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The Big Book of Juices and Smoothies - 365 Natural Blends for Health and Vitality Every Day

by Natalie Savona

listed in nutrition

The first thing that struck me when these two juicing books landed on the table was how jolly they looked. Their covers alone manage to convey some of the fun and deliciousness of juicing. Interestingly they both go for the same colours on their covers, pale green and orangey/red - perhaps they are both tapping in to some aspect of juice-psychology?

Trawling through my juicing bookshelf it becomes immediately apparent that juicing books have taken a turn for the better. A decade or so ago they were all very worthy, and rather dull, books. They contained lots of good information about nature cures but you were bored after reading the first five pages. But then in those days the only people who juiced also wore hair shirts and knitted their own yoghurt. Juicing has come out of the closet with the emergence of juice bars and high-tech machines that any boy-racer would be proud to own. As these two books demonstrate, we are now into the era of sex and 'rap' sells-juices.

Juices are perfectly placed for today's mood. In our fast food society what could be better: something easy and fun to make, utterly delicious and - this is the good bit - absolutely virtuous without the need for a guilt trip. And you might even cure your warts/headaches/PMT/bad breath to boot by focusing on therapeutic juicing.

But the similarity of their covers is not an indication that these two books are the same, and they are actually totally different. So, it is unlikely to be a case of which one shall I have, but do I need both?

Savona's book is well designed for the kitchen, spiral bound for easy turning. She does not spend much time discussing the merits of each type of ingredient but devotes more of her energy on concocting delicious sounding juices - one for each day of the year, no less. I suspect that for most people this will be more than enough. The book is designed to inspire. While it is highly unlikely that anybody needs that many recipes, it is enough to think 'I didn't realise beetroot goes with orange or broccoli goes with grapefruit'. The lavishly illustrated book is a visual delight and with their gem and ice cream colours these photos are taking full advantage of the food-wicked delight approach. Each recipe is accompanied by a rating to indicate if the juice has properties that make it suitable for improving energy, detoxing, boosting immunity, sorting out digestion or feeding your skin. On the therapeutic front Savona steers somewhat round the whole subject. She avoids difficult juice subjects such as Brussels sprouts or turnip but then this book is inspiration and not medicine. She tucks a few pages away at the back of the book about detoxing and a pretty good chart of suitable juices for various ailments such as morning sickness or water retention but the subject is glossed over and is not the main point of the book. This is probably fine because most people just want to feel that they are doing themselves a lot of good without thinking too hard about the detail.

If you want to go into more detail about the therapeutics of juicing then Jason Vale's book The Juice Master's Ultimate Fast Food is for you. This book is not illustrated but with the 'patter' that runs through the book you hardly need it. The fast pace keeps hitting you between the eyes with lots of 'facts you didn't know'. He manages to inspire the belief that even the most questionable tasting juices will be fine in the right combinations and yield wonderful therapeutic benefits. He also goes into very useful detail about the different types of machines all the way from the bottom of the range up to the top, including the elite kit that anyone-who-is-really-serious-about-juicing could not possibly live without, namely the Green Star and the Champion. This approach is different to Savona's who assumes that you can just jolly-well follow the manufacturer's instructions and in case most people are just going to buy a bog standard juicer from their department store (probably true).

I found Vale's book an excellent reference source, which accurately backed up all the juicing-remedies advice I was familiar with. It seems to me he has taken the old-fashioned juicing-gurus information, given it an up-to-date twist, with plenty of his own spin, and hey-presto you have a 21st century 'funtastic' approach to all the old staples. I have mixed feelings about some of the patter, but suspect that this is a sign that I have finally arrived at middle-age (policemen and politicians already look like kids to me, and I definitely switch on to Radio 2 instead of 1). His juices are often named after celebrities: The Iron Mike ty'Sun', The Jeff 'not so' Free Archer, The Rob'bee Williams and - groan - The Nosh and Becks. He manages to convince that, even though raw broccoli normally tastes 'about as tasty as the inside of one of Ghandhi's flip-flops' and that for some liquorice, when talking about fennel, 'is about as appealing as a night in watching repeats of Dad's Army' and that some vegetable juices without additions to lighten them 'would be about as appealing as dinner with Les Patterson', these are great when juiced in the right way and for the right reasons (Note to his editor: shouldn't you have picked some of these up?). But then, I guess the patter is what you would expect of someone who calls himself The Juice Master, and it probably appeals to anyone who is just a tad younger than me, and it does stop you from falling asleep when listening to the therapeutic virtues of various juices. But sometimes I do wish he would just cut to the chase! At the back of the book he has around 70 excellent sounding juices - that's cutting to the chase enough for me. My only serious complaint about this book is that it does not have an index - I might have read about good ways to improve diabetes/cancer/arthritis, but darned if I can find them in a hurry.

The other main difference between the books is that Vale tells us that it is best, from a blood sugar perspective, if we eat our fruit and juice our veg and to limit and dilute fruit juices, while Savona goes down what is bound to be the popular route and concentrating on lots of fruit and a few veg.

I think that both books are well worth having as they serve different purposes but if you had to choose - I would say that Savona's makes a delightful gift and is perfect for anyone who isn't really interested in the therapeutic angle and just want to have lots of lovely juicing ideas, while Vale's is much better for the nut-and-bolts of juicing and perfect if you want to concentrated on the therapeutics laced with plenty of fun.

Suzannah Olivier
Duncan Baird Publishers
ISBN 1-904292-23-2

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