How to Juice as a Vandweller
My good friend Bryce lives in a pop-top slide-in truck camper and he wants to eat as healthy as he reasonably can, so he carries an Omega Juicer and uses it very often to get his fruit and vegetable needs in a healthy but tasty way. He kindly offered to let me watch him make some juice and then clean up afterwards–and to taste some of the juice. One of the rules I live my life by is to never turn down free food, so I jumped at the chance! The pictures that follow show the process of juicing and cleaning up.
Why Should I Juice?
Here is what Bryce told me about juicing, “When I drink the fresh juice I feel great. There is no way I can eat all those veggies and fruit at one time–too much chewing. But I can enjoy the juice and vitamins and minerals from juicing.” As I researched juicing that is one thing I read over and over again, “When I juice, I feel better.” It’s hard to argue with that. Check out these websites for yourself:
From my research, the medical community says that the above claims are probably not true: juicing is not magic. But I liked what the Mayo clinic said that if you wouldn’t get fruits and vegetables any other way, juicing is much better than nothing!
But there’s no sound scientific evidence that extracted juices are healthier than the juice you get by eating the fruit or vegetable itself. On the other hand, if you don’t enjoy eating fresh fruits and vegetables, juicing may be a fun way to add them to your diet or to try fruits and vegetables you normally wouldn’t eat. You can find many juicing recipes online or mix up your own combinations of fruits and vegetables to suit your taste.
How can I get enough electricity to use a juicer?
Bryce has a 140 watt solar panel on his camper, and that is all he needs to meet all his power needs, including daily juicing. While his Omega Juicer is one of the best and most powerful on the market, he is easily able to power it with his 400 watt inverter. Apparently it is a very efficient machine and doesn’t draw much power.
Is it hard to clean up? Will I need to carry a lot of water?
This had been one of the things that made me think a juicer was not practical for vandwellers, but it turns out to be no big deal at all. In the pictures you can see that Bryce just uses a standard 7 gallon Reliant water jug with a spigot to do his clean up and it looked like he used very little of the 7 gallon jog. After he is finished juicing he quickly disassembles the juicer into its few parts and rinses them under the running water and brushes them with a brush he only uses for this purpose. It took him only 5-10 minutes to get it all done and he said he had been cleaning it that way for years with no problems. Apparently it works well!
Reliance Products Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon Rigid Water Container
How will I refrigerate my fruits, vegetables?
For city dwellers this is not a problem, because you are always near a store so you just buy it as you need it, but it is more difficult for boondockers. Bryce has a camper so it came with a propane refrigerator which is what he uses, but there is no reason you couldn’t use an ice chest if you are in a van. I have many friends with 12 volt compressor fridges who love them and use them for many things including juicing. In fact I have a friend who bought two of them, one to use as a freezer to keep his bananas frozen for fruit smoothies and the other to use as a fridge to keep his fruits and vegetables. It works well for him! Of course, they will work equally well for meat and dairy products along with your fruits and vegetables. Or you can just camp close enough to a town and buy them as you need them.
Can I make a big batch of juice and then store it for later?
From everything I read the answer is a very firm NO! Make it and drink it immediately, don’t try to store it. This is a quote from the Mayo Clinic page listed above:
If you do try juicing, make only as much juice as you can drink at one time because fresh squeezed juice can quickly develop harmful bacteria.
The Omega is very expensive, is it worth it?
Some of the pluses of the Omega J8006
- If it fits in the chute, it can usually handle it. Harder produce may need cutting.
- The pulp is dry enough that I’ve never looked and thought “I could get more juice out of that”
- The motor has NEVER given the slightest inclination of straining.
- 4 main parts, very easy to put together and disassemble.
- No heat build up in the juice.
- It cleans up relatively quickly (or just drop the disassembled parts in a bowl of water for cleanup later, don’t let it dry)
- Fairly quiet. You can have a conversation standing over it (and we often do).
- We now have massive amounts of compost for the garden.
- Basically, it just does the job!
Cons (not really cons to me, but some things to realize)
- The chute is a bit small.
- Hard produce will go easier and quicker if sliced
- This is not like the commercials where they toss a bunch of veggies into the chute and WHIRRRRRRRR: Juice! It is slower and is more methodical.
- You DO have to clean it.
- Fresh produce takes time to purchase, and is not cheap. Do some research, and you might find organic produce worth the cost.
- The plastic on the output cups is opaque and can stain from greens, carrots or beets if you don’t wash it good.
- If you are making juice for 2 or 3, the cup is not quite big enough to hold it all.
Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Juicer – Black and Chrome
Wow, very instructive post Bob! I love your blog for extended posts like these. I live in an RV as you know and I’m the healthiest person I know … vegan since 2 years ago. As a hardcore minimalist I don’t think I’d buy the Omega, but it’s always good to consider the benefits of liquid food, certainly makes all that fruit easier to digest
Thanks greenminimalism. So being a minamilist doesn’t allow you to buy something that will let you live a longer, healthier life? What’s the point of being a minimalist then if it isn’t to improve your life?
I have healthy options without needing to use a juicer. Vegetables, fruit, oats and water is enough for me, and the saved money can be spent towards my early retirement plan which is surely the healthiest option available. Time is money, money is time, and I don’t think a juicer’s worth my time at the moment.
Very good points greenminimalism. The medical community seems to clearly say that eating them raw is every bit as good as juicing, so if you are already getting them, then it’s a lot of money for debatable returns. I do believe it would be money extremely well spent for people who wouldn’t eat vegetables and fruit otherwise.
I also have to agree that a early retirement plan is one of, or the best, things you can do for your health. STRESS KILLS and anything that helps reduce your stress has to be a huge health benefit.
Just don’t stress yourself to death trying to retire early and avoid stress!
Thank you for this really useful information. I don’t eat a lot of fruits or veggies so this would be a good way to get them. Power’s not the issue at this point – I’m still in a “sticks & bricks” – but it’s good to know juicers are usable in a more mobile lifestyle.
Mag, I think few of us eat anywhere as many as we should, and if this helps I am all in favor of it!
I would personally reccomend a Vita Mix 🙂 I use one often.. put all the material in and it’s heavy duty enough that it pulps it all.. so there isnt anything being thrown away except orange peels if you use oranges, everthing else you end up drinking 🙂
When I was looking for a way to eat raw veggies with a busted jaw, I looked into the Vitamix and Nutribullet. The trouble with those is that they heat up the juice so it isn’t raw anymore. So you are losing a lot of the nutrients.
After a lot of research I bought used Omega 8003 on eBay, and use it daily. It even makes almond and cashew butter. I am fit, strong and pain-free, even at 78 years old.
Thanks for adding that Penney. I had heard that the heat was an issue and one of the main reasons for the popularity of the Omega. But I know so little about it I didn’t want to speak about things I don’t really understand. I’m glad you brought that up.
I cheat.. my normal is 2 apples, 2 oranges, 1 banana, and some strawberries.. I freeze the bannanas and strawberries, so it’s a good thick smoothie and nothing gets cooked 🙂
Steve, count me in for lunch!!
Thanks for that suggestion Nemo, the more input the better.
Eating the whole produce is probably a lot better for you than just drinking the juice and you just need what God gave you to get it done. I’d apply the KISS principle to this one.
But, I’ve had carrot juice and it taste much better than just eating the carrot. Are there ice makers that work off solar panels?
CAE, with enough solar panels, anything can be made to work off solar!! It depends on their power draw, but I am sure you could find one with a low enough draw to work off solar.
My 12 volt compressor freezer-fridge easily works off solar, and I could set it to be a freezer and use trays to make ice cubes very easily. I have a friend with 630 watts of solar who bought 2 compressor fridges–one to use as a freezer and one as a fridge. His main goal was to freeze bananas and make smoothies every morning. It works very, very well.
I think I’ll stick with my v8 fruit and veggie juice. good read though
Commercial juices have to be pasteurized to have a shelf life. Then they are dead juices so they don’t do you much good. Fresh raw juices are alive.
I’m sorry, I just do not believe that line of thought.
Rick, I know too little to comment. But I believe the argument is that the natural enzymes of the food are damaged or destroyed by the heat. Does anyone have a link to prove or disprove this theory? I don’t want to have this turn into a debate, but presenting information is always valuable.
I think we are also going to have to accept that there is a wide gulf between the alternative living and medicine community and mainstream medicine. They simply are not going to agree much of the time. But my ex-wife was a long time RN (and an excellent one at that) but she fully believed in alternative medicine and in juicing. I’ve seen her do some near miraculous things with it.
I recently read something that I found hard to believe….but they’ve found that “When fruits or vegetables are canned they do not lose any of their nutrients.” I was stunned! Being an old hippy, I was sure, like Penny, that I needed to eat fresh fruits & veggies to get the nutrients. It seems that I was wrong! So I think you’re right, Rick, and I stand corrected.
m.a. some fruits are actually healthier when canned! A prime example is tomatoes; when they are canned the Lycopene in them actually increases and is much better for you. Life is strange sometimes!
Penney, that’s one of the big arguments for juicing, it is living food with all of the health benefits nature intended in them. In our modern mass-farmed, processed food world, we get very little living food.
Whatever works Rick! If you are drinking V8, you are doing better than I am!!
I love juicing! There are other ways I’ve found to do it that are a tad less intensive and cheaper gadgets/less energy than a large omega type juicer.
I will have to do a blog about it, or you are welcome to interview me, as to my little tricks of the trade, so to speak.
One can also easily make sprouts in their van , so they can have the benefits of their vitamins, and the crunch of lettucy type greens for salads and sandwiches.
One can also with a small amount of effort, forage for vitamin rich greens , dehydrate them, and add to juices and other foods for a nutrient packed punch.
Right Joy, you don’t have to buy a $300 Juicer. It may be the best, but sometimes the “BEST” is the enemy of “GOOD ENOUGH” You buy what you can afford and are grateful!
If you have the time and pictures, I would love to have a blog on sprouting, as that is a great choice for healthy eating in a van.
Yes, I would love to learn more about sprouting, especially while vandwelling.
Bob, thanks for this post. I prefer green smoothies to juicing and was wondering if I’d have enough power for my blender as well as a fridge. For my unpowered trip to RTR, I made and froze enough green smoothies for the week, keeping them frozen in a cooler with dry ice. It worked great!
I know you eat pretty healthy LaVonne, so I thought this would be right up your alley!
This post is perfect for me. I have this exact juicer and have been wondering how to juice on the road. I laughed and laughed when I saw this. Having a green juice every day definitely makes me feel better and more energetic. It’s not something I would want to do without. Thanks Bob, for all you do.
Thanks Lenora, I’m glad the post was timely! I really have been asked about it quite a few times, so I knew lots of people were interested.
Hi Bob! I started reading your blog posts earlier this year and always enjoy them. In fact, you’re the only blog I read consistently. About juicing…I started juicing every day a couple of months ago. I use a Nutri Bullet, which is an extractor, and costs about $100 here in Canada. I highly recommend it. The pulp from veggies and fruit is incorporated in your juice so you don’t have to deal with that mess. It’s very compact and to clean up, you only have to rinse out the container and blade, which takes seconds. I make smoothies with half an avocado and that makes them nice and creamy. I don’t live in a van but I live in a very small place with limited counter space, so the Bullet’s small size is perfect. I’ve turned so many people onto Nutri Bullets around here, I wish I was selling them!
Peggy, thanks for that recommendation! It’s great to hear about a reasonably priced alternative! The Omega is probably out of the price-range of many of us, but the Nutri-Bullet is much closer. Thanks!
Definitely a great post. The circular high speed juicers use much more power and actually reduce the nutrients in the food from the heat and friction created. These slow corkscrew juicers are optimal. I have one and love it. Although I love to eat the whole fruit there are days when juicing is the way to go and cleanup is simple. Thanks Bob.
Thanks for the feed-back Martin. Good to hear from people who are doing it.
I have a TMJ (jaw) problem and eating carrots, celery, etc., with any regularity doesn’t work for me. I certainly need better nutrition. I’ll need to check this out further.
However, I’ll be looking for a hand-powered unit. At present, it seems I’ll be doing without onboard power.
Calvin, many 400 watt inverters come with alligator clips to hook up to your starting battery. All you would need to do is clip them to the battery while the car was running and you could juice then. It didn’t take long! And there are much cheaper juicers that still work well. Hopefully you can work something out.
Chewing a lot is hard for me too. I’ve taken to cutting up my salads with sissors to make it easier. And I sure like the juicing idea… now that I know I could handle the same machine as Bryce. I bet that pulp could also be added to other foods, like breads, cakes, cookies, casserols?
Charlene, I checked out some of the Juicing cook-books, and many of them had recipes for baked goods and other things using the pulp. That way you got all the health benefits of the item in a delicious form!!
I have a question about the clean-up process — not just for juicing (I eat whole) but rather because I have wondered about where people throw out water from doing dishes, etc. In your photos, Bryce seems to be letting the pulp fall onto the ground below his water jug. To me, this would invite a lot of bugs to come feast right beside his truck. Is this a problem in your experience? Back in my weekend camping days in Montana, we always walked gray water away from camp.
WriterMs, no gray water hasn’t been a problem for me. I have never had a problem with bugs beside camp, although I do tend to throw out things much further from camp. Wen I do something like drain a tuna can i will do it about 30 feet from the trailer.
and not into Homer’s bowl??! 🙂
m.a. not tuna. He would like the flavor but I think it is just full of salt and nothing good. I do worry about it attracting bears but it never has.
I also juice but use a regular one (Jack Lalane from Amazon for about $100). Also easy to clean. I don’t get any heat just a nice cold drink although there is some foam but it doesn’t bother me. I also make smoothies which I put Kale and fruit and have it for breakfast with protein powder and flax oil. The blender is called Blendtec which is similar to Vitamix but costs a lot less. It’s great to know that vandwellers are juicing. It shows that when there’s a will, there’s a way!
Thanks for those endorsements Edie! it’s always good to know what really works–especially if it costs less!
Ahhh Bob…a subject near and dear to my heart! I was wondering the same thing…how hard would it be to juice or make smoothies in a van? I have a green smoothie every day, sometimes two…and I juice on occasion too! I use an old Osterizer blender that I’ve had for at least 20 years..it’s still going strong…and I have a Black & Decker juicer that I paid a few bucks for at a thrift store. I wouldn’t think of leaving them behind. I’m having a yummy watermelon slushie right now that was whirled up in my blender! Great post!
linda thanks for the feedback, it sounds like Juicing is working great for you!!
I could have sworn I posted about this, but evidently it didn’t go through. So, I’ll give the Readers Digest version.
I have an expensive juice. I like the juices it makes, however, it is a PITA to use, it’s a pain to put it together, it takes up too much counter space and storage space in my little house, much less a vehicle, and it’s a pain to have to clean it every time.
Yes, juicing is good for me and my health, so are lots of other things. I’m happy for those who like it but I ain’t doing it–not at home, not anywhere. Just my opinion.
Steve, maybe you have the wrong juicer? The Omega really was simple to use and clean. It does take up a certain amount of room but if something is important you make sacrifices.
So while the juicers are dragging out their exoensive, heavy appliance, setting up a work surface that will handle it, trying to figure out why their very expensive solar system isn’t working properly (and all this in a hot vehicle because they have to be parked in the sun), cutting up their veggies/fruits, making their juice, using precious water to wash the appliance and drinking vessel, dispose of the “pulp” (and the wonderful fiber that’s in it) I’ll sit in the shade, eat my apple (and all of the nutrients in it), and watch. And if it makes them feel wonderful, that’s great! The placebo effect is an amazing curiosity. If one can’t chew whole foods, and must jump through all these hoops to eat, I suggest puree them–at least you get all of the nutrients, not just part of them. Oh! Then you can go inside, surf the net for hours and/or watch Fox News or a reality show on your satellite network (if you figured out how to get your power system working again), while I go for a walk, spy on the wildlife, or read a book. Life is grand!
I totally agree about the juicing, too much of a bother for me. I’ve juiced and do like the juice, but another aspect as a single person is buying the fruits and vegetables and not being able to use them up before they go bad. Yes, and having to dispose of the pulp seemed kind of a waste.
I have a very short span between when I am hungry and when I can eat. The quicker that time passes, the happier I am. No, I do not like to cook and spend time preparing my food. I consider the greatest invention of my generation to be the microwave oven. Grabbing a piece of fruit to seems very quick and efficient.
I’m satisfied with my health. I’m nearly 61 and at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning, nothing hurts and I feel fine–can’t beat that with a stick.
Life without hoops is good. I think I’ll eat an apple–core and all.
“Watch Fox News or a reality show”…are you inferring that Fox News is not reality? LOL! I have to agree with that as well.
Anna, to my mind the jury is still out on the health benefits of juicing compared to eating whole raw fruits and veggies. There is zero doubt in my mind about solar!! I wouldn’t consider being without it!
I am very glad you have found a life that works for you! It sounds truly wonderful and grand!!
When it comes to solar and food preparation, well now you are talking. I’ve used a Sun Oven for years now. I’ve made everything from meats to rice, to bread and cookies. I’ve had strangers knock on my door, asking what that was in my yard. I wouldn’t think of vandwelling without my solar oven and the value and versatility if offers.
Agreed, Steve! No matter how tight room is, there is always room for my GSO!
I’m the ‘k’ of ‘k&p’
We recently started following your blog and joined your forum to do our research before buying our set-up. It will be a while before we actually hit the road but I do know that one of the things we will be taking with us is our ‘Bullet’.
Several years ago I bought my first one because of a series of seemingly endless dental issues. It was $50 at a Walgreen s Drug store. An impulse buy while I was waiting for dental prescriptions to be filled. It has turned out to be one of the most useful items our kitchen. I initially got it because of the versatility of all the components and the fact that I needed to ‘soupify’ all my food for a while.
It’s great for making smoothies, shakes, frozen beverages (killer margarita’s) I’ll mix fruits, veggies or both together. And an added benefit if it’s a cold day. I blend veggie’s and a little broth or other liquid and pop it in the microwave for a few minutes and I’ve got a hot stew like concoction in less than 5 minutes. You can spice it and add a little olive oil and have a yummy sauce for pasta or rice.
‘P’is the baker and he likes making his own extracts, vanilla, choclate, orange, lemon etc… he’ll grind or finely chop the vanilla beans or cocoa beans in the bullet. (Right now he’s got about 10 gallons in the works (takes about a year till it’s ready) then we bottle it, label it and give it to friends. (Have thought about selling at farmer’s markets…oops sorry…off topic)
And if you are a coffee drinker who is crazy picky about the quality of their brew. The bullet can transform ordinary Folgers coffee into world class ‘Gevalia’ type grounds. Simply pulse the grounds until they resemble an almost espresso ground consistancy. (if you look closely at Gevalia grounds they are much more finely ground than supermarket coffee. That’s their secret)
(Gosh Bob…I hope talking about coffee on a juice topic thread isn’t taboo…Pretty new to the whole blogging etiquette thing…I apologize if I erred and will desist in future posts…please let me know)
To close…I’d like to mention that we recently found a bullet set at a yard sale for $10. Never used in pristine condition and this one actually came with a larger ‘blender’ style container. We love the multi-purpose aspect of the pieces. use the same cup for mixing/drinking/spooning to mixing/cooking/eating/storing left-overs non spill in the fridge- no extra Tupperware needed.
And clean up is a snap. Add a minuscule drop of detergent and an inch of water and zap it with the bullet again. rinse and call’er done.
Thank you for your blog and for starting the forum. It’s value is incalculable.
K, thanks for the endorsement of the Magic Bullet! I’ve heard form many people that it is a wonderful tool for a great price.
It takes up so little space and costs so little (but still works well) it’s perfect for vandwellers. I’m very glad to get your feedback on it!!
yes, thanks, K. I’m in a small van & know I’m not going to mess with a big juicer. But this looks nice & compact, & easy to clean.
My husband and I have been reading your blog for a while now, and we love it! We live in the southeast and plan to van dwell for a couple of years in the west when hubby retires in a year or so. The information you provide has been invaluable for us. This post was especially timely, as I want to buy a juicer but was wondering how to juice on the road.
Just wanted to add a note for those who use a blender. If you’d like juice without the pulp sometimes, you can use a nut milk bag to strain the juice.
Bob, thanks so much for providing so much important information!
Susan, thanks for your encouraging words, I appreciate them!I have never heard of a milk bag before. Can you give us more information on that?
Hi Bob, first let me say that I love the way you deal with all the negative posts with dignity and humor. My favorite saying in reply to naysayers is “well bless your heart” 🙂 Anyhoo, great post. I am living in an RV and still hate to clean my juicer. I will definitely look into the juicer you mention. Is juicing for everyone? No, of course not. Just as RV or vandwelling isn’t for everybody. To each their own. That’s all I wanted to say. Keep up the good work that you do!
Thanks pete, being an expert at being wrong and making an ass out of myself, I have learned to be pretty tolerant of those who are upset with me.
I had a good friend who did the “bless your heart” thing. After awhile I figured out he was really saying “Fuck you, Asshole” but in a nice gentle way with a smile on his face. He did well in life!
I try to be led by the Bible proverb that says “A soft answer turns away wrath!” I just say “Fuck you, Asshole” on the inside. NOT REALLY!
We sound a lot alike, something (like juicing) sounds great but the reality is it is a pain in the butt so I quickly give up on it. That’s just human nature.