they become more popular for home use, the prices are dropping, Crocker says, and no matter what the price “it is an investment in your health.”
Her ideal juicer is made from stainless steel with a basket that continually spins and ejects the pulp from the produce and separates the juice. “You don't have to stop the machine every time the basket gets full, which can be a pain,” says Crocker.
Her juicer has only three parts, “so it is easy to put together, easy to clean and it doesn't have all those gadgets that you have to clean.”
Crocker says besides the juicer you will need a really good blender.
“The difference is when you are blending you are using the whole fruit or vegetable. So you are getting all the fibre in a blended drink.
“With a juicer you are separating out fibre so the nutrients are absorbed into your bloodstream and it passes into your stomach and gives your liver and kidneys a rest. And you are flushing your cells with nutrients.”
Most important with either method is that the produce be fresh to receive the optimal nutritional benefits.
“Even in winter it is amazing how fresh fruits and vegetables like apples, winter pears and root vegetables juice beautifully,” Crocker says. “And frozen fruits and vegetables are perfect for juicing as they are high in nutrients as well.”
Here from the book are two recipes, one for vegetables, the other for fruit.
8 fresh spinach leaves
2 kale leaves
1 beet, top intact
2 stalks celery
Using a juicer, process spinach, kale, beet, beet top, celery and apple. Whisk and pour into a glass.
Makes 1 serving.
3 nectarines, pitted
2 fresh apricots, pitted
250 ml (1 cup) blueberries
4 peaches, pitted
2 plums, pitted
Using a juicer, process all the fruits. Whisk and pour into glasses.
Makes 2 servings.
ALSO: Our weekly challenge: Try to replace at least one cup of your day's coffee or one sugary treat with one of these energy boosting foods:
Water is a integral part of keeping all the cells in your body hydrated and working at optimum levels, says dietitian Kim Stinson-Burt. Start the day with a tall (at least 500 ml) glass of water as soon as you wake up. "Imagine going an entire work day without drinking. Your body does the equivalent of this every night when you sleep. Many Canadians are starting the day dehydrated, which leads to fatigue very early on in the day.," she says.
When eaten raw and unsalted, almonds are a good source of healthy fats and protein to balance blood sugar levels, Stinson-Burt says. One ounce of almonds (that's about 23) can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
"Rich in complex carbohydrates and protein, quinoa is a highly nutritious grain that keeps you full and energized well into your next meal," she says. For meal options, try warm quinoa with raisins, almonds and cinnamon as a cereal or mix it into your favourite salad for lunch.
Forget caffeine and grab a bar of chocolate. "Dark chocolate energizes by providing an excellent source of iron and magnesium. Make sure it's at least 70 per cent," Stinson-Burt says.
Rich in potassium and B vitamins, bananas help slow down digestion and can keep blood sugar levels stable, Stinson-Burt says.
Replace your cereals with bran. "Bran flakes are full of energy producing B-vitamins, iron, and magnesium. The fibre will also keep you full for longer and stabilize blood sugar levels," Stinson-Burt says.
Salmon is high in essential omega-3 fatty acids that are needed for energy production, brain activity, and circulation as well as maintaining heart health, Stinson-Burt says.
Often as traditional dishes in Asia and the Caribbean, spicy curries made with turmeric, cinnamon, cumin and other spices can boost energy levels with antioxidants, normalize blood sugar levels, and promoting good circulation, Stinson-Burt says.
"Oils that are found in coconuts consists primarily of medium chain triglycerides, which are types of fat that is turned into energy quickly and efficiently," she says. These oils can prevent you from feeling sluggish throughout your day.
Lentils and other legumes -- like chickpeas or kidney beans -- stabilize blood glucose levels and can help prevent a mid afternoon crash, Stinson-Burt says.
Eggs are high in iron and protein to give you sustainable energy throughout the day. "Choline is a type of B-vitamin that is found in eggs that is required for brain function and energy production," she says.
Wheat, kamut, spelt, oats or even brown rice. "No matter which whole grain you go for, the complex carbohydrates, fibre, B-vitamins and iron will keep you energized until your next meal," Stinson-Burt says.
Citrus fruits, like lemons and limes, are rich in Vitamin C which can boost our body's immune system.
Yogurt of all sorts contains probiotics, which are well known for being a key part of healthy digestion, Stinson-Burt says. These probiotics can also help fight a weak immune system and boost your energy levels.
Kale really is a superfood. High in vitamins and minerals, kale is a great energy booster and key source of calcium. "If you want to cook it, make sure to cook it well in oil and balsamic vinegar in order to ensure that all the energy producing vitamins and minerals are easily digestible and absorbed for use in the body," Stinson-Burt says.
Forget coffee and grab a tea. Ginger infused tea is filled with antioxidants and nutrients that can give you an afternoon boost.
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