BeveragesHealthy Recipes

Juicing The Crucifers

By Rebecca Mullins, RHN

Vegetables in the Brassicaceae mustard/cabbage or cruciferous family are extremely beneficial to our health.  And many of them can easily be grown in Northern Ontario!  If you haven’t grown any yourself this season, plan weekly trips to your local farmer’s market and be sure to pick up a variety of crucifers while you’re there.

Why Should We Eat Crucifers?

Cruciferous vegetables have a very impressive nutritional profile, overall exceeding other vegetables and fruits.  They provide proteins and essential fatty acids, and also phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals and fibre.

Phytonutrients are naturally occurring chemicals found in fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. They are immune-boosting, as well as provide antioxidant and other health-promoting properties.

Diets rich in cruciferous vegetables lower levels of inflammation in the body, which means that the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes is greatly reduced.

The vast amount of antioxidants, including the particularly effective indole-3-carbinol found in cruciferous vegetables, help to reduce oxidative stress, an overload of very harmful and damaging free radicals in our bodies. Cruciferous vegetables also contain isothiocyanates, specifically sulforaphane, which are key ingredients in protecting our cells by using the detoxifying effect of stimulating the liver to inactivate and eliminate carcinogens.

Since raw cruciferous vegetables have two to nine times more isothiocyanates than cooked varieties, juicing is one of the easiest and best ways to obtain not only sulforaphane, but also indole-3-carbinol (which is only activated after vegetables are chopped or chewed).

The blades of the juicer chop the vegetables vigorously, releasing an abundance of sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol into the resulting juice, helping to maximize the benefits of this wonderful family of veggies.

So, what are the crucifers?

There are several vegetables in the cruciferous family, but some of the more common grown in Northern Ontario that are excellent for juicing include: spinach, kale, cabbage, bok choy, radishes, broccoli and cauliflower.

A few little-known facts:

1) Spinach should never be cooked, as the oxalic acid is destroyed when heat transforms it into crystals that are harmful to the kidneys.  It also binds to iron, so it’s no longer absorbable.

2) Gram for gram, kale is the most nutritious super food on the planet, earning it the phrase: “Hail to the Kale”.  Add it to your juice whenever possible!

3) Juiced cabbage is superb all on its own to aid in digestion and to treat stomach ulcers.

4) Bok choy is rich in beta-carotene, vitamins A and C, and also in calcium – in fact, one cup of bok choy has roughly the same amount of calcium as half cup milk.

5) Radish added to your juice will help clear sinuses and calm a sore throat.

6) Broccoli is very nutrition-dense: full of beta-carotene, vitamins C and B1, calcium, sulfur and potassium, and an excellent source of fibre. Surprisingly, 45 per cent of calories in broccoli are protein.

7) And of significant interest, the compounds in cauliflower have a particular preference for targeting breast cancer cells.

The following are a few juicer recipes you can
make at home:

Evening Peace (Makes one 8 oz glass)

The carrots, celery and tomato add sweetness to the broccoli and kale in this recipe:

A few leafs of kale

1/2 cup of broccoli

1 large carrot

1 stalk of celery

1 large tomato

Put all of the above ingredients together into your juicer.  Juice and pour into glass.  Top with celery salt and cumin.

Healthy Digest (Makes one 8 oz glass)

The apples in this recipe are a yummy balance for the spinach and cabbage:

A handful of baby spinach

1 cup green cabbage

2 unpeeled apples, cut and cored

Put all of the above ingredients together into your juicer.  Pour into glass to serve.

Liver cleanser (Makes one 8 oz glass)

Make this juice regularly to keep the liver functioning optimally!  The cucumber makes it go down smoothly…

4 red radishes

6 large green and yellow leaves curly endive

3 stalks asparagus

1 carrot

6 slices cucumber

Put all of the above ingredients together into your juicer.  Pour into glass to serve.

Rebecca Mullins RHN is a North Bay-based Registered Holistic Nutritionist. She can be reached at vegout@live.ca.

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