Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Juicing For Kids

I've mentioned before that I make green juice at home regularly, and that it eases my mind a little bit about the fact that the babe is not super-keen on green vegetables (in that she won't eat them, at least not knowingly). I think that juicing seems a lot more complicated than it is, so here are my basic tips for juicing with the littles.

Juicing 101:
First some very basic juicing info. There are lots of adventurous juicers out there, making exotic and original combinations, but for my purposes, an everyday juice is really simple. My basic template is a watery base veg, a (usually dark green) nutrient-dense veg, flavour add-ins, and a piece of fruit for sweetness. Bases: Your going to need at least one watery vegetable to make up volume - if you just try to do kale or something, you'll be sorely dissappointed with your thimble of juice. Good base veggies include cucumber (my favourite), celery and carrot. Next up is the nutrient-dense, usually very dark coloured veg - some sort of kale, greens, or beetroot for us. Also, stems and stalks are good to add - broccoli and kale stalks regularly feature around here. Then you can add in a little something special for flavour, like ginger, mint or parsley. Last, and indeed hopefully least, a little fruit for sweetness. I usually add half an apple or pear (the other half being grated into porridge), sometimes a whole one. You can also use citrus (peeled!), but I rarely do. That's it!

Juice Together:
When she was small, she was really scared of the noise that the juicer made, so I've always included her in the process of making it. She loves it! And it's a great way to learn about produce - she recently started using the word 'ginger', which blew my mind. I don't think I knew what ginger looked like until I was in college! Obviously, mind those little fingers.

Keep it Simple:
Kids tend to like familiar flavours, which is one of the reasons I don't change up our juices too much. Also, I think simple juices are delicious - plain carrot is one of her favourites. Our everyday green juice is as follows:

     Half a cucumber
     A few stalks of celery
     A generous handful of dark greens leaves, like Tuscan Kale
     Half an apple
     A thumb-sized piece of ginger, or some herbs

See what I mean? Simple. Sometimes I add a broccoli stalk. 

Keep it Colourful:
While adding a carrot to your green juice may taste just fine, it can also turn it an unappetising colour. For grown-ups, and indeed some kids, this might be fine, but for picky kids, I think it helps when they can look at a juice and know what to expect: she knows that an orange juice will taste carroty, red juice like beetroot, etc, etc. So pair flavours together based on colour, and they will always look delicious.

Keep it Seasonal:
Juicing regularly does require that you keep your fridge pretty well stocked, and shopping seasonally really helps keep costs under control. It also means that if you come into a lot of seasonal fruit and veg for some reason (tomato and courgette growers, I'm looking at you), you know just what to do with them.

Keep it Cheap:
Again, keeping costs under control is important, and luckily most of the watery base veggies are really cheap. Like, embrace it. Save the heirloom vegetables for your salad and juice the bulk-buy, everyday stuff!

Early and Often:
She started on green juice pretty much straightaway when she started on solids. Juice was one of her first food words! She is picky about vegetables, but absolutely loves green juice, and I think this is because it is familiar and fresh, she's always had it, and we still have it first thing in the morning when she is good and hungry.

The Juicer is Not a Garbage Pail:
I think it's in the cookbook Vedge that the author gives the sage advice: the stockpot is not a garbage pail. Neither is your juicer. Ugly veg, absolutely, but truly past best? Sorry, no. Nobody of any age will enjoy juice that isn't made from good produce.

Lastly, I should say that I have never allowed her to taste plain commercial fruit juice. I'm a little paranoid about her rejecting the vegetable juices, so I want this to remain what juice tastes like to her as long as possible. There's nothing wrong with fruit juice, I guess, but my goal is to get more veggies in the kid and a preference for the sweet stuff would undermine that goal pretty significantly. She eats fruit like a champ, so there's really no need for me to get more into her diet.

It's as simple as that! Good, fresh, basic produce. Of course you'll be left with the pulp, which is still usable in various ways (such as muffins! I will post a recipe soon), and it's fairly messy, but it's worth it to me to sneak an extra serving of the good stuff into our day. Also, if you needed one final reason, juicing makes your kitchen smell wonderful!

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