“UGH!” Vegetables for breakfast??
Who eats vegetables for breakfast? I do, and I hope you do too, or soon will. My sister won’t, though. She prefers soups to increase her veggie intake. To each their own, but it’s not that palatable to get enough green leafy veggies in soups – although I do like soups and I always add them – and they have always been a hidden staple in spaghetti sauces and the like. Why greens (leaves of things)? Well, calorie for calorie they pack the most nutrition in terms of vitamins and minerals of any other food. And they protect against systemic inflammation, a concern with me because of fibromyalgia, and cancer, a concern at my age.
How many servings of vegetables are you supposed to eat per day? Three – five? WRONG! I think eight to thirteen is the new USDA recommendation. I am just trying to picture 13 cups of vegetables on my dinner plate. Especially RAW. Without extra fat from gravies, dressings, butter, etc. Truth be told, I don’t enjoy plain, soggy vegetables – so I tend to sauté them, adding more fats than I need even when I am stingy with the coconut oil, especially in the summer when I don’t want to turn on the oven to roast them. Quite simply, I wasn’t eating anywhere near enough vegetables, and almost NO raw veggies until a friend introduced me to green smoothies. But 13 servings?
I had bought a juicer a few months before but wasn’t getting much use from it – it just seemed so wasteful (and expensive) to me. Caloric too. Right away I could see this would be a way to increase the amount of vegetables I eat, especially greens, since to date the only greens I ate were lettuces, and occasionally spinach, in salads.
I started slowly. My friend was wise to suggest I start small – ½ cup of baby greens into what was basically a fruit smoothie. That worked for me. For my sister, not so much. Even with a few spinach leaves, she turned up her nose. I can actually now enjoy really unique rainbow combinations with quite a lot of all manner of dark-green greens with other veggies, such as celery, cucumber, sweet peppers, green beans, beets, yams (the latter two usually cooked then frozen) Some people make their smoothie savory, but I have not yet been that brave. I do sometimes add ginger or cinnamon or turmeric and chili to some combos for their healing properties or flavor boost, but I confess, my smoothies are sweet (naturally, no sugar or sweetener). I use all kinds of fruit, oranges and grapefruit oddly being my favorites.
But I’ll be hungry before lunch. Simple – no problem! Simply add some chia seeds or your favorite high quality protein powder and some healthy fat. Avocado is popular – I add quality lemon fish oil. For me, breakfast is the meal where I need the most get-up-and-go, and I’m most rushed too. Plus, it tastes good! I just throw stuff in the blender and go.
Did I mention these smoothies actually did help me to lose 50 pounds????
Actually, I prefer a Green Slushy. Real milkshakes have been off the menu for a very long time. I freeze most of the fruits and veggies I add now, so that the final result can be eaten with a spoon if I want, and are too thick to go through a straw. The cold, sweet thickness makes me feel more like I am eating something special. My secret is to freeze the fruit (and some veggies) after I bring it home and wash it (in apple-cider-vinegar water), so I don’t need ice cubes. At the least I always use frozen strawberries (high flavor, low calorie), sweet peppers and red grapes for a touch of sweet and the bioflavonoids.
Here’s a tip on making them smooth with even an old blender like mine: Whiz your greens first with whatever liquid you’re using until they are creamy, then add all the frozen stuff. And here’s a website with lots of help and free recipes – they do sell stuff, but you get plenty of benefit without buying anything.
I think my first smoothies were Strawberry-Mint because that’s what I had on hand, and they were really quite good. I didn’t even really know the greens were in there – except of course the mint.
Strawberry-Mint Baby Smoothie (I didn’t want to make too much – what if I hated it?)
½ cup baby spinach/lettuce mix (the mildest greens)
1/2-cup coconut milk (from the dairy shelf at the store, not from the can)
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
Some fresh mint leaves (not measured)
Tiny pinch of salt
I just threw everything else into my old blender, turned it on, and then added the strawberries one by one. Pretty good. A start, anyway.
What are the healthiest greens? Well, that depends I suppose, but Web MD has listed some in order of health benefits. KALE rates # 1. If the taste of the greens is too strong for you, a smidge of ginger helps to balance strong greens. If you have problems digesting too much raw food, it’s easy. Steam the food before you freeze it!
Wash them really well. In the beginning – and still from time to time I have to admit – they didn’t digest well. I may not have washed the greens thoroughly enough (especially beet or carrot greens which tend to still have dirt on them) or some may have been less than optimally fresh, I don’t know. I am now VERY careful about thoroughly washing my greens and about discarding leaves that are past their prime – not worth a tummy ache.
But what about oxalates? After I had been doing this for a while, I heard from people that too many greens could cause kidney stones because of something called oxalic acid in some greens that binds with calcium. Of course, you have to ask yourself, “How much could be too much?” The rules for healthy eating still applied; the best plan is to eat a rainbow of fruits and veggies and vary them often. Bok Choy is a green with the least oxalates if you’re worried, but myself, I just vary them.
Everywhere you look on the Internet, you will find ideas and recipes and clubs and challenges to become acquainted with the green smoothie. Every taste bud is different, so we each like different ones. If you haven’t tried one yet, let me suggest that Google is your friend! Experiment away and “Salud!” To your health!