Smoothie Greens: Why? What Works?

You might be asking: Why do I need to put greens into my Green Smoothie? These leafy green vegetables (although Victoria Boukenko begs to differ that they are vegetables**) are a storehouse of minerals, typically iron and calcium, and phytonutrients such as vitamin C, carotenoids, lutein and folic acid as well as Vitamin K.

They are, of course, high sources of chlorophyll, the sun's energy translated into plant form. When green leaves are cooked for more than a few minutes their nutrients (like chlorophyll) diminish quickly. There are studies showing a good likelihood that intake of chlorophyll is an excellent boost and/or maintenance for the immune system with some findings that suggest that chlorophyll can be a significant preventative and treatment element in some forms of cancer.

Edible leafy greens and shoots are most beneficial when eaten uncooked, and better still, when their tough fibrous cells are broken down by blending, what goes on in a smoothie-making process. Greens combine well with most fruits, with the fruit taking over the flavour of the smoothie. A good combination is 60-40 (fruits to greens) for anyone who is unsure of whether they can deal with the taste or flavour of the greens.

Edible green leafy plants are all over the place, free for the cutting. If you take a walk in the woods (and trust that it has not been sprayed or used as a toxic dump site) you could come home with a bouquet of various 'potherbs' (another name for greens) to use in a nutritious smoothie as a real 'super food'. Some bush and field greens that we have used in smoothies include nettles, dandilion leaves, and lambs-quarters. Each of these can (and is)be cultivated in your home garden for convenience. We have nettles and various kinds of clover growing in spots in our flower beds or under trees. Use the freshest, 'newest' leaves.

Our favourite and most-often used greens include the following:

  • tiny, new Grape leaves
  • Cilantro foliage and even flowers
  • Parsley
  • Kale (I have a whole garden overgrown with kale)
  • new Dandilion leaves
  • Nettle leaves during pollen allergy time
  • Romaine and tender salad Lettuce
  • organic Celery (from our trusted health food store)
  • Mint leaves
  • Culinary herb leaves (for 'blended salads') such as a little sprig of Rosemary, a couple of leaves of African Basil, a few Oregano or Thyme leaves, Lemon Verbena leaves and Lavender flower parts
  • Baby Spinach leaves
We are not keen on using strong brassicas like baby bok choy, chard or cabbage, although some folks truly enjoy these greens in their smoothies-- personal taste.  We generally don't mix wheatgrass into our smoothies, but know of people who truly enjoy that combination. My husband will occasionally add some sprouts to his Green Smoothie-- I generally pass on them, again finding them a little bitter. Find out what works for you!

TIPS: Start out with a simple combination like a handful of baby spinach leaves and a banana or two with a couple of cups of water. Use the more neutral-tasting leaves before moving into the more pronounced-flavoured ones and use as much fresh fruit as you need to feel delighted by what you are drinking.  

You will certainly want to do your own research around what leafy greens meet with your taste test (some are more bitter tasting for those of us who are "tasters"), and some combine better with various fruits than others.  All greens contain small amounts of what we know are toxins (eg., Romaine contains opiates).  These toxins, in nature, protect the plant from being over-grazed and eaten out of existence.  Victoria Boutenko says to "follow the goat"-- goats and other grazing animals will generally go from one green to another, not over-indulging in any.  This process is referred to as rotating your greens.  I like to plant a lot of different greens and will use, say, Cilantro for a week or so in all of our smoothies and then switch to Romaine for the next week, or we will mix two or three greens together.  You won't run out of greens ideas, and if you have an "organically" maintained yard, you will have access to edibles you might not even have known existed.

So, to pack more bio-available nutrition into your life, don't stint on your greens-- in time you will actually crave them if you are on the road without your blender.
Here is a video with David Wolfe telling about the importance of greens:

**"There is a substantial difference between green leaves and vegetables. Green leaves don’t have starch while vegetables such as carrots, beets, broccoli, zucchini, daikon, etc., contain a lot of starch. Starchy vegetables combined with fruit may cause bloating. Contrary to that, fiber in green leaves helps slow the absorption of sugar in fruit making this combination beneficial." ~Victoria Boutenko, quoted from http://www.rawfamily.com/green-smoothie
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This smoothie information is for you-- it's my bias-- so please see your own health care professional before making any health-related decisions. If you found anything useful, intriguing, or have questions, I would really appreciate your feedback... please use the comment box below. You can also get SmoothieMoves Ezine delivered free through your email over the next year with 35 delicious, nutritious smoothie recipes by clicking here. To your better and better health, ~Cynthia

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