The Battle between Juicing & Blending

Ever since I got my Nutribullet at Christmas I’ve been absolutely obsessed with blending any kind of fruit, veg, nut & seed I can get my hands on.  I’ve just about got used to people at work asking me ‘err, what kind of pond life do you have for breakfast this morning Katherine?!’  I’ll admit it, I’ve been totally taken in by the marketing hype around ‘nutrition extracting’ and I even start to crave blended spinach & avocado if I go a couple of days without…hey, there are worse things I could crave!!

I’ve read a lot about the benefits and pitfalls of blending and juicing recently so when Joe Blogs invited me to an evening of juicing vs blending hosted by Currys and Philips, I couldn’t wait to hear more from the experts!

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Meeting at Joe Blogs head office in Kings Cross, I joined some other bloggers to find out who the real winner was in the battle between juicing and blending.  It was a fight I was looking forward to!

First off we were joined by Stephanie, founder of juicing company Raw & Juicy who introduced the 2 contenders.  Would juicing prove itself to be the ultimate detox tool…?  Or would blending be crowned champion with its more substantial smoothie making?  Let me confess now, I was firmly in the blending corner from the start…

First up: Juicing

Juicing essentially extracts all the water and nutrients from produce and discards most of the fibre leaving behind a pulp.  The first thing I learned was that there are 2 different types of juicer you can use…I just assumed they were all the same!

Centrifugal Juicer

These juicers have fast rotating blades that quickly grind the fruit and veg into a pulp.  The upside is that food needs little prep in the way of peeling etc but the downside is that you can lose a lot of enzymes which, in my opinion, defeats the point.

Masticating Juicer

The other type is a masticating juicer which juices the fruit and veg much more slowly and thoroughly to preserve more flavour, vitamins and minerals.  However, the downside to this is that the preparation takes more time and effort and, from what I’ve seen, these type of juicers are more expensive.

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Juicing: The Good Bits

  • Juice is easy for the body to digest because of the low fibre content
  • Huge nutritional density due to the volume of produce used – it takes 12kg of carrots to produce 1 litre of juice!
  • Gives you increased energy
  • Pleasant consistency
  • Easy on the stomach

Juicing: The Bad Bits

  • Can cause blood sugar spikes leading to mood swings and energy loss.  Vegetables aren’t so bad, but juicing fruit gives you a high sugar content – one to be wary of if you do it regularly
  • Lots of wastage – juicing leaves behind a lot of pulp that isn’t needed.  However, you can use this creatively and turn the pulp into ice lollies, compost or add to soups!  Not entirely sure about a carrot pulp ice lolly but I’m sure pineapple and raspberry would be delicious!
  • Not as filling as blending due to the lack of fibre
  • Requires lots of cleaning – there’s no getting around this one, juicers are messy!

Raw & Juicy

Next we took a look at Blending:

Blending differs from juicing because it liquidises the whole fruit or vegetable and turns it into a thicker smoothie.

Blending: The Good Bits

  • Blending retains all the fibre making smoothies more filling than juice
  • Slower absorption gives you more sustained energy
  • You need less produce
  • Can add nuts, seeds and oils for an added nutritional punch
  • Easier to clean!

 Blending: The Bad Bits

  • Some people aren’t keen on the pulp consistency
  • Takes longer to digest

It’s also worth remembering, a smoothie isn’t a drink, it’s blended food, so knocking it straight back will put a strain on the digestive system.  Unless you shove a whole plate of food in your mouth at once you shouldn’t do the same with a smoothie!

So, on the one hand you’ve got juicing which gives you a dense nutritional burst and on the other you have blending which offers you a wider range of nutrients and fibre…I think we might have to call it a draw!

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Mocktail Masterclass

Next was the fun bit, we got to make our very own juices and smoothies using loads of fresh fruit and veg!  A team of people from the Cocktail Service came to show us how it was done.  Apparently, the concept of juicing and blending dates as far back as 150BC where there was evidence of people mashing up pomegranates and figs!

The first drink was called Berries Matter, a mocktail which was expertly made for us in a blender.  This was a mix of cranberry & pomegranate juice, strawberries, raspberries, agave (natural sweetener) and ice.  It tasted lovely, I wasn’t sure it actually needed the agave syrup but I guess it may have been a little bitter without it.  Because of the juice content, the liquids started to separate quite quickly so it’s definitely one to enjoy straight from the blender.

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Then we got to have a go ourselves so Bonnie, Lorna, Emma and I got cracking on a Tropical Smoothie. First we used the Philips Viva 700w juicer to juice half a pineapple and 6 kiwis.  We then put the juice in the Avance 2L blender and added 3 bananas, a mango and half a melon.  Topping up with ice, the mixture was blended and made around 5 smoothies – delicious!

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We then moved on to a vegetable based drink called the Booster.  We juiced 3 large celery sticks, 3 carrots and a pack of 4 ready prepared beetroots, this was then added to the blender with an avocado and more ice.  Apparently pre-packed cooked beetroots aren’t the best for juicing as they are so soft so they turn to pulp very quickly so we added another one straight into the blender.  If you’re going to juice beetroots, raw ones are best!

This one wasn’t to everyone’s taste but I actually quite enjoyed it.  I think because the last 2 drinks were quite sweet it was a bit like having pudding before dinner!

Berries Matter, Booster and the Tropical Smoothie

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You can add most types of fruit and veg to a juice or smoothie, each with different health benefits.  Some interesting facts:

  • Kiwis contains 5x the amount of vitamin C as oranges – the perfect cold buster
  • Bananas can solve all your problems having proven to help with stamina, mood and even asthma
  • Fresh pineapples are the only known natural source of bromelain, an enzyme with anti-inflammatory properties that can promote healing

All in all it was a lovely evening, something I didn’t expect to say about spending my evening juicing celery!  I’ll be sticking to my morning smoothies but, if I had more time I would definitely consider adding some fresh juice into the mix too.

By the end of the night, and please forgive me, I couldn’t help but think these drinks would be great with a bit of vodka…now that would have been a knock out!

I would like to thank Joe Blogs, Currys and Philips for having me.  Whilst I was invited to take part in the evening, I was not paid to write this post.  All views, as always, are my own.

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So I got me a Nutri-Whatsit

I’ve always been a fan of smoothies, milkshakes (cocktails…), basically anything where you whizz ingredients up to create a fabulous fruity, fresh (ahem, alcoholic…) drink.  As I became more aware of the importance of nutrition in running, I started to experiment more with different fruits and veg to create drinks bursting with vitamins and minerals rather than less healthy milkshake varieties.

When the Nutribullet started to surface, it positioned itself as a ‘super food extractor’ rather than a blender or a juicer – it claims to break down and pulverise fruit, veg, seeds and nuts so that every gram of nutritional value is ‘extracted’.  In my day job I work in advertising so all I heard was ‘blah, blah, blah’, it sounded like a lot of marketing hype to me and an excuse to charge £100 for a blender.  I wasn’t convinced.

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However, as time went on the hype didn’t go away and my friends started raving about it. Jealously got the better of me and I caved…6 weeks later I don’t think a day has gone by where I haven’t had at least one ‘Nutriblast’!  Essentially, it is a blender, but a very powerful one that can handle seeds, pips and skins, as well as leaves and flesh, which makes it very easy to pump full of different fresh produce to turn into a (mostly!) delicious drink.

There are some general rules they recommend which are easy to follow and help you get the most out of your smoothie, ensuring it’s not too sugar heavy from all the fruit:

1. Fill half the cup with leafy greens such as spinach or kale

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2. Fill the other half with fruit – any fruit you like, whatever you can find, just chuck it all in (err, except apple pips, apparently they contain a chemical that releases cyanide when ingested…useful to know!)

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3. Add a ‘boost’ for protein, this can be anything from almonds, cashews or sunflower seeds to acai berries or spirulina

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4. Finally, add your liquid.  Water is the easy choice but I like almond milk for added B vitamins, perfect for tired muscles after a tough run.

I’ve been trialling lots of combinations and I don’t think my fridge has ever been so full of fresh fruit & veg!  It’s pretty cheap to stock up on seasonal produce so needn’t be expensive and you can often get frozen chunks of mango, blueberries, cherries etc in the supermarket which are easy to store.

Avocados have become one of my favourite ingredients, full of potassium, fibre and healthy fats, they give the smoothie a real creamy texture as well as helping to fill you up.  Spinach and kale have surprised me because you really can’t taste them when they’re all blended up and give a vibrant green colour as well as packing a firm nutritional punch.

Otherwise I’ve been throwing in anything I fancy, bananas, apples, pineapple, pears, plums, kiwis, oranges, peaches, grapes, mango, strawberries, blueberries, carrots, cucumber.  I often add half or quarter of a lemon or lime to lift the flavours – take the skin off but just throw the flesh straight in, pips n all.

Ginger, chia seeds, spirulina, almonds, cashews, flax seeds, oats and greek yoghurt are all great additions to your daily smoothie and help pack in further good proteins and immune-boosting stuff.

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I haven’t tried beetroot yet but I have some in the freezer ready for when I feel brave – beetroot is great for runners because it helps reduce oxygen consumption during endurance sports and allows you to train for longer before you to reach the point of exhaustion.  I really must get more involved with this earthy gem…

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Not strictly in keeping with the rules but I’m loving this one I stole from the Nutribullet Twitter page –  2/3 oranges, greek yoghurt, cinnamon and a splash of orange juice, a proper vitamin C hit!

Smoothies for breakfast are a great start to the day – you can immediately load up on at least 5 fruit and veg varieties and pack in loads of good stuff to make you feel great before you even leave the house.  Unfortunately ready-made smoothies from the supermarket are often packed with additional sugar and preservatives and were made some time ago so I would stay clear of these – stick to your home-made delights.

This week the Nutribullet has come into its own for me.  On Wednesday I had a wisdom tooth out under general anaesthetic, I’ve never had a general before so I was a bit freaked out and have been left with a sore, stiff jaw and a gum sewn up with some kind of dissolvable stitches, as well as feeling more than a bit woozy.

Needless to say running was off the cards for a few days, but so was regular food.  I made the most of my smoothie obsession and dutifully planned out 3 nutritious smoothies a day to force myself to be healthy even if I wasn’t hungry.  Fresh food, especially fruit & veg, is always the fastest way to recovery and I’m aiming to be back in my trainers tomorrow!

Obviously you can make smoothies from any household blender, the Nutribullet is just a pretty powerful one.  Have a go with different ingredients and see what combinations you love the most for a fabulously nutritious snack!  If you’re still not sure, don’t just take my word for it, apparently Kate Middleton is a fan.  Just saying…

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