In order to “get healthy”, I would have to give up my daily Snapple Ice Tea (too much sugar), my butter spray (too many chemicals) and my nightly bag of microwaved popcorn (we'll get into my issues with corn and microwaves in another entry). The bottom line… this wasn’t going to be easy.
I decided that I would start by eliminating the foods in my diet that didn’t provide any nutritional value. This meant the Snapple and butter spray had to go immediately. I replaced my morning Snapple with a small cup of black coffee. It’s an improvement, but I know the coffee eventually needs to go too. I replaced the butter spray with olive oil on breads, with coconut oil for cooking and with flax oil on steamed vegetables. All of these replacements have actual nutritional value… a step in the right direction!
Next, I focused on processed "foods"… meaning pre-packaged foods with ingredients I can’t pronounce or preservatives that will allow these foods to last longer than I will. If you take the time to read the ingredient list, you will be surprised what you find lurking in these foods. Although it made sense to me that I should stop eating these processed foods, this step was harder because they made up a larger part of my diet. I couldn’t just eliminate processed foods without replacing them with something else or I would have nothing to eat!
While having lunch with a friend (who happens to be a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition), I learned about green vegetable smoothies. A green smoothie is a tasty and easy way to get all of the nutrients and fiber that vegetables have to offer. I know what you’re thinking (because I thought the same thing)... "There is no way I'll drink a green smoothie! First of all, it’s green and second of all, it can’t possibly taste good.” I'll admit it, I was skeptical at first too, but then I tried it.
½ cup water
2 large kale leaves (with stalks removed)
2 large swiss chard leaves (with stalks if they are white)
1 large handful of spinach
2-3 stalks of celery
1 medium cucumber with skin
1 sliced apple with skin
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp minced ginger (you can buy this in a jar already minced)
2 Tbsp crushed flax seed
1 tsp of coconut oil or olive oil
a sprinkle of celtic sea salt
Combine all ingredients and blend in your Vitamix*.
This recipe will make 2-3 cups of green smoothie.
I won’t lie to you and say that it tastes like a chocolate milkshake, it doesn’t. But it’s really not bad! I promise. If you need to, you can add a touch of agave nectar or some strawberries to add more sweetness at first. Once you become accustom to the taste, you can reduce the amount of fruit. I try to keep the ratio at 4:1 (4 vegetables for every 1 piece of fruit) because, although a great alternative to what I was eating before, fruit contains more sugar than most vegetables.
Although I love the convenience of a smoothie, somtimes I want a “real” meal and don't want to just sip one through a straw. On these days, I pour it into a bowl and eat it like soup.
To enjoy your green smoothie, you will have to do some prep work. This can’t be avoided, but I try to limit this time by shopping and prepping for 3 smoothies at a time. Here’s how:
5. Wash all 3 apples so they're ready to go, but don’t slice them until right before you blend your smoothie.
Once I have done all of this, I separate the greens into 3 large zip lock bags (or Tupperware containers). I add ½ carrot, 1 cucumber and 2-3 stalks of celery to each bag and then I put the pre-packed bags in the fridge.
When I'm ready for a smoothie, all I have to do is dump the bag into my Vitamix and add the remaining ingredients.