Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Green Smoothie

The green smoothie seems like all the new rage, but it is about the best trend you could ever try! Hopefully though, it will last a lifetime and not just a season! I started making smoothies last spring when I did my first "Clean" cleanse, and I have been making smoothies almost every day since, even on vacation. Switching to a more whole foods based diet can be overwhelming so I always tell people to start with the smoothie. It is incredibly quick in the morning, easy to clean up and versatile. You start your day with one meal that contains more nutrients than some people get throughout the entire day (or even a week!) And, you introduce the most nutritional food group that is most lacking in our diets...greens!!! All of a sudden you go from eating no greens ever to eating several bunches a week. Pretty awesome!!! Plus it is the perfect venue to add in all those super foods you have been hearing about! Our current favorites are hemp, chia and/or flax seeds, kombucha and coconut water. 

Parents, smoothies are not for adults only! We all struggle with getting enough fruits and veggies into our little one's diets. A smoothie makes it so easy!  I started my son on smoothies when he was a little over one. I started with sweeter smoothies made with sweetened kefir, but over the course of the year, we have removed the kefir and just stick to fruits, veggies, greens and non-dairy milks or water. I have made some with strong flavors like cilantro, ginger or kombucha and he literally downs them and asks for more! He even helps me make them and at 2, he can identify almost every fruit and vegetable. Not to brag, but I am pretty proud of my little boy's budding culinary knowledge!  And it all started with making smoothies and juicing! Getting kids involved in the kitchen is a great way to get them to eat a wider variety of foods. Plus, we have come to such a horrific place regarding our food system in this country that I feel it is my duty to educate our children about food and nutrition because not only is the current system making American's sicker and sicker at a very fast pace, but the earth cannot sustain it for much longer!

Our standard smoothie is berries, banana, coconut milk, kale and hemp seeds, but with this cleanse I started changing it up and have really appreciated the variety! Plus, it just gives us even more of a variety in the nutrients we are getting which is also important. A few words about dairy: Many smoothie recipes out there call for cow's milk and yogurt. I encourage you to start your smoothie endeavor dairy free. Even if you choose to include dairy in your diet, the majority of American's consume too much dairy and this is a great opportunity to try some of the non-dairy options. Dairy is very acidic and our bones actually have to release calcium to help alkalize the effects dairy has on our bodies so the calcium we get from dairy doesn't really do us much good. Greens, on the other hand, have tons of calcium that are much more absorbable. Plus, reducing your dairy consumption is gentler on the planet and on the well-being of the poor cows that undeservingly dedicate their lives to suffer for our pleasure. Not to mention the fact that dairy is highly allergenic and causes issues like stomach discomfort, congestion, seasonal allergies, pain and fatigue

Now for the recipes. Some of these recipes are from internet sites or from the book "Clean". Some of them did not originally call for greens but I cannot make a smoothie without them so in they go! You wouldn't even know the difference! And mix up your greens! We use different varieties of kale and spinach the most, but occasionally we use chard, collards, dandelion greens, beet greens or romaine. You can also make your own nut milk by soaking 1 cup of nuts for 3 hours, blend with 3 cups water and strain through a fine mesh strainer. You can add your own vanilla or agave to taste. This will last for 2 days in fridge. If you are new to green smoothies, start with a handful of greens. As you adapt to the taste, keep adding more and more. I usually put all of my other ingredients in first, then fill the rest of the blender with greens. Feel free to leave out the agave. Bananas and dates make great sweeteners so play around with adding either one. A good blender is key. I plan to invest in a Vitamix soon, but for now I have a Ninja. I find that blending for at least a few minutes helps get a better consistency, especially when blending tougher greens like kale.

Green Tea Smoothie:
3 cups frozen grapes or peaches
2 cups spinach
1 1/2 cups strong brewed green tea, cooled (I've even used mint flavored)
1 avocado
2 t honey

Kombucha Smoothie:
1 small cucumber
2 kiwis
1 cup ginger kombucha
1-2 handfuls of greens
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 T cilantro
6 ice cubes 

Orange Smoothie:
2 cups frozen peaches
1 cup carrot juice
1 cup orange juice
1-2 handfuls of greens
2 T ground flax
1 T freshly grated or minced ginger

Almond Butter Energy Smoothie
1/4 cup almond butter
1 t ground cardamom or cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut water
1 cup almond milk or water
1 cup frozen peaches
1-2 handfuls of greens
2 T hemp seeds
1-2 tsp agave
1/2 cup ice

Chocolate Blueberry Smoothie (scrumptious dessert for breakfast!)
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 1/2 cups almond milk
1-2 handfuls of greens
2 T hemp seeds
1-2 tsp agave 
1-2tsp raw cacao powder, carob powder, or cocoa
1/2 cup ice

Tropical Green Smoothie
1 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen mango
1-2 kiwis
1 cup almond or coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut water
1-2 handfuls of greens
1-2 t agave
1/2 cup ice

Apple/Pear Smoothie (I make this one a lot in the fall)
2 apples
2 pears
1 cup cabbage
1 T freshly grated or minced ginger
1-2 t cinnamon
1-2 handfuls of greens
1/2 cup apple juice
1 cup almond or coconut milk or water
1/4 cup pecans or almonds (optional)
1/4-1/2 cup leftover oatmeal (optional)


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