Everybody would eat healthy if health food was as exciting as artisanal cherry-hibiscus doughnuts and poutine. I mean, I love carrot juice, but carrots day-in and day-out leave me dreaming of pistachio baklava and rosewater Turkish delights.
Now kick it up a notch with a juice or smoothie cleanse and most people will suffer boredom verging on combustive rage. But what if I told you that it’s those very food-escapist dreams that can lead you to the most deliciously captivating smoothies and juices that you’ve ever wished for? Everything you love about cooking, texture, aroma, presentation, balance, complexity, quality of ingredients, and so on, is just as important in smoothie and juice making. It’s just a slightly new medium, like switching from acrylics to oil paints.
Restaurants like Pure Food & Wine take gourmet raw food and drinks very seriously and serve as endless inspiration for me. Set yourself some goals for what you want to achieve from this new juice and smoothie regimen, what you want to learn, heal, and release.
You could buy your juices, of course, but even if they are cold-pressed instead of pasteurized they’re just going to be a pricier and less-delicious version of what you could do at home for yourself. And while most pre-packaged health foods and health drinks are duller than dishwater, count yourself lucky that a) you’re intelligent and creative with good taste, and b) you’re reading this slide show of suggestions to get your creative “juices” flowing.
Nothing wakes a juice up like a splash of citrus — it’s like drinking liquid sunshine. There are, of course, the old favorites: lemon tastes zesty and clean; lime adds a tart, tropical note; grapefruit adds refreshing acidity; and orange is sweet and bright. But you can branch out from these reliable standards with pomelo, Ugly fruit, kumquat, blood orange, Satsuma, clementine, tangerine, Key lime, Buddha’s hand, yuzu, and iyokan. Check out your local co-op, farmers market, and Asian, Latin, or Middle Eastern grocery stores for citrus fruits that you love but don’t often buy or that you’ve never tried before.
Sometimes we forget about these powerful, medicinal little plants that lend their gorgeous flavor and aroma. Run herbs through your juicer like you would with greens. Mint, chocolate mint, spearmint, and others are beautiful in combination with sweet fruits or greens, and have a cooling effect. I love mint with cucumber, spinach, ruby red grapefruit, and apple. Fennel is another wonderful addition, and whether you’re using the stalks, blub, or fronds (or all three), it will flavor your juice with the sweet and herbal taste of anise. And don’t forget about the savory herbs, basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, dill, and one and on. These add depth to savory vegetable juices and complexity to sweet and citrusy juices. Look for fresh herbs in your garden, your farmers market, co-op, and grocery store. There’s a lot you can do with a little bit of herbs. One of my favorite summer juices stars lemongrass, which wafts like a bright and sultry perfume through watermelon, Asian pear, and pineapple.
Jessica Reidy is a Pushcart-nominated writer from New Hampshire. he loves making beautiful and healthy creations in the kitchen inspired by her Gypsy and Italian heritage, and her raw vegan streak, especially when there are flowers involved. Follow her on Twitter @JSReidy