Check out the healthiest pint you'll ever drink, perfectly poised on our timber bed only inches away from the luscious leaves from which it's made. This is the new pint, it's a pint for the modern age. Feel great while you drink it and wake up feeling better, not worse the following morning! I'm a serious convert to vegetable juicing for a variety of reasons but it's the sheer amount of good stuff you can get into yourself in one go that's so appealing. Yes a liquid is easier to absorb but the main idea behind juicing is it's such an efficient way to consume a relatively large quantity of vegetables. For example, this morning I had about 6 carrots, 2 apples, a pear, some Swiss chard and a lump of ginger all on the way out the door. When are you ever going to sit down and eat all that? Added to that you feel absolutely fabulous about 5 minutes later and will be basking in a healthy (smug) glow all morning. You'll be suprised at how tasty even the weirdest looking juice is and will find yourself turning your nose up at any concoction that isn't bright green. If you have children huge satisfaction can be gained by juicing the most unlikely things and trying to get them to drink them, hours of fun guaranteed. I'm going to write more on this in a later post but to get started I'm going to amaze you with a few facts on my favourite 'powerhouse' crops. Oh, and a quick tip if you want to juice strong flavoured green vegetables never, ever be without a piece of fresh ginger, it's the juicers secret weapon! It’s a fact that organically produced homegrown produce contains more vitamins and minerals than shop bought vegetables. Some of them pack more of a punch than vitamin supplements yet are much more easily absorbed. Remember the vitamin content of vegetables (especially vitamin C) starts to decline the moment they are picked so home growing for nutrition is just good common sense. A bushel of freshly picked produce juiced and consumed within minutes of picking is about as fresh as it gets and will provide you with oodles of goodness. So, if I were to only grow 4 crops for health and well being what would they be? That’s easy. Here’s 4 cracking crops and why you should grow them. They can all be grown in a small space so are also perfect for an urban garden setting. Kale Kale is one of the most nutritious crops on the planet and also one of the easiest to grow. I have no idea why it’s not sold in the shops here but you’ll see it everywhere on the continent. Don’t think curly kale, think fantastic rich dark green Italian kale or ‘Nero di toscana’ or flavoursome purple veined Russian kale. Kale is a bullet proof plant and can be harvested over and over again giving you a very long picking season from the same plant. One cup of kale added to a green salad gives you: Twice your daily requirement of Vitamin A. All of your vitamin C. All your vitamin K. 15% of calcium and B6 Cancer fighting Phytonutrients and sulforaphane. Lutein for healthy eyes. Fiber. Also a good source of copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. Carrots We all know of the connection between carrots and healthy eyesight but it doesn’t stop there, not by a long shot. Carrots are far more important in our diet than you’d think, they’re a bit of a dark horse with a whole host of important benefits. With a little care they are easy to grow and offer a high yield from a small space. Apparently carrot juice is known as ‘the golden juice of healing’. One cup (122 grams) of carrots provide: 407% of vitamin A 20% of vitamin K 13.6% of fiber 12% Vitamin C They also contain: Anti cancer compound falcarinol. A natural fungicide which protects carrot roots from fungal attack. It also destroys pre-cancerous cells in tumors. Beta-carotene for healthy eyes and reduced risk of cataracts. Also serves as an antioxidant to fight cell damage and slows down the aging of cells. Carotenoids lower risk of heart disease. Soluble fiber reduces cholesterol. Vitamin A nourishes and prevents dry skin. Beetroot Again it’s all about variety, some beets can have a slightly bitter aftertaste but the best one to grow is super sweet and reliable ‘Pablo’. Beetroot doesn’t suffer from any pests or diseases and will grow in almost any soil. You can eat beat leaves as well as the root, the leaves actually having a higher iron content than the roots. Beetroot benefits: Very high in folic acid. Beta cyanin in beetroot will detox your liver and help cleanse your blood and eliminate toxins. Reduces high blood pressure. High in Iron and Vitamin C which is an ideal combination as vitamin C helps increase iron absorbtion. Perpetual Spinach and Chard Spinach and chard keep producing leaves right through the season meaning you can get huge amounts of leafy goodness from only a handful of plants. Leafy greens like perpetual spinach and chard are high in vitamins A and C, calcium and iron. Generally speaking the darker the leaf, the more vitamin A it contains. Greens also contain large amounts of chlorophyll, basically the plant equivalent of our blood pigment hemoglobin. Chlorophyll has an ability to promote growth, regulate metabolism and respiration as well as stimulate tissue growth and heal wounds. Here’s the figures: 1 cup (175 grams) of fresh chard or perpetual spinach gives you: 715.9% vitamin K 214.3% vitaminA 52.5% vitamin C 37.6% Magnesium Did you know gram for gram spinach greens also contain as much calcium as whole milk? These 4 are the main vegetable ingredients I use but of course you can juice anything you like. You'll go through a fair few apples as well as they seem to go with anything and help to make the stronger vegetable juices much more palatable. More to follow on this one, I'll have you all at it in no time!