Welcome to Episode #36 of The Raw Food Podcast! I am your host, Laura-Jane The Rawtarian, and today it is a massive face-off: Juicing vs. Smoothie-ing. We’re going to duke it out here on the Raw Food Podcast, so stay tuned and I will be back with you shortly.
Thank you so much for joining me! Now, is it possible to have a face-off and duke it out between smoothies and juices when it’s only Laura-Jane on the podcast? Yes, of course it is possible! I can wear two hats; I can talk and argue for (or perhaps against) one or more of these subjects. I know you’re probably thinking in your head that you prefer juicing vs. smoothie-ing, or vice-versa – you may have a preference – but of course I’m not afraid to take a stand when it comes to healthy eating or any subject. I think it’s sometimes actually easier (and more important) to just pick a side rather than just being too inclusive and say everything is fine. But in this case, and on this episode, I am going to have sort of a disappointing answer and, of course, I’m going to say: I love smoothies AND I love juices. They’re both beautiful; they both have their place. You can’t really have a face-off or a duke-out between two things that are both amazing. It would be similar to saying, “What’s better: Fruit or Vegetables?” You can’t really just choose one or the other; they both have their place.
So how I thought I would talk about this subject today on The Raw Food Podcast was just go over the basics to make sure everyone was on the same page about what the differences are between juicing and smoothie-ing (I don’t know if that’s a verb, but if not… It is now!). So that is essentially what we’re going to do.
Of course, let me just break it down for you very briefly here: so when you’re making a smoothie, that’s where you’re going to be cutting up some fruit and vegetables, putting it in a blender, and blending it all up. That’s going to be quite thick and it’s going to be in a most simplistic format. Let’s say you’re making a banana smoothie: it’s bananas, just sort of liquefied and all smooshed together, and usually you might – if it’s just bananas, for example – add a little bit of water. Then you’ve got basically pulverized bananas and you’re drinking it. Usually the texture, I’ve heard (and I believe), the best texture for a smoothie is, of course, something that you could eat with a spoon – thick enough to eat with a spoon – or suck through a straw. So it has that nice smoothie consistency. I’m sure most of the people listening to this podcast are familiar with a smoothie! So, of course, that is done with a blender.
Now if we contrast that with juicing: normally I would use the same fruit in this example, but bananas have so little juice in them (I’ve never actually juiced a banana before, but I don’t recommend it). What happens in a juicer is that instead of just squishing everything up, the juicer is separating the pulp and the fiber from the juice. So if you put, say, an apple in your juicer to make apple juice, of course it’s not going to be a thick, chunky, smoothie-kinda thing. It’s just going to give you only the juice; it’s going to remove all of the pulp and all of the fiber and, hopefully, the skin and that stuff out. So there is actually a huge difference between juices and smoothies.
So, of course, one of the basic differences at the beginning there is to make a smoothie, you’re doing that in a blender. You’re not actually getting rid of any of the fruit or vegetable, you’re just squishing it all up, pulverizing it, and blending it. But in the juicer, you’re just only extracting a small amount of the fruit or vegetable; you’re just extracting the juice, and then you’re just going to drink that. And really you do need an electric juicer to do that, because it’s going to be a lot of work to make juice with just a hand-juicer. So, one of those basic differences is the equipment that you need.
Of course, there are some people that we know of like Joe Cross, from the amazing movie Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. He really advocates juicing as a way to reset your body and do all kinds of great things for yourself. Then there’s other people like Victoria Boutenko, who’s like the Smoothie Lady, and she’s like “Smoothies all the way!” I used to kind of be more in the smoothie camp myself, but mostly that was just because when I started out, I did not have all of the healthy equipment. I did have a blender, but I didn’t have a juicer. So of course I started out mostly with smoothies. And I love smoothies (I love green smoothies, particularly in the morning, etc.), but recently I’ve gotten a little more into juicing. Again, I’m not really affiliating myself more with one or the other; I think they both really have their place.
So I think maybe I’ll start with talking with you about smoothies in particular, and some of the benefits that smoothies embody. What the benefits are of choosing smoothies, especially if you’re just new into healthy eating and haven’t really done either of those things.
I would probably suggest: first, let’s think about what equipment you have. In my case, I already had a blender, so that was the easiest thing to start with was making smoothies. And there’s a couple of things that I really like about smoothies when we’re comparing it to juicing. With smoothies, Number 1, you use way more of the fruits and vegetables, which means – drum roll, please – smoothies go farther; they’re less expensive to make. Think about it: if you’re making a smoothie, you’re just going to peel your bananas and throw away the peel. You’re chopping your apples, removing the core, and blending the whole apple. You’re getting to use most, if not all, of the fruit and vegetables that you’re putting in your blender. So in order to have breakfast, for example, I might wanna have a couple of bananas, an apple, an orange, and some water and pineapple. So even that is going to be quite expensive, especially if we’re using all organic products. But, in order to make a full breakfast of juice, it’s actually going to take even more, because, remember, when you’re juicing, you’re only drinking a small amount of the actual volume of what you’re juicing. Because the juicer is going to separate out the pulp and remove all the fiber, it’s going to take a lot more input to get the same amount of output. So, I do definitely choose smoothies more often because I find it – especially if you’re using organic produce – it’s more cost-effective to do smoothies than it is to do juicing.
I do find, as well, that smoothies tend to be easier to clean up after, but only marginally. Before I got into juicing, I used to have this idea that I was really scared of juicing, because I thought, “This contraption, this juicer, is going to have all these compartments, it’s going to be SO hard to clean, and it’s going to take a lot of elbow grease to clean this thing.” And, you know me; I don’t like to clean and I don’t like a lot of effort. So I think I had this idea that juicing was this huge crazy ordeal… and I have to eat my words a little bit on that, because cleaning a juicer is not that much harder than cleaning a blender. It is a little bit more work, but if you have a good juicer that has reasonable parts that can just be taken out, it doesn’t take that much longer. Let’s say: if cleaning your blender is going to take a minute, maybe cleaning your juicer is maybe going to take 2 or 3 minutes or something like that. So it’s a little longer but it’s not a huge difference. But even in that example, cleaning a smoothie-maker (AKA a blender) is easier, because all you have to clean is your actual carafe (or big jug) and lid. So I do love that.
I also have to say from a nutritional standpoint: fiber is something that we all need. It helps all the food move down our digestive tract and go out where it needs to go out. Fiber is something that’s very important, so it’s nice – when you’re drinking a smoothie – you’re getting all of the fiber from the fruit and vegetables. So those are some of the basic benefits of making a smoothie in a blender.
Now, why do some people love juicing so much? Well, there are definitely good sides to juicing. First of all: because when you’re juicing, the juice actually retains like 95% of the vitamins and minerals and plant chemicals that are coming out into the juice. Yes, juicers will remove the fiber, the pulp, and things like that, but the juice that comes out is like really dense and really nutritionally abundant; it does retain pretty much like 95% of the vitamins and minerals that are in the fruits and vegetables that you juice. Basically, juicing is like a major shot in the arm – so to speak – of amazing nutrition. So that, of course, is awesome. And I do sometimes feel like such a huge infusion (when I have a good juice), feeling like it’s going right into me and just being assimilated right into my body immediately, and I love that. People do say as well – and I don’t know about the scientific side of this – that normally when you eat, say, an apple, and you’re just eating it on its own, your body needs to actually separate out the fiber and process all of that stuff to get the nutrients out of it, but some people will say (especially if you’re ill or something like that), that maybe if you’re juicing and removing some of the fiber, you’re giving your body a little bit of a break so that it doesn’t have to do all that processing to get everything into your body in that juice form. So that’s one argument people will say about juicing being good is that the juicer is doing all of the work that your body would have to do. But, of course, we do all need fiber to some degree, so I think we wouldn’t want to just be juicing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner over a really long term, because we do need that fiber as well.
What else is great about juicing? Well, for me personally, when it comes to smoothies, I don’t like a cold smoothie that has been in the fridge for a couple of hours. So I don’t like to make a smoothie in advance at all, because I find it gets kind of unappealing and gross. But with juice, if I make a really nice one (like my favourite carrot apple ginger juice) in the morning, I could make a big batch of that and just drink it throughout the day – or turn it into a green juice and drink that throughout the day. You don’t wanna keep it for much longer than a day; once it hits the air, the juice starts to oxidize and lose a little bit of nutritional value – and it can get funky. It’s not the same as the juice that sits on the shelf of the grocery store for 2 years, so you don’t want to leave it for too long. For me, I find that if you’re going to make something and then kind of enjoy it throughout the day, juices are better for that. I personally don’t care for a smoothie once it’s been sitting for like 20 minutes; I’m just not into it anymore. So that is one nice thing about juicing as well.
So, as you can see, I’m kind of outlining some of the benefits of both. I can share my personal experience that, predominantly (because of money reasons), I definitely juice less than I would like to. I would love to get up in the morning and have fresh blueberry juice that’s organic and costs $20 a glass. I would love to do that, but that’s just not realistic or practical. That being said, I do like to juice on occasion; it’s probably more of a special occasion kind of experience for me. Maybe on a Saturday morning, if I’m having a really nice leisurely morning and I wanna do something special, I might make some juice. Also, maybe if I’m feeling a little run-down or like I need to give myself a little bit of self-love, I might make myself a juice.
Sometimes I might have a juice as a substitute for a meal later on in the day, like not for breakfast. Occasionally, if you really listen to your body, sometimes you’re thinking “I just really feel like I would love to have a juice for lunch” or something like that. Other times I think I would like to have a really huge raw vegan burger for lunch, so I don’t always have the juice cravings. But sometimes when you’re really listening to your body, you can get in tune with what you need. Particularly, I find if I’ve been having a few really heavy meals in a row, my body just tells me (in no uncertain terms), “I think it feels like a juice would be good for lunch,” and I try to go with that. For me, if I have a craving for a juice, I will make it.
I did mention one of my favorite juices there, which is the carrot-apple-ginger (sometimes I will love to add a lemon in there as well), and that is a very great juice, because – at least where I live – it’s a very inexpensive juice. Whereas, if you’re going to be making watermelon juice or cherry juice or grape juice, the cost of that can add up very quickly; to make a nice big glass of juice out of grapes is going to take a lot of grapes! So [carrot-apple-ginger] is a great option ,and it’s one of my favorite juices.
I would say, again, that if you’re trying to create a healthy habit for yourself – I’ve talked a lot about forming healthy habits: episode 23 of the Raw Food Podcast was “How to Eat Healthy Every Day”, episode 24 talked about how raw food changed my life, and you know I love talking about behavior change and all of those kinds of things; I’m really passionate about that. I think what you wanna do is think about which one appeals to you more, which one is more practical for you. Certainly if you can do both, I think that’s ideal, but (particularly when we’re getting started) it’s easier to just pick one little corner of raw food – for example: “OK. I’m going to do green smoothies every morning” or “I’m going to do green juices every morning.” Pick one thing, really get good at that, and get in a groove rather than try to do too many new things at once, because that can be overwhelming (because you’re just sort of sucking at everything!). Whereas, if you can get something, really get it going, get used to it, and get comfortable with it, THEN you can really start branching out. I would say if you’re just getting started, go with whichever one is more appealing to you. If you’re really on a budget, I would say go more towards the smoothies, but if you don’t have a blender and you own a juicer (or someone regifts you a juicer), then I’d say just go with whichever one is going to work for you.
So that is a little bit about the duel between the juicing and the smoothie-ing.
What else can I tell you? Well, maybe I should just touch a little bit in more detail on GREEN juices and GREEN smoothies. Of course, we love to have our fruits, because they’re so sweet and wonderful and delicious; and we love to have our greens, because they bring those other nutrients and they also will sort of dampen the sweetness a little bit, like counterbalance it. When I’m at home, just drinking a pure fruit smoothie feels really sweet to me, almost sometimes too sweet – I know that’s hard to believe; the Rawtarian is saying something is too sweet! So if we’re adding a little bit of greens to our juices or smoothies to create a green juice or a green smoothie, that can be a really easy way to get people who don’t particularly like greens to get a little bit of greens in their diet.
We hear a lot about kale being a really trendy green right now, but I’m not a big fan of adding kale, particularly to a smoothie, because it has such a strong kale-y taste. I definitely recommend using spinach as the green to use in your green smoothie, because it has the most mild flavor. You can actually add quite a lot of spinach before you really even taste it – as long as your blender is a good blender and can really blend it up. So that’s a little bit about the green smoothie, and of course you may have heard me talk in other episodes about that: Episode 3 would green smoothies, but perhaps I talked about it again. You can look that up at therawtarian.com/podcasts, but what I was going to refer to was that you’ve normally heard me talk about green smoothies and how the best ratio is usually about 2/3 fruit and 1/3 greens. If you keep it generally in that ratio, it’s going to still taste really fruity, but you’re going to get a lot of your daily intake of greens that way, and also (if you find it too sweet) it can dull down the sweetness and bring up that less sweet taste.
Now, when we’re talking about green juices: when I first got into juicing, I thought: “I’ll just put a little handful of spinach in my carrot juice and I’ll make a green juice.” So I’m juicing and I’ve juiced all my carrots; it’s this beautiful glass of carrot juice and I think: “OK I’m going to add a little bit of spinach.” So I put a little handful of spinach in the juicer and I juice it and you know what comes out the juice end? It’s like the tiniest eyedropper of green – one drop of spinach juice! My point that I’m trying to get at – and I hope you’re getting it – is that it takes SO much spinach to get a tiny bit of green juice out of it. So what you need to do, when you’re trying to make green juice, is pick a green that is already really watery, because otherwise you’re going to spend about $99 on spinach and get about a teaspoon of spinach juice. Of course, a really obvious nice green to do in this case would be cucumber; that would be an example of a very wet green that would work really well.
So, that’s a little bit about juicing and smoothie-ing. Again, I think they’re both amazing; I want you to be doing both, no matter who you are. I really can’t think of a reason why you wouldn’t like fresh juices or smoothies. I don’t know why you wouldn’t be doing smoothies or juices. I know a lot of people who are not raw or vegan (just average people) who love to do smoothies for breakfast. I’ve also heard, actually, that smoothies and other alternatives for breakfast are becoming so popular that the breakfast cereal industry has actually had to close some manufacturing plants, because cereal is becoming a little bit less popular. So smoothies and juices are awesome; they’re not a new idea, but there seems to be quite the resurgence happening – even with regular people, not people like you or I probably, but in the average North American culture – and that’s amazing to see.
One other thing I might just say while we’re closing up here about the smoothie aspect is: I know some of you have a problem with bananas – perhaps you don’t like bananas. One thing to keep in mind is that a lot of smoothie recipes have bananas in them for a couple of reasons, but predominantly because bananas add such a wonderful creaminess to a smoothie. That’s one of the main reasons that they’re included is that they have such a wonderful creaminess, and quite a bit of sweetness as well. So if you are banana-sensitive, have kids that hate bananas, or whatever the banana issue might be (‘cause I hear that from a lot of you), I would just remind you that bananas are used for creaminess predominantly. Sometimes another thing you can do is look for smoothies that have avocado instead, because avocado has lots of good fats and really brings a lot of creaminess to the smoothie as well. And even if you don’t think you would like avocado in a smoothie: if it’s in with a lot of fruit, it’s not going to taste weird at all; it’s going to add a really nice creaminess.
Lastly, what I’ll say to cap that off as well is that when you’re trying to make a recipe (no matter what it is, whether it’s juicing, smoothies, a dessert, an entrée, whatever), when you’re starting to get into substituting things – like “I don’ t have almonds; I’ll use walnuts.” “I hate bananas, but I’ll use an avocado.” Unless you’re really experienced, I suggest not making substitutions. Instead, just look for a different recipe that has all the ingredients that you like. We’re in such an amazing time where now you can look at so many different websites online for different recipes. So if you’re just getting starting out, I definitely recommend trying to avoid substituting too many things in your recipes and instead just look for other recipes that have everything that you need. You’re going to be assured more success if you do it that way. But it is helpful to know, for example: if you hate bananas and all of these smoothie recipes have bananas in them, the bananas are for creaminess. So what else might be creamy? Oh, ok, avocados are creamy, so let’s look for a smoothie recipe that has avocado in it. So it’s helpful to know what you’re looking for, and of course that comes with time and experience.
So that is my not-quite-a-duel between smoothies vs. juicing. I think you can hear my somewhat bias that I am a smoothie person; I do love them, particularly if you have an amazing blender like I do. I have the Vitamix blender; it’s super expensive, but it’s awesome. It makes everything so smooth! You could put anything in there and it comes out beautifully, so smooth. You don’t see any chunks. You don’t taste anything weird. You just have beautiful, creamy smoothie-ness. So if I had to choose (if you held me down and gave me a noogie on my scalp and said “You have to choose! Which is your preference?”), I would say smoothies. That’s probably just because they’re cheaper to make, so that’s more realistic for me and more practical for a lot of you over the long-term.
I am Laura-Jane The Rawtarian from therawtarian.com. Enjoy your raw adventure!
You have been listening to the Raw Food Podcast with your host, The Rawtarian. Be sure to visit me at therawtarian.com, where you can browse over 100 of my absolute favorite simple, satisfying, raw vegan recipes that are quick to make from simple ingredients and taste amazing. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for my newsletter and you’ll get a PDF of 11 of my most favorite, most satisfying, most delicious recipes: including Raw Vegan Alfredo Sauce, Raw Brownies, and a whole host of other delicious recipes that you can make at home that are raw and taste amazing. Thank you so much for joining me and I hope to hear from you very soon. Until next time, enjoy your raw adventure!
This information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. I encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with like-minded, qualified health care professional(s). I wish you success on your raw journey!