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Flash in the Pan

Juice: It isn’t just for oranges anymore.

Orange juice from Florida…it isn’t just for breakfast anymore.” So sang the national television ads of the 1980s in a Florida-driven effort to boost America’s orange juice consumption. This language assumes the common understanding among the audience that, up to that point, orange juice was being consumed exclusively for breakfast. Since then, the American Academy of Pediatrics has taken the position that kids who drink fruit juice all day long are more prone to obesity and cavities due to juice’s sugar. And kids aren’t the only ones that sugar makes fat. So maybe orange juice is just for breakfast.

Vegetable juice, on the other hand, is generally lower in sugar than fruit juice, and higher in vitamins, fiber, enzymes, amino acids, chlorophyll and other goodies, including antioxidants. And here in Montana, we’ve got vegetables.

But it’s astounding how easily our local resources can be overlooked. I was strolling the aisles of the Good Food Store the other day when I noticed some glass jars of juice imported from Switzerland. The juice contained tomato, beet, celery root and carrot. I thought, That’s strange. Why are we paying Swiss people to grow, juice, bottle and ship the same vegetables we can grow right here in Montana?

So I walked over to the juice bar, where my buddy Juicy was working behind the counter, and asked her to whip up a combo of carrot, celery root (also known as celeriac), beet and tomato juices. She didn’t have celery root—it’s too early in the season yet—so she used celery stalks. The result was a potent symphony of earth-toned sweetness. Completely satisfying.

Veggie juice is definitely not just for breakfast. But perhaps the association between juice and breakfast is related to the fact that fresh juice has long been used as a digestive tonic, best taken before a meal, so its raw living goodness can be absorbed quickly, rather than rotting behind an intestinal backlog of potatoes, bacon, cheese and other slower-burning fuels. So it is that breakfast—that quintessential “breaking of the fast”—makes sense as the meal to be associated with fast-acting, digestion-stimulating, nutri-loading juice.

My buddy Juice Dog agrees. And he has more miles on his Champion juicer than most people have on their Toyotas.

“I juice because I’m lazy,” he says. “I want to eat good food, but I don’t always have time to prepare it. I’ll just go into the garden, pick whatever is ready, and push it through the juicer. Kale, cucumbers, beets…carrot is crucial, it’s the base.

“But if I want to give myself a treat,” he continues, “it’s definitely carrot, ginger, apple juice. That’s my favorite.”

If you are in the market for your own juicer, Champion brand is definitely the gold standard workhorse. And remember: Clean your juicer as soon as you’re done using it—ideally before you enjoy your juice. The clock starts ticking quickly as veggie scraps bond to your juicer. Immediate rinsing is better than delayed scrubbing.

Or if you prefer to get your fix at the juice bar, by all means do. Some people complain it’s expensive, and then think nothing about dropping the same amount of money on a glass of beer. Go figure.

At the Good Food Store Juice Bar, I asked Juicy what her favorite combo is.

“Carrot, apple, ginger,” she said.

Juicy and Juice Dog are only two of many experts who choose carrot/ginger/apple as their favorite. Always run the ginger first, most experts agree, so that the juice which follows runs through the ginger pulp.

Then I noticed a new option on the Juice Bar menu board, called “Sparklers,” made from juice and bubbly water. One of the sparklers that caught my eye was Gingerade, made from fresh ginger, lemon, and apple.

“One, please.”

Seconds later, Juicy handed me a Gingerade. It was completely stupendous: sweet and tangy. For your benefit, dear reader, I begged her to show me how to make it.

For one portion, you need:

One cubic inch of ginger; one apple; juice of one lemon, squeezed separately. (We also tried making the Gingerade without lemon. It was just as good, but less tangy. I would definitely recommend the lemon on a hot day.)

Run the ginger and then the apple through the juicer. Add lemon, mix, and pour over well-crushed ice. Top off with bubbly.

Note: Most people, if left to their own devices, would easily consume twice this quantity, if not more. It’s good to make a lot of juice. On the other hand, it’s probably not a good idea to make more juice than you need at any one time. Juice Dog claims that juice loses much of its nutritional value after about half an hour.

Many farmers sell their ugly carrots at a reduced price as “juicer carrots.” Ask around at the Farmer’s Market for this and other reduced rates for ugly veggies.

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