Jurich: Green in the new yearWritten by Stacy Jurich | | email@example.com
Health goals are likely among the most common New Year’s resolutions, yet not necessarily the easiest to conquer. It can be hard to know where to start and even more challenging to keep the momentum going throughout the year and develop new, healthier, sustainable habits.
For those looking for a healthier diet or weight loss through changes in eating habits, I recommend incorporating green smoothies into your daily meal plan. Not only are they extremely healthy and delicious, green smoothies are easy to make and easy to habituate to.
Green smoothies are different than your standard fruit smoothie because of the addition of greens, as in spinach, kale, broccoli or even celery. To get started, you will need a blender. A Vitamix is ideal because of its lasting capability to blend your solids into an amazing liquid; however, a less expensive high-powered blender will also do the job. Then, choose a base for the smoothie. I personally use plain kefir, but yogurt is a great option as well. Like many items, there are probably close to a hundred yogurt options at the store, so choose wisely; a lot of yogurts are loaded with an unhealthy amount of sugar and weird extra ingredients. Nondairy options for a base include soy milk, almond milk, hemp milk or fruit juice, although the latter can add unnecessary sugar as well.
From there, add one or more cups of water, depending on how many people the smoothie is serving and your desired consistency. Next, add the greens. Spinach is my smoothie green of choice for several reasons. It’s inexpensive (I buy at the Toledo Farmers’ Market in season and Rhodes Garden), it’s super-duper healthy — it contains more nutrients per calorie than any other food on Earth (according to care2.com), and unlike other greens, its flavor is not overpowering and is unnoticeable in the smoothie. Carrots are a no-brainer for my smoothies as they, too, have a nondominant flavor (although my boyfriend disagrees), add extra vitamins and minerals and are inexpensive. (Make sure you blend the drink enough to grind up the carrots!)
You will want to add fruit to the mix to add some sweetness to balance out the vegetables. Bananas are an excellent staple. I peel a bunch or two at the same time, break the bananas in half, store them in the freezer and use one or two halves per smoothie. (Browning bananas are usually marked down and are great for smoothies). Apples are a simple fruit option because they are sweet and cheap, and often local. The other fruit that I add depends on season and price. I buy or harvest what is in season locally, otherwise I buy what is marked down. Rhodes on Monroe Street frequently has excellent sales on berries. I freeze all the berries (and spinach, by the way) for preservation and to ensure a refreshingly cold smoothie. Oranges (vitamin C boost), pears and mangos are all delicious choices.
Once all of your whole, raw foods are in the blender, you can get creative with the supplements, herbs and seasoning. My must-have is spirulina, an edible blue-green algae that also qualifies as a “superfood.” It is a dark green powder and can be purchased at the Phoenix Earth Food Co-op (and apparently now at Costco, as well). Spirulina is loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and essential amino acids and the list of benefits is substantial and amazing. This could be a game-changer for many. Find a way to bring it into your body as soon as possible.
I also add hemp powder to my smoothies for protein, but many people like to add whole nuts like almonds or walnuts or nut butter like almond or peanut butter. A friend of mine taught me to add cinnamon and nutmisleg to my smoothies every day, not only for flavor but nutritional value, and I also add a small amount of peeled, raw ginger when it’s on hand, which makes for a really exciting taste. Fresh parsley is another herb I recommend for smoothies — it’s extremely nutritional and cheap, and if you add the right amount (a few sprigs), its taste goes unnoticed.
Now blend that all up and you have a densely nutritious and delicious drink. Each morning when I have a green smoothie, I feel content and happy knowing that I’ve already ingested so many healthy and nourishing foods.
A friend introduced me to green smoothies through the book “Green Smoothie Revolution” by Victoria Boutenko, for which I am eternally grateful. She offers recipes and pointers in the book and online. Good luck with your New Year’s resolutions, whatever they may be, and may 2013 be healthy and wholesome.