Defining Juices and Smoothies - dummies

By Pat Crocker

Both juices and smoothies are incredibly good for your body, taste great, and can be enjoyed any time. But if you think that smoothies and juices are the same, you don’t know how these healthy drinks are made and what ingredients are used to make them. In this section, I fill you in.

Juices and smoothies are made mostly of fruit and vegetables, so you may be interested to know the components that make up these foods. Whole fruits and vegetables are made up of between 80 percent and 95 percent water (this is what makes them so refreshing); the other 5 percent to 20 percent is carbohydrate or fibrous cells and nutrients.

Recognizing what juices are

Juice is the water and most of the nutrients that have been separated from much of the carbohydrate or fibrous pulp in fruits and vegetables. Sometimes a very limited number of healthy ingredients are added to juice to boost the nutritional punch, but they aren’t essential.

You can squeeze or press citrus fruit (like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons) in order to get the juice, but the only way to juice other fruits and vegetables at home is to process raw, fresh fruits and vegetables through a juicing machine that presses or cuts and spins them so that the juice is extracted from the pulp.

You need a juice machine to make fresh homemade fruit or vegetable juice, and you need a citrus press to make citrus juices. You can’t make juice in the blender.

Knowing what smoothies are

If I can drink the liquid that comes out of my blender, why isn’t it called juice? Because the whole fruit or vegetable has been chopped so fine you may think that it’s juice but because the pulp (or fiber) is still in the liquid, it isn’t a juice. (Refer to the earlier section for more about what juices are.)

When a liquid (such as fresh juice, milk, or broth) and fresh fruits and/or fresh vegetables are combined in a blender and processed into a purée, the resulting drink is called a smoothie. The whole fruits and vegetables with the skin (if organic), but not inedible seeds, are blended until the cells in the fruit and other ingredients are so small that they’re transformed into a drinkable liquid. Smoothies may have lots of other ingredients added, but the main ingredients are the liquid and the fruits and/or vegetables.

Although you may start out making smoothies with a regular kitchen blender, the best machine for all kinds of smoothies (including those that feature nuts, ice, frozen fruit or vegetables, and grains) is a high-powered, heavy-duty machine. You can use a food processor, but the drink won’t be as thick and smooth, and it may leave a mess when the bowl is removed from the base.

Differentiating between juices and smoothies

The differences in these healthy drinks are in the ingredients and the equipment used to make them. Juices are made from fresh fruits and vegetables, and that’s it. You need a juicing machine to separate the juice from the pulp of the fruit or vegetable. Juices are the pure water and nutrients, including the pigments of the fruits and vegetables they’re made from, so they’re thin and range in color from bright green to yellow to orange to red and pink and even blue.

Smoothies, on the other hand, are made from a large range of many more ingredients. They, too, are made from fresh fruits and/or vegetables, but they have some liquid (fruit or vegetable juice, broth, milk, or yogurt) added and may include nuts, seeds, ice cream, frozen fruits or vegetables, supplements, and other health products. Smoothies are smooth and thick and tend to be lighter or more muted in color than their juice counterparts.