Juicing is worth the squeeze

Story by Erin Elliott | Photos by Kirsten McGoey

Looking for healthy meal inspiration? Wellness culture provides a visual feast these days, thanks in part to social media’s demand for dazzling imagery. Far from the pale poultry and limp lettuce of former diet scenes, the health trends of the moment promote abundance: kaleidoscopic smoothie bowls of sculpted kiwi strewn with coconut confetti over a vivid blueberry base; lavish Buddha bowls (formerly known as salad) marry roast yams, spiced chickpeas and crispy garlic kale on a lush bed of quinoa. Today’s health foods are delicious, photogenic, and part of a massive trend toward fresh, plant-based ingredients.  They can also be a lot of work. This might be why we also see busy wellness gurus posting selfies with a more convenient standby: luminous glass jars of juice.

Fresh, cold-pressed juice is portable and efficient. “If you know that you aren’t getting your daily dose of fruits and vegetables, then a juice is a great way to do it,” says Mary Cammisuli, who started local Worth the Squeeze juice delivery service in 2016 and drinks at least one juice a day. “It is a lot easier for people to drink a bottle of juice than to make all those vegetables on their own and sit down and eat it.”


The recent update to the Canadian Food Guide made a splash by eliminating food groups and portion sizes in favour of a broader recommendation: an array of fresh vegetables and fruits should comprise roughly half of the Canadian “food pattern.”  The guide states: “Eating plant-based foods regularly can mean eating more fibre and less saturated fat. This can have a positive effect on health, including a lowered risk of cancer, heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes.”

Consumers are heeding this call. While consuming juices exclusively is not recommended (juice will never replace the needed fibre and nutrient content of fruits and vegetables in their whole raw or cooked forms) for some, a bottle of juice can replace a habitual sugary pop or caffeinated beverage for those looking to make a change.

A long-time resident of Clarington, Cammisuli has a background as a “holistic nutritionist,” and became known at her gym for her vibrant homemade juice blends. When others started to demand her juice, she realized there was a business waiting to happen. Three years later, she is busy with her one-woman operation, and thanks friends and family for their help with pop-up shops she attends around the area. Customers can even sign up for a juice subscription, which Cammisuli will deliver weekly to home or office.

Paul Fowler, owner of Brooklin Juice Junction agrees that juicing is a convenient addition to a health-conscious lifestyle. Fowler, who has lived in Brooklin for 43 years, runs the busy shop with his daughter Amy. His health journey began with supplements as a bodybuilder in his youth and he gained kitchen experience from his Jamaican mom who loved to cook, as well as in local kitchens. He now sees juice and other natural foods as a way to stay ahead of sickness as we age. The shop offers a mix of locally sourced natural products, smoothies, juices and seasonal experiments like soup. His vision is to provide a community hub that brings like-minded people together around wellness.

Juice has clearly caught on in Durham Region, but how does it really taste? Fears of broccoli-flavoured slime are unfounded. Cammisuli asks prospective samplers if they prefer sweet or sour flavours and directs them from there toward notes of tangy lemonade or gentle sweetness. She says beginners love the taste of Kick Start, her nuclear green blend of collard greens, pears, lemon and turmeric with a sweet touch of pineapple. Fowler’s customers love Purify for its palate-pleasing recipe of electric red beets, carrot, apple and lemon. 

Recipes and flavour blends abound. In warmer weather, Cammisuli prefers Citrus, a tangy blend of grapefruit, orange and lemon. In the winter, she reaches for Glow, a rich mix of carrot and apple. Fowler enjoys Sun Salutation, a fusion of carrot and apple together with a blend he calls Lion’s Breath containing ginger, lemon and turmeric.  He also recommends Savasana, a combination of cucumber, pineapple and orange.

For those already accustomed to blending fruit and milk smoothies at home, moving into cold-pressed juicing can be a natural next step.  If this is the case, Cammisuli says to be ready for the grocery haul: on average she needs around 2 lbs of fruit to extract 500 mL of juice. “I always seem to have 40 cucumbers around,” she says. “If I pick stuff up from the grocery store people always ask if I’m making a really big salad.”

Food safety is another important consideration: ensure produce food is ripe, fresh and thoroughly cleaned to remove any potential pathogens. And be sure to consume your elixir right away. Cold-pressed fresh juices do not have the long shelf-life you find with pressure or heat pasteurized juices in the grocery store. Fowler also warns the equipment is serious business: “When juicing hard veggies you need to be careful. Carrots have destroyed three of my juicers. They create lots of pressure in the machines and can send the end cap of the machine flying across the store. Each replacement part is expensive. Fire in the hole when cold-pressing carrots!”

Juicing may be an efficient way to consume certain nutrients, but that concentration comes at a cost: an extraordinary amount of waste pulp. Both Worth the Squeeze and Juice Junction donate their pulp to local farms as animal feed.  When juicing at home, one can save carrot pulp for baking carrot cake, loaf or muffins. And after all that fresh juice, a baked good or two might just hit the spot.


How to Choose a Home Juicer

If budget allows, both of our experts recommend a slow juicer for home use.

Fast Juicer / Centrifugal Juicer
The most common home juicer, a centrifugal juicer is least expensive. As it spins, a metal blade pushes the produce against a mesh screen. The juice runs down the chute while the pulp is sent into a separate chamber.  Food can be placed in whole, without any chopping or prep. The cost of this less time consuming process is quality: the metal blade does generate some heat, which destroys some of the enzymes in the food, lowering the available nutrients and creating oxidization that lowers the shelf life. This type of juicer is an affordable entry point for a new juice-fan. Its juice must be consumed immediately.

Slow Juicer / Masticating Juicer
Slow juicers are a greater financial investment, but yield bigger nutritional results. They slowly crush and press fruit and vegetables to extract the juice. Depending on your model, you will need to peel or chop your produce, and you might need to strain the juice afterward if you want it totally pulp-free. Because they don’t produce as much heat, they keep more nutrients intact. It will take up to 2 or 3 times longer to get your juice, but the end product will be less oxidized and have a slightly longer shelf life of 3 or 4 days.