Juicing: What's It All About, Anyway?

Curious about the juice craze? Read about this growing trend — and get five fresh recipes — here.
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Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Are you eager to hit the reset button after holiday festivity indulgences? Yearning for glowing skin? Wishing for a naturally whittled waistline? If you answered yes to any of those questions, it might be time for you to give the smoothie and juice craze some serious thought.

Smoothies and juices are loaded with vitamins, minerals and nutrients, and they make it easy for your body to get more of good-for-you foods like spinach, kale, lemon and ginger, as well as buzzy superfoods like chia and hemp seeds.

So what's the difference between smoothies and juices?

Smoothies are made out of blended ingredients; the sharp blades of the blender act like teeth for you, breaking down the ingredients into highly absorbable drinks. The drinks retain all the fiber, seeds, skins and other components of the fruits and vegetables. They often contain dairy, juice or another liquid base, in addition to the produce you're blending. And they’re a little more low-maintenance: Simply add your ingredients to a blender and pulse until your drink reaches the desired consistency.

Juices, on the other hand, require specialty equipment (slow- or high-speed juicers) that crush and press the fruits and vegetables, slowly extracting their liquids and nutrients. In this process, most pulp and fiber are removed from your produce. Juices are easy to drink and enable you to work a massive amount of veggies into your daily routine (more than you could reasonably eat), helping you feel vibrant even when on the go.

When should I juice?

You don't need go on a full-out cleanse to enjoy the benefits of juicing. Swap your breakfast or a snack with a green juice or smoothie to get a healthy energy boost, aid your weight-loss efforts, and give your skin the vitamins and minerals it needs to shine. These drinks can also improve the flow of your digestion and naturally alkalize your blood (an alkaline body equals a healthier body). A green juice works wonders as an afternoon pick-me-up (instead of a second or third cup of coffee), as it hydrates your body and loads it with the green it actually craves. Goodbye, 4pm crash.

The best part about smoothies and juices is they are highly adaptable to your flavor preferences and nutritional needs. A super-sweet fruit-based smoothie will be higher in sugar concentration and calories, but it will still yield a vitamin-packed beverage. Mix in protein-rich natural peanut butter or cocoa powder to add more complex sweet or bittersweet flavor, and slowly start adding in greens to test the boundaries of your taste buds’ comfort. Before you know, it you’ll be drinking all-greens juices and not looking back.

To get you started, here are five delicious smoothie and juice recipes that range from the classic green smoothie to more complexly flavored juices. Each smoothie or juice has one special superfood to give you that extra nutritional oomph. And most importantly? They all taste incredible and fresh as can be.

Click here for five unique smoothie and juicing recipes.

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