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Drink Your Vegetables

Posted on Sep 01, 2016 in Vegetables , September-October 2016 , , Susan Benton

This time of year is special for me, as on one specific day my parents and sister call to sing “Happy Birthday,” though my actual birthday is not until December. For close to 20 years now, I have opened my eyes each morning (true story) to give thanks and praise that I’m still among the living, to the motorists that stopped to help after witnessing my head-on automobile collision, to the doctors, surgeons and medical staff that saved my life and repaired me, and to my family, friends, neighbors and church community who nourished me back to health.

After more than 40 medical procedures that continue today, I’d like to think keeping a positive attitude and staying somewhat active has kept me in good health after what I have been through, though far from perfect. Recently, my husband had some blood work that revealed he, too, could be in better shape. As a food and travel writer who dines out often, I knew the task staring us in the face would be difficult. But we decided to heed my vegetarian sister’s long overdue advice, and that of Raw & Juicy owner Jenifer Kuntz, to be kinder to our bodies. With pins still in my ankles, my husband and I jumped in feet first.

One main goal was to cut down on meat consumption and eat more plants (with a focus on non-GMO foods), and to eat organic when possible. To be honest, my husband was already doing this. The meat sources and produce we use are from farmers we know and trust, like those at the Seaside Farmers Market. We also chose only fresh, organic dairy products and eliminated sugar. We changed our bread, seeds and nut butters to the nutrient-rich and easy-to-digest sprouted varieties a few year’s ago when I became obsessed with avocado toast before it was all the rage. We found it most difficult to reduce our consumption of fine cheeses, making a nightly indulgence now a treat.

The most interesting concept of our new way of eating was the introduction of home juicing. I enjoy the variety of concoctions from Raw & Juicy and highly recommend their juices, cleanses, and Kuntz’s nutritional guidance. But when we put our Seaside Farmers Market bounty into our new juicer, we were pleasantly surprised with its intense flavor profile. Once you try juicing first hand, you will never go back to conventional store-bought processed juice again. A bonus was composting the leftover fiber from the produce into our new Verti-Gro vertical garden system.

Everyone from millennials to baby boomers is juicing. And the health benefits are proven. Just a few months after our leap into a new way of eating, my husband’s blood work came back with significantly better results. He managed to drop 30 pounds. No such luck for me. However, I did find that I sleep better and have more energy. And my allergies have also improved.

Even with my background in education and health, and my husband’s career as a surgeon, juicing was not on our radar until Raw & Juicy opened in Seaside in 2007. The chalkboard choices had me at hello, as did shopping at the Seaside Farmers Market when Kuntz sprouted it from the ground up. And, while I continued to write about our local farmers and purveyors, it wasn’t until this year that juicing made such an impact on our lifestyle, and I began to lighten up old familiar family recipes as well.

Not being one to take medications other than supplements, I like that juicing offers a faster, more efficient way to absorb immune-boosting vitamins and minerals, and provides anti-inflammatory rewards, something I was particularly seeking. High-speed blenders like the Vitamix I own are wonderful for soups and smoothies, but they are not juicers. There is a world of options when it comes to actual juicers, from fast-spinning centrifugal juicers to slow moving masticating ones. We decided on the Breville 800JEXL Juice Fountain Elite 1000-Watt Juice Extractor, and have been happy with it so far. I find it easy to use and easy to clean.

Whether noshing on guacamole by the shore, sipping on a smoothie, sampling a bite of luscious cheese with an excellent wine pairing, enjoying a mix of greens and fruits freshly juiced, or dining out at one of the many fine Seaside restaurants, just make sure to savor every moment as if it’s your last. c

Susan Benton is a freelance food and travel writer, blogger, and the owner of where she shares her passion and her commitment to promoting local farmers, fishermen, chefs, artisans and restaurants along the Gulf Coast.

Everything Juice

Beets can be pungent. But when you pair them with berries you can get a sweet, earthy juice full of nutrients. Lemon is also one of my favorite fruits, and a beet’s best friend. It brings out the best flavors in this nourishing juice to sip on anytime of day.


1 large beet, peeled and cut in half

2 whole carrots cut in half

1/2 lemon, rind removed

2 red apples, cut in half and seeded

2 celery stalks

1 small cucumber, cut in half


Turn your juicer to high speed. Slowly insert all ingredients through the chute. Turn off the juicer after all ingredients have passed through the machine. Drink the juice immediately.