Sunday, November 25, 2012

Drink Your Greens

We’ve all been told to eat our greens at one point or another. Everyone knows that leafy green vegetables are one of the foods we are meant to eat more of. But why is it that the foods we are ‘meant’ to eat just aren’t particularly appealing. I mean, have you ever heard someone yearning after a bowlful of lentils, beans, or spinach??? Nup. Just chocolate, sugar, fat, or practically anything else that is actually rather bad for our poor bodies.  It sucks.  Sigh.

So how do we do it? How can we include more greens in our diet without feeling like we’re on some self-sacrificing distasteful purge of a diet?

While NZ health guidelines suggest 5 servings of fruit and vege a day as a minimum, ideally we should be consuming AT LEAST 2-3 CUPS of fresh, leafy green veges every single day, preferably raw. That’s not including fruit or root vegetables, or anything that comes from a tin!  I don’t know about you, but I heard that and felt my heart plummet. How was I EVER to manage that? I struggle to eat quarter of a cup each day, in summer salads.
Green smoothies!
I went to a workshop about green smoothies a few months back and am hooked!  I now own two books on Green Smoothies, and make them every week.  This post is for my mother-in-law who requested the recipe.  Here you are, Maxine!  Hope you enjoy.

I love Green Smoothies. So easy, and so tasty. Seriously good stuff.

Green Smoothies are both healthy and easy.
They have highly accessible nutrients as blending is almost like a specialised pre-chewing mechanism
They are full of fibre too, which is where juicing can let us down (we need fibre to help pick up free radicals and toxins in our bodies)
As for easy, you simply throw everything in a blender, then enjoy the results! You can store unused smoothie in the fridge for up to three days and it’s nutrition level keeps really well (just stir before serving as it can separate and discolour a bit on top). I am now sending Boyo off to work with one of those portable thermos tea cups full of smoothie each day! Smoothies are versatile eating. They can be swallowed on the run or sipped with friends at a tea party. And if you get bored of one flavour, you simply choose another mix of fruit to try something new.

Now you are probably feeling a little bit worried about eating something that tastes like grass. I was. But I’ve managed to come up with a slightly ‘toned down’ recipe that still means we eat greens, but really enjoy the experience. My husband and son both eat them. Munchkin slurps and slurps and slurps. Boyo will happily have one a day. We certainly aren’t anywhere near our 2-3 cups of greens a day each, but we are eating much more than we ever did before, and feeling better for it. Now we haven’t suddenly become specimens of amazing health. But we do seem more healthy than before, so we’re happy with that. I’m sure we all want good health, but for most of us that still has to fit within the bounds of work, children, budget, likes and dislikes, and so on, so Green Smoothies is one part of our diet that helps. I’m blending them up about five days out of seven and we each have as big a glass as we want for morning or afternoon tea. We went away recently, and after five days away I really, really wanted a Green Smoothie. Seriously wanted one. I bought a fruit smoothie, but it just wasn’t the same. I got home, bought some fruit, found some weeds and blended away. Bliss.

How to make a Green Smoothie:
You need a blender, some water, some soft fruit, and some leafy greens
To make 1.5litres (which nearly fills my Sunbeam blender) use the following recipe (halve it for less):
2 cups water
2 cups loose leafy green veges, rinsed and cut into small pieces (i.e. 3-5cm – remove chunky stems)
2 bananas, peeled and cut into two pieces
2-4 other pieces of fruit or 2cups of berries

A Green Smoothie in process earlier this week.

Prepare everything first. Put water and greens in blender (remember the lid!). Blend. Once the greens look pulverised, gradually add the fruit while it continues to blend, starting with the hardest first (i.e. frozen berries). You can stop and start your blender, but it will slosh all over the lid each time you restart it, so I usually keep mine going. Once you can’t see or hear any bits of fruit sloshing round, turn it off and serve or chill.

A not-so-green-looking one!
Optional extras:
A little freshly grated root ginger
A sprig of herbs from your garden, such as mint or lemon balm
1 Tablespoon of Chia seed (soak it in your 2 cups of water overnight then tip it all in the blender) – this beautiful speckled grey seed is an ancient grain having a renaissance. Incredibly high in protein and omega three (the highest plant form of it in fact!). Grown by the Aztecs and Mayans it was nearly lost to us as the Spanish sought to wipe out every association to their culture. Gluten free, high in antioxidants, iron, calcium, and potassium, chia seeds really do pack a serious punch! You can sprinkle them over foods, add them to baking, or into a smoothie. The best way to use them is to soak them overnight in some water, then add the seedy gel to food the following day. I get mine at the bulk bins at our local Pak N Save.
Chia seed!
You don’t need yoghurt, eggs, or anything other than greens, fruit and water. This is a really good combination for our digestion, so I haven’t messed with it at all. When I want a protein boost, I add chia seed.
There are many different plants you can use for your smoothies and the more variety we have on a seasonal basis, the better our nutrition as each plant will give us different nutrients. Heck, even different coloured lettuce varieties have different nutrient spectrums.

Possible greens from the garden:
Lettuce (but not iceberg – not really many nutrients in there)
Mizuna/Tatsoi/Pak Choy (and other Asian greens)
Miners Lettuce
Corn Salad

Buckwheat and Rye/Oats/Wheat (a green manure in our garden at present that I figured I may as well eat too!)
Pink Russian Kale (milder than you might think)

Weeds you might have hanging around:

Soft is best. Ripe fruit will make your smoothie sweeter so try to get it ripe before you need to use it (I’ve noticed crunchy pears do work but aren’t as tasty as soft ones)
Berries are brilliant, especially if you don’t want the kids (or hubby) to notice there are green things in there!
Kiwifruit, pear, banana, mangoes, apricots, etc. You can also include oranges and lemons, but we’ve found the smoothie doesn’t taste good the following day – use it straight away.
You don't have to peel and core, but we do as our fruit isn't organic and our blender not high powered.

Hints for successful Green Smoothie enjoyment:
Try a SMALL amount of any new green to start with – some weeds have really strong flavours, others are mild. Chickweed is really mild. I’ve decided I don’t really like puha or dandelion smoothies. A few leaves in with another green is okay, but on their own they pack a powerful punch and I can’t stomach the flavour. As I make smoothies as a way to ENJOY eating greens, taste is a valid consideration! Don’t pick from anywhere that might get herbicide spray (I only pick from the garden of people I know, however tempting the weeds down in the reserve might look!). Pick what you know. Don’t eat what you don’t. Weed out any inedible weeds from your garden, and always double check your stash before you pop it in the blender.
The other great advice for Green Smoothies is variety. Variety really is the spice of life, at least in the leafy green world. The thing is, all greens have very tiny amounts of toxins in them (called alkoloids). This is to stop animals grazing the entire plant (otherwise greens would become extinct, you know!). A little bit of one here, a little bit of another here, and the immune system is built up by their amazing mineral and vitamin base. A large amount of one green over a week or more and you might not feel quite the thing. The alkaloids build up in our bodies over time if we eat the same plants every day. So have spinach for only up to three days, then try lettuce or chickweed for a couple. Then you can go back to spinach again if you want.

Pearadice - my favourite!
I do hope you can get past the ‘green’ of it all, and have a go!  You might be surprised.


ps - some basic recipes for you if you are the 'give me a proper recipe' person, grin!

1T chia soaked in 2 c water
2 c chickweed
2 ripe pears
2 ripe gold or green kiwifruit
2 bananas

Winter Green
2 c water
2 c raw spinach
small piece root ginger (peeled & grated)
2 c boysenberries
Victoria Boutenko - Green Smoothie Revolution

Blueberry Zing
2c water
2c fresh parsley
1c blueberries
1 orange
Victoria Boutenko - Green Smoothie Revolution

Raspberry Red
2c water
2c kale (cut it up a bit)
2c raspberries (frozen or fresh)
1 ripe pear or apple
2 ripe bananas

1 comment:

MaxineD said...

Thanks Amy - looks like one post I will be coming back too :-). I have a very small blender, so will probably start with half quantities..... looking forward to it. I have lots of lettuce at the moment and also chick weed and some puha.
Blessings and love