Green SmoothiesI believe that Green Smoothies have revived the health of my body. Seriously. Nearly two years ago now, I wanted to discover what it means to use food as medicine. I turned to a recommended Naturopath (Jill Clarey) for suggestions and help. And, I chose to rethink my relationship with food. I was not originally interested in weight loss, which was the only reason I have ever changed my eating habits (to either start or stop a diet). I wanted to learn about nutrition, more than just "eat your veggies."
I knew that juicing was a great way to get nutrients into my body, but I didn't want to purchase an expensive piece of equipment. Also, it seems to me that juicing removes all the good pulp/fiber that naturally comes in fruits and veg; not having that part seems wasteful. So, I decided to try blending fruits and veg into a green smoothie. I don't remember exactly what I put in my first one - but I remember vividly that I felt great right after drinking it. My body relaxed a little, my mind seemed to clear, and I thought to myself: "This feels healthy." I haven't had that reaction since, so don't expect it - but it was a nice way to begin. The infographic to the right is from Kris Carr; if you aren't familiar with her, please check out her website "Crazy Sexy Wellness." She has a great story and is a good source of encouragement and ideas. This can give you some ideas of juicing vs. blending to choose for yourself.
At first, I didn't bother to make the smoothies taste good. I was primarily concerned with the "medicine" I was ingesting, so if it tasted gross... well, it was medicine after all. However, after just a few weeks of gagging a little as I drank, or holding my nose, or drinking quickly through a straw... I started experimenting with things that tasted a little better. Then it became easy to incorporate a green smoothie into almost every day's intake. I started trying things I had never liked as "food" - because, when you blend them with other things, the individual taste dissipates. Some things I still didn't like - beets, for example. I've tried them raw, roasted, mashed, and in smoothies... and I just don't like them. Oh, well. I still sometimes add them to a smoothie, just because they're so full of nutrients. I like alfalfa sprouts on sandwiches and salads, but they make a smoothie taste like grass.
There are some fruits and veg that I like to eat just as food, so I don't usually put them in my smoothies. Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, apples, carrots, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, onions, garlic (I was warned about using garlic in a smoothie - whew!). Instead, I use smoothies to get more nutrition from things that I don't necessarily want to eat by themselves.
Then I found things that I've never really eaten that I just love in my smoothies. Fennel, for instance, has become a staple of smoothies - because I can use the entire vegetable. I especially like the fronds (which are inedible by themselves); they provide a nice freshness without overpowering. I also enjoy adding ginger root and/or turmeric root to my smoothies. They both add a little "zing" to the flavor, and they are both anti-inflammatory. I like parsley in smoothies; again, lots of nutrients and a gentle fresh flavor. Here are some primary ingredients that I now use on a regular basis, and I try to use fresh, seasonal produce most often:
- Spinach (my favorite green, since it's flavor is mild)
- Bean Sprouts
- Clementine Oranges
- Ginger Root
- Turmeric Root
- Wheat or Rice Bran
- Chia Seeds
- Protein drink or powder (I like to add this when I make smoothies as my evening snack, it helps me not be hungry overnight)
- Cashew Milk
- Cocoa Powder
- Ice Cubes (sometimes I make it like a "frappucino" with coffee, cashew milk, etc)