Diet Juices: Spicy Jicama. Cantaloupe Ginger. CucMint.

To close out my Juicing for Health series, it's Diet Juices day. But FYI, "diets" don't work. Lifelong wellness does. More on that below. And quite honestly, I believe that any fresh pressed juice is a worthy component to any wellness-focused diet (weight-reduction or not).

Anti-Juice? No Way. Juice gets a bad reputation for being nothing but a lot of empty calories, maybe some vitamin C at best. But juicing at home provides you the highest quality juice - rich in living enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Nothing preserved, nothing from concentrate. Yes, some fresh juices like grape juice are higher in calories than say, cucumber juice - but the simple answer is to drink the sweeter juices in smaller portions. And if you are looking for a tall frothy glass of lower calorie juice - look no further. Here are a few of my recipes for creative diet juices...

Diets Don't Work. Juicing is a healthy practice to add to your lifelong wellness regimen. Juices are not simply part of a "restrictive diet plan". When I say these recipes are "diet juices" what I really mean is that they are lower in calorie juices. My personal belief: diets don't work. But working juicing into your everyday diet does.

Juice vs. Fruit. Why juice? Why not just eat the fruits and veggies whole? You can! But one reason to juice is this: Digesting a lot of whole produce requires a lot of digestive energy - and when you are cutting back on calories you'll want to reserve all the energy you can. Juices offer a quick and easy boost of energy and nutrients with minimal stress on your digestive system.

Fiber. I like to juice early in the day, then get all that good fiber my body needs from a big salad, grains and beans in the afternoon and evening. I also change it up a bit. Juice at breakfast one day and then a whole sliced papaya the next day. Always listen to your body. Sometimes I'll drink a tall glass of nutrient/energy-dense juice - then a half hour later crunch on a handful of raw cashews for the fiber I crave. Juicing shouldn't be about shunning whole food. This isn't a fast. In my experience, fasts may shed pounds quickly, but you'll end up feeling crappy and gain back the weight in the long run.

Diet Juices 101. The ideal at-home juicing diet juices come from fruits and veggies that are high in water content and low in sugar. Think melons, crisp veggies, thick leafy greens and more. These are fruits and veggies that produce very little pulp because they contain so much liquid. More water, less calories. Thins out the sugar. The result is being able to drink more juice for less calories.

Total Pulp from cantaloupe/ginger juice:
Just compare 1 cup of grapes, juiced = about 90 calories,
compared to 1 cucumber juiced = 45 calories. Plus, you will get more juice out of the cucumber. Drink more.

Nutrients. Another key part of diet juices is the presence of healthy nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium or manganese. The more nutrients per sip, the better.

The Recipes. Here are a few creative diet juices I experimented with today. I must say, I loved the cantaloupe juice. I added a tsp of fresh ginger into this juice and it was delicious. I also loved the mint cucumber with lemon. This would taste delicious on a hot summer day - or even as the base for a mojito beverage. The jicama was incredibly....interesting. It juiced up frothy and white. The taste was ashy, sweet and dry. All the veggies I juiced had very low pulp - high water - which was what I was going for...

Diet Juice #1: Cantaloupe Ginger

1 cantaloupe
1-2 Tbsp of raw ginger

Wash cantaloupe well. Slice.
Slice of outer rind.
You can juice the cantaloupe with or without the seeds. I juiced it with the seeds and loved it. It is a tad sweeter without the seeds.
Juice in the ginger as well.
Serve or chill.

Calories: about 160-200 calories per cantaloupe
this recipe makes about 20 ounces total, serves 2-3 people
calories per 8 ounces: about 80 calories
Nutrients: high in vitamin A, C and potassium

Diet Juice #2 Cucumber Mint Lemon

1 large cucumber
organic, non-waxed pref'd
a handful of fresh mint leaves
1/2 lemon

Juice the cucumber with skin.
Juice the mint as well.
Squeeze in 1/2 lemon juice.
Stir. Serve as is, or over coconut water ice cubes or chill for later.
Garnish with fresh mint leaves and a stick of cucumber.
optional: a pinch of sea salt stirred in.

Calories: about 45-50 calories per recipe
this recipe makes about 14 ounces total, serves 1-2 people
calories per 7 ounces: about 25 calories
Nutrients: high in vitamin K, C and potassium

Diet Juice #3: Spicy Jicama Pear Carrot

3/4 cup jicama juice
*about 1 cup chopped, peeled jicama
1/2 sweet ripe pear
*I used a bosc pear
2 medium carrots
*about 6" long and thin, the kind with the stems attached
1 tsp raw ginger
opt'l cayenne pepper on top

Peel the jicama, juice as much of it until you have about 3/4 cup of it.
Juice in 1/2 pear, 2 medium carrots, and the ginger.
Stir and serve.
This juice has a very unique flavor - dry and rooty with a hint of sweetness from the pear and carrots.
I added a nice sprinkling of cayenne on top to increase the spiciness.

Calories: about 130 calories per recipe (jicama=45 calories, carrots=40 calories, pear=45 calories)
this recipe makes about 14 ounces total, serves 1-2 people
calories per 7 ounces: about 65 calories
Nutrients: rich in vitamin A, C and potassium

Straight-Up Jicama Juice (with a bit of leftover cucumber/mint):
Last Words About Diet Juices. Like I said, I believe you can drink any fresh-pressed juice as part of a healthy diet. But my favorite low-cal juices are spicy, hydrating, nutrient dense flavors that stomp on any food cravings and leave you feeling nourished, hydrated and well. Experiment with juicing different flavor combos of fruits and veggies and you may find that what you think is "dieting" is actually part of a wellness-based lifestyle. And soon "dieting" becomes more fun than dreadful...and not dieting at all.

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