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Sipping pretty

Robin Decker, deli manager at La Montanita Co-op, prepares to blend a fruit smoothie.

Robin Decker, deli manager at La Montanita Co-op, prepares to blend a fruit smoothie.



Which is better for you – a fruit smoothie or a green juice?


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Experts like both for packing more of the health benefits of fruits and vegetables into your daily diet.

Get your daily recommended five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit by doing a little of both. Nutritionists like juicing as a way to incorporate more varieties of vegetables that rarely find room on a plate. On the other hand, smoothies are a nutritious way to get a meal on the go, they say, when the drink is made with fruit, vegetables, healthy fat and protein.

Karen Falbo, a certified nutritionist for Vitamin Cottage, says she likes both every day. Sipping fresh green vegetable juice is great brain food for that afternoon slump about 3 or 4 p.m. And she often blends a frozen, frothy smoothie with fruit, vegetables and a protein source for after dinner to banish dessert cravings. Or you can blend up a frappuccino that features healthy coconut oil, gets protein from coconut milk and is sweetened with stevia.

Health benefits
Karen Falbo, a certified nutritionist for Vitamin Cottage, says fresh juices have kept her symptom-free of digestive and auto-immune issues.”They are my saving grace. Juice fasts get the inflammation down and normalize my digestion. It lets my body rest and begin the healing process.”She uses a three-day juice fast to get back on track, juicing about $300 of fresh, organic produce. She makes about 64 ounces in the morning and about 32 ounces in the evening, diluting every two cups of juice with about 1/2 cup of water.She washes and trims vegetables the night before she juices them to save time in the morning. “I can make it in 10 minutes.”Fresh juice can spoil quickly, so she makes small batches that can be consumed within the day she makes them.The remaining pulp is good for soup stock or compost, she adds.

She likes a Breville juicer because it’s easy to clean and light enough for her to move easily from her cupboard to her countertop.

A favorite juice recipe combines cucumber, celery, zucchini, dark leafy greens like kale, spinach or lettuce, parsley and cilantro, fennel and a carrot or a quarter of a beet for sweetness and a squeeze of lemon or lime. Another version adds ginger, a Daikon radish, cabbage or other crucifers and a peeled grapefruit, she says.

“You want to chew your juice. Drink it slowly. A little is good, but a lot is not. With juice you want to slow down and get the nutrition into your body,” says Falbo, who is based in Colorado but often conducts seminars in New Mexico. “Smoothies are wonderful. They’re a meal replacement. You can put in fruit and disguise the vegetables.”

Both smoothies and juices pump the diet with beneficial phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that naturally occur in vegetables and fruit.

Falbo says that the ideal is three to five servings of vegetables per meal, with three meals a day: “Vegetables are much more nutrient dense than grains and legumes.”


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Scientific studies increasingly show that eating multiple daily servings of vegetables and fruit can protect our bodies from cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases. They also help curb overweight and obesity because they are filling with fewer calories than refined foods, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Angie King-Nosseir, a local integrative registered dietitian, favors smoothies more often than juice because they can be balanced meal: “It’s important to get some protein and fat with each meal or snack. As far as daily living and optimizing health and well being, if juicing and/or smoothies help increase plant food intake and inspire other positive behaviors, then there’s benefit to their use and certainly no harm.”

She recommends adding protein, like nut butters or yogurt, to smoothies and munching on a handful of nuts with fresh vegetable juices.

“Especially if you are sick, there are lots of benefits to juicing,” says Robin Decker, a team leader at La Montanita Co-op, who makes fresh juices and smoothies daily at her store on Rio Grande NW. “I have lots of people who tell me they juice because it’s raw and fresh.”

Decker juiced vegetables with fruit when her children wouldn’t eat them on their plates, she notes. She started with apples, because they are sweet, and then added spinach, kale and carrots: “They loved those juices. I served them really cold.”

With a long work day, she appreciates fresh juice anytime because it’s a way to pack in nutrients on the go: “I put in really long hours and I often don’t have time to take a break.”

However, she says that juicing is a supplement, not a meal replacement. She also cautions that drinking a juice made solely with fruit or sweet vegetables, like carrots, will spike blood sugar: “They might as well have dessert for breakfast. They are trying to do a good thing for their bodies, but they are just having carbohydrates .”

To avoid bacteria, scrubbing the raw vegetables and fruit is essential for both juices and smoothies, she says.

Decker favors a juice with equal portions of kale, carrot, red bell pepper and fresh apples, with a little added kale or other deep green leafy vegetables, she says.

“Smoothies are the way to go if you’re looking for a meal replacement,” she says. A simple smoothie could include berries, a half banana, avocado, a handful of spinach and either some yogurt or nut milk.

Decker, who has been a competitive body builder, likes a double scoop of protein supplement in her smoothies. She keeps them to about 250 calories with a ratio of 40 percent protein, 30 percent carbohydrates and 30 percent fat, she says.

To keep them tasty, she suggests adding one new flavor at a time: “You don’t want to add everything in your vegetable drawer.”

Erin Nelson, a registered and licensed dietitian at Whole Foods on Carlisle NE, says juicing is an opportunity to get creative with produce. She suggests a juice with nutrient-dense dark greens like collards, kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard and spinach and sweetening it with berries, oranges, grapes, mangos, melon, pears, apples or carrots to add flavor and more nutrients.

Nelson likes smoothies as a small meal or snack. “Smoothies that contain protein and heart-healthy fats will keep you fuller and more satisfied compared to fresh juice or just a fruit and veggie smoothie. Fats and protein take longer to digest than carbohydrates.”

A favorite smoothie has a handful of vegetables and fruit like frozen kale, frozen mango and banana, unsweetened almond milk, vanilla extract, nut butter and a scoop of vegetable protein, she says.

Cherry Oat Smoothie
Serves 2
3 cups oat milk
1 1/2 cups frozen cherries
1/2 cup dates
1 teaspoon vanilla
Blend until smooth.

– Adapted from Whole Foods Market

Apple Pie Smoothie
Serves 2
3 cups almond milk
Sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Blend until smooth.

– Adapted from Whole Foods Market