I wrote a blog post titled ‘Living Foods’ which mentions that majority of what we eat should be unprocessed, uncooked and raw, in that order. Easier said than done, and something that inspite of knowing the benefits of, I struggle to consistently incorporate in my everyday.
To me there are broadly 4 ways to eat raw: whole fruits and vegetables, juices of fruits and vegetables, uncooked salads, and dips.
I found that eating whole fruits and drinking the juices of both fruits and vegetables was the easiest way for me to incorporate raw food in my everyday life, maybe because they take the least preparation. Having done this for over 2 years now, I felt the time had come to conduct a workshop on juicing and talk through the things I had learned. A small group collected this week, and for 2 hours we talked about juicing.
My friend, also a fairly regular juicer herself now, offered to help with the demo. Friend said workshop went well, because there was “high engagement”, something I had taken for granted. As I reflect over the conversations that happened, I feel the need to re-emphasise a few points.
1. What are raw juices?
It never occurred to me to define what raw juice means. But when the audience asked what milks and seeds are ok to add to the juice, I realised they and me were not on the same page. A smoothie (even a vegan one with almond milk or sesame milk) is not raw juice! By raw juice, I mean plain raw juice of any fruit, vegetable, or herb, or their combinations, with no additions, not even sugar or salt, and especially not dry fruits.
2. Juices are best had on an empty stomach.
This means there is no solid food in the stomach. By default this makes early mornings the best time for a raw juice. If you are not able to drink first thing in the morning, give a gap of at least two hours after a meal. However when we are using juices as instant replenishment: after hard exercise, then you have them post workout or sip small quantities during the workout. When used as constructive diet post sickness, i.e. to say liquid food is your meal, then you have it as per meal schedule. After a juice, give a gap of at least 1 hour before you put solid food into your body.
3. Fruit juices are best for detox.
Let us understand detox. In naturopathy, detox means freeing up your vital energy, so that it can do the cleaning/healing work inside the body. Because maximum vital energy is spent in digestion, the heavier the food , the more the vital energy spent by the body in digesting this. Hence in order of decreasing digestive effort: heavy food–>lightly cooked vegetables–> raw vegetables and fruits –> vegetable juices–>fruit juices–>plain water. Notice vegetable juices come before fruit. This is because fruits are sun cooked, pre-digested food, easier on digestion compared to raw vegetables. Hence if doing a naturopathic detox use raw citrus fruit juices more than vegetable juices.
4. Fruits either in raw form or as juices don’t make us fat!
When I heard this during the workshop, I felt my body stiffen. But I immediately remembered a flatmate who had said that she was putting on weight because she was drinking fruit juices. I remember watching what she was juicing to see how this was possible. And then I figured that her way of having fruit juice was to take all the fruits she loved (mangoes, bananas, chickoos) add a bit of water and and a few seeds and drink it like a smoothie. Don’t do that if you are using juices to detox or to lose weight, or to get rid of illness. Pick water rich fruits: all kinds of citrus, watermelon, pineapple and juice them. Our bodies need natural simple sugars which is what fruits have.
5. We don’t need protein supplements.
Participants were all women of all age-groups. About 33% talked about taking a supplement from a packet, because a dietician had recommended them. They wanted to know if there were protein-rich juices. Juices are not the best source of protein, nut milks like soya and peanut are better. But I am left with a deeper question. Why do we need so much extra protein? Proteins are more difficult to digest and eliminate and make our body acidic. As a vegetarian, the kind who does not eat egg, I find enough protein in sprouts, peanuts, and whey (from the curd, not from a packet) with occasional tofu and paneer added.
6. You don’t need to invest in a juicer immediately
What is more important than the gadget you use is the habit of juicing and incorporating a glass of juice in your daily lifestyle. Citrus fruits can be hand squeezed without needing any juicing tool. Ash gourd and soft vegetables can be juiced fairly easily in a blender. Once the habit is formed, move to a cold press juicer.
To know more about juicing and juicers please read my earlier post titled Everything about fresh juices.
Please get in touch here if you would like me to conduct a session on juicing for a small family gathering to a gathering of 20-30.