"Clean eating" is generally considered feasting on foods as close to their natural state as possible. In fact, there's a popular magazine and book by that name. The term germinated long ago into the popular realm from the bodybuilding world. To me, however, clean eating is chow requiring no or little cleanup.
Recently, after one too many times of washing the multiple parts filled with skin, pits and pulp of my "easy clean" junior juicer, I came up with "clean juicing." This allows me, within seconds, to still get the benefits of fresh fruit juice - even more so since this method includes the fiber and antioxidant-filled fruit skin, which traditional juicing does not - without having to scrub a juicer. And those with juicers know that, especially when it comes to the strainer mechanism, there is most definitely elbow grease involved to remove the small fruit particles.
My trusty old (and I mean very old and chipped) blender came to the rescue. It's so convenient that I can simply rinse it after use and employ it again for the next meal before giving it a completely thorough washing later that day. The trick is picking a super-nutritious and sweet fruit - like blueberries - that quickly becomes juice-like in the blender when mixed with a bit of liquid, since it's skin completely pulverizes immediately.
When using leftovers of the side dishes from our rotisserie-chicken dinner the night before, I realized convenient pre-peeled, pre-cut, store-bought fruit salad (common blends of oranges, melons and pineapple are especially delicious, giving somewhat of a passion fruit flavor) also fits the bill very well.
Like in all good cooking, tweaking and seasoning can make all the difference. I thought my fresh blueberry/store-bought unsweetened pomegranate-blueberry juice/fresh lemon/fresh minneola (the widely available super-sweet tangerine-grapefruit hybrid) combo was stupendous, and I drank it often. One day, trying to "super food" it up even more, I added a bit of ground cinnamon and ground ginger and served it over ice. Now I find it even more delicious - with an even bigger get-up-and-go-type of charge that's almost addictive and much more refreshing.
When combined with the fruit salad pulverization and served over ice, the fizz of no-caffeine lemon-lime diet soda and ginger ale (that includes real ginger) similarly knocks it out of the park; it's a mighty thirst quencher. Juice "cocktails" like these are also healthy party drinks of the first order, which are suitable to draw "wows" when doing warm-weather entertaining.
The "wow" factor of these types of innovative homemade fresh fruit beverages is there from sip No. 1; however, it even becomes more apparent when comparing to blends available for purchase. I make green blends, too (wildly popular now by adding romaine, kale, spinach or similar greens to sweet juice blends, like the blueberry recipe that follows). When on the go, I thought surely it would be a treat to have one at the branch of the popular health food supermarket chain I was near. Wrong. Unlike my tweaking and testing to get it just right, this was an unpalatable, not-one-ounce-of-sweetness, mess.
The same thing happened at an upscale cafe chain whose juice bar prepares quite a few fresh organic juices. My mouth watered at the thought of their watermelon-apple-lemon juice. When it arrived, it looked like three separate juices and colors in the cup and tasted like three different fruits instead of a well-blended whole. It wasn't near sweet enough, which could have been accomplished with picking a sweeter apple, like Fuji or Gala, and using more of it.
Most of the home recipes I've seen are flat. Even institutions known for health seem to have left out the flavor factor that drives our taste buds again and again to bottled types of sweetened juices.
This experience was repeated just last night when I downloaded the recipe sections while doing research on both the websites for the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, the country's largest nutrition school (www.integrativenutrition.com), and "Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead," the great documentary (www.fatsickandnearlydead.com) about an extremely overweight Australian "bloke," as he calls himself, who lost it all by juicing for 60 days.
Recipes like mine will take closer to 60 seconds to prepare, enjoy and clean up.
Blueberry Cinnamon Bun in a Blender
1/4 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice (see Note 1)
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
Juice of 1/4 lemon
Juice of 1/2 minneola or tangelo (see Note 2)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons (preferably stevia, which is an herb now available
in most supermarkets) sugar-free sweetener
5 ice cubes
Yields 1 large serving or 2 smaller servings.
In order, place all ingredients, except ice, into a blender container. Blend about 15 seconds, or until fruit is pulverized and juice-like. Pour into the glass (or two glasses). Add ice.
Note 1: Economical mass-market brands like Tropicana's Trop50, which includes the added benefit of blueberry juice as well as pomegranate and is reduced in calories and carbohydrates and has no added sugar, are good choices.
Note 2: Minneolas are super-sweet, widely available tangerine-grapefruit hybrids; tangelos are just as sweet and similar hybrids between a tangerine and a mandarin orange. Substitute fresh orange or tangerine juice if necessary.
Fruit Salad Ginger Fizz
1/4 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice (see Note 1 above)
1/2 cup ginger ale
1 (12-ounce) can no-caffeine diet lemon-lime-type soda (like Diet 7Up)
1/8 cup water
3/4 cup store-bought or homemade mixed fresh fruit salad that includes
orange, pineapple and melon
5 ice cubes
Yields 1 large serving or 2 smaller servings.
Pour all ingredients, except water, fruit salad and ice, into a large glass or two smaller glasses. Set aside.
Place water and then fruit salad into blender container. Blend about 15 seconds, or until fruit is pulverized and juice-like. Pour into the glass (or two glasses). Gently stir into soda as it fizzes. Add ice.
Research shows that blueberries contain natural compounds that help our bodies stay healthy and may help prevent age-related diseases, including Alzheimer's and some forms of cancer. With only 40 fat-free calories per half cup, blueberries are a source of fiber and vitamin C. A serving of blueberries is a quick way to help meet the government's recommendation of four servings of colorful fruits every day.
source: Highbush Blueberry Council
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the author of seven food books, including "Mrs. Cubbison's Best Stuffing Cookbook" and "The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook." She also writes the Creators News Service "Cooks' Books" column.