Why Ginger Is a Juicing Superfood

Health Benefits of Ginger (plus tips for juicing it)If you’re into juicing or even have just sipped on the occasional green beverage, you’ve probably noticed that ginger is a common ingredient. It’s one of those foods (like kale, lemon juice and blueberries, to name a few) that you frequently see paired with the word “superfood” or included in top ten lists of miraculous foods you just must be eating right this second. But why?

A lot of people go along with health trends without really knowing why they’re doing so (see: THIS hilarious clip from Jimmy Kimmel Live of gluten-free people not knowing what gluten is)—and I’m guilty of it myself! (Guilty of blindly going along with trends, that is—I know what gluten is haha.) I was talking my friend’s ear off about juice the other day and was asked why I frequently put ginger in mine. I replied that ginger is a natural digestion aid and nausea-soother, but was a little embarrassed that I didn’t really know much beyond that. Don’t you hate that?? You’re talking all passionately about something and then get swiftly reduced from Expert to Queen Bullshitter—the worst. But happens to the best of us, right?…maybe?…humor me? 🙂

Anyway, to add to my limited knowledge of its ability to cure nausea and stomach aches, I did a little research and thought I’d share some fun facts about ginger. It really is a wonderful addition to juice (and regular meals, of course) and packed with health benefits.

Some Health Benefits of Ginger

  • It’s a remedy for nausea, upset stomachs and cramps. Stomach aches, period cramps, nausea, motion sickness, morning sickness, flu symptoms—if it involves your gut feeling lousy, ginger has you covered. It does this by neutralizing stomach acid and absorbing gastrointestinal toxins and hormones.
  • It’s a digestion rockstar. Ginger increases the secretion of digestive enzymes in the stomach, improving the absorption of nutrients.
  • It’s an anti-inflammatory. Ginger inhibits two enzymes that are associated with chronic inflammation (COX and LOX). This applies to all sorts of inflammation—arthritis all the way to inflammation of the colon, which can be a precursor to colon cancer.
  • It can help lower blood pressure. The gingerol in fresh ginger cause a widening of the blood vessel walls. This can help improve circulation and lower blood pressure. I had read before that rubbing ginger on my fingers when I’m having a Raynaud’s episode can help get the blood flowing again to those restricted blood vessels—now I know why!
  • It can help with muscle pain. There was a study showing that taking ginger daily helped reduce exercise-induced muscle pain. In addition to ingestion, you can apply it topically, rubbing it into sore muscles or even arthritic joints (if you have ginger in essential oil form, this would be a great use!).
  • It’s great if you have a head cold or congestion. The gingerol in ginger is similar to capsaisin in chili peppers and spicy foods in that it has that hot, ok-now-I’m-awake effect when crossed with your respiratory airways. It will break up congestion and open up those sinuses. Ginger is also a good immune system booster, activating T cells (those are the white blood cells responsible for killing off cells carrying viruses) and containing antimicrobial compounds that will help ward off the growth of bad bacteria.

Tips for Juicing Ginger

A little goes a long way when it comes to juicing ginger. It doesn’t yield a lot of juice (you probably won’t even see any drip out the juicer if you run it through on its own), but you’ll definitely taste it. I don’t use more than ½-1” of ginger root in a single juice.

I’ve read that you should remove the skin from the chunk of ginger you’re going to put through your juicer, and if it’s non-organic, I would agree with that. Being the lazy person that I am, however, I usually just cut off a small chunk from the root, quickly scrub it under some running water, and then pop it in the juicer, outer skin and all.

Ginger is a great addition to just about any green juice combination you can think up, and also wonderful with carrots (carrots + an orange + ginger = delicious!). Here are a few juice recipes I’ve posted in the past using ginger to get your started:

Do you add ginger to your juices?

signature

Resources: Kimberly Snyder‘s website and books are always favorite resources when it comes to understanding what certain foods can do to benefit your body. I also found this site helpful. Reboot with Joe is another go-to of mine for juicing info!

Disclosure: The link to ginger essential oil is an affiliate link. I LOVE Mountain Rose Herbs and used them for all my essential oils long before I joined their affiliate program.

Tips for Juicing Wheatgrass

How to Juice Wheatgrass - tips for adding the superfood to your vegetable/fruit juiceAfter posting Kiwi Wheatgrass Juice a couple weeks ago, I realized some quick tips would have been helpful for the newbies—when it comes to juice ingredients, wheatgrass is somewhere between Lea Michele and Naomi Campbell on the diva scale. These don’t really apply to wheatgrass shots (an oz of pure wheatgrass taken in one gulp), but are good to keep in mind when adding the superfood to your vegetable and fruit juices.

Pair it with a sweet fruit.

Wheatgrass tastes like, well, grass. It’s a little bitter which is why most people usually take it straight as a shot. If you’re adding it to a juice and sipping rather than shooting, make sure to add fruit to it to mask the sharp flavor of the wheatgrass. Apples, grapes, watermelon and pineapple are some of my favorites, and I find they compliment the taste better than citrus fruits.

Twist it up into a clumpy knot before sending through the juicer.

Small stray blades of wheatgrass are going to fly right into the pulp bucket without being juiced if you try sending them down your juicer chute as-is. Twist the clump of wheatgrass into a ball—the larger and more solid it is, the bigger juice yield you’ll get from it.

Sandwich the wheatgrass between two harder pieces of produce when you send it down.

This, too, will help maximize your juice yield. I’ll put something like a cucumber down the juicer chute first, followed by my knot of wheatgrass and an apple on top, and push it all through together. This will help you get the most out of your wheatgrass.

Use a dime-width clump of wheatgrass.

For an 8 to 12-oz glass of juice, I’ve found this is a good amount. Any more and the juice will taste too much like lawn clippings. 🙂

You can grow your own little plot of wheatgrass if you’re feeling ambitious (and obnoxiously trendy), but I usually just buy a container of it at Whole Foods.

How to Juice Wheatgrass - tips for adding the superfood to your vegetable/fruit juice

Do you have any wheatgrass juicing tips to add?

signature

Spirulina: Health Benefits and How to Get More in Your Diet

Spirulina: Health Benefits & How to Get More in Your DietI hope you guys aren’t disappointed this isn’t a Valentine’s-themed post—we’re skipping the red and pink and going green today.

I’ve mentioned spirulina a few times on the blog and in my email newsletter, and thought it was worth a post of its own. With a lot of “fad” superfoods, I feel like it’s easy to hop on the bandwagon and start putting more kale, acai, [insert food here] into your diet without really knowing why you’re doing so. I mean, I seriously thought kale was seaweed for like three solid months back when it first burst onto the scene. LOL. Whoops.

It was only about a year ago that I started seeing spirulina pop up on lists of superstar ingredients and smoothie recipes. It’s, like, grass or something, said an anonymous friend (me). It’s, like, not.

So that you can all sound smarter than I usually do, let’s talk about what makes spirulina a superfood. The following info has been what I’ve learned from articles, documentaries and health books read over the past year. If you want to learn more, Kimberley Snyder’s books are like superfood encyclopedias. Also, the organic supplier I buy my spirulina from, Mountain Rose Herbs, provides info on all of its herbs, spices, oils, powders, etc. that I always find interesting and helpful.

Health Benefits of Spirulina

Spirulina: Health Benefits & How to Get More in Your DietSpirulina is a blue-green algae found in the ocean and fresh water. Because it contains no cellulose in its cell walls, it’s easily absorbed and integrated into the body when ingested. You typically buy it in powdered form after it’s been slow dried at a low heat to preserve the nutritional content. What makes it awesome? Glad you asked…

  • It’s the most concentrated known source of protein: Spirulina is 60% protein, and as with other protein-packed foods, this means it can help curb hunger and boost energy. It also means that consuming spirulina after a tough workout (or as a pre-workout snack) will aid in muscle recovery. Among high-level athletes who are burning a ton of calories a day, spirulina is often a nutritional supplement of choice.
  • Rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA): GLA is an essential fatty acid that helps balance hormones, dissolve fat deposits, reduce bad cholesterol and even prevent heart issues.
  • A great detoxifier: Spirulina helps clean mercury, heavy metals and other toxins out of the body. It’s been shown to increase the rate of cellular regeneration, and even helps slow the growth of bad bacteria while promoting the growth of the good stuff needed for efficient digestion.
  • Plant-based source of iron: Spirulina is rich in iron, making it a great addition to the diets of vegans and vegetarians who may not be getting enough. Keep in mind that iron (especially plant-based iron) is best absorbed by the body when consumed with Vitamin C (think of adding a little spirulina to a citrus smoothie, for example).
  • Packed with other nutrients: In addition to protein, GLA and iron, spirulina is also rich in B vitamins, magnesium, Vitamins D and K, beta-carotenes (10x the amount found in carrots!), enzymes, chlorophyll, and a slew of antioxidants.

How to Get More Spirulina in Your Diet

Spirulina: Health Benefits & How to Get More in Your DietSpirulina usually comes in a powdered or tablet form. Tablets and capsules filled with spirulina powder are a convenient alternative to fresh greens when you’re traveling. You shouldn’t cook spirulina (it’ll lose most of its nutritional value), so the best ways to consume it are by:

  • Adding a little to smoothies, acai bowls, juices and other drinks
  • Mixing it into no-bake snack bites and chewy granola bars
  • Stirring it into salad dressings, sauces and dips (guacamole, hummus, pesto, etc.)

The recommended daily intake of spirulina is 1-5 grams. If you add to much to your smoothies, you’ll be able to taste it (it’s a little bitter), so I find that ¼-1/2 tsp per drink is the sweet spot for me.

A while ago, I listed my favorite snacks from Whole Foods on the blog and mentioned Spirulina Chips—these are dehydrated at a low temp so as to maintain the nutritional value of all the ingredients and are delicious! If you don’t want to buy your own bulk spirulina, look for these puppies in the grocery store.

As for me, I order my spirulina from Mountain Rose Herbs. The bag is huge, so it’ll easily last you months, if not the year. You can find it in powdered and tablet form in many grocery stores and specialty health food stores as well.

Got any good spirulina recipes or additional facts about the superfood? Share ‘em in the comments!

Hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine’s Day, whether that means celebrating your love for a significant other or simply your love for yourself (the most important!).
signature

Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin
For the sake of keeping things real, I just wanted to add that the links to Mountain Rose Herbs are affiliate links (if you go to their site and buy something, I get a teeny tiny percentage of the sale). However, I had been buying and loving Mountain Rose Herbs products for almost a year before I found out about their affiliate program and applied, so I assure you none of my opinions are influenced by the four-cents commission I might make off your potential spirulina purchase. 🙂