Green juice is all the buzz these days. I talked to my friend, Tess Masters of The Blender Girl to get the low down on all the hype.
Why are smoothies healthy?
Whether you’re making a nutrient-dense breakfast smoothie, a protein-packed workout drink, or a dessert shake, smoothies offer us the opportunity to pack in a ton of healthy ingredients into one accessible nutritious glass.
Unlike juices, smoothies retain all of the fiber of the fruits and vegetables, allowing a slower assimilation of natural sugars, and an ability to cleanse the colon and digestive tract. It is important to remember to sip your smoothie and “chew your liquids” (swishing the smoothie around in your mouth) as the first stage of digestion begins in the mouth. I sip my daily green smoothie over the course of an hour.
It is also important to mention that not all smoothies are created equal, and smoothies containing a lot of high-sugar content fruits, sweeteners, or processed foods (like the ones often found at commercial eateries) can spike blood sugar levels.
I recommend smoothies containing leafy greens (use a different leafy green every day to avoid alkaloid toxicity); alkaline non starchy vegetables/fruits such as cucumber, tomatoes, celery, and carrots; low sugar fruits like lemons, limes, grapefruits, berries, and kiwis; healthy fats and oils such as a tablespoon of coconut oil, hemp oil, avocado oil, or flax oil or a tablespoon of almond butter and some coconut meat or avocado; and a tablespoon of omega-rich seeds like hemp, flax, and chia. The high-sugar fruits like pineapple, mango, banana etc, I reserve for one or twice a week and for treats.
Smoothies are also healthy for our soul. They’re fun! And anybody can make one, which levels the playing field in the kitchen, inspiring confidence in children and novice cooks.
They serve as the easiest way to get your daily dose of nutrients in a tasty way, and it is almost impossible to mess them up. You can always rescue a seemingly undrinkable concoction with some fruit, milk, herbs, spices, zest, or sweetener, and the flavor combinations and possibilities are endless.
Any advice for kids that are adverse to green?
My top tips for “greenaphobes” is to use your blender to puree leafy greens and vegetables into other foods. Ease in gradually and first hide greens in blended foods as you educate your children that green can be delicious and fun.
Green smoothies that are not green in color is a fabulous introduction for kids who won’t even tough anything green. Mixing 2 cups of mild-tasting greens such as spinach, romaine lettuce, or radish greens with berries or banana and cacao powder makes a purple berry -colored or brown chocolate-looking shake that hides all manner of green ickiness. The other idea is to make sweet fruit green smoothies with 1 to 2 cups of greens with fruits and vegetables and serve these drinks in closed sippy cups to hide the look. Offer them a mango smoothie and they will never notice the greens. Once kids are open to trying green colored drinks, mix any leafy greens with fruits to surprise them every day with a different combination. Playing games to guess what is in the smoothie and offering incentives is also effective.
I also love to enrich homemade pasta and pizza sauce with leafy greens, broccoli, and parsley, and when blended up looks and tastes just like the familiar commercial varieties. This principle is also great for soups.
Green smoothie fruit leathers are also a great way to sneak in the greens. Most fruit leathers are a dark brown color so kids are used to the look. Blend up a fruity green smoothie and spread it out on non-stick dehydrator sheets and dry for about 8 hours.
What ingredient gives you the most bang for your nutrition buck?
I would have to say chia seeds and hemp seeds for their superior nutritional profile and incredible culinary versatility.
Chia seeds are the highest plant-based source of Omega 3 fatty acids and fiber, and an excellent source of protein – with a complete amino acid profile that is easily utilized by the body. The omega 3 to omega 6 ratio is extremely well balanced at 3:2; and the fiber is soluble. Chia is also a rich source of calcium, iron, and magnesium, and a blender load of antioxidants. It also increases endurance.
Chia seeds also have a mild nutty flavor that can easily be incorporated into a variety of dishes . Throw a tablespoon into a smoothie; or sprinkle over cereals, salads, stir-fries, curries and soups. Chia makes a fantastic nutritious porridge; and is a wonderful binder for burgers, patties, and power bars.
Chia can also be used as a gel. The seeds are highly absorbent and develop a gelatinous quality when soaked in water or juice. The seeds absorb up to nine times their weight in liquid. To make a nutritious gel, whisk about 1 tablespoon of chia seeds into 1 cup of liquid and store in a sealed glass jar in the fridge for about a week. This gel can be added to smoothies, soups, sauces and desserts.
You can also make “chia eggs” to use as egg replacement in egg-free and vegan baked goods. To make 1 chia egg – mix 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds in 3 tablespoons of water. Allow this mixture to stand for about 5 minutes until the mixture thickens to the consistency of thick egg yolk.
I also like to add chia seeds to coconut water and juice to make energizing workout drinks. Mix 2 ½ cups liquid to 2 tablespoons of chia seeds. This ratio makes a drink that does not thicken, but just allows the chia seeds to swell slightly and enrich the drink. I also like to thicken raw jam with chia seeds.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tess Masters is an award winning blogger and lifestyle expert. Her blog, The Blender Girl, is THE resource for adding a little green into your diet.
Her recipes cater to the everyday needs of those of us on the run, who don’t want to compromise on nutrition and flavor just because we have something more pressing to do! The best thing is, these recipes are foolproof, and can be made by cooks with very little experience and even less time, literally anyplace with a bit of electricity! So, get plugged in, and “blend and live!”
Get her book. It’s a staple in my kitchen. The Blender Girl
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