Smoothie operator: Local juicers on going green ... or crimson ... or fuchsia
There’s been lots of press over recent months touting the nutritional value of fruit and veg smoothies, so it’s no surprise to learn that in 2013 the juice and smoothies market in the US was valued at $23 billion, while in the UK sales rose 2.1% to £1.5 billion. Following the trend, juice bars now popping up across the Riviera are quickly becoming hot spots. I met up with several superfood experts in the region to get some tips for making healthy drinks that are right for you, your lifestyle and your budget.
Does it really matter what we drink?
Well, according to the European Food Safety Authority (www.efsa.europa.eu), with most health and fitness experts agreeing, the recommended daily requirement of water is 2 litres for women and 2.5 litres for men. But when summer is in full swing – and no end in sight of those high temps and humidity – we are reminded to drink even more water. So fresh water – economically and ecologically filtered from the tap – should be the base of our daily intake. And there are no added calories to worry about.
Of course, the well-marketed ready-to-drink beverages like many fruit juices and fizzy drinks are convenient, omnipresent and can be pretty darn thirst quenching … but are they good for us? A recent online article titled “Fruit Juice is Just as Unhealthy as a Sugary Drink”, by Kris Gunnars at Authority Nutrition, indicates a resounding “No!” The majority of these drinks are largely industrial products with excessive amounts of added sugar, preservatives, artificial colourings, flavours and virtually no nutritional value. That said, some are better quality than others, so if you are going to reach for a prepackaged drink, look for those with naturally low sugar, like organic coconut water, or teas free of chemical additives.
And even when it comes to making your own juice, low sugar is the key. Homemade smoothies can be highly caloric, so opt for a 20% fruit-80% vegetable blend to avoid having a sugar crash in an hour.
What the in crowd has to say
In Juan-les-Pins, Angelika Furstler of Vegan.Super.Yacht (www.vegansuperyacht.com) tells me, “I was fed up with eating salad where the chef simply had left out the chicken when I was a guest on yachts or at private parties. I could not believe that there was luxury all around and yet I had to go and ‘look for food’ that I could actually eat being vegan/raw vegan. I decided to go for it and make a change by providing VIP services and chef training.”
Angelika emphasises that while both a smoothie and juice can be highly nutritious and refreshing, the fundamental difference is that smoothies are “blended” and retain the natural pulp or fibre while juices are generally pressed and so discard the fibre, which affects the nutritional impact of each drink.
Over in Monaco at the Clever Kitchen (www.theclever.kitchen), licensed nutritionist (BSc Hons) Susan Tomassini says that we should look at smoothies as essentially a meal.
Although a big fruit juice smoothie can taste delicious and be energising, don’t be afraid to experiment by adding even more nutrition to it. If you have some mint growing in the garden or you come across some fresh ginger in your produce section, pick it and give it a try in your smoothie. Your body will thank you.
“The nice thing about smoothies is that they can be made in a standard blender found in most every household,” she explains. “They are easy to make and also a fun way to get your children involved in developing a real food awareness.”
For juicing, Susan adds that it’s essential to recognise the huge distinction between the processed food juices that one finds in supermarkets and the juice you can create with a proper juicer at home.
Also, as Angelika points out, juicing removes all the fibre from the fruits or vegetables that you put through your extractor. This can be a real benefit for those with compromised digestion, because fresh juices retain most of their nutrients and yet are highly absorbable and easily digestible. The down side, particularly when juicing with fruit and carrots, is that there is a very high level of sugar and corresponding calories causing weight gain and upsetting blood sugar levels.
The objective with juicing should be to reach 80% of the juice from nutrient-rich green vegetables like fennel, cucumber, spinach, celery, ginger, etc.
From a health stand point, green juices are one of the best ways to obtain a super nutrient boost.
Barbara Baselgate (above) from the BeJuice company (www.bejuice.fr) in Nice further stresses that since you are getting such an intensive package of nutrients which are readily assimilated by your body, that it is very important to use as much organic produce as possible.
Barbara – who from September 2015 offers “Juicy Hours”, the healthy apèro on the French Riviera from 17h-20h every Friday – points out the biggest benefit for juicing is to simply give your digestive system a break. Even if it’s for only one meal a day or 3 meals during the week, the time is important for your system to repair and rejuvenate. Of course, always speak to your doctor before tackling any new change in diet.
Naomi Buff (above) of Monaco’s Naomi’s Kitchen (www.naomis.kitchen) underlines the importance of finding a juicing regime that is compatible with your budget and lifestyle. The type of machine that you purchase can range in price from €100 for a basic centrifuge juice extractor to €300 and above for a cold press juicer – also known as masticating juicers – which keep more of the nutrients intact by crushing and pressing at cooler temps. Even more expensive is the quieter twin gear juicer, with its low-speed motor that eliminates oxidation and preserves enzymes.
If you are still feeling a bit intimidated by it all, take the time to contact one of your local health professionals mentioned in this article or visit their websites, where you can find some delicious recipes and useful information to help you enjoy a more healthful life on the Riviera.
TIPS FROM NAOMI
• Be realistic with your goals. If only one juice on the weekend is all you have time for, start with that. • Drink it fresh. Don’t make a big batch and keep it in the fridge. The juice will oxidize quickly and lose much of its nutritional value. • Choose a non-dairy base (filtered water, organic coconut water or almond milk). • You need to add fat (not just skimmed milk and a banana!) so that the body can absorb the vitamins. • Add greens to improve nutrient content (kale, spinach, fennel, cucumber, celery) and the occasional superfood like spirulina, maca powder or wheatgrass. • Add a bit of sweeter if needed (apples, pears and carrots are good to start with) but focus on getting as quickly as possible to 80% green vegetables. • Increase Omega-3 and healthy fats by adding nuts, avocados and seeds or coconut oil. • Drink slowly or even chew it to utilise the entire digestive process that starts in the mouth with chewing. • Fresh and organic ingredients are a must. And take the time to appreciate the goodness of what you created.