By Anne Morgenthal
You’ve heard about it from celebrities, nutritionists, Dr. Oz and now even the smoothie franchises are joining in. Green smoothies are hot! So, you might be asking what is all the hoopla about and how do I jump on board? It’s easy, all you need is some delicious fresh or frozen produce, a blender of some type, a liquid and protein ingredient, and natural sweetener (optional, but makes it so much better).
The main benefit of drinking your fruits and veggies is that your body can assimilate the nutrients in a more efficient manner because the blending breaks down the cell walls of the produce using a method that increases ease of their bioavailability. This means that your body is able to metabolize the smoothie ingredients much easier to obtain all of their healthy vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Why is it beneficial to include greens with our smoothies? Green veggies of course contain chlorophyll which is essentially the blood of the plant. It is very similar to human blood and aids in detoxifying and healing the blood in our bodies thus assisting in improving circulation and supporting the immune system to decrease the inflammation that is the root cause of many diseases.
I love drinking my green smoothie first thing in the morning after my body has been cleansing throughout the night thus increasing cell receptivity and with the knowledge that it is best to eat fruit on an empty stomach to be able to obtain the readily accessible energy for instantaneous fuel. When you add the green leafy veggies to the mix, you will not only greatly increase the nutritional impact of your drink, but will provide the healthy alkaline environment that your body needs to thrive.
When thinking of what to include in your smoothie consider adopting a whole new relationship with your food. Instead of counting calories, checking the amount of protein/ fat/ carbs, or worrying about if the ingredients are going to make you gain weight, simply ask yourself what each ingredient will contribute to your health and sense of wellbeing. I usually include strawberries, blueberries, banana, cucumber, kale, spinach, and hemp protein powder. I know, you are probably saying yuck! How can you include kale and spinach? They will make your smoothie taste horrible! I also thought this before I took my first sip and honestly, the fruit masks the flavors of the greens. Many green smoothie converts describe the taste similar to pistachio and I have to agree. I do add stevia to sweeten it and vanilla almond milk adds a pleasant creamy texture.
So, how do my usual smoothie ingredients benefit my health and sense of wellbeing?
Strawberries– healthy beautiful skin, cardiovascular and immune systems, energy, fights stress
Blueberries– healthy skin and eyes, antioxidants destroy free radicals responsible for aging
Banana– assists in better sleep, enhances mood, promotes good digestion, moisturizes skin
Cucumber– hydrates skin and enhances complexion, reduces bloating, promotes digestion
Kale– strengthens the body, builds muscle and tissue, anti-aging, omega-3, prevents cancer
Spinach– anti-aging, numerous beauty minerals, healthy blood, powerful antioxidant protection
Hemp Seed– long lean muscle tone, vibrant skin, hair and nails, healthy blood and metabolism
Almond Milk– heart healthy, blood sugar friendly, healthy skin and eyes, bone health, energy
Stevia– natural sweetener that is zero on the glycemic index, does not raise blood sugar
To offset the high sugar content of fruit, the best ratio for smoothie ingredients is 3:1, or 3 veggies to 1 fruit. If you just have to have a stronger flavor of fruit, adjust the ratio to 50:50. Although I use frozen fruits often, I do change up my favorite smoothie components frequently to include what is fresh and/or local. In the fall I will include apples fresh from the orchards that surround my hometown in upstate New York (shipped from relatives), while in the winter I will add oranges from local orchards. Peaches are one of my very favorite fruits to incorporate in my smoothies and in the summer I look forward to the just picked ones that are trucked from Georgia.
The most important consideration is to make your smoothie creation experience easy and enjoyable so that it will become part of your daily ritual and increase its deliciousness quotient by including your favorite ingredients. Substitute healthy alternatives to flavors you love. For example if you enjoy chocolate covered strawberries, make a smoothie with dark chocolate almond milk and freshly picked strawberries. Maybe you crave Reece Peanut Butter Cups? No problem. Pour some chocolate non-dairy milk into your blender container along with some peanut or almond butter to satisfy your taste buds while providing a health boost to your body. When you are getting creative and inventing your own smoothie recipes, just remember to make it green. Including the green spectrum of the veggie rainbow will enable you to acquire super nutrients to push your body forward into a place where every cell is nourished to allow each and every system to work at its fullest potential using one of the quickest and easiest food preparation methods available.
Anne Morgenthal is a retired teacher from Brevard Public Schools where she taught classes in the area of Food and Nutrition. She obtained a B.S in Family and Consumer Sciences from the University of Cincinnati and an M.A. in Career and Technical Education from the University of South Florida. A resident of Avalon Park, Anne is writing her first novel when she is not walking her doodle Sam around the neighborhood.