I’m asked all of the time which is better, juice or smoothies? My answer is always the same: both! But let me qualify that. First, not all juices are equal and the same goes for smoothies. Second, if you don’t own both a juicer and a blender, then I might suggest getting one of these appliances before the other depending on your circumstances.
For our purposes here, when I refer to “juice” or “smoothie,” I’m always referring to GREEN juice (a mixture of “fresh” juiced greens, vegetables, and sometimes a small amount of fruit), and GREEN smoothies (a mixture of fresh greens and fruit). I’m not referring to orange juice, pineapple juice, carrot juice, or a berry-n-banana smoothie. Those are all fine for what they are (liquid desserts, basically), but today we’re talking about juice and smoothies as a way to add a daily megadose of pure liquid vitality that is almost magical, due to high nutrient density and chlorophyll stemming primarily from the heavy use of greens and vegetables.
The reason that not all juices are equal is that there are some juice recipes which have a high fruit content (same for smoothies), which isn’t always the healthiest route to go. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of “whole” fresh fruit and it definitely contributes some powerful nutrition. However, it is smart to go easy on the fruit, if you include it, due to the higher sugar content (especially in juices where the fiber is removed, more on that in a bit).
So, here is how I use both green juices and green smoothies in my life. Our organic, fresh-pressed green juices rarely need any fruit because I use lots of cucumbers and celery in them, which serve to mellow out any bitterness or intensity from the darker greens. Sometimes I include carrots (for beta carotene), which definitely adds a bit of sweetness. I drink 1 to 2 quarts of green juice per day for, on average, five days a week.
As for green smoothies, I am more liberal with the fruit and I’ll usually include 2 pieces (or sometimes 1 piece fruit and a small cucumber) plus the greens, water, and any fun, nutrient-dense additions I feel like adding, such as protein powder, camu powder, cacao nibs, herbs, etc or flavor extract. Another way to reduce the amount of fruit is to use nut milk instead of water, as this serves to mellow the greenness of dark leafies, too. I drink smoothies about 3 to 5 times a week.
So at roughly 8-15 servings of green juice or green smoothie per week, you could say they’re a prominent feature my life.
Juice vs. Smoothie
Juice is basically a smoothie with the fiber removed. This means that fresh green juices are an opportunity to seriously load up on nutrients, at much higher densities than with smoothies (and I really mean it… you will load up!). That’s because you can only drink so much, and with a smoothie, the fiber adds volume that fills you up using a fraction of the produce that your stomach could hold if you removed the fiber and drank it as juice.
For example, if you made a 1-quart smoothie you might use 1 cucumber, 1-2 bananas, and 1-2 handfuls of greens plus some water. But a quart of green juice you might use 2 large cucumbers, ½-1 bunch of celery, an entire bunch of dark leafy greens, plus 1-2 handfuls of herbs. (Bananas don’t juice well, so I don’t include them.) See the difference? You consume a lot more produce (and greens, in particular) when you make juice. This makes juice more expensive by volume — another point to consider — but you get a lot more nutrition.
But you might ask, isn’t the fiber important? Yes! Fiber plays a vital role in health. That’s precisely why I opt to have both green juices and green smoothies in my life. While I see green juice as a powerful nutrient-dense elixir that is healing, energizing, and massively health promoting, I see green smoothies as satiating, grounding, and colon-cleansing (from the fiber).
But. If I had to choose one or the other, perhaps, say, because you are just starting out and only want to buy one machine for your kitchen at a time… I consider myself more of a green juice gal than a green smoothie gal. However, there a couple considerations that will help guide you in picking which to start with.
First, if you’re in need of a way to quickly and dramatically improve your health, perhaps because you’re fighting disease, then I’d go with green juice, hands down. Then I’d also have a goal to add a blender for smoothies at a later date.
On the other hand, if you’re simply looking for more healthy options in your life, you’re not in ill health, and you’re a cheerleader for the mantra that “prevention is hot”, then smoothies are a great way to start. Or, if you’re looking to get more nutrition in your life, but you don’t want to spend a lot of money on the produce, then consider green smoothies. Or if you’re looking to add health to your life while taking very little time out of your day, green smoothies are much faster and easier than juicing. And finally, if you’d like to lose weight, the fiber in smoothies makes them very filling as a super healthy, low-calorie meal replacement.
And finally, there’s the equipment cost. Smoothies require only a blender. A quality high-speed blender will save time but any blender can work. Blenders generally cost less than juicers and can be used for a lot of things in the kitchen beyond just making smoothies. Juicers, in contrast, are more complicated machines and so tend to cost more and are usually used only for juicing. It’s worth repeating: I think having both machines and drinking both juice and smoothies is the ideal way to go. They really do different things for different purposes, and both are important.
Pro-Tip: A blender can be used to make juice if you’re willing to put in a little extra time and effort. Simply blend up your ingredients, with some water added, and strain the fiber out using a nut milk bag or paint strainer bag, available at any Home Depot or Lowe’s.
Green Juice Image Source: Tamara_Smith/Flickr
Green Smoothie Image Source: Kari Sullivan/Flickr