I've loved creating drinks at home for years. I remember getting a smoothie maker when I was in my mid teens and every weekend, my dad and I would create the most delicious fruity drinks. The machine wasn't that powerful and it was a nightmare to clean but it was the best we could get in 2003!
Fast forward to a good few years ago and me, my dad and my husband started making our own juices and have continued ever since. They're different to smoothies in that a juicer extracts the liquid from the pulp and separates the two but essentially, they're both drinks packed with natural goodness that you can make from home. I just tend to prefer a juice on a more regular basis because they're not as thick as a smoothie, which feels more like a dessert or treat, and I like that I can pack plenty of veg into a juice.
People juice for so many reasons from gaining extra vitamins and minerals to weightloss and for the health benefits. The benefits of juicing have been linked to helping to curb psoriasis which my dad suffers from really badly and I do too but just a little bit. That was why we initially got into juicing over making smoothies, to help my dad and while his skin condition has never gone away completely, he does notice a difference in his skin when he's juicing and that combined with all of the other benefits that we've felt as family through making our own juices is why we've continued making them, not to mention the fact that they taste delicious.
Lots of people will try out a juice cleanse or a detox for 3, 5 or 7 days, sometimes longer where you solely stick to fresh juices and we've all tried that in our house. We usually have a mini cleanse at the start of a new year or after a period of over indulgence if we're feeling very sluggish as its great at kick starting your digestive system back into gear. However more often than not, we tend to just enjoy juices on an ad hoc basis, whenever we fancy one.
For me, that used to be about once a week unless I was feeling run down or poorly (which happens A LOT as I like to burn the candle at both ends, or so my dad insists on telling me on repeat) in which case I would make an extra juice packed full of Vitamin C, antioxidants and the like. The reason why I didn't juice more regularly in the past was down to the juicer I was using.
I had two juicers before I got the Panasonic Slow Juicer MJ-L500. The first was a budget option, the cheapest that I could find in Argos at the time. It was neither use nor ornament and went straight in the wheelie bin after the first use. The second was a more middle of the range option that had a few more bells and whistles on it and while it certainly worked better than the first one, it took an age to put together and an absolute nightmare to clean. I'm a busy woman and while I always felt the benefits of juices when I made one, I didn't have the time nor the inclination to juice more than once or twice a week because it was SO much effort.
Fast forward to summer 2016 and with my new Panasonic Slow Juicer in tow, I'm juicing like its going out of fashion. I couldn't even say that this is an upgrade to the previous juicers I've had as it is a total cut above the rest in every aspect.
Aesthetically, the Panasonic Slow Juicer MJ-L500 is compact and sleek in design. It isn't bulky and cumbersome like other juicers out there and it doesn't look an eyesore when out on the countertop. It fits into a kitchen cupboard with ease and fits equally as neatly into the corner of a kitchen bench.
It feels strong, sturdy and substantial with anti slip feet which ensure that it isn't going anywhere! I can already tell that this is the kind of appliance that will run and run and be with me for years as nothing about this juicer is flimsy or cheap. But then again, it is made by Panasonic and with a brand so well known for creating fantastic electrical products, I wouldn't expect anything less.
The great thing about this juicer is that you don't need a construction degree to put it together. The juicer comes with a detailed instruction booklet inside the box which is very straight forward to follow, helped by the fact that the juicer is incredibly easy to put together anyway. It fits together in seconds and when you've put it together once, you needn't look at the instructions again; its that easy.
Once together, the Panasonic Slow Juicer is so easy to use; simply chop up the fruit and veg that you're using, remembering to remove any thick rind, from oranges for example, and stones. Then you flip the switch on the juicer, remove the plunger, pop your fruit in bit by bit and slowly guide it along with the plunger. I say slowly but the whole process is really quick. I can make a juice on a morning in about as much time as it would take me to boil the kettle and make a cup of tea; quick, easy and straightforward without any fuss.
It is called a slow juicer because the strong motor speed has been reduced to 45 spins per minute which is a lot less than a traditional juicer.This doesn't mean that its will take longer to create a juice, more that it will create the juice more efficiently.
Panasonic have connected the powerful low speed motor to a special juicing screw that is strengthened with a stainless steel tip which makes the juicing process slower and more refined. The process of cold pressing or masticating the fruit and veg into the juice, mimics the way the way it would be done by hand but with the convenience and power of a modern kitchen appliance; quite clever really, don't you think?
The slow screw ensures that nutrients from the fruit and veg are retained and protects them from heat damage and oxidation which means that the end product is far richer in nutrients. Plus, slow juicing in this way is very thorough and squeezes extra just out of the fruit and vegetables which ultimately means that theres more nutritional goodness in your glass and less waste which will save you more money in the long run because you'll need to use less ingredients than a traditional juicer.
The juicer comes with a little guide that explains a bit more about the benefits of this juicer and it gives you some great recipes to try out to get you started. I already have several juicing books at home but in all honesty, you can put most fruit and veg into the juicer and once you've made a few, you'll start to notice what combinations you like and dislike.
I prefer my juices a little sweeter so even if I'm making a green juice packed full of broccoli, spinach and celery, I'll always add a couple of apples or pears for sweetness.
I usually prefer either a green juice or a berry based juice first thing on a morning. That's when I tend to have my juice usually and if I ever have one later in the day, it tends to be a sweeter, thicker one as more of a sweet treat.
Sometimes I'll make myself an apple and ginger shot if I really want something zingy to wake me up on a morning. I've been having these for years and while it was a little intense to begin with, I found that I was soon knocking it back and reaping the benefits. I'm very sensitive to coffee and would never drink it first thing on a morning so having the ginger shot is a more nutritious replacement.
I do like to try new combinations though and the 'Wake Up Call' juice from the Panasonic Slow Juicer booklet was a fresh one for me. I combined 1 cucumber, 2 apples and 20 mint leaves to create it and the juicer powered through the ingredients with ease.
The result was fresh, awakening and it had a hint of sweetness to it; perfect for the morning time. Cucumbers are a great veg because they're mostly water, very low in calories and are packed full of nutrients such as Vitamins B, C and K, potassium and iron.
When making the juice, the finished product looks far more appetising than some of the juices I've made in the past. Since the Panasonic Slow Juicer mixes less air into the juice, it separates less in the glass and has a more even colour with a well mixed formula; I think this makes the juice taste better too.
One of the big differences that I noticed with using this juicer compared to the others that I've used in the past is just how much less waste there is. With a juicer theres usually a jug that the juice goes into and a jug that collects the waste from the fruit and veg once the juice has been extracted and with this one, I have found there to be far less pulp left over. This says to me that this juicer has extracted far more from the ingredients than other juicers I've used have, which can only be a great thing.
After use, the juicer is very quick and easy to clean because it doesn't have lots of nooks and crannies or millions of fiddly parts. It all dismantles quickly and easily and they even give you a giant toothbrush looking item in the box to aid cleaning. The vast majority of the parts can even be washed in the dishwasher! I tend to do my over the sink and then I usually leave them on the draining board and then finish off drying the bits with a tea towel before popping it back together. The whole cleaning process takes minutes rather than the long, fiddly process that I found with my previous juicer, which never felt quite clean enough no matter how much I cleaned it.
The compact size, suitable for on my kitchen bench, together with the ease of use and speedy cleaning mean that I'm now making juices far more regularly; at least 4 times per week now for myself and I feel loads better for it.
I take medication at night before I go to bed and it can leave me feeling really sick, especially when I wake up in the morning. I've never been particularly fond of breakfast but when I'm feeling sick, I really struggle to have anything early on, which isn't great for me if I'm going out for a work meeting or to an aquafit class. However what I do find that works well is having a fresh juice first thing when I wake up as it really agrees with my tummy with it being light and it makes me feel better rather than worse.
Then after an hour and a half to two hours of being up, I'll then make myself some brekkie, which is usually a Warburtons Brown Thin with some Cashew Butter and strawberries or bananas on top. You'll have probably seen it so many times on my Twitter!
The Panasonic Slow Juicer MJ-L500 sounds great, doesn't it? We'll theres more...
Not only does this fabulous juicer make great drinks but you can also make frozen desserts with it too! This was what drew me to this particular juicer as I'm always making banana "ice cream" in our food processor, which probably doesn't have a powerful enough motor for blending frozen banana and every time I use it I hold my breath in anticipation of it blowing up.
The Panasonic Slow Juicer comes with an attachment for frozen desserts that you simply swap with the juicing attachment. Then you freeze the fruit of your choice, pop it in the juicer the same way you would when juicing, add some yoghurt and out comes a delicious frozen dessert that tastes just like ice cream in texture but it has a far more natural, authentic fruity taste and is far better for you.
The combination that I'm enjoying here is the 'Blueberry Banana Dream' from the Panasonic Booklet which combines yogurt with blueberries and bananas. It tastes absolutely delicious. So creamy and cooling. On the day that I was making this, it was SO hot outside and my dog even enjoyed some of it!
I love that making a dessert in this way feels like an indulgent treat but its actually far better for you than ice cream thats packed full of sugar and other additives.
I think thats the great thing about this juicer and juicing in general. Juicing has become quite popular and now in a lot of shops you can buy a juice but a lot of the time they have extra things added to them and/or they cost a lot of money if you drink them on a regular basis. So you might think that they're really good for you when in actual fact, they're not and they're not so kind on your purse too, or the environment for that matter with all of the plastic bottles floating around.
Not only can you make healthy desserts and juices with this kitchen appliance but you can also make a chilled soup, sorbet or even a cocktail. Either way, you're putting 100% fruit and veg into the juicer, safe in the knowledge that theres no preservatives, additives, concentrates, added sugar or sweeteners in there.
I think theres been a massive shift in the perception of juicing over the last year or so and a lot of people are realising the health benefits of getting all of those extra nutrients (targeted nutrients as well if you research the benefits of the ingredients you're juicing) into their body by adding a juice into their daily meal plan.
From my experience though, with juicers you very much get what you pay for. Don't waste your money on the cheapest of the cheap because it could end up being completely useless and a total waste of money.
If you think you'll use it often, or make the frozen desserts often, then investing in the Panasonic Slow Juicer is the way to go. It is worth it for the time you'll save putting it together, creating the juice and cleaning it. You're also gaining the added benefit of extracting more juice from the ingredients you're using, wasting less as a result and saving you money in the long run as you'll need to buy less ingredients in your weekly shop.
I love the fact that I can create a range of different items with this appliance rather than juices alone which will ultimately save space as I'll now not have to buy that ice cream maker I was eyeing up (saving me space in my kitchen, money in my purse and extra calories!).
The Panasonic Slow Juicer MJ-L500 is available to buy from AO.com, Costco and Amazon in three different colours; silver, gold and red.
You can find out more about the appliance, how it works and the benefits of it over on the Panasonic website.
Have you tried making your own juice or healthy ice cream? What are your favourite flavour combinations?