Dear Dr. Ray: What’s the difference between your Green Drink recipe and Juice Plus+® Complete? If I’m regularly drinking one, do I really need the other?

Answer: This is a great question. The Green Drink is a smoothie that make most mornings for breakfast for my whole family (here’s my basic Green Drink recipe for beginners, and here’s my Lean, Mean Green Drink recipe, for Advanced Green Drinkers, or for anyone who wants a seriously nutritious meal). You can have a Green Drink any time of day, of course, but I like it in the morning because it gives me and my kids an energy boost that’s better than caffeine or any other food I’ve tried. Plus, I always feel good starting the day when I know I’ve had so much healthy plant food from the get-go. But again, it’s a great meal any time of day, so don’t feel as though you can only have it in the morning.

I use Juice Plus+® Complete for different reasons. It’s the best pre-workout meal that I know of; I don’t like to eat much before I exercise, but a scoop of Complete in 8 ounces of Rice Milk, Almond Milk, water (or the milk-replacement of your choice) doesn’t weigh me down or make me feel uncomfortable while working out. If I don’t have Complete before I exercise, I like to have it afterward, particularly if I’ve done any strength building. We know that protein helps our bodies recover from the damage that’s done when we lift weights or over-burden our muscles (a natural part of the muscle-building process), and Juice Plus+® Complete contains excellent sources of bio-available protein.

Also, my kids love Complete. As young athletes, they are always hungry, and I’m hard pressed to get enough food into them: I could feed them plant-based whole-foods all day long, and they’d still need more. They have a Green Drink with me every morning, but they turn to Complete for mid-day snacks. Their favorite is a “milk shake” with chocolate complete, rice milk, fresh-or-frozen bananas, and peanut butter. And we all rely on Complete when we travel because it’s so portable and doesn’t spoil.

Finally, Complete is great for even much younger kids. My 2-year-old niece calls it “Chocolate Milk”, even when she drinks the vanilla, and prefers it with rice milk. This is so much better for kids than juice, which has no fiber or protein. By the way: though she’s only 2, my niece also drinks a Green Drink most mornings — she starts her day with flax and chia seeds, raw kale or spinach, fresh fruit, and plenty of water.