Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten

Six Best Juices

Juices are a fantastic way to get the nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately looking down the rows of products on the supermarket shelf can be very confusing as the products range from pure fresh squeezed oranges and grapefruits to "juice drinks" which may contain as little as 10 percent real fruit juice, "nectars" with loads of sugar, and appalling concoctions of water, chemicals, colourings, artificial sweeteners, and insignificant amounts of the real stuff.

The ultimate health benefits come from juicing your own and machines range from the cheap and cheerful Kenwood, around £40, to the magnificent Waring Professional, around £250. One of the best is the Superjuicer at £170 (mail order call 01159 608646) which throws the pulp out of one side and the juice out of the other.

Not everyone has a juicer or can be bothered to use it if they have - if you've got one don't ever put it away in a cupboard where it gets forgotten, leave it on the kitchen counter as a reminder to use it every day. These six summer juices include three to make yourself, one that doesn't need a juicer and two you can buy in the shops.

1. Instant Energy

Forget the breakfast orange juice - what you need for a summer's day on the tennis court, the golf course, a walk in the country or building sandcastles on the beach with the kids, is loads of energy. And here it is in a glass. Vitamins A, C and E, to boost your immune system and protect you from summer colds; B vitamins to nourish the nervous system and keep you sane on holiday; and a gentle diuretic to stop those puffy feet and ankles when the temperature zooms.

You'll need - 4 carrots, 1 apple, 1 kiwi fruit, and a handful of parsley. Whizz them all through the juicer for a glass of delicious good health. As a bonus this juice is a real boon to the many women who suffer uncomfortable and distressing fluid retention in the few days before their periods.

2. Summer Holiday

Here's a juice that instantly brings back memories of holidays in the Mediterranean sun. Throughout southern Europe the combination of tomatoes and basil makes an inseparable duo, not only for the taste but also for the wonderful mixture of those heady aromas. This great drink is designed to benefit mind and body as the essential oils in the basil act directly on tired minds to give them a soothing boost and it's rich in minerals which provide renewed vigour for aching muscles.

Serve this with a dash of Worcester sauce and some fresh black pepper as the finishing touch for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon boost. The ideal drink if you're enjoying any form of activity holiday, a working weekend in the garden or unwinding round the pool.

You'll need 4 large very ripe plum tomatoes, 1 carrot, 1 big stick of celery with it's leaves on, a handful of basil leaves and half a lemon to squeeze into the finished juice.

A perfect start to the day if you're watching your weight and a five star peak power juice for mind and body. As a final bonus it's rich in lycopene, one of the most powerful of the natural antioxidants which protects against heart disease and prostate cancer.

3. Zit Zapper

Everyone wants perfect skin during the summer when so much of it is on show. Swimsuits, low cut dresses, bare arms and legs, all need skin which is free of zits, blotches, scaly patches and rashes. This is the juice that perfect summer skin needs above all others. It's super-rich in vitamin A and all the carotenoids which are so vital for good skin. It also supplies extra vitamins B, C and iron. The calorie conscious won't need to be told that as lettuce is 95percent water this juice is virtually calorie-free, though it also contains folic acid and the antiseptic and antifungal substances from the chives.

You'll need 3 large carrots, 1 medium sized cos lettuce, a bunch of coriander and a bunch of chives. Juice them all together for the perfect summer tonic.

This juice not only cleanses the skin from the inside but also improves digestion which increases the body's elimination of toxic waste products and benefits the eyes too. Perfect skin, clear eyes - all you need is a wet nose and a waggy tail.

4. Tropics Tropical

What better on a warm summer evening than this delicious blend of pineapple, mango, passion fruit, apple and orange juice, which you can buy in every supermarket. This is 100 percent pure juice with no colourings, flavourings, preservatives or added sugar and is guaranteed to stir the summer passions.

The health benefits of tropical fruits are truly amazing, for as well as being rich sources of vitamin C, these exotic fruits all have traditional reputations as gentle but effective aphrodisiacs - the perfect way to get your partner feeling fruity. Mangoes are a rich source of the essential carotenoids, passion fruit, despite it's ugly wrinkled skin provides vitamin E - vital for a healthy sex life, and pineapples contain the stimulating enzyme bromelain.

The sensuous flavours and heady aromas of these fruits combine with their natural ingredients to make this juice the perfect accompaniment to a long hot summer's night. If you want to be really adventurous mix it half and half with champagne to make my favourite Fruity Fizz.

5. Beetroot Bonanza

Here's another you can buy in a bottle from your local health store, made entirely from organically grown beetroots this Biotta juice from Switzerland is unique. To protect all the natural goodness the juice is preserved by a process called ‘lacto-fermentation'. It uses natural beneficial bacteria to destroy the bad bugs and so eliminates the need for high temperature pasteurising which destroys enzymes and vitamin C.

Throughout eastern Europe beetroot juice has been used as a blood tonic for centuries and the natural red colouring of the beetroot really is good for your blood. Just the drink during the summer when we tend to eat lighter foods and less red meat so there is an increased need for iron. Summer fatigue is a really common problem and a glass of ice cold beetroot juice each day could be the answer.

If you want to cheat serve it in a bowl sprinkled with chopped chives and a swirl of sour cream as an instant form of the Russian soup borscht.

6. Zest for Life

Drinking lemon juice is not to everyone's taste but its high vitamin C content and the stimulating bioflavonoids it contains make it one of the best of all summer drinks. Try this recipe for home made lemonade and you will never buy a bottle of chemical-ridden artificially sweetened and totally unhealthy lemon squash again. Adults love it and in weaker dilutions the children will adore it too.

You'll need 4 oz caster sugar, half a pint of water and the grated zest and juice of a washed unwaxed lemon. Put the sugar and water into a saucepan, heat gently and stir till the sugar has all dissolved. Bring slowly to the boil and leave to simmer for five minutes. Pour into a jug and leave to cool, then add the zest and juice. Pour into a bottle with a tightly fitting cap and keep in the fridge.

Simply add one tablespoon to a glass of water with lots of ice, or if you prefer use sparkling water to make a fizzy drink.

As well as a delicious and refreshing drink, you'll get all the energising nutritional zest to perk you up on a hot day. Garnish with a sprig of mint, a couple of strawberries or add a dash of Pimms, gin or whisky to make a delicious summer cocktail.


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