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Thursday, February 18, 2010

The King of Juices!

I was recently invited to a birthday party for my friend's child and I volunteered to bring the juice for the kids. However, after strolling the juice aisle in the market, I noticed that most bottles of juice were more water, corn syrup and flavorings than actual juice. Not what I had in mind!

Since many of the juice-like-beverages contain only 20% juice or less, I decided it would be much healthier (and surprisingly cheaper) to become my own mixologist and blend together a few different kinds of 100% fruit juice! This would also avoid any added sugar and/or flavorings.

But which juice(s) did I use? How different are apple juice and orange juice from each another anyway?

I looked into it and it turns out that juices vary greatly in their nutrient and calorie content. See chart below:

Comparison of Common Juices

OJ: The Super Star Juice
Containing the largest amounts of Vitamin C, Potassium and several other key vitamins and minerals (of which apple and grape juice had practically none!), orange juice was a great place to start. OJ also had the least number of calories per 6 fl oz serving (but for carrot juice) solidifying its place at the top of my list.

Below are a few simple ways I jazzed up OJ for my special Birthday drinks. The Orange & White Grape and the Strawberry OJ were both hits with the kids. Enjoy!

Orange & White Grape:
1 part white grape juice, 1 part orange juice and 1 part water. The white grape juice mellows the acidity of the orange juice dramatically. This blend is great if your little one has a tummy that's sensitive to acid. For an adult spin, try the same ratio but use sparkling water and consider adding a few torn basil leaves to the mix.

Strawberry OJ:

Starting with say 8 fl oz of OJ in a running blender, add a handful (5-7 pieces) of frozen strawberries. Blend until smooth, adding more OJ or water as needed. This will sweeten the OJ slightly, color it brilliantly and tame the acidity a bit. Also try this with raspberries, dark sweet cherries or a mixture of the three.

Pineapple OJ:
Starting with say 8 fl oz of OJ in a running blender, add a handful (7 pieces) of frozen pineapple chunks. (If you can't find frozen pineapple, buy a can of pineapple chucks (in light syrup), discard the liquid and freeze the chunks in a zip-top bag.) Blend until smooth, adding more OJ or water as needed. This combination makes a creamy treat that's particularly great for anyone with a dairy allergy.

Orange Carrot:
3 parts OJ to 2 parts carrot. Try easing into this juice blend starting with 4 parts OJ and 1 part carrot, then increase the proportion of carrot slowly over time. Not-from-concentrate or even fresh-squeezed OJ really helps brings out the natural sweetness in the carrot juice. For adults, know that carrot juice contains about half the calories of orange juice; all the more reason to up the amount of carrot over time.

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