Story and photo by Lisa Crockett
Anyone who knows me or reads this column regularly knows that I am not afraid of fat and calories. Butter? Bring it on. Sugar? Yes, please. White flour? Sometimes nothing else will do. But what you may not know about me is that I would also like to live a long, healthy life. And so, I do what I can to achieve some kind of balance when it comes to what I put in my mouth. When I do indulge in a special treat or meal, I try to balance that the following day with a simpler, healthier choice.
There are literally thousands of theories about the optimal way for human beings to eat, and since I am neither a dietitian nor a scientist, I’m sometimes confused about who to listen to. One constant, however, seems to be the idea that increasing consumption of plants – fruits and vegetables – provides vitamins and minerals, fiber, enzymes, and other beneficial substances critical to good health and weight control.
Many mainstream sources of information seem to agree that adults need between seven and nine servings of plant food each day (others suggest that consumption should be even higher than that), and that these foods should ideally be eaten without much adornment. While it’s possible to create dressings and sauces out of fresh ingredients, I don’t always have the time to do that. So, when I’m looking to pump up the fruits and veggies in my diet in a hurry, I pull out the blender and make a smoothie. A smoothie can be blended in just a few minutes and can easily provide multiple servings of produce in a form that is tasty and easy to consume quickly – even on the go.
My favorite smoothie formula is based on recipes from a writer who calls herself the Green Smoothie Girl (www.greensmoothiegirl.com). I’ve discovered that I can use virtually any vegetable and any fruit in a smoothie, but I like to use spinach and kale most of the time because their flavors are mild enough to be disguised by the added fruit. Lettuce, peppers, and cucumbers have surprisingly strong flavors, so I only use them if that’s the flavor I wish to taste. I use a frozen banana in nearly every smoothie – they’re sweet and add a nice creamy texture. One caveat: don’t use sugar snap peas in your smoothie. I did that a few months ago, and it was pretty much like drinking a glass full of hair.
I whip up a triple or quadruple batch of the smoothie recipe here, put it in a pitcher and keep it in the fridge for a quick breakfast or lunch. I make it a little sweeter for my children by adding more fruit or some sweetened yogurt. They drink a glass for breakfast, and I feel like the mother of the year. I mean really, I just fed my child kale. For breakfast. Here’s to you!
Super smoothies for good health
Start with: 1 cup cold water; then add: 2 cups of any green vegetable you like (or don’t like but can stand): spinach, kale, cabbage, chard, lettuce, chopped zucchini, beet greens, broccoli or any mixture of these.
Adding about a half a cup of greens at a time, blend in your blender until very smooth.
Then add: ½ frozen banana, chopped, and ½ cup of any kind of fruit you enjoy: chopped pear, chopped apple, frozen or fresh berries, pineapple, kiwi, peaches, or cherries. If desired, you can also add a few slices of carrot or celery, peeled, chopped raw beet, or chopped cucumber.
If you wish, add one or two of these extras:
A scoop of protein powder
A few tablespoons of quick-cooking oats
A few tablespoons of Flax seeds, chia seeds, or any kind of nuts
A tablespoon of peeled, fresh ginger
¼ of a chopped, peeled avocado
A teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Two or three figs (adds nice sweetness)
Yogurt, sweetened or unsweetened, to taste
A tablespoon of coconut oil or peanut butter
A bit of honey, stevia, or agave syrup for sweetness.
Add fruit and then any extras you want, and blend until very smooth. If your smoothie is too thick, add a bit of juice or water to thin to desired consistency. Drink immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.