Step away from the apple juice! Vegetable based juices pack a lower-sugar nutritional punch and, with the right balance of fruit and veg, it is possible to make a glass of the green stuff that kids will enjoy too.
We recently caught up with PLENISH juice company founder Kara Rosen to talk about life, juice and raising healthy kids and got her expert tips on incorporating juices into our kids’ diets. We asked her to share some child-friendly recipes and her top tips for making home juices from her book PLENISH: Juices to Boost, Cleanse & Heal.
Kara’s Tips for Juicing:
- Keep it clean: thoroughly wash all leafy veg, salad leaves and herbs and any fruits and veg that are juiced with their skins on.
- Pack heavy: 1 cup = tightly packed. Chop up pineapple or broccoli (stems and all) and squish down the spinach or parsley to pack it densely. I use a 250ml/250g measuring cup, but you can use a bowl or mug of the same capacity.
- Prep talk: Most fruits and veg can be juiced whole, some need a little prep. Top beets, strawberries, radishes, carrots; peel garlic, onions, pineapple, kiwis, papaya, avocados and melons; remove rind and pith from citrus fruits, stalks, pips and stones from fruits, and seeds from peppers and chillis. Horseradish, ginger and lemon grass are fine just the way they are.
- Slow and steady wins the race: Cut up produce based on the size of the ‘mouth’ of your juicer. Try to shove it all in, the juicer will jam. Promise.
- Dry, then wet: Juice leafy greens and herbs first, followed by juicy fruits or water-based veg to wash through the bits.
- When in doubt, add veg: Recipes make 500ml (2 cups), based on medium-sized veg or fruits. Because of natural size variations, you may make a bit more or less. To bulk up a juice add cucumber, courgette or lettuce. These are low in naturally-occurring sugar but high in vitamin-infused water content.
- Don’t have separation anxiety: Juices separate on standing. A gentle shake or stir will see you right.
- Put a lid on it and chill out: Juices are best consumed within 24 hours. Store in an air-tight container and refrigerate until use.
Kara says: As Harry Nilsson and the Baha Men sing, ‘Put the lime in the coconut and drink them both up’. Well, we can’t resist adding some extra greens and a bit of lemon grass to create one of the most delicious ways to hydrate, alkalize, detox and tantalize your taste buds. Close your eyes and you could be in Thailand.
1 pear (stalk removed)
1 cup kale
1⁄4 lime (rind and pith removed)
1 lemon grass stalk
1⁄4 cup coconut water
Pears – An excellent source of vitamins B2, C and E, copper, potassium and the water-soluble fibre pectin, pears promote healthy cholesterol levels and tone the intestines for healthy digestion and elimination. Pears work really well to balance out strong green flavours like kale and broccoli if you are new to greens and need a bit more sweet camouflage.
Kale – Although kale has been around since the Dark Ages, it’s only recently had its moment in the spotlight because of its superfood status. Calorie for calorie, it has more iron than red meat and more calcium than milk. This makes it important for cell growth, transporting oxygen around the body and strong bones. It’s also chock-full of antioxidants and vitamin K, helping to protect against a wide variety of cancers. A great detox food, providing fibre and sulphur to support your liver.
Cucumber – Cucumbers are, in fact, from the same botanical family as melons. Because of their high water content (over 95 per cent), they provide great base for any juice. They are also very low in sugar and contribute a valuable array of vitamins and minerals. The potassium in cucumbers makes them effective in post-workout recovery support for hydration and electrolyte balance, and just half a cucumber will deliver nearly ten per cent of your daily requirement of vitamin K. It also helps promote clear skin.
Cucumber juice has a refreshing, slightly sweet taste, and mixes well with any green vegetable or fruit. As a regular juicer, I recommend always having fresh cucumbers on hand. Run cucumbers through the juicer last. Their high water content will ‘wash’ through the bits of leafy greens you’ve already juiced. If you’re not buying organic, make sure you peel them before you juice them.
Kara says: Vibrant and orange in colour, resist the urge to lather this juice on your body. Super high in carotenes (the phytonutrients that make the melon, carrot and pepper orange), which not only protect your cells from oxidative stress but can help give your skin a healthy glow.
1 orange pepper (cored and deseeded)
1⁄2 cantaloupe melon (skinned and deseeded)
Carrots – Crunchy carrots are full of beta-carotene (a phytochemical that the body turns into vitamin A), whose antioxidant properties can help with functions such as vision, reproduction, healthy cell membranes and growth, along with a host of other powerful antioxidants. Carrots have a very high water content (up to 85 per cent) and are naturally sweet, so can help sweeten a juice without the need to add sugar. Carrot and a splash of lime provide a great counterbalance if you’ve gone overboard with beetroot in your recipe and need to mellow the flavour.
Strawberry Rhubarb Tart (chosen by Mr Fox editor, Lydia Gard)
Lydia says: Not all kids have a sweet tooth: my three year old son tends to favour salty and sour flavours, and isn’t shy: olives, anchovies and blue cheese are among his favourites. The rhubarb here has a sourness which tones down the sweet strawberries.
Kara says: This is a tart and sweet juice, with a unique, indulgent flavour thanks to the anti-inflammatory cinnamon. I often make this for ‘dessert’ at brunch and it’s always a conversation piece.
4 rhubarb stalks
2 apples (stalks removed)
1⁄2 cup strawberries (hulled)
1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
Apples – Raw apple juice is a great source of the antioxidant vitamin C, which promotes immunity and protects cells from damage caused by free radicals. Apple skin is rich in quercetin, a natural antioxidant that protects the colon. One of my favourite go-to natural sweeteners, apples mix well with both greens and roots.