You green?

Vibrantly green lettuce crowded together with beads of water on the leaves.
Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

Whenever there’s opportunity to toss some lines from The 5th Element into a post, you bet your multi-pass I’m going to include them. Especially if there’s some Rooobeeee Rhoood! Chris Tucker is so good in that role. I love that whole movie. Totally green, Ruby. Super green.

So, to the post at hand.

I’ve been a longtime fan of green smoothies (1/2 Granny smith apple, 1/2 avocado, spinach, lemon juice, and flax and/or hemp seeds, blended with water). I like the colour of it, I like the taste of it. So last year, when I had some massive weird skin irritation and generally inflammation going on, I thought maybe I’d try a green juice detox. Not so much because I think my liver is slacking. Although, it might need a bit of help every once in a while, given the medications that I’m pushing through the system every day. But a bit of a framework around not eating things that I know are bothersome to my system – like wheat, and sometimes dairy, in addition to things that are bothersome to everyone’s system – like processed food, and fast food. Yeah, COVID has meant that for the last eleventy thousand months, ordering in has taken the place of visiting friends and family, or going out, or, yaknow, everything. And throughout all this, for extra bonus fun, I was also getting some brutal cramps in my calves and abductors. So some extra greens would give me some extra magnesium to kick those cramps to the curb. I do have a bottle of magnesium beside my other meds, but I feel like if I can get my supplements right from the produce, maybe that’s a good thing.

So after doing some research, I decided based on a few different factors (like how local the company is, and the ingredients they use in their juice), I bought a green juice plan. It was 18 bottles from Pulp and Press (in London, Ontario). I was pretty happy with it. The plan was to drink 6 bottles a day. I decided that I would drink 4 bottles a day and have a regular (although, potential-allergen-free) dinner every day. Would definitely recommend Pulp and Press. I’ve bought the plan from them twice, actually. The second time, I just drank the juice ad hoc, like any other beverage one might find in one’s fridge. But there are other companies that make other juice – some of which I can even get in my local Goodness Me natural foods or Farm Boy. Maybe I can just get a bottle or two there when I want it instead of ordering a whole boxful.

And you know who likes running non-scientific experiments on themselves? This monkey right here!

I bought all the green juice that contained just green things – cucumber, celery, apple, spinach, kale. I’m willing to let lemon and pineapple into the mix, but the mix has to be *mostly* green, and mostly vegetable. I also didn’t buy any with an ingredient that I know I don’t like. I know I don’t like green juices that have banana pulp in them, and I don’t like the ones that are more like smoothies than juice (like Boathouse). If I want a smoothie, I’ll just make it myself.  So there’s none of that in this list. If you’re not a salad person, and you’re not partial to bitter, sour, and astringent on the flavour spectrum, you’re probably not going to like this kind of juice. But that’s totally my cup of tea… erm… juice… so here we are.

 A word about where I’m coming from: I drink mostly water. Sometimes I have Moroccan Mint tea or Miraculous Tea brewed and cooled. In the winter, sometimes I drink other black tea, sweetened with milk and sugar. That’s the base from which I’m operating here. But mostly, day in and day out, I drink plain old water (run through our reverse osmosis filter because we live in an area with brutal hard water, so there’s a water softener with a giant bag of salt dissolving into our household water supply). If I’m going to put that much salt in my body, it better be in potato chip form, that’s all I’m sayin’.

Hm. it occurs to me that I should have maybe kept the receipt from the store(s) where I bought these so I could list the prices of them (to determine relative value) for you. But alas, that ship has sailed. Sorry friends. I can say they’re about $5-7 per bottle, so not cheap, but if you were going to buy the constituent ingredients, perhaps reasonable. It doesn’t hurt my feelings to pay that much (although the cost of this experiment was a little spendy, for sure) but in general, I wouldn’t buy this many bottles at once.

To the Juice!

Juice #1: Genius by Greenhouse Juice Co. in Toronto. Contains Organic cucumber, celery, pineapple, apple, lemon, spinach, kale, fermented lemongrass, and Himalayan Salt. Bonus: Comes in a glass bottle, which always makes me feel a little more virtuous. Like all of these kinds of juice, the juice had settled, so I gave it a good shake and cracked it open. First sip impressions: You have to like celery, which often rises to the top flavour profile in these kinds of juice. But I do, so that’s OK. It was balanced with other ingredients, but you could distinctly pick celery out – or I could.  This one was lightly fizzy, due to the fermented lemongrass. The fizz is reminiscent of a Kombucha or Jun, and that makes this different from my previous green juice experience. I’m not sure if it’s the fizz in this one or something else, maybe the pineapple added more fruity-sweetness than I prefer? I didn’t feel like my thirst would be quenched by this. If I bought it again I’d be trying to doctor it up – maybe watered down a little, maybe added into my smoothie as a booster?   Score: 4/10 – I didn’t have any difficulty drinking the bottle and didn’t do any nose-wrinkling as I did, but I’m not sure I’d get this one again.

Juice #2: Everyday Greens by Live Organic Food in mystery place in Ontario. Weird that they don’t say anywhere, but they deliver to the Greater Toronto-Hamilton area, as well as Niagara and Kitchener Waterloo, so must be Toronto-ish. I’m not saying it’s cagey that you don’t reveal where you’re located anywhere, I’m just sayin’. Anyway, the juice contains apple, romaine lettuce, celery, lemon, kale, chard, cucumber, and parsley. Now we’re talkin’. I’ve never had juice made with chard, but I grow a lot of it in my garden every year, and between the soup I make every week and my garlic tahini chard, so I’m a big fan. There’s a tagline on the bottle: Cut kale not corners/ A ta santé, mon chou. A cute play on words – in French, chou is cabbage, but it also means “my darling”. So, To your health, my darling. Funfact: Prince Philip’s term of endearment for Queen Elizabeth was “Cabbage” for this very reason. So adorable. First sip impressions: Smells very heavy on the parsley, but the taste is lovely, This one also sweet, but not in the same way as Genius. This is more like the sweet-tart that comes from an apple or from not-bitter lettuce (like iceberg or Butter). Yummy. This would absolutely quench my thirst. Score: 10/10. Would definitely buy this to enjoy on it’s on merits.

Juice #3: Envy by Pulp and Press in London. Contains cucumber, celery, lemon, kale, and spirulina. Mmm. Yummy. I’m a big fan of Pulp and Press green juices. They have a whole bunch (several of which will be on this list) and I quite enjoy them all. First sip impressions: This one is a little heavier on the tongue, by which I mean that it feels like the juice is coating the back of my tongue a bit. It’s got a great sour flavour from the celery and the lemon that I quite enjoy, and a bit of bitterness from the kale and astringency from the cucumber. But it’s a good balance in the way that good bitters bring brightness to a cocktail. This one is really light on calories, if that matters – almost a pint for less than a hundred calories, but still big on flavour. Score: a very solid 7/10.

Juice #4: Cactus by Dose Organic from St-Hyacinthe, Quebec. Front of the bottle says it contains Apple, Cucumber, and Celery. Back of the bottle says it contains “mix of juices (apple, cucumber, celery, kale, lemon, spinach, parsley, ginger) and Chlorophyll. Also on the bottle ” No artificial crap. Only natural, organic and healthy ingredients. Nothing else”. Not as fun as the tagline on Everyday Greens, but assertive. First sip impressions: It’s earthy from the terroir of the greens, but not in the same way that beets (and I like beets, in general) taste like dirt. A good sweetness without being cloying. I would use this to help fortify a green smoothie, or have it cut with water (as I do with most juices). But it’s not so strong that I’d *need* to cut it. Very similar to another Pulp and Press juice that I really like (and will appear later on this list). Enjoyable for sure. 8/10.

Juice #5 Green Glow by Pulp and Press in London. Contains apple, fennel, pineapple, lemon, cucumber, kale, ginger, and spirulina. To be honest, most of the Pulp and Press juices are very similar to me. Little hints of different flavours, but the base is the same (apple lemon cucumber, kale ginger spirulina), so a little bit of fennel and a little pineapple add some sweetness, but the taste is not particularly distinct from Envy (see Juice #3, above). That doesn’t’ mean I don’t like it. Pulp and Press, on the whole, always delivers something yummy. Score, 8/10

Juice #6 Green Glow by  Farm Boy (Vegan Cold Pressed Juice). Contains Cucumbers, Granny Smith apples, pineapple, spinach, chlorophyll, bacterial cultures (lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum). 130 calories for 360ml.  So this has a good dose of probiotics in there (1 billion CFU per bottle), which is always a bonus. It’s tart (from the apples) which offsets the astringency of the spinach and chlorophyll, but a smooth balance. On the bottle it says “This is a green juice with enough fruit in it to keep it from tasting like a salad” Indeed. It does kind of  *smell* like wilting salad though, which is weird, considering the closest thing to salad greens in there is spinach. Still, The taste is pretty mild. A good option, I think, if you want to break into the green juices that aren’t the thick, smoothie-type that has a LOT of fruit (like banana and pear pulp). Score: 6/10

Juice #7 Turbo by Pulp and Press. Contains apple, cucumber, celery, lemon, spinach, kale, and spirulina. 168 calories for 473 mls. *Man* I like Pulp and Press. This is a little sweeter than the Green Glow by Pulp and Press, probably because there’s no heat from the ginger. I like this one as a thirst quencher. It’s good at full strength, but equally good when I dilute it into one of the liters of water I drink every day. This one (or Hulk, see later on…) I buy on it’s own when I’m in the health food store because it’s just a nice treat. Easy 10/10 on this one.

Juice #8 – Undercover by Loop from Montreal, PQ. On the front it says  it contains pear, cucumber, spinach, kale, celery, parsley, pineapple, lemon, and jalapeno peppers. On the actual ingredients list, it says pear, cucumber, pineapple, apple, spinach, kale, celery, lettuce, lemon, parsley, and jalapenos. Which means that apples are in there but not advertised. I don’t love it when that happens, because it seems a bit shady, but I know that apple is sometimes used as a base because it’s complimentary to both vegetables and fruit. The premise of Loop is that they take the ‘outcasts of the food industry” and uses imperfect fruit that customers won’t buy to make their juice. THEN, they use the pulp left over after they juice to make vegan dog treats. Reducing food waste is always good, and Loop seems to have a pretty good system to help with that. It’s 130 cal for 355 mls. This juice has the most fruit in it (apple, pear, pineapple, and lemon) of all the juices I tried, and the 23g of sugar shows (although, it’s all natural – no sugar has been added). This is  good gateway juice if you want to get into more green juices, but are feeling a little intimidated by hardcore green juices. In fact, that’s kind of why it’s called Undercover – it’s greens under the cover of pear and pineapple. Clever, Loop. Clever. Very palatable. Sweet, but doesn’t leave that fructose film on your tongue like orange juice (for example) sometimes does. It also doesn’t have the kick from the jalapeno that Pulp and Press Diablo (not reviewed here) has, but I also know that I tolerate waaaaaay more heat than most people. In any case,  10/10 for the trifecta of taste, mission, and dog treats.

Juice #8: Gatsby by Greenhouse in Toronto. Contains cucumber, apple, spinach, raw and fermented ginger, kale and lemon. Greenhouse packages in glass bottles (As mentioned above with Genius) which I like, and also similar to Genius, is lightly fizzy thanks to the raw and fermented ginger. The experience of this one was further degraded by the fact that (as with all these juices) there is a bit of organic particulate that settles to the bottom, and you need to stir that up somehow. And shaking up a glass bottle that’s under pressure because of the fermentation… when I cracked open the bottle it fizzed enough that ran to the sink before I opened it fully so that I wasn’t wearing it. I dunno, maybe there’s a more graceful way of doing it. But TBH, I didn’t really like this juice, so I won’t be trying it again. 2/10 for weird taste, poor experience, and inability (after the poor experience) to actually get the particulate that had settled re-incorporated into the juice. Nope, I can’t do it. This is the only one of the lot I didn’t even finish. Sorry Greenhouse. 😦

Juice #9 Focus by Dose Organic. Contains pineapple, cucumber, apple, sencha tea, kale, spinach, lemon, mint, jalapeno, and chlorophyll. This is the only one of the lot that contains tea. Hm. This one tastes… flat. 100 calories for 300ml. Some of the others have a very robust flavour, this one is muted. Which seems weird since it has both pineapple and jalapeno in it. So I dunno, it’s not disagreeable. I guess if you’re just wading into the green juice arena, this one is a good starter juice. There’s a definite aftertaste of mint, so that’s a nice finish. Decent entry, but not as good as the other Dose offering on this list. 7/10.

Juice #10 Hulk 2.0 by Pulp and Press. Contains apple, cucumber, pineapple, lemon, kale, spirulina and hemp protein. Certainly higher in calories because of the 15 g of added protein. A serving is half the 473ml/16 fluid oz bottle, at 138 calories – you’ll want to be careful about that, because 274 calories for a big glass of juice is kind of a lot. This is what they mean when they talk about the ease of which people drink their calories. But, if you drink this at work in lieu of breakfast, maybe that’s OK.  Yummy yummy yummy.  The hemp powder makes this one a little powdery on your tongue as you drink it, but the flavour of this one is one of my favourites. 9/10

Juice #11 Hulk by Pulp and Press. This is the OG Hulk, I guess. Contains apple, cucumber, pinepple, kale, and spirulina. Everything except the help protein in the Next Gen Hulk (above). This one is my favourite. This is why I do this, and why I left this one for last – I knew I’d end on a high note, no matter what the other ones brought to the table. This comes in at 92 calories for half the 473ml bottle. Sneaky. But if you’re using this as a snack, 184 isn’t awful as a total for the whole bottle. Which is what I’d do. Because I like this juice a *lot*. 10/10

So there you go, friends. I drank a bunch of green juice and lived to tell the tale. I’m not saying that you should do a juice fast. That’s not what  did here, and even the time I did set out to do a juice fast, I only did a Juice Fast Until Dinner. I would use these to bolster a Clean Eating week (which I do, often enough, after a less than virtuous binge period), but I also just enjoy them – or, some of them anyway.

Hot on the heels of Canadian Thanksgiving, I’m always reminded that I like the idea of (orange) squash way more than I actually like it for realsies. I’ll happily have a cup of squash soup at a restaurant or a wedding, or a dollop of butternut mash from amongst the vegetable offerings at our holiday gatherings. But you know, I’m not a fan – certainly not enough to add a butternut or an acorn to the vegetable delivery. I’ve learned to not buy squash so that I don’t have to try to bamboozle myself into thinking that this is the meal where I finally like the squash. Ain’t gonna happen. Green juice is probably like that for many people. If you like the constituent vegetables, maybe give it a try. But if you don’t this isn’t going to be what wins you over.

As with all things, friends, your mileage may vary.

Sláinte

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