Kale, apple, lemon, ginger…zzzz.
Okay, so maybe the world’s most ubiquitous juice blend isn’t that snoozy, but you’d be forgiven for getting a little bored with it after five-plus years of the cold-pressed craze.
The need to shake up old standbys hasn’t been lost on juice companies—how about some horseradish or holy basil in your afternoon refresher?—and the latest one to get creative with its menu is San Francisco-based Project Juice, which recently hired a new head of innovation. (Talk about a job that’s worth leaning in for.)
In his new role, plant-based chef and holistic health expert Sascha Weiss has been tasked with formulating and fine-tuning the organic brand’s lineup of juices, smoothies, and healthy food. His creations will soon be rolling out at Project Juice’s nine locations spread across the Bay Area and SoCal, including San Diego, Laguna Beach, and Costa Mesa.
So what have been some of his first tasks on the job? “On the juice side, we’re looking at [recipes] that are less fruit-forward,” says the former culinary director of The Plant Café Organic, who also did time as a chef for Lucasfilm. “I’m reworking the food menu—we’re looking to add more hot food options, like grain bowls and toasts—and I’ll be working on some new cleanse offerings as well.” (Project Juice recently launched its first food-and-juice cleanse program).
Although Weiss is still testing out all the new veggie-forward juice blends, he agreed to share some of the techniques, ingredients, and recipes that are proving to be the focus of his obsession. Oh, and bonus: All of the ingredients he’s touting can be found at your closest farmer’s market.
“There are a lot of awesome trends coming from the southern hemisphere right now—like jackfruit and dragonfruit—but I’m really interested in using more local ingredients,” he says. And the less time you spend tracking down oddball smoothie add-ins, the more time you’ll free up for important summer pastimes—like dates, picnics, or playing on swings.
Here are four cutting-edge juice innovations that you can adopt in your own kitchen—plus a recipe for an out-of-this-world summer blend that you definitely haven’t tried yet.
1. Don’t toss your scraps
You know how nose-to-tail cooking became big with carnivores a few years ago? Well, the same thing is happening with veggies, and juicing is no exception. “Experiment with what’s left after you’ve cut up your fruits and vegetables,” says Weiss. One of his favorite concoctions includes juicing both the rind and flesh of a watermelon (AKA this summer’s it-ingredient). “It gives the juice a nice depth of flavor,” he says. “It’s not as sweet as [straight-up] watermelon juice.”
Other options include blending carrot fronds with the roots, or juicing pea husks along with the peas themselves. But use your common sense, he says: “You probably don’t want to juice, say, the leaves of a pineapple.”
2. Just add (rose) water
Plenty of juice companies are serving up rose water on its own—and when it’s credited with giving good skin, digestion, and stress relief, why wouldn’t they? But Weiss is also a big advocate of mixing it with other ingredients that you’d commonly include in a juice or smoothie, like watermelon or peach.
“It’s really hydrating, but adds a savory element when it’s paired with fruit,” he says. (Not to mention a serious complexion boost.)
3. Consider the “smuice”
Smoothie-juice hybrids are high on Weiss’ radar right now. “Keeping some element of fiber in the juices is really interesting to me,” he says—a tactic that could help to prevent the dreaded blood-sugar spike that comes with drinking juices laced with fruit.
To try this at home, Weiss recommends juicing 80 percent of your ingredients and pureeing the other 20 percent—celery works particularly well in its blended state.
4. Go beyond greens and roots
We all know spinach and beets are a Vitamix’s BFF, but Weiss recommends giving less obvious summer produce a whirl—some of his favorites include peppers (both spicy and sweet), tomatoes, fresh herbs like basil and thyme, and even corn.
“You can really get some interesting flavors when you look to the savory world,” he says. Road test this recipe and you’re sure to become a corn juice convert as well.
Tomato, Watermelon, Basil, Corn, and Jalapeño Cooler
2 cups tomato, chopped
1 cup corn kernels
4 large basil leaves
1 cup watermelon, chopped (rind optional)
1 jalapeno, stem removed (optional)
1. Juice the listed ingredients following the manufacturer’s instructions for the type of juicer you have. Alternatively, all ingredients can be combined in a high-speed blender and pureed.
2. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt right into the juice after juicing.
Note: using the watermelon rind will yield a deeper flavor and a slightly less sweet juice.