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February 3, 2014

Creative Juicing: 8 Unusual Ingredients to Kick Up Juice Recipes.

Carrot Juice Prep

It seems like “Beautiful” people juice.

You know, the yoga teachers, super models, Martha Stewart, Gwyneth.

Juicing is huge right now and I swear, I know at least 15 people who are currently into juice fasting. I tried fasting last week with hilariously disastrous results. Let’s just say that my juice fast ended quickly when I was confronted with a pot of pasta with tomato cream sauce. Usually, I’m one to shun trends, but I can’t ignore juicing. Fresh juice is too delicious and I feel way too good from drinking it to stop any time soon.

I juice every day for the health benefits and the pure sensory pleasure of it, but juicing has become a creative outlet for me as well. I might be a little nuts, but I search produce sections, farmer’s markets and even my own yard for unique additions to my juice. I’m lucky enough to live in South Florida, so I have a bounty of exciting tropical fruits, plus year-round, fresh, local produce at my disposal.

We all have our go-to juice combos, but it’s fun (and yummy) to liven up our recipes. Here are my favorite, surprisingly different, super-healthy and incredibly nutritious ingredients to add to the juicer, and none of them involve kale.

1) Fresh Turmeric Root

Luckily, I can find fresh, turmeric root, not to be confused with the dried powder in the spice cabinet, at my local Whole Foods. I’m convinced that turmeric is magic. It pretty much cures everything and because I have an inflammatory condition, I don’t go a day without adding about a thumb-sized piece of turmeric root to my juice. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory and research has now found that it may also be a strong antidepressant. At first, I thought turmeric had a peculiar taste—somewhere between ginger and the way patchouli smells, but I’ve grown to really like turmeric’s earthy spiciness. If you’ve never had it before, go easy at first because it can upset sensitive stomachs, although I’ve never experienced this.

2) Fennel Root

Fennel root may well be my favorite thing to juice. I mean, if I were forced to choose. Its gentle, sweet licorice flavor, pairs well with pretty much everything, and the root, which has the same texture as celery, makes a lot of juice. I like fennel mixed with citrus or pineapple and in any veggie juice combination. Try a combo of fennel, watermelon and lemon. It’s refreshing and soothing to the digestive system.

3) Prickly Pear

This fruit of a cactus plant makes the prettiest, fuchsia colored juice, and it tastes just as great as it looks. Prickly pears are sweet and some people think they taste almost like bubblegum or melon. When juicing prickly pears, make sure you remove the tough, outer skin. I also try to remove some of the inner seeds because my juicer doesn’t like them, but they are perfectly edible if you want to leave them intact. Lime juice boosts the prickly pear’s flavor and I won’t tell anyone if you want to add a little tequila for the yummiest Margarita of all time.

4) Fresh Horseradish Root

I love horseradish and think it imparts a lot of excitement to plain vegetable juices. It’s particularly delicious in tomato based juices (think Bloody Mary mix with or without the vodka) and horseradish root contains a ton of nutritional benefits. It’s one of those super foods that is said to fight cancer and have antibiotic and antifungal properties. Taste your root before you add it to the juicer because I’ve found that horseradish is very unpredictable. Some roots are mild and others will set your sinuses ablaze, so proceed with caution and go light, tasting your juice as you go and adding more to suit your own tastes.

5) Carambola, aka Star Fruit

Star fruit is one of my favorite fruits to juice. I love its floral, citrusy flavor and its soft texture is particularly suited to juicing. I like to combine star fruit with strawberries for a pink fruit punch.

6) Curry Powder

There are about a million different kinds of curry, but I’m referring to the classic, yellow Madras or Jamaican curry powders. I like it in savory vegetable juices with a pinch of sea salt and I stir the spice into my finished jar of juice before I drink it. Try adding curry to kick up a blend of tomato, cucumber, lemon, greens and ginger. Add as much or as little curry as you like. It’s your juice, your way.

7) Cinnamon

Cinnamon is fantastic in carrot pineapple ginger juice. Think carrot cake, but in healthy juice form. If you want to get really crazy, you can even throw in some coconut or almond milk as a frosting stand-in. Cinnamon is said to help regulate blood sugar, reduce pain and fight cancer cells, plus it makes everything taste like dessert. How can you go wrong? I like it stirred into any fruit juice.

8) Fresh Herbs

Parsley is a pretty common addition to most juices, but experiment with other fresh herbs. I have a passion for mint, which I like with cucumber and lemon. Basil goes well with pineapple and/ or strawberry and cilantro is ridiculously good with vegetables and lime.

Have fun getting creative with juices! I’d love to know what unusual additions you enjoy in your juices too, so please share your favorite recipes in the comments section.

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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo: elephant archives

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