By Robert St. John
After 50 years of life, I am not surprised often. Chalk up the juice fast as one for the surprised column.
Recently I started a 10-day juice fast – eating nothing, and drinking only the juice extracted from fruits and vegetables – and the results have been unexpected.
For two weeks I prepared myself mentally for the worst of all outcomes – major hunger pangs, low-energy levels, and general wailing and gnashing of teeth. None of that has happened, so far.
I was warned about the transition from a regular diet (actually, no one could ever accuse my diet as being “regular”), to one that consisted of only juice from fruits and vegetables. My friend, Laura, a 10-day juice-fast veteran, counseled that my digestive system would go into shock. I heard all sorts of horror stories, and there have been a few bumps in the road, but the prep involved in a medical procedure the day before the juice fast began gave me a clean start.
In implementing my plan of action, an electric juicer was the first item on the agenda – there are many good ones on the market. After consulting “Consumer Reports” I purchased a Breville. It’s as powerful as an Evinrude and would extract juice from an Old Chicago brick if given the chance.
The next purchase was for fruits and vegetables (this is where I might have a slight advantage over the average newspaper reader). I called one of my produce suppliers and ordered cases of apples, oranges, pears, pineapples, mango, plums, strawberries, watermelon, white grapes, red grapes, papaya, lemons, limes, carrots, cucumbers, Romaine lettuce, celery, spinach, ginger and kale, and stored the excess in one of the large coolers at the restaurant.
Note: My advantage applies only to bulk amounts and price. All of those items can be found in local markets.
My wife agreed to join me on the juice fast, and, to be truthful, the biggest surprise has been her heretofore-unknown juicing talent. One would figure the professional chef in the relationship was going to wind up doing all of the heavy lifting for 10 days. Not so. My wife has juiced almost everything we have consumed, and she’s been doing an excellent job. Actually, she is way better at concocting good-tasting juices than I am. She is like a juicing savant. Who knew?
It takes a little skill and touch to make pureed Romaine lettuce drinkable. She would tell you it just takes a little pear, apple or grape. The key is pureeing enough vegetables to garner enough vitamins and nutrients, and still make it taste decent. So far, she has had only one misstep when she mistook horseradish root for ginger root.
Anyone can juice an apple, orange or pineapple and have the end result taste good. But man cannot juice by fruit alone. Vegetables have to enter the mix. Carrots are pretty mild and can be blended successfully with several fruits (and ginger root). Spinach is bland when juiced, though it takes a lot of spinach to make a little juice.
Major fruit proponents tout kale. All I can say is kale is nasty. No fruit in the world can make kale taste good. Save your emails and letters, I’ve tried them all – lemon, lime, ginger – it’s still kale.
Cleaning the juicer is a pain, but if it’s cleaned immediately after juicing, the task is a little easier.
My energy level is up. That is one thing I never anticipated. I was expecting low-energy levels and mid-morning naps. But I actually have more energy, somehow. I feel “clean.” Seriously, there is no other way to describe it other than “clean.” I wake up immediately when the alarm goes off, I spring out of bed, and usually have a large glass of water before I juice six oranges.
I had been waking up with food hangovers and didn’t even know it.
I haven’t been hungry once. Seriously, not once. When I was eating regularly, I was sometimes hungry minutes after a meal. I don’t know the science behind this phenomenon, but for me not to be hungry is a major feat.
I have thought about food, but those mental cravings were never backed by hunger pangs. They came from old habits. Laura says, “Many times you are mistaking hunger for thirst. Just drink a glass of water.” So far, that has worked. Two or three times I have had a slight headache. I drank water then, too. Actually, I have been drinking a ton of water.
I feel great. I will probably do some type of monthly three-day juice fast after this ends. Seven days in, I’ve dropped nine pounds and I feel great.
want to try it?
For anyone interested in trying this for a few days, here are a few guidelines to follow: Carrots juice well with citrus and light fruits (pineapple, pear). Spinach, cucumber and Romaine are best paired with apples, pears and grapes. Actually, pears, grapes and apples are universal and juice well with almost other combinations. Watermelon doesn’t mix well, but we’ve juiced it several times.
And, again, kale is nasty. Period. Pour it down the sink.
The following are a few successful combinations we have created. The amounts are subjective and up to your individual taste. Nothing is written in stone (or Old Chicago brick).
• Peach, pear, spinach, cucumber, Romaine and lime.
• Apple, pear, cucumber, lemon and spinach.
• Apple, pear, cucumber, celery, spinach and lime.
• Orange, mango, carrot, lemon and ginger.
• Pineapple, orange, mango and carrot.
• Watermelon, grape, plum and lime.
• Red grape, green grape, cucumber, spinach and Romaine.
• Pear, lime, cucumber, spinach and Romaine.
• Pineapple, strawberry, orange.
Robert St. John is a restaurateur, chef and author of numerous books.