Juices

Healthy juice bars are cropping up all over South East Asia as the region gets turned onto the benefits of different fruits and vegetables. In Bangkok you can buy a mixed juice on the sky-train platform and in Tokyo pick one up in most department stores.

The benefits are manifold, as fruit and vegetables are high in various minerals, vitamins, and proteins, and by slurping a drink you are filling up a large amount of your daily intake in one go. Combined, many vegetables and fruits provide different health giving qualities such as boosting the immune system, cleansing the liver and even cleaning the blood.

Various garnishes such as black pepper, wheat germ, lemon juice, parsley, coriander and ginger not only add to the taste but also provide an extra healthy zing.

A cheaper and easier option of course is to make them at home and bypass the expensive juice bars completely. All you need is a good blender or mixer and the right supply of fruits and vegetables. And in SE Asia this is the easy part as fresh fruits and vegetables are so easy to come by, are often cut up before purchase and are extremely cheap by Western standards. There is also a wide variety of delicious exotic fruits which only grow in tropical climates and which add extra flavour to any juice mix.

You also need a little know-how. For example, you can throw in the lemon, lime and orange seeds but shouldn’t include apple seeds as they are actually toxic. The stems and leaves of carrots are also toxic, whereas celery leaves are just very bitter. The skins of oranges and grapefruit aren’t good for you but the white pithy parts are an excellent source of Vitamin C and bioflavonoid and shouldn’t be avoided.

Different fruits and vegetables have different benefits. Pears for example are high in dietary fibre, bananas in potassium and papaya contains digestive enzymes.

There are now more and more exotic ingredients included in juice recipes. For example spirulina, which is a blue-green algae rich in proteins, minerals, carotenoids – a type of antioxidant that help protect cells from damage – as well as zinc, copper, iron and essential fatty acids. Although research is still being done into the health effects of spirulina it is claimed that it protects your immune system and works well against allergic reactions. If you can get over the bright green colour, then relax as it tastes rather like banana.

Celery and parsley combined are good for arthritis sufferers, celery and papaya for asthmatics and lettuce and celery for insomniacs. Blackberry or grape with parsley helps guard against anemia and low blood pressure can be remedied with capsicum and garlic.

Here are some juice recipes to get you started:

• Liver cleanse: pineapple, carrot, beetroot and lime.

• Skin tonic: carrot, capsicum and spinach

• Stress reduction: apple, pineapple, mint and lime or tomato, carrot, coriander, broccoli and celery.

• Immunity improver: apple, carrot, lemon, ginger and garlic.

So get into the kitchen and start experimenting. Some of the ingredients won’t delight everyone’s taste buds, but it is amazing how certain combinations, however seemingly unlikely, produce a very palatable result. You will also feel angelically healthy, rehydrated and rejuvenated once you have downed half the contents of your fruit basket and vegetable chiller and ready to face whatever the day has to bring.