I don’t know what the weather is like in your neck of the woods, but it’s icky right now in Cleveland. Rainy and cold. I need to do something interesting to lift my spirits.
Remember a few weeks ago when we created The Big List of No-oil Salad Dressings? That was the single most spirited thing that we have done here as a community on HGK. And it’s been suggested to me that we create other plant-based nutrition resources, like a Big List of Green Smoothies.
So, here goes!
Green smoothies are somewhat controversial in the plant-based nutrition world. Some docs think they rock, and others think it’s best to eat your food in solid form (ie chew it). Some argue that too much fruit is unhealthy and others disagree. Some say it’s too easy to overconsume calories when they are in liquid form (I think I have to agree with that one).
Does blending your food destroy the nutrients before you get a chance to digest them?
Look, it might be better to eat a Hugh Jass Salad for breakfast everyday, but let’s get real. Who wants to eat salad for breakfast? And who has the time?
The following are excerpts from a blog article that I thought covered many key points about drinking green smoothies:
“The biggest advantage to using green smoothies is that most people don’t eat enough green veggies, so beginning a new routine with green smoothies is usually a great step in the right direction. Green veggies are some of the most health promoting foods around.
I would caution that it is still best to chew all food before swallowing. Chewing does much more than just break food into smaller parts. Chewing actually starts the digestive process using enzymes in the mouth. Chewing also triggers the stomach to recognize that food is coming and to start preparing the acids and enzymes it needs for digestion. Also chewing allows our taste buds to taste the food. Taste is also an important part of eating. It not only can tell us when something we put in our mouths is rotten, but can also help us to know when we have had enough food. Many nutrients actually enter the blood stream directly from the mouth as well. I would encourage you to at least minimally chew each mouth full of smoothie before swallowing. You will get more goodness from it.
Breaking the veggies down also allows for the release of many of the phytonutrients and antioxidants they contain without the digestive system having to work so hard. With these nutrients more easily available, the body can start its rebuilding and repair projects quicker and easier.
Another important thing made more useful and available is the soluble fiber from veggies. This fiber is a major aid to digestion and nutrient absorption. As well as helping with the clean up through bowel activity.
Caution should be used in choosing green smoothie recipes. Some call for added sugars (believe it or not) which greatly reduces the health benefits of the veggies. Don’t get caught in that trap. Veggies and fruit (which are often mixed in with the veggies in green drinks) have plenty of natural sweeteners in them without adding any.
Some green smoothies are veggies only, while many are combinations of fruits and vegetables. However an all veggie smoothie can be a bit too strong of a taste for some people to handle right off the bat. So adding in some fruit will sweeten it up and smooth it out. Bananas work well for giving a smooth texture as well as adding sweetness. Try some peaches, apples, and others to see what works well for you, and to add variety.
As for what kind of greens to use, that is up to you. Use a variety to spice up your life, as well as avoiding the overload that can come from eating only one type of vegetable for days at a time. I highly recommend spinach and kale as some of the healthiest basic veggies to include (one or the other) almost everyday. But go ahead and mix it up from one day to the next. Try different combinations to keep it fresh and interesting as well as healthy. Carrots are another great addition.
Another word of caution: Smoothies are a great way to get veggies into your diet, but be sure to eat some fresh and steamed veggies on a plate sometimes too. And don’t overlook the importance of chewing.
Also remember that because the blender releases the nutrients from the food, it will lose nutritional value very rapidly. So just make enough for one meal, and drink it as if sitting down to a meal.
In fact, do sit down at the table and enjoy it as a meal. Thinking about what you are eating and enjoying it, actually helps food to digest better. Have a meal time, even though it can be convenient to slurp on the go. Slurping on the go is not nearly as healthy. A stomach in a body at rest can work much better than in a body on the go.
The important thing is that whatever you have to do to get your greens, do it!”
Please submit your favorite green smoothie (blended salad) recipe(s). It could be as simple as a list of ingredients or it could include measurements of ingredients if you know them. Please send your favorite(s) either in a comment to this post or e-mailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a few days, I’ll publish the recipes along with a printable file.