Meatless Monday: Robin Asbell Gets Juiced

"I don't care if it's healthy -- if it doesn't taste good, I'm not going to do it," says Robin Asbell, chef and cookbook author with not one but two new books, "Gluten Free Pasta" and "Juice It!"

Asbell credits her pragmatic nature to her home. "I'm a Minnesotan." Being Minnesotan is also why she's been meatless since her teens. Growing up around farmland and in a hunting community, she figured out pretty quick she didn't want any part of factory farming and she didn't want anyone to have to die for dinner.

Juicing, though, is produce-rich, cruelty-free and makes her feel entirely alive. Before her new book, "I was a casual juicer," Asbell admits, but developing and perfecting recipes for "Juice It!" made a true believer out of her.

"Juicing every day really boosted my immune system. It helped me get through a lot of work." Good thing, too. She was writing "Juice It!" and "Gluten Free Pasta" at the same time. Juicing kept her energy up and the juicy glow going. "Juice is really good for your skin. When I don't juice, I start to look scruffy."

Juicing was also a lifesaver while she was out on the road promoting the pasta book. "I had juice stop a migraine in in its tracks." She's heard similar stories from people attending her classes and demos, too. "People have gotten off Prilosec and have cured acid reflux with cabbage juice."

Cabbage, like kale, is a brassica and it's a nutrient powerhouse, but Asbell reminds us it's not the only vegetables worth eating -- or juicing. She's all in favor of green juice -- "That's what I make the most of," but advocates mixing it up. Enjoy the juice "from all those are good, healthy plants," she says. "Blend the strong flavors with milder, sweet things -- carrot, cucumber, apple, so it's good."

Developing sweet and easy ways to get more produce into people is a pleasure, having endured food fads including "fat free, no carb, no sugar, margarine -- remember margarine?" she says. "It's all part of this giant nutritional experiment to get us to eat something worse than what it replaced. Extremism of any kind freaks me out." This is one of the great things about Asbell. In a world of crazy claims, she's going to give it to you straight (how Minnesotan).

With half a dozen books to her credit, Asbell's found the audience for "Juice It!" is a little different than her others. It's broader. "A lot of people who aren't interested in vegetarian or vegan or whole food decide to pick up a juicer."

Looking for a juicier life? Asbell makes it easy. "Get yourself a good juicer, make a commitment to juice one time a week -- or two times or three times a week. Have your juicer on your counter top. Keep certain produce you like to juice stocked in your fridge. Set yourself up to succeed and you will do it." It only takes three or four different fruits or vegetables, a juicer and a minute or two to have "a great delivery system for all kinds of nutrients." But remember, Asbell says, "It should be yummy."

Hangover Fix

Reprinted with permission from "Juice It!" by Robin Asbell, copyright 2014. Published by Chronicle Books.

We're not saying you drink. But you know, things happen. Asbell created this vibrant juice as a morning-after tonic. "It does make you feel better."

11 celery ribs
4 cups/115 g packed spinach
3 large oranges, peeled and seeded

Celery relaxes the circulatory system in your head, so it's a great hangover remedy. The magnesium in spinach also relieves a headache, and oranges boost your vitamin C.

Juice the celery, spinach, and oranges, in that order. Run the pulp through again to extract as much liquid as possible. Serve immediately.

Makes about 2 cups.