One question that comes up all the time is how to eat healthy if you are a vandweller; that is especially true of vegetarians and vegans. I have often been asked specifically if it is possible to juice while living in a van or RV, and in this post I want to answer that with a hearty “Yes, it is easily possible!”
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.
The bottom line for me is that if you are like most of us and eating little or no vegetables and fruits, then buying a juicer and faithfully using it might be the single BEST thing you ever do for your health.
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?
Bryce says it is to him! With some products you pay a premium price but really don’t get your money’s worth; from everything I have heard about the Omega, you pay a premium price and get a premium product that is worth MORE than you paid for it! Go to the Amazon link I have included here and look at the reviews; they are astounding, some of the best I have ever seen! Out of 753 reviews, 685 are either 4 or 5 stars. That is a proven product and lots of people think it was worth the money to them! I cut and pasted this from one of the reviews giving the pros and cons of the Omega: Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Juicer – Black and Chrome
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.