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A Rainbow of Green Smoothies

14 Mar

Green smoothies aren’t always green! If you make them and try to vary it, you already know this. Kinda crazy how many of my green smoothies aren’t really green at all. Most of them, actually. This pic of my older kiddos shows this perfectly. I used red chard, which usually has green leaves with red veins running through them. This bunch had leaves that were almost totally red. I added lots of strawberries to the batch also, making the final product a medium brownish pink.

 

Stoppin’ for a quick break from school to drink smoothies…

The girl says, “They’re very yummy! Green smoothies rule!”

The boy says, “Even our dog likes green smoothies! Go green!”

 

 

 

Some are a definite green. Those are honestly my favorite. I know in my head that it doesn’t matter what color they are, but a nice bright green makes me feel happy and energized. Usually a good way to get a nice bright green is to use spinach (though the more you use the darker it will be) and something light like celery. Celery will give it a fresh taste and if you look at the nutrients it’s probably more nutritious than you think. Then you can add light fruits such as banana, mango and pineapple (today I added a mandarin orange – no skin because I don’t have my Vitamix yet – and that was a yummy addition). You will end up with a nice light green.

 

 

This smoothie was my breakfast. Not as light and bright as I would have liked, but I used red chard in it so that gave it a little bit of a brownish tint. Tasted good though!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The green smoothie rainbow… dark brown, light brown, brownish pink, dark pink, brownish purple, dark brownish green, light brownish green, medium green, olive green, bright green, light green… ah yes, a rainbow of flavors…

 

 

 

 

I’m making this pic small because, unfortunately, the smoothie looks better than I do! Haha!! This one turned out a strange brownish pinkish orangy color. It’s my lunch. Hope it tastes good! I will be having yet another smoothie for supper as well because… yes, I am doing the 3 day detox again. I’ve had some trouble losing since my last detox. I actually gained 3 pounds. Crazy how that happens so fast. But I started yesterday and lost those 3 pounds already so today and tomorrow will just be extra loss. Starting to wonder if maybe I will need to do a 3 day all-smoothie plan every week or every other week.  It’s all kind of trial and error at this point…

Ch-ch-ch-Chia!

25 Feb

Yes, chia seeds are a real thing, not just something you spread on a clay head or Snoopy dog. I was floored myself when I started hearing about how good chia seeds are for you. Edible? They didn’t seem edible, but I looked further into it. Turns out they help with all kinds of things. Rather than repeat it all Iwill just give a few bullet points and a link to an article about chia seeds if you want more information.

* great source of antioxidants

* mild taste makes it easy to add chia seeds to other foods

* when added to other foods it bulks them up and makes you feel full faster

* provides a boost in energy, helping to avoid afternoon slump

* boosts strength and endurance

* helps level out blood sugar (great for diabetics and hypoglycemics)

* encourages weight loss

* helps with intestinal regularity

* inexpensive

* gluten-free

http://www.rawreform.com/content/view/345/127/

Here’s how I use ‘em. Chia seeds are much easier to blend up if they are soaked first. They turn into a gel-like state when soaked. I simply take about 1 Tbsp and put them in a cup and cover them with water. They will float so just give them a few minutes to start soaking in water before you mix them with a spoon. Let them soak maybe 10-15 minutes and stir again. They will be like a gel. They are easy to blend into your green smoothie this way. Research these cute little guys – they are a cool seed! They can be found at most health food stores but if you have a hard time finding them you can also buy them online here at www.bulkherbstore.com.

I found this great recipe online and thought I would pass it on. I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds yummy, especially if you like pudding or tapioca, which I do, and coconut, which I definitely do. The recipe is Coconut Chia Pudding and it’s SO simple. No cooking involved and it’s healthy and ready in minutes! Let me know if you try it – I know I will! http://www.eatingisart.com/2010/05/chia-pudding.html

What are your thoughts/experiences with chia seeds?

You Don’t Have to be Adventurous

25 Feb

My green sludge failed. It was gross. I have gotten several different kinds of fruit and tried to be adventurous like the recipes in “Green Smoothie Revolution”. Some were decent, some were not. That’s not to say all those recipes aren’t good, but I think my palate isn’t ready for them yet. So, back to the drawing board.

Sometimes, basic is the way to go until you know you are ready to be adventurous. At this point, I am sticking with bananas, strawberries, blueberries, mango and peaches. I have a couple pears sitting on my counter waiting to ripen so I will try those too. And, I plan to buy a freshly cored pineapple today at Whole Foods and cut it into pieces and freeze it. That also makes great smoothies. Banana, mango and pineapple (with a Tbsp of coconut oil thrown in) makes a great tropical smoothie.

If you are feeling boring and basic – try this one. Tastes great and I don’t have to think about it, just make it.

Banana-Strawberry Smoothie (aka – Old Standby)

1 banana

1 cup frozen strawberries

1/2 cup mango (optional, but helps if your banana isn’t super ripe)

1 Tbsp coconut oil

2 large handfuls of baby spinach

2 cups water (or less for thicker smoothie)

Blend together water greens. Add other stuff, blend and enjoy! :)

 

How to Make a Green Smoothie

22 Feb

Just incase you have never had or made a green smoothie and would like to – you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a basic tutorial on how to make a green smoothie. Please keep in mind that some people might make theirs a little differently. I will try to add extra notes in places where it could be done differently. Keep in mind – if you have a high-powered blender like Vitamix or Blendtec you can just throw it all in and blend. Otherwise, in a normal blender, in stages is  the best way to get a smooth blend.

Green Smoothie Basics

1. Put 1-2 cups of  filtered water in your blender (depends on how thick you like it).

2. Add your greens. I usually use 3 large handfuls for a full blender (mine is a 40 oz blender but I only make my smoothie 32 oz). If you are new to green smoothies feel free to start with half of that and work your way up as you get used to it. This can be any green leafies such as spinach, kale, collards, chard, dandelion greens, butter lettuce, romaine lettuce, parsley, cilantro. The list is longer than that. Baby spinach is usually a great one to start with.  Blend water and greens together.

3. This is where you add your “extras”. Some people believe that other than water, greens and fruit you really shouldn’t add anything else. I am not one of those people. I am in the camp that believes that adding things such as flaxseed, chia seeds, coconut oil, etc are all good options. I do not, however, think that adding protein powder is necessary. If you are adding something like ginger root or peppermint leaves this is a good place to add those also. (If adding something like flax or chia seeds I would add 1 Tbsp to a blenderful – same with coconut oil.)

4. Here is where you would add ice if you want yours very slushy-like. Just handful will do. But let me mention – if you use frozen fruit then you can avoid using ice which can make your smoothie more watery than you wanted. If you drink it all up right away – ice will be fine. If you take a long time to drink it or you are like me and you make 2 blendersful in the morning and have one for breakfast and save the other for lunch – then adding ice to the smoothie for later isn’t a good idea. However, adding frozen fruit to your “later” smoothie turns out great.

5. Once water, greens, extras and possible ice are blended you can add your fruit. Fresh or frozen is the way to go. Canned should be avoided because of lesser nutrients and syrup that it’s canned in. There is also trace heavy metals that can leach into food from the cans. I almost always add a ripe banana to a full blender because it gives the smoothie the sweetness it needs without having to add any extra sweeter. I usually add about 1.5 cups frozen and/or fresh fruit after the banana. If you feel the need to add a sweetener you can try a bit of honey, agave nectar or something natural and no-cal like Stevia. Blend until smooth and enjoy your healthy meal or snack!

Things to note:

- Organic greens and fruit are best. As a general rule, if you know you can’t afford all organic then just get the “thin-skinned” items organic. Greens, apples, grapes, peaches, nectarines, all kinds of berries, etc. Things like bananas, melon, pineapple, citrus fruits, etc are more thick skinned so the fruit is a bit more protected from pesticides. And just as a sidenote -  organic greens are not that expensive. Just last night I got 3 huge bundles of organic kale for under  $6. I am making lots of kale chips today! But usually for a week I would add kale into my smoothie greens rotation and only get one bunch – approx $2.50. A box of organic pre-washed baby spinach is $5 or $6 but will last me 2-3 weeks because I rotate(and yes, in the box they will last for weeks with no wilting).

- Now that I have talked about rotation I will tell you what it means! The best practice if you are going to have green smoothies every day is to “rotate your greens”. Kale one day, spinach the next, collards on the third. You get the picture. There are certain low levels of “plant poisons” in leafy vegetables. In low amounts they cannot hurt you and can actually help to boost your immune system. In large amounts they can build up acids in your body and you will start to see health effects from it. So you can have spinach several times a week. No problem. But use it  intermittently with other greens. Some people mix their greens into one smoothie – that’s cool too. But try to continue to give your body a break. It’s okay to use a handful of field mix, handful of spinach and a giant collard leaf, but the next day change that mixture. Nuff said.

- Adding other veggies might sound like a good thing to do, but be careful what veggies you add. Things that are watery such as bell peppers, celery, cucumber, and tomatoes will work fine (and are perfect for savory smoothies instead of sweet.) Starchy and “gassy” veggies such as corn, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and other root vegetables… these should be avoided so as not to give you digestive problems later on. Something to remember – by blending these ingredients you make the nutrients in them immediately available to your body for use and absorption. When you combine starchy with your fruit and greens you also make their negative effects immediately available. Those veggies are better eaten plain with meals or as snacks.

- An avocado is a great addition to a smoothie. It’s extremely mild taste makes it undetectable in a green smoothie but it adds healthy fats and creaminess. The key is to pick a ripe avocado.  They should be slightly soft to the touch with no mushy spots. Start with 1/2 an avocado and see how you like it. To wrap up the other half – keep the pit in (enzymes in the pit slow the browning process) and wrap tightly with a couple layers of plastic wrap). Or just eat the other half plain with a little salt! It’s delicious!

- Smoothies can be made ahead and will last 2-3 days, depending on how fresh they still taste to you at that point. I personally make 2 blenders full in the morning and drink one for breakfast (which equals 1 quart or 32 oz) and then put the other in the fridge with a plastic cap on it until lunch. Author and raw food expert, Victoria Boutenko stated in her book, “Green Smoothie Revolution” that she will make large batches of it if she goes on a road trip and keep it in jugs in coolers so she has enough for several days.

- Please note that if you don’t have a high-powered blender or even a regular counter top blender, smoothies can still be made in something small like a Magic Bullet, which is especially great for if you travel. I have used mine for smoothies a few times and it works well. Just cut the recipe down to 3/4 cup water, 1 cup greens, 1 banana (or even half) and a handful of fruit and you’re good to go!

Small update on my experiment… I usually have a complete obsession with the scale. I weigh myself – well, I won’t even say how many times a day. You will think I am insane. It’s kind of like a game to me. I like to see how much my food or water makes me gain through the day, etc. Anyway, I have wondered laterly if all that weighing is hindering my progress. I have always said that weighing every day keeps me in the know and if I gain then I can look at the previous day and see what I did wrong. I still believe that to some extent but I noticed something. If I have a really good day the next morning I have a loss then I will often loosen the reigns on my eating – almost like a reward for a job well done. That often gets me in trouble. So the next morning when I gain I am frustrated. It’s a viscious cycle. So, because I started this experiment on a Wednesday, I will weigh myself tomorrow morning and then put the scale away and try to resist all temptation to weigh until the following Wednesday. Oh boy, this is gonna be a long week….

Green Sludge and Crispy Goodies

21 Feb

 

I discovered a few things yesterday. Normally, on this path toward total health and weight loss, I discover that the specific program or idea I am following just isn’t working at all. So I quit. Sometimes a few months in, sometimes only a few days.  Weight Watchers (3 times), LA Weight Loss, South Beach Diet,following the glycemic index, low-carb and of course, starvation (though that one never lasts long). They all left me beaten and bruised and feeling like a complete failure. I can blame the diet if I wish, in fact that is what I have always done. But it’s me. It’s all me. I beat myself up, left myself bruised and own inner dialog made me feel like a failure. But I digress…

Back from the rabbit trail. I discovered a few things yesterday. I did not decide that the plan I was choosing (getting healthy with green smoothies and smart choices) was faulty. Instead, I learned that I will need to continue to tweak it and make it work for me. I want to see this through to the end. The end being – my goal weight, which I hope to achieve in one year.

So what did I tweak? I had been drinking green smoothies for a couple weeks but two a day (breakfast and lunch and sometimes even a snack later on) for 5 days. I am not a person who can keep doing the same thing for long. I get bored of wall color, clothing, and routines really quickly. I must have Adult ADD. I have thought that for years. Anyway, I got nervous when I didn’t feel like having my green smoothie for lunch yesterday. Though, in my defense, maybe it was because the rest of my family was at a church luncheon, eating asian food. Green smoothie just didn’t sound that great when compared to egg rolls, fried rice and sesame chicken. I stayed home with the baby because we are both still getting over a bad cold. So, yeah, ANOTHER green smoothie didn’t exactly sound delicious to me.

I devised a plan. I had read about “savory” smoothies instead of fruit smoothies. It’s pretty much all veggies (though the extra veggies you add are non-starchy – that’s very important). It ends up being like a soup and I decided I would heat mine up. Now, a raw foodist wouldn’t heat it up, but eat it cold, like a gazpacho, but I am not a foodist so – yay!  I got to heat mine up. (I do think I remember that even raw foodists will allow their “soup” to keep blending until it warms up – you can do that with a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix.) Now the only problem was that I didn’t have any tomatoes or cucumbers which were the base for most of the “soup” recipes. Ugh. Okay, fine. I broke another cardinal rule, I think. Don’t use canned. I knew I had some canned diced tomatoes with green chiles so I made a soup with tomatoes, garlic, parsley (as the green), water and avocado. It was disgusting. That may have something to do with the fact that I really hate tomatoes. Even canned, they still tasted too fresh to me, and I think I used too much parsley. Okay, I am not sure I will be trying green soups anymore.

So what is the solution to my “I don’t want to have another sweet smoothie again” problem? I started brainstorming. I really want to be able to not eat in between meals if possible. Could I eat plain veggies as snacks? Probably, but I honestly don’t like raw veggies all that much without dip. Yeah, I know, I am a product of our society. I do, however, love hummus. So that is an option, but not too much cuz those calories add up too. In truth, what I really wanted was something salty. Chips! Pretzels! Popcorn! Even a turkey sandwich would have made me happy, unsalty as it is. But all those are high in carbs and some of them high in fat. So what was the answer? I think I know. Kale chips! Super easy to make, just a bit of salt, a tiny smidge of oil and the rest is just kale! It’s a great option for me to eat for a mid-morning snack so that I can kind of hit the “reset” button on my taste buds and be ready for green fruity smoothie number two. If you like kale, you’ll love this recipe. And if you don’t like kale or haven’t ever tried it – try it once, just for kicks. Recipe below.

So, what I learned? I don’t like savory green soup made with tomatoes and kale chips just might save my life.

 

Baked Kale Chips

1 bunch green curly kale

2 tsp oil

salt

Preheart oven to 350. Wash kale leaves. Cut out thick stem going down the center. Rip leaves into potato chip sized pieces and dry in salad spinner. If you don’t have one, dry well with towel or paper towels. Place leaves in gallon zip bag. Drizzle in oil and let all air out of bag. Massage oil into the leaves making sure to spread it around (it seems like a little but it’s enough). Pour out leaves onto a cookie sheet with sides (you will probably have to split it into 2 batches). Make sure they are spread out. They can be touching but not piled on top of each other. Sprinkle with a TINY amount of salt. I used too much the first time and they were way too salty for me. You can use sea salt, seasoned salt… I personally used Adobo and it worked great. You can also experiment with other seasoning such as cayenne pepper, garlic powder, etc. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the edges just barely start turning brown and there are no soft spots on the leaves. My oven does them perfectly at 13 minutes, just for reference. Store in air-tight container. Enjoy!

Sidenote: After making the kale chips a few more times I have realized there are a couple pointers that might help others to avoid my mistakes! Make sure you spread your kale out with space in between each. If an edge is touching that’s fine – but they need space around them to be able to properly dry out. Also – if you plan to save them in a plastic bag or a container – please make sure they are 100% cooled before doing so! I learned this the hard way. My kale chips were slightly warm and the next day when I opened the container they were kind of soft and stale, not crisp and yummy. Now – go make ‘em!

Why #3?

20 Feb

 

 

“If you always do what you’ve always done,

     then you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.”

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve known this quote for years and was under the impression that it came from the inspirational writer and speaker Zig Ziglar. I googled it to make sure. Nope. Apparently, Tony Robbins, Albert Einstein and Mark Twain also wrote it. Well, to whomever wrote this great quote – thank you. It just nudges me in the right direction when it comes to mind.

So what exactly am I doing here? What is the Green Smoothie Experiment III? And what in the world is a green smoothie?

The last question seems the easiest to explain. So, for those of you who don’t know what a green smoothie is – here goes. A smoothie with greens in it. Tada! All kinds of greens, actually. The idea behind the green smoothie is that while people may (but usually not) get in enough veggies in a day, green leafies are different. They are more nutrient dense. And yet, unless you are one of the very small minority that actual like eating green leafy vegetables plain, it takes a whole lot of doctoring up to make the greens worth eating, tastewise.  And thus was born – the green smoothie. Honestly, when add in the fruit it really does mask the green taste, leaving you with a great snack or meal. High in water, high in nutrients, get in 4 or 5 fruit and veggie servings in one large serving… what more could you ask for?

What is the Green Smoothie Experiment III? I guess then I need to tell you about #1 and #2 experiments. A woman named Valerie chose to conduct an experiment to lose weight strictly by drinking green smoothies. She called it the Green Smoothie Experiment.  She did lose weight – lots of it. As a matter of fact, Valerie lost 125 pounds in 6 months. That was the end of her experiment. She chose to take her blog down. Some speculate it was because she blogged every day and responded to every question and just wanted her life back. I don’t know. Though I do wish I could have read about her experience. And then there was Clent. He was 400 pounds when he chose to conduct Green Smoothie Experiment II. He didn’t only drink green smoothies, but he did go 100% raw and only eat smoothies and veggies. As far as I know he didn’t eat any nuts or have any oils or anything additional on his food. I personally don’t agree with that method. I believe that at the very least, people need healthy oils – our brains need good fats! That said, he did add 1/2 avocado to his smoothies each day. So at least that was some good fat. And did he lose? Big time. From January 2008 to January 2009, Clent lost 230 pounds. That’s pretty great, in my humble opinion. He also stated that there were MANY health benefits that he reaped including his liver shrinking back to normal size, his skin improving, not needing glasses anymore and his gray hair even went back to it’s original color! In my eyes, one of the greatest benefits he reaped was that his skin shrank back with the rest of his body and he has no loose skin and no need for skin reduction surgery. He attributes this to the green smoothies.

So why am I here? I started making green smoothies again for myself a couple weeks ago. Here and there. I decided to check out the benefits and read about weight loss because I thought I remembered people saying that it helped them lose. That was when I ran into Valerie’s story. Wow. Exciting. Then I ran out and got Victoria Boutenko’s book, “Green Smoothie Revolution”. It has a lot of invaluable information. I highly recommend it. Clent’s story, his version and his doctor’s version, are both in the book as well.

I started to think about this. I have been trying to lose weight for what seems like forever. I decided that I need to make food boring (a tip I picked up in the book “Never Say Diet” by Chantel Hobbs). If I made food boring and easy then eating would be more like stopping for fuel and less like a party in my mouth. Once I decided that I would have a green smoothie every morning for breakfast, the only question left was – what for lunch? After reading Valerie and Clent’s stories I decided that I would try having smoothies for both breakfast and lunch and then have a normal, sensible dinner. I just cannot see it feeling like a family dining experience if my family is eating beef roast and potatoes while I slurp a green smoothie from a quart sized canning jar. Mmmmmmm.

When I told my mom about this experiment she very seriously asked me, “So what are the parameters?” It made me really think about it. What makes my experiment any different? Valerie and Clent lost large amounts of weight very fast. And, while I am not afraid of losing fast (and yes, I am aware that some people think this is dangerous) I am happy losing steadily, but not necessarily fast. And so my parameters – to lose my excess weight in one year while having a green smoothie for breakfast, one for lunch and a normal dinner with my family.

Does this approach work? Well, today is Sunday – I started on Wednesday. I am already 6 pounds down. Yeah. I think I can make it work…

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