Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Green Smoothies for Life

I can’t remember how far back it was when I first began hearing about green smoothies, perhaps back in the ‘70’s, I believe the focus at that time was as a method of weight loss. I never paid any attention to the information, because I have never been overweight. A few years ago, I began hearing about green smoothies again but this time the focus was on the nutritional benefits of the raw ingredients included in them. This time I took notice, because I am always interested in learning more about nutrition. Today with the internet, we have a huge database for learning about nutrition, so I began reading about green smoothies on my own. There is an abundance of information on the Raw Food movement if you are interested and the USDA has a site that also gives everyone information related to the nutritional content of the “raw” fruits and vegetables you decide to include into your smoothies. I’ll post a link at the end of this blog post.

Recently, I’d grown so tired of eating a cooked or cereal breakfast that I began experimenting with making green smoothies. Just a basic recipe like the one below which was all it took for me and now I’m hooked! For me, green smoothies have become a great way to include more fresh and nutritious fruits and vegetables into my diet since I have a busy schedule. Now I can get 2 vegetables and at least 2 fruits consumed in a delicious smoothie, which makes it so much easier for me to get my daily 5 vegetables which is needed according to the most recent nutrition trends. After drinking these green smoothies for a couple of weeks, I realized that I had more energy and felt more alert. Then it dawned on me, that the difference was that I was actually eating real food and not my previously overly processed or sugar laced mush.

Today my smoothie was my Basic Smoothie Recipe
• a good handful of raw spinach,
• ½ raw zucchini
• one small peeled apple,
• one banana,
• 1 cup coconut milk,
• as well as about 3 tablespoons raw Chia gel and 2 tablespoons raw hemp seed protein powder.

Chia gel is another way to supplement my diet with vitamins and minerals in a natural way and Chia seeds are known to be an appetite suppressant so I feel satiated longer into my morning – I’ll post the easy recipe and information link at the end of this blog post. My smoothies are not 100% raw but that isn’t my focus either. I want as much nutrition as I can get in a low processed smoothie that I can drink while I’m getting ready for work. My morning smoothies are loaded with vitamins and minerals, taste great and make me feel wonderful. Later in the summer, I’ll add some information related to some wonderful herbs you can add for the benefit of immune system nourishment as well. That will be a whole blog post in itself.

Since variety is the spice of life, I also use watermelon, cantaloupe, peas, a carrot, kale, dandelions greens, collard greens, spring lambs quarter shoots, cucumber, yellow squash, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, papaya, mango, orange or red bell pepper, corn, shitake mushroom, nectarine, and alfalfa sprouts. The selections are vast; however, I don’t have access to as much as some folks do that live in more temperate climates. The key for me is to use only four items excluding the liquid, otherwise my smoothie is either too thick or the quantity is more than I can consume in the morning.

I’m very aware of a growing debate over Raw vs Cooked vegetables and fruits, and the final decision lies with the consumer. In my research, I have found that there are nutritional benefits to both raw and cooked vegetables however; in some cases, the difference is minor. The key I believe is in moderation. In addition to a lot of raw fruits and vegetables, I also eat cooked (steamed) vegetables and I believe I am getting the best from my foods that my body can receive. Another interesting tidbit that I’ll include is that science has found that cooked foods actually acidify your body and, that acidic environment has been linked to cancer related ailments. Well if raw fruits and vegetables alkalize your body, then I am all for eating more alkalizing foods so I can decrease my chances of my developing cancer. With the growing disease and obesity rate in the US, it is prudent that we all become more aware of our food choices and make healthier decisions.

You may want to visit this site to help determine which fruits and vegetables you wish to include in your smoothies.
Ex: Carrots have much more nutrition raw than cooked per this “Self Nutrition Data- know what you eat” web site. The calcium data in cooked is 2.9 mg as opposed to 42.2 mg in raw. Apples in the raw have 5.5 mg of calcium and boiled have 8.6mg.
Moutain Rose Herbs has some wonderful products and loads of information as well. For information on Chia Seeds and the recipe for Chia gel follow this link please.
I grind mine up then make the gel. Try it both ways to find the way you like it best.

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