I don’t know about you but it takes me a good while to get into a new habit, and even longer to break a bad one. Even now, one month in to my healthy eating and gym going regime, I’m starting to slack. It only took a few ‘treat days’ with my Mum last week, and a couple of days away from the gym due to other commitments to make going back to spin on Sunday (and avoiding any chocolate all weekend) that much more difficult. When the experts over at Philips got in touch asking me to take part in their #RealJuiceReboot 21 day juicing plan (based on the theory that it takes us 21 days to make or break a habit), to both review their Viva Juicer and attempt to incorporate juicing into my lifestyle for the duration, it seemed like a good opportunity to start a habit I’d enjoy keeping up, as well as give me an introduction to the world of vegetable juicing, something that’s somewhat of a health trend at the moment.
I’ll admit that previous to this challenge, I’d been dubious as to whether I was the juicing type. It took me until the age of 23 to stomach drinking a fresh orange with pulp in (true story) and certain textures in food have always bothered me (lumpy mashed potato, mushy peas, baked beans), so the idea of gulping down blended celery and beetroot of a morning didn’t really seem like the kind of ‘habit’ I’d be able to keep.
But in contrast to say a Nutribullet, juicing is a slightly more appealing way to ease yourself into the world of drinking vegetables if, like me, you’re not overly keen on the idea of starting your day with kale and spinach pulp. As opposed to blending the entire contents of your vegetable medley, the juicer carefully removes as much of the dried skin and pulp and pours you an (almost) smooth and colourful drink, which is much more manageable to stomach.
I actually surprised myself at how much I enjoyed juicing, being pretty much hooked on it even a week into the plan. Having one first thing in the morning gave me a good kick start for the day and usually filled me up enough until lunchtime. It was also especially refreshing to mix up a juice straight after the gym for a much needed boost, and some of the recipes I found particularly satisfying.
Here’s a bit of a rundown on how I got on throughout the three week plan, along with tips for anyone else giving it a go and my verdict on whether I’ll keep the habit up.
It’s probably important to mention first of all that this juicing plan was just that, a plan, not a diet. A 21 day guide of juice recipes which were designed to be incorporated into my existing lifestyle for the new year, to help me meet my five a day fruit and veg quota and boost my health all round. I wasn’t substituting meals for a juice, following any sort of strict diet alongside the juices and they weren’t designed to focus on weight loss. I know that some juicing plans do focus on this sort of result so for anyone who stumbled across this post looking for a particular type of plan, I wanted to make that clear. I was trying to eat healthier as a bonus, as it was January and I had my post Christmas, year of wedding head on but that’s not a requirement of enjoying the juices.
I was given a 21 day planner, which got stuck to the front of my fridge, featuring 21 different juice recipes, some fruit, some veg, and some designed and created by top fitness experts as well as celebrity nutrionist, Madeleine Shaw and fitness coach Joe Wicks. The plan definitely eased you into it all, with the first recipe being for a refreshing Watermelon cooler, while the final week was full of green, green, and more green power juices. I kept a diary of my thoughts on the first week of juices and outlined some of my favourite recipes below, but generally since the plan finished I’ve been able to mix and match the recipes depending on what I now know I like, and what works well together which has proved quite successful. For example I quickly learned that the juices containing cinnamon weren’t for me so taking that out was an easy win, and any of the green juices really benefit from the addition of apples, pears and melons to keep them a little sweeter. Kiwi also works surprisingly well in almost everything, but especially with lime.
The Viva juicer really is a joy to use, it was super simple to put together and despite my initial panic over the noise and spurting when throwing in a whole watermelon on that first day, it handled pretty much any fruit or vegetable with ease. Within seconds of throwing a whole beetroot in you’ll have seen those razor sharp blenders do their thing, remove the excess and a bright red juice will be dispensing ready to drink. With the recipes provided, I generally got enough juice for one large glass or two tumblers, although anything particularly watery such as melon will quickly fill that jug up so be careful not to overdo it.
Probably the best thing about the Viva juicer however, was how easy it was to clean, dry and put back together. I dreaded spending time making a juice only to be left with lots of messy sections to wash, pulp to get rid of and tiny compartments that would never seem clean. But the Viva makes all of this a breeze. Each section comes off easily and one quick slug under the hot tap and you’re pretty much done. My only tip on the cleaning front would be to do it straight after you’ve finished juicing as the pulp is easier to loosen off and it’s just generally nicer to arrive in the kitchen the next morning ready to juice without having to clean it all out first.
Other than that all you need is a array of fruit and veg, a good knife and chopping board, and some straws.
Week 1 diary…
I kept a diary during the first week of the plan with my initial thoughts on juicing and here’s what I recorded…
Day 1 – The Watermelon Cooler (watermelon, lime and mint)
“The first juice on the plan was obviously designed to ease me in gently, consisting of only three ingredients – watermelon lime and mint – what’s not to love? My first attempt at using the juicer proved surprisingly easy, everything fits together really effortlessly, there is only a little bit of mess (I think the wateryness of the melon added to the spurting), and it’s very easy to clean (according to GB). After the initial shock of throwing fruit into essentially a shredder and seeing frothy juice spout out the other end, I was on a roll and was really impressed with the amount that came out – 2 large glasses of thick juice. As far as juice goes this one was pretty delicious as it mainly consisted of watermelon but I’m already dreading tomorrow’s beetroot infusion!”
Day 2 – The Classic Cleanse (carrots, beetroots, green apple, celery)
“Ok so beetroot is not my friend and as a result I was dreading today’s juice. I won’t lie, it was a challenge to finish this one and I’m not sure I could have stomached much more than the glass the juicer provided but thanks to the addition of an apple it was kind of do-able. Next time I think I’ll put two apples in.”
Day 3 – Beat the Bloat (pineapple, green apples, mint, lime)
“Thank goodness for the fruit juices, after yesterday’s this was just what I needed. Pineapple, mint and apple – this would make a fab cocktail!”
Day 4 – 4pm Pick Me Up (spinach, lettuce, cucumber, celery, lemon, red apple, ginger, cinnamon)
“Wowza! Be careful with the cinnamon, too much can leave your juice tasting like it’s trying to be a gingerbread latte but just failing miserably. This definitely wasn’t my favourite, there are a lot of greens – spinach, celery, lettuce, cucumber – and I’m starting to learn that certain flavours really overpower all others, celery being one of them. I’ll admit I gave most of mine to GB this morning – I just couldn’t get through it.”
Day 5 – Super Skin (celery, apple, cucumber, spinach, lettuce, lime)
“What a difference a day makes! Today’s recipe is almost identical to yesterday’s except the lemon is swapped for a lime and the cinnamon and ginger are missed out. I had it in the morning this time, just after I came back from the gym and wow, it was SO much better. I actually enjoyed it, felt refreshed and wasn’t hungry again for quite a while. Note to self, always take the cinnamon out.”
Day 6 – Glowing Greens (celery, spinach, pear, cucumber, lemon, parsley)
“Pear is a really nice new addition to the green juices and provides a nice soft sweet taste. I’m starting to think that a little less celery is the way forward so as not to overpower the taste of all the other veg but overall this one was do-able. Maybe I’m getting used to the greens now?”
Day 7 – Stir and Purr (apple, strawberries, cherries, cucumber)
“This was the one I’d been waiting for – cherries, strawberries and apples. Turns out those fruits don’t actually give you that much juice (I put a whole pack of cherries in and could hardly taste them) so the juice wasn’t as berry-like as I’d hoped, tasting more watery from the cucumber. A nice Sunday one though as it was sans vegetables, and after one too many drinks at a Burns night celebration last night, it sorted me right out. Noted here though that juicing is not the same as smoothie making. Berry fruits don’t supply much juice so you really need something watery such as cucumber, apple or melon to make the liquid up”
I guess some of my favourite recipes had to be the fruit based ones, but I did learn to love those greens as the plan went on (just without the cinnamon or ginger). I’m still trying my hardest to get past my hatred of beetroot but so far that’s one habit that is proving hard to kick. These were four of my top recipes from the plan:
The Melon Zinger (adapted) – 1 whole honeydew melon, 2cm of ginger (I swapped the ginger for a kiwi – yum)
The Tropical Tipple – green apples, 2 carrots, 1 dragonfruit with rind removed
Super Skin – 7 stalks of celery, 1 apple, 1/2 cucumber, 5 romaine lettuce leaves, 1 peeled lime
Stir and Purr – 1 green apple, 7 strawberries, 15 de-stoned cherries, 1/2 cucumber
1. Use a straw
If you’re anything like me then the feeling of a stray bit of celery stuck in your teeth can really put you off. I found the juices much easier to drink through a straw as I could finish them off fairly quickly and just get the taste rather than the texture. It’s a simple tip, but one that really made drinking some of those beetroot infusions much more enjoyable.
2. Drink in one go
The days that were most successful for me, were the ones where my juice actually had a purpose. Pre or post gym sesh in particular as I could happily gulp it down knowing that I’d be feeling the benefits of it. GB had a habit of drinking his slowly but for me it had to be a quick – throw it down your neck and get on with your day – type of thing otherwise I wouldn’t finish it. Even if you’re drinking flavours you’re not to keen on, one quick swoosh and it’s done, and you can enjoy your day knowing that you’ve had your daily dose of healthy.
3. Add extra fruit to sweeten
One of my biggest tips is probably to just trial a few different types until you find out what you like. Flavours such as celery and spinach can be quite overpowering so I found adding an extra apple or kiwi made all the difference. If you’re leaning towards to fruit juices more than the veg ones, add a couple of apples to your celery/kale/spinach/cucumber infusions and I guarantee it will taste so much better.
4. Watch out for the cinnamon
Watch out for all spices really. This is a personal preference but I wasn’t keen on either cinnamon or ginger in any of my juices and by the final week was missing it out of the recipes all together. If you do want to add some spice, make sure it’s the tiniest amount. It doesn’t look like there’s much going into the blender, but believe me it rules the taste.
5. Find the recipes you love
Yes drinking beetroot every morning is extremely good for you, but I’m just not a beetroot fan so forcing myself to keep up those drinks is a sure fire way to end my juicing habit. Instead I’m sticking to the recipes that work for me, as that way I’m still doing a daily juice without the pain.
Overall I really enjoyed the #Realjuicereboot 21 day juicing plan. By the end of the three weeks making a daily juice had become a bit of a ritual and even the act of throwing so many healthy fruits and vegetables into the juicer made me feel better about myself. I honestly didn’t think I’d take to it at all, and even that week 1 diary shows how dubious I was to start with. It definitely took me a few days to get used to the idea of downing vegetables each morning and I’d say that drinking the juices at certain times of the day worked better for me. There are a few ‘4pm pick me ups’ but on the whole come 4pm they only pick me up I tend to crave is of the sweet kind, and a juice just didn’t cut it. I also found certain recipes worked better on certain days, for example a fruity number is much nicer at the weekend whereas on a Monday you almost crave something more powerful to give you that boost of energy.
One thing I found quite significant was how different the juice could end up simply depending on the amount of each veg added. Celery was one culprit which really overpowered the taste of everything else, and towards the end I found I was adding much less than the recipes stated and mixing it with other vegetables just to change the taste. Many of the recipes can feel quite repetitive so I guess it’s just about finding the flavours that work for you and what juices you enjoy drinking the most.
I’ll definitely continue juicing, and have done since finishing the challenge, just perhaps not every day. I’ve been experimenting with some new flavours since so maybe I’ll put together some of my favourite recipes in another blog post.