Addicted To Juicing
Why the OMEGA VRT350 masticating juicer is my favorite new toy
Growing up in Mexico City, one gets accustomed to drinking fresh-pressed juice on almost a daily basis thanks to the myriad juguerias, which are as ubiquitous in the streets as taquerias and panaderias. These establishments range from corrugated tin stands selling hand-squeezed orange juice, to clean brick-and-mortar stores purveying a wide variety of fruit and vegetable juices named after their healing properties, based on the nutrients contained in the ingredients (anti-flu, diuretic, energetic, and detoxifier are a few common ones). After my favorite Mexican fruteria La Morena closed, I started making frequent trips to Juicebox and Juiceland for my veggie juice fix. On one of these visits, owner Matt Shook challenged me to a 10-day juice fast. To my great surprise, I completed it successfully. I was surprised not just by my self-control and determination, but by how good I felt physically. Keeping such a clean, nutrient-packed diet boosted my metabolism, which gave me lots more energy, and, as a very welcome side effect, made me lose weight. If only I could drink a glass of veggie juice every morning instead of coffee, I thought, I could do wonders for my body and mind.
As a child, I loved making my own "V8" by liquefying veggies in the blender and straining the results, but it was not an ideal process. I even bought a used juicer years ago but found it so difficult to deal with that I finally gave it away. After the juice fast, I started thinking about juicers again, and, in a most unexpected turn of events, a publicist representing Omega juicers reached out to offer me one after reading my article on that original juice fast. I gladly accepted and within a week was the proud owner of an Omega VRT350 masticating juicer. I'm thrilled with it and use it on a regular basis.
This juicer has many advantages over the previous one I owned. First, it is small and attractive enough to live on the kitchen counter, so it's ready to use right away. It also has a low-speed juicing system that processes at 80 RPM, which helps prevent oxidation and allows juice to be stored for up to 72 hours without degradation, so I can juice ahead of time. Assembly and operation are straightforward and, best of all, it features an auto cleaning system that keeps the screen clear during juicing and easily pushes the pulp and fibers out through a chute. It comes with fine and coarse juicing screens for pulp control (although the juice comes out fairly pulpy even through the fine screen, so a second pass may be needed to reach the desired consistency). One disadvantage is that hard veggies such as carrots and beets need to be pre-cut into small pieces rather than going in whole, and fibrous veggies such as celery and chard stems should either be cut small or peeled so the fibers don't clog the pulp chute. But the machine presses leafy greens and herbs beautifully, and it can even do wheatgrass. This has really come in handy now that we're harvesting chard, beets, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, chiles, and herbs from our garden. A favorite last weekend was a heat-killing blend of pineapple, cucumber, and mint served over ice, and my "V8" – in its many variations – is what's for breakfast this summer!
1 large cucumber
1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
2-3 fresh mint sprigs, to taste
Process all ingredients in juicer and serve over ice if desired. Makes 2 servings.
1 large cucumber
4 ribs celery
3 ripe tomatoes
1 medium jalapeño
Handful of cilantro or parsley
1 large beet with stems or 2 large red chard leaves with stems
Process all ingredients in juicer
Add: juice of 2 limes
Stir well and serve.
Makes 2 large servings.