By Jamie Drummond

It's astonishing just how rapidly juicing can become part of one's daily routine.

Much like running marathons. facial tattoos, and threeways, juicing is one of those things that I had always thought of as best left to other folks… in other words, not me.

So I’ll have to admit here that I was rather taken aback with the rapid manner in which I wholly embraced the juicing lifestyle, and became a full-blown juicer… much to the bemusement of my friends and family.

My very first experience of juicing happened some 10 years ago, during Sunday brunch at the much lamented Azul restaurant at Bathurst and Queen.

Arriving with a weapons-grade hangover, being horribly dehydrated, and de-electrolyted to the point of excruciating physical pain, I made the uninformed decision of ordering a full pitcher of something the menu referred to as The Hangover Helper.

This made complete sense to me: I had a hangover… and I needed help… and that help was going to be in the form of juice… lots of it.

And that was my very first mistake.

My second was consuming aforementioned pitcher in less than three minutes (“All the better to rehydrate thought the foolish Jamie”)

My third and final, fatal mistake  was ordering a second and repeating the process.

Ohhhhhh… it wasn’t pretty.

According to Brock Shephard, now owner of Kensington Market’s Burger Bar, his special Hangover Helper recipe contained carrots, beets, cucumber, celery, apple, and ginger.

Now that’s all well and good, and these days I happily consume such beneficial ingredients via a glass of juice each and every morning.

But back then I really was a juice virgin… a noobie to the wonders of juicing… and it does take a little time for your body to get used to such a concentrated injection of phytonutrients.

Needless to say I spent the best part of two hours in the restaurant’s washrooms, much to the chagrin of the other diners… and my now ex-wife (entirely unconnected I am sure).

It was certainly not one of the moments of my life of which I am most proud, and was enough to scare me away from the wonders of juicing for just over a decade.

A typical morning's recipe: Apples, Carrots. Cucumber, Lemon, Beets, Ginger.

Fast forward to the Autumn of 2011 and I am sitting in a bar with my NYC friend Elizabeth Minett.

As well as being regularly coerced into serving as my spiritual guide, Liz occasionally (and unwittingly) falls into the role of my primary healthcare practitioner.

This usually involves me telling her a ribald tale which is undoubtedly accompanied by much rolling of her eyes, shaking of her head, wagging of her finger, and a lot of “Tsk Tsk”ing.

However upon this particular occasion she suggested that I try juicing, convincing me that it would act as a kind-of nutritional buffer against the literal onslaught of wine, beer,  and rich food that I force my forty-year-old body through week after week.

Elizabeth: Jamie, I’m worried about all that liver-UNfriendly drinking you do as part of your job, and if you’ve been feeling tired and sluggish, then I think you should try juicing. It works wonders for your health, and counteracts the negative effects of alcohol and all that yummy foie gras you eat…

*Jamie has a sudden lucid flashback to his scarring experience of tens years previous and shudders uncontrollably*

Elizabeth: Are you alright Jamie?

Jamie: Yes…it’s just… memories… memories of juicing… it’s like post traumatic stress or something…

But I could clearly see that following this suggested path could only be a life decision for the better…

And so I bit the bullet… and I started juicing.

Beets add a wonderful hue to one's morning juices. Just keep a mental note in your head that you had beet juice though...

You know, it is quite amazing just how many fruits and vegetables one can pick up for around $30.

It’s actually almost more than one can comfortably carry, especially if one throws in a couple of bags of carrots, apples, and beets.

I now seriously look forward to my little jaunts along to Roncesvalles to pick up my juicing ingredients for the week, although when people bump into me carrying such a proliferation of healthy foodstuffs I have noticed that they do tend to look at me a little strangely…

Friend YYZ: Heeeeeeey! That’s a lot of fruits and vegetables you got there Dude! I mean A LOT. Maaaaaaaaaan!

Jamie: Errrr, yes… I have started juicing… it’s truly fantastic.

Friend YYZ: Reeeeeeaaaally? Juicing… Mannnnn.

*Looks at Jamie suspiciously as if he has just admitted joining Heaven’s Gate or something*

Jamie: Seriously.

Friend YYZ: Okay… … …so no bowel cancer for you then I suppose?

Jamie: Ahhhhh… I guess not.

*Awkward silence*

Friend YYZ: No… that’s good… alright must go… See you in the ‘hood… Bye!

*Friend YYZ cycles away on his fixy as fast as his skinny jeans will allow*

Jamie: Errrr… Bye?

And so it goes…

It is really rather remarkable just how much all of this juicing has increased my weekly intake of fruits and vegetables though.

In addition to what I would eat in any normal week, I now consume the following through my juicing regime (which is simply one pint of juice every morning):

  • 12 Apples
  • 24 Large Carrots
  • 12 Beets
  • 3 Heads of Celery
  • 3 Large English Cucumbers
  • 1 Head of Kale
  • 1 Head of Chard
  • 1 Large Root of Ginger
  • 4 Lemons

Granted, it is a bit of a bugger to clean up.

The first day I took out my Waring centrifugal juicer and laid out the required ingredients, it was with a fair bit of trepidation.

As I mentioned previously, it does take a person’s body a week or so to get used to the introduction of fresh fruit/vegetable juice to one’s diet, although to this very day I still get a little bit of a surprise after ingesting one of the more beet-focused juice recipes…

The benefits of having approximatey a pint of juice every morning have been truly multifold, and I am sure I began to feel the good the juice regime was doing me after only a couple of days.

Whilst not wishing to come over like an infomercial for Juicers, since I began juicing back in November of 2011 I have honestly noticed the following:

  • Seriously increased energy levels (Before I began juicing I was suffering from chronic fatigue and sluggishness… all gone!)
  • A much healthier appetite (I have found that juicing has actually increased my appetite, a good thing as I was getting into the habit of skipping meals)
  • A more stable temperament (I am feeling much more in control of my moodswings, however mild)
  • Enhanced mental clarity and focus (For months previously I had felt as if I was in some kind of mental fog)
  • Healthy skin, hair, and teeth (I couldn’t help but notice that my skin has looked so much more vibrant since I began juicing, and my hair feels great… just watch it with the teeth though… if you happen to have porous enamel many dark green and purple juices will stain your teeth terribly… best use a straw)
  • Increased libido (to the point of borderline hypersexuality, but there are possibly external reasons for that)
  • Deeper, more satisfying sleeps (Perhaps to do with the detoxifying properties of many of the juice ingredients?)
  • Bouyant Immune System (When I started juicing I felt as if my lymphnodes were actually buzzing)
  • Extremely Mild Hangovers (Again, most probably due to cleansing properties of many ingredients)

One soon gets used to the more green recipes... although, unlike many juicers, I'm no Masochist.

And so I really cannot recommend juicing highly enough.

Every morning I awake and crave my juice, perhaps in the same way that a coffee drinker craves coffee.

I know for a fact that consuming such a concentrated dose of naturally present vitamins, minerals, fibre, and myriad other nutrients first thing in the morning has made an enormous difference to my sense of health and well-being.

I would be curious to hear your thoughts on juicing and would love to see some of your own recipes.

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… and he honestly feels that juicing has changed his life.