Raw Spaghetti and Beet Balls; Juicing Questions Answered!

by Gena on January 31, 2012


Thanks for getting so excited about yesterday’s juice post! Before I tell you all about the fantastic raw “beet ball” recipe I recently made from recycled juice pulp and almond pulp, I wanted to pause to answer a couple of questions that popped up about juicing. If I don’t answer your particular question in this list, feel free to ask away in the comments section!

Isn’t it true that juicing makes your blood sugar “spike,” because you’re not eating the juice with enough fiber and protein to slow sugar absorption into your bloodstream?

It’s true that fruit juices raise blood sugar, which is why they may not be suitable for diabetes or people who are sensitive to sugar. But for individuals who respond normally to fruits and sweeter vegetables, juicing in moderation should not be a problem, especially if juice is consumed in proximity to a properly balanced meal. I often drink juice *with* a meal, or I drink it as a snack not long before another meal, which means that the sugar is digested more slowly than it would be if I were to use juice as a meal replacement, which I do not recommend. This way, the many nutritional benefits are delivered without too much blood sugar variance.

Additionally, be aware that you can create many tasty, all vegetable blends, and that you can adjust the sweetness of your juices as you wish! I often do straight greens with only a little carrot. On days when I need more simple sugar as fuel (right before a workout, for example), I do more fruit. Balance is key.

Why can’t I just blend vegetables up in a Vita-Mix to make juice? I don’t have a juicer.

For more detail on this question, I could refer you back to this post, straight up from the CR archives! But in short, I’ll say: the point of juicing is to flood your body with nutrients without activating digestion through the absorption of fiber. This is not to say that fiber is bad; fiber is great! But to ingest the amount of vitamins and minerals one has access to in a juice, one would have to eat or blend a lot of vegetables. For people with sensitive digestive systems, juicing is a relief: it allows for maximum vegetable consumption with minimal irritation from enormous amounts of dietary fiber.

I do not personally subscribe to the popular theory that digestion is a horrible, taxing process from which we must intermittently offer our bodies period of “rest” in the form of fasting or juicing. I believe our digestive systems are meant to process ample food, several times daily. But I do have moments when I want to perk up with a ton of vitamins and some simple sugars, and I’m not in the mood to digest a giant bowl o’ vegetable, or to fill up completely (for example, if I want a really nutrient dense but light afternoon snack in preparation for a full dinner). This is where juicing can be really helpful.

It’s also a tool to simply increase the nutritional power of your lunch or dinner without adding too much heft!

Blending is great, too: it allows for rich nutrition with the addition of fiber, which helps to create satiety and is generally good for bowel and heart health. But it’s a different creature altogether from juicing; more filling, more of a “meal” experience, and not always as likely to provide quite the same amount of vitamins with as little fuss.

Now, if you want to create regular fruit and vegetable juices with your Vitamix, you can most certainly blend them and then strain them, reserving the pulp (as I always do) for recipes. Check out Sarah’s helpful tutorial! This is a perfectly acceptable means of juicing without a juicer!

What kind of juicer do you recommend?

I use a Breville Juice Fountain Plus. It’s hardly the fanciest juicer, but it’s very decent, it was a good price for me, it has stood the test of time, and the pulp is "wet” enough that I can use it in many fun recipes (super dry pulp can be impossible to work with).

Hope this is helpful!

So: almond pulp. I promised you guys a recipe on Sunday, and now I’m here to deliver. Most of you requested cookies, and I’m sorry to say that I’m not sharing a recipe for those: rather, this is a savory dinner/lunch recipe. But I promise I’ll come up with some incredible cookie recipes, too!

These raw, vegan “beet” balls use flax and almond pulp as a base. The addition of beet pulp, left over (of course) from my juice, makes this meal rich in ingenious conservation skills: juicing is not necessarily the most cost-effective health habit, so I like to counter the volume of vegetables that go in my juicer by always using the pulp in bread, crackers, burgers, and more. Ditto for homemade almond milk, when I make it. Nothing in my kitchen goes to waste.

Can this recipe be modified for non-juicer, non-dehydrator, non-blender homes? It’s a little tough, but you can experiment with grated beets, almond meal, and an oven. I know I’ve been throwing you guys a ton of “appliance-heavy” recipes lately, and I’m sorry for that: it’s just that pre-med/blogger life really means planning ahead, and my dehydrator helps me to preserve things for later enjoyment. Tomorrow’s recipe will be gloriously appliance free!!!!


Raw, Vegan Spaghetti and Beet Balls (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free)

Makes about 10

1 1/4 cup beet pulp OR grated beet, squeezed well to remove moisture
3/4 cup almond pulp, as dry as possible
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp flax meal
2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano
1 tbsp dried basil or 2 tbsp pesto
1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
Black pepper to taste

1 large zucchini

1 recipe of my raw marinara sauce

1) Mix all ingredients by hand or in a food processor. Add as much water as necessary to get a sticky, firm dough.

2) Shape mixture into 10-12 “balls.” Dehydrate at 115 degrees for about 6 hours, rolling around for even dehydration. You may also bake these at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

3) Spiralize 1 zucchini, or use a grater to grate the zucchini, and top it with half the beet balls. Add a heap of raw marinara sauce, and dig in!



Hope you enjoy these delicious, vegan “balls.” I suspect I’ll get to work on a cooked version for you guys soon, too. And keep in mind that they make great, savory snacks!

Anyway, it’s back to studying for me! Don’t forget to tune into tonight’s VegNews Twitter Chat with me and other plant-based health professionals! 9 pm EST. Be there.


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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah @ Serotonin for Breakfast January 31, 2012 at 7:37 pm

I’m so glad to see a savory recipe using almond pulp! Using it for cookies and baked things is super easy, but not a lot of folks seem to use it for much else. Thanks!


Sarah E. January 31, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Oh my gosh, these beet balls look terrific! I’m incredibly impressed by your creativity. I love that you help your readers find ways to use ingredients that would otherwise be composted. This is a great excuse to dust off our spiralizer and make veggie pasta to go with these economical and fun balls. Yay! P.S. Thanks for the shout-out to my juice-in-a-blender post! P.P.S. Please don’t get mad at me for saying fun balls!


Hannah January 31, 2012 at 7:52 pm

This dinner looks so pretty! For some reason, though, I can’t get into zucchini noodles. Maybe because they are too watery? I don’t know what it is. My favorite juice to get downtown (when I can drop $4 from time to time) is carrot/apple/lemon/ginger. So energizing.


ChenaRaw January 31, 2012 at 10:08 pm

I don’t like zucchini noodles either. I always put my raw sauces and ‘balls’ on cooked spaghetti squash.


Hannah February 1, 2012 at 1:06 pm

I do love spaghetti squash! It has much more flavor and it’s fun to have a combo of hot and cold temperatures in a dish, too.


Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga January 31, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Thanks for the juicer 411; although I don’t need the info as much as I need a juicer fairy cleanup crew to help me get the pulp out of the juicer “teeth” and blades. I have a Breville as well, it’s like the juice fountain elite, but it’s 100% stainless steel and maybe it uses a slightly different filter/cutting/”teeth” mechanism than yours but gosh, it’s a doosie to cleanup.

The beet balls looks so much like real meatballs…wow! They look great!


Jenn's Adventures February 1, 2012 at 12:52 am

Are there ANY juicers out there that aren’t a doosie to cleanup? Sign me up!!


Kathryn February 1, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I love my omega. it is SO fast to clean. I used to have a breville too (it died) and this omega rocks my socks, but I do have to cut the veggies smaller and it is a bit slower so if you have more fun juicing than cleaning it is great, but in all honesty the time factor may be the same. Slow juice quick clean or quick juice slow clean :)

Thanks for the recipe Gena! My dehydrator is new so I’m feeling happily spoiled as a reader with all the dehydrator friendly recipies lately. :)


Stephanie January 31, 2012 at 9:09 pm

I’ve never been attracted to real meatballs, but those raw ones look pretty delish! I’m wondering… what spiralizer do you use to have those thin spaghetti-like noodles?


kathy January 31, 2012 at 9:15 pm

um, GENIUS. Raw Spaghetti & BEETballs. genius. xo


Pure2raw twins January 31, 2012 at 9:26 pm

love the BEET balls :) we have made raw ‘meatballs’ before — ok a few years ago, just a few months into blogging actually, seems like yesterday haha
ok totally off topic. sorry about that.
anyways thanks for answering those juice questions! you would be so proud we are getting back into juicing and have been loving it!!!


Molly January 31, 2012 at 9:36 pm

funny, just the other day a friend was informing me that apparently meatballs are the new “trendy” food — you know, the new cupcake or whatever — but we both noted that even as omnivores, meatballs are way too heavy and frequently sketchy to eat with any sort of regularity. maybe you are unconsciously picking up on a market niche here, haha.


Kira January 31, 2012 at 9:57 pm

For people that don’t have juicers but have a Vitamix, you can blend everything and then use nutmilk bags to strain.


Cat @ Cat's Kitchen January 31, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Haha this recipe is so cute!


Laura @ Gluten Free Pantry January 31, 2012 at 11:57 pm

I’ve been making homemade almond milk daily and have been running out of ideas for how to use the almond pulp. And then this recipe came along :) I happen to have beets that I need to use up-can’t wait to make this awesome dish for dinner tomorrow!


Jenn's Adventures February 1, 2012 at 12:53 am

Nom, Nom, Nom!!! My family is going to FLIP when I whip this up!! I’ll definitely let you know about it, too;)


Anastasia@healthymamaifo.com February 1, 2012 at 1:01 am

These look so good and super healthy!


Lou February 1, 2012 at 3:08 am

Beet-balls! Love it! Great juicing tips too, thanks :)


Beth February 1, 2012 at 4:24 am

Hurrah for balance! Hurrah for digestion! Thank you for your balance between enjoying the ecstasy of plant foods and good old fashioned grounded common sense. Sometimes it’s needed!

Please do not think me impolite if I post a link to my blog here for an amazing “almond pulp pate” that i use my pulp for. i found the recipe online so long ago that I unfortunately cannot remember where, but I have made it many times and it is delicious. http://lovinleaves.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/almond-pulp-pate/

Best wishes.


Ruth February 1, 2012 at 6:30 am

What a great colour! I’ll save this one for in a few months, when the first beetroots will be coming out of my garden :D (I’m far, far too excited about the prospect of juicing them.)


Casey February 1, 2012 at 8:18 am

Oh yum yum yum! Great idea Gena!


Linda-Marie February 1, 2012 at 8:42 am

Thank you!

I always feel so wasteful throwing out all the pulp from making juice and nutmilk. Have been looking for recipies to kickstart my imagination on what to make. Beetballs :D genious! Love the play on words!

I use my ordinary hot air oven for dehydrating, it’s not the best way to do it ofc and I try to dehydrate as much as possible when I do.

I like recyceling to waste as little as possible. Sure it makes a compost with all that pulp and peel and stuff but it’s a nicer feeling if I can use it instead. :)

Thank you for a very nice blog!
Just found my way here and I am staying!

Love from a wintery cold Sweden.



Melanie February 1, 2012 at 10:50 am

Hi Gena, Thanks for the great posts on juicing. I’ve only recently bought a Breville and I’m wondering about the logistics of saving the pulp if you’re making mixed veggie/fruit juices a couple times per week. Do you separate all the different types of pulp as you’re juicing? Do you then freeze until you have enough for a recipe? For example, I noticed one of your juice recipes on Green Planet uses one beet, yet this recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups of beet pulp… sorry to ask an elementary question but evidently I need help with organizing this production. :-) Thank you! Love your blog!


janet @ the taste space February 1, 2012 at 11:01 am

What a delicious, beautiful, glorious salad bowl! It makes me wish I had some pulp action! :)


Christine (The Raw Project) February 1, 2012 at 11:42 am

Great answers on juicing, thanks! I have a Breville juicer that I’d really like to start using more of again, it’s just been an issue working in the time.

The beet ball recipe looks fabulous, so fun!


Heather @ For the Love of Kale February 1, 2012 at 11:49 am

I’m dying (but mostly drooling) over this recipe. Looks unbelievable!

I recently purchased my first juicer (it’s a huge investment for a broke college student) and my mom and I are learning the ropes together! It’s so much fun. :-)


Dreena Burton February 1, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Gena, those look terrific. And beets are not one of my go-to veg, mostly b/c I’m the only one in the family that enjoys them on occasion!! Nicely done, lady! :)


Anne P February 1, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Wow. This is so creative!!


sarah February 1, 2012 at 12:22 pm

saw this recipe this morning for juice pulp pate and thought of you!


Robyn Okrant February 1, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I love spiralized zucchini as pasta noodles. And I’m a big fan of your marinara. I will definitely try out the beet balls next.

I am so appreciative of your pulp recipes!


Nada (One Arab Vegan) February 1, 2012 at 1:43 pm

All the mentions of juice on your blog have had me hankering for it so badly so I took the plunge and made some using my nut milk bag today – surprisingly easy and actually the clean-up was a LOT quicker than when I use my juicer at home! I will make these just as soon as i have accumulated enough pulp (which will be very soon I’m sure :) )


Sarah C February 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm

HI Gena, thanks for this info on juicing. I’m thinking about taking it up (have already been adding spinach to smoothies and stuff….). But then I read this: http://happyherbivore.com/2012/01/why-i-stopped-drinking-green-smoothies/#disqus_thread What do you think about this? I’m really confused.


Gena February 1, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Sarah, so far as I know, those are theories, and not facts. There has to be quite a bit of robust, scientific evidence — which is later published in peer reviewed papers and studies — for something to be confidently called a fact, and I know of literally no research / literature to back up the ideas relayed in the post, aside from the one or two links cited. Never assume that one doctor’s opinion is necessarily true. I’m always open to being proved wrong about things (for example, my former belief in food combining, or certain components of acid/alkaline theory), but not until I see the evidence. And from where I stand, it has yet to be produced.


Sarah C February 1, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Thanks. I am no scientist but I don’t really see how (nor have I ever heard this) chewing vegetables versus drinking them would cost 100 or more calories. I have always heard that chewing takes a few, but not that many calories. I know from experience that my fruit-based smoothies can be pretty caloric, but that’s not the same as dumping sugar down my throat – fruit sugars are better for us, right? and are combined with vitamins and nutrients.


raechel @the rebel grrl kitchen February 1, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Hi Gena, thanks for posting this. I too saw the Happy Herbivore post above, which provides conflicting info. But I’m an avid juicer (and occasional smoothie-er), which I started after reading Kris Carr’s CSD (which I know you contributed to). Kris recommends drinking juice alone in the AM and waiting at least 45 minutes before eating anything else. So much conflicting info! I’m not questioning your explanation, just trying to wrap my head around these other theories too…..


Gena February 1, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Hope my response is helpful. As for empty vs. full stomach, I totally understand the logic of juicing on an empty stomach as Kris relays it. I just think it’s risky in terms of sugar absorption, and it certainly doesn’t always work for me.


raechel @the rebel grrl kitchen February 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Yeah, I think like a lot of things in the nutrition world, a lot of it comes down to “what works for you.” Thanks for taking the time to provide us with so much education! : )


bitt February 2, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Love that you still support juicing, it’s had some bad press lately. From what I have read and experienced, I feel the juice is more powerful on an empty stomach. i never put any fruit in it, just veggie juice. I am surprised you would recommend having it with a meal because I have heard that it is pointless to absorb it that way. Perhaps this is one of those things that people just disagree on?


Allysia February 2, 2012 at 4:05 pm

I think beets make the perfect replacement for meat, mostly because of the rhyming thing but also for their hue and earthy taste! Beets make for some really great juice, too, and they’re not crazy money either. Way to not waste!


Lisa February 3, 2012 at 9:03 am

I made these last night and they were delicious. I substituted dill for the basil and baked them in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. They came out perfect. My fiance loved them. Thanks for a great recipe!


Fiona April 22, 2012 at 10:16 pm

These beet balls are amazing!!! I made mine with freshly grated beets and just used less to compensate for the fact that they would have more liquid then your pulp. I used maybe 3/4 to 1 cup of grated beets. Then I used 3-4 c walnuts and 5 tsp of Italian seasoning instead of 2 tsp plus basil. I baked mine at 350 for about 20 min. This was my first time trying zucchini pasta (I just got a spiralizer through Groupon) and my husband and I loved it! Thanks for a great recipe!


Anna July 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Hey Gena,
I know this is an older post, but I’m a fairly new CR reader and have been going through some older posts looking for good recipes. (I love your blog, by the way!) As far as juicing goes, I’ve heard that the nutrients become depleted very soon after juicing and so it’s almost not worth it to drink juice if you are drinking it later in the day/week. What are your thoughts on this?


Gena July 21, 2012 at 9:40 pm

You have to freeze juice if you intend to drink it later on, yes: nutrient depletion starts pretty much right away if you use a centrifugal juicer. If you get your hands on cold pressed juices, they last 2-3 days (sealed).


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