It’s almost a year now that I and my colleagues have been writing here, and it’s hard to believe that the year has gone so quickly. I love doing this, because it keeps me searching for ways to beat our bodies’ resistance to losing weight, and sharing my research and experience with you. A lot of things work, some don’t and progress is often slow, but at least we have each other.
This fall, I tried something that gave me the best results in a long time – not only did I clock a 6lb weight loss at my doctor’s office, which was the largest amount in forever, but I feel better, stronger, and even younger than ever. Two words for the best solution yet: green smoothies! You may think that a better time to talk about them would be in the spring or summer, but I say there is no better time to start a smoothie kick than right now during the holiday season. The next month can bring as much stress and bad food possibilities as the previous 11 combined, and a smoothie a day is a great way to give your body the nutrition it really needs to withstand increased stress and reject junk food. Using organic fruits and vegetables and a few other ingredients blended together, you can produce delicious drinks/meals that will give you all the vitamins, minerals and fiber your body craves and needs.
The Nutrient – Stress Connection
It is well known that stress wears the body down and makes it susceptible to illness. Stress depletes the vitamins and minerals necessary for physical and mental health, as well as a strong immune system. When the body is lacking in minerals like magnesium, calcium and iron, or vitamins like B3, B6, B12, and C, health problems such as depression, fatigue and anemia can occur. These vitamins and minerals can be replenished by eating certain foods regularly like greens that contain many minerals and vitamins, vegetables, milk, grains, nuts and fruits. A green smoothie a day can contain all of the ingredients that can make this happen.
Smoothies vs. Juices
Green smoothies are fruits and/or vegetables, including a leafy green veggie, blended with a liquid and other ingredients to produce a smooth drink. Because you put in the whole fruit or veggie (minus seeds, core, stem, and sometimes skin), all of the nutrition from the produce is in the drink. Smoothies require a powerful blender that is either made for the job or has multiple blending levels including “liquefy”. Smoothies are more nutritious than juices, because the juicing process removes nutrients from the skin, pulp and fiber, leaving only the liquid from the produce, which is usually very high in sugar. Leaving in all or most of the produces’ components gives you the total nutritional benefit.
Always use Greens
Dark, leafy greens contain a repository of essential minerals and vitamins. Even when I am very careful about what I eat, I don’t get enough every day unless I use them in a smoothie. Try these greens as the central ingredient:
- Kale – If you are not a fan of eating kale, don’t get turned off. Try it with a balance of fruits like apple and blueberry or other vegetables like carrots. The texture of the smoothie will be a little gritty because of the texture of the leaf, but you can get used to it.
- Baby Kale – the texture is smoother and flavor is a little milder than kale, and you can mix it with other flavors as desired.
- Dinosaur Kale – a bright green and tenderer variety of Kale.
- Spinach – this is the most popular choice because of its mild flavor and texture, but don’t use it all the time. Spinach contains an acid that actually interferes with mineral absorption.
- Arugula – the most nutritious of salad greens, its flavor has a kick for a different experience.
Balance Flavors and Vary Colors
In the same way you put many colors on your plate when you eat, you should try to do the same when choosing smoothie ingredients to get a great variety of nutrients. Think of all the colors in the fruit and vegetable world! So if you ground your smoothie with one of the greens above, add blue (blueberries), or red (apples or strawberries), or yellow (banana or pineapple or grapefruit), or orange (carrots) or light green (celery). Also, by balancing flavors, you will get a better end result. Instead of a smoothie of all sweet ingredients like fruits and vegetables like carrots, which would be a higher in carbohydrates, balance it out with some savory ingredients like celery and greens.
You can use any fluid that works with the ingredients. One bias I have is to not use ice if you can help it. Ice shocks the body, and adding stress is not the effect we are going for. If you need a little chill in the drink, use frozen fruits instead. Also, stay away from using fruit juices as even the purest has a high amount of sugar.
- Water – of course! Remember, with all the fiber you are having in the drink, water is necessary.
- Milk – cow’s, goat’s, coconut, soy, almond, etc.
- Broth – choose a low-sodium, organic chicken or vegetable broth if making an all-veggie smoothie.
Smoothie as a Meal Replacement
Every meal should contain some protein, and if you are having the smoothie in place of a meal, it is important to follow that rule. Some protein sources for smoothies are: tofu, greek yogurt, rice bran protein, dairy milk or a nut milk like almond or cashew milk. Do NOT use raw eggs in a smoothie as it is dangerous to eat uncooked eggs. In cases where you are concerned that you won’t feel full, or if you are in a situation where you don’t know exactly when you will be able to eat your next meal, add some fats and fiber. Some great fat sources that also add some texture are nuts, coconut milk or avocado. As an extra fiber source, I have used rice bran protein powder or glucomannan. Glucomannan is a root fiber available in capsules – you simply open the capsule and pour the powder into the blender with the other ingredients. With protein and a little extra fiber, the smoothie will give you the fuel you need for hours.
It can be fun and creative to smooth out your stress with green smoothies. No two are alike and the possibilities are endless. Leave a message for us with great recipes that you have made up and let us know how it makes you feel.
Enjoy the holiday season.
By Lela Reynolds, Certified Holistic Health Coach, AADP