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Friday, July 5, 2013

The Green Smoothie

Tip: Drink the green smoothie with a straw so it doesn't get
stuck in your teeth or on your lips... because it will!
The green smoothie catapulted me into a healthy lifestyle. I had not been accustomed to consuming greens growing up, unless they were in a can and then microwaved, so they lacked any nutritional value by the time they ended up on my plate. And if I were to eat a salad, more often than not it would be drenched in a dairy-laden dressing laced with chemicals (preservatives, artificial flavoring, etc.) and unhealthy fats, which essentially canceled out the greens I was eating. And by greens I mean mostly iceberg lettuce, which isn't nearly as nutritious as darker leafy greens such as spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, chard, and collard greens.

Naturally, it was difficult for me to get used to the idea of drinking vegetables since I couldn't bear the idea of eating them in a salad without a heavy dressing to counter the green taste. Nevertheless, I took the plunge. I decided that I wanted to be healthy long-term more than I wanted to be temporarily satisfied. I think that's the question you have to ask yourself when deciding whether or not you want to change your lifestyle and diet.

Even if I strayed from my healthy diet, I kept my green smoothie as a constant. I drank it every single morning for a year straight. It literally changed my life and my digestion so I didn't want to stop. The best part was, I was cleansing my body of toxins every day, even if I had cheated here and there by eating foods with refined sugar, dairy, or any processed food. And by cheating here and there, I mean weeks straight! If you're struggling with staying on track, find one healthy habit and stick to it daily - that way you don't feel so disappointed in yourself if you do backtrack a bit. That's totally normal and expected by the way. We're not trying to be perfect here and we're certainly not trying to stress too much over this, because stress can be hazardous to our health in and of itself. Life is too short for all of that. Occasional setbacks are inevitable... it's more important what you do/eat the majority of the time.

The most substantial difference I've experienced is that it has given me more energy than ever before. Whereas I used to feel tired even after getting 8 hours of sleep and then drained by mid-day, I am now able to sustain my energy levels all throughout the day! I've also avoided getting sick since changing my diet, and I have to attribute that to consuming an abundance of vegetables and strictly limiting my intake of processed foods. Vegetables have been the catalyst in strengthening my immune system. My nails have become stronger, my hair shinier, my skin more luminous. 

I now crave the green smoothie because not only does it taste amazingly delicious, but I know that it's nourishing me in every way! I can feel the difference. No better feeling than that.

With the rise in the green smoothie movement, we've seen many different combinations of vegetables, fruits, protein powders, nuts, and seeds. I keep it simple so that I'm not overloading my digestive system. Even too much of a good thing can be harmful.

The ingredient spotlight:

• Spinach - Rich in beta-carotene (vitamin A) which helps to slow down aging and in turn promotes beautiful, glowing skin. It's packed with antioxidants to fight free radicals, vitamins K & C, fiber, and key minerals iron, manganese, calcium, zinc, & magnesium.

• Kale - The buzz surrounding kale is completely justified. It's packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants, as well as vitamins A, C, and K, omega-3's, and fiber. Kale also has a high protein content.

• Lemon - Helps to support the liver in ridding the body of toxins, which is vital for those who suffer from acne. When the main detoxifying organ (liver) is overloaded, the skin acts as a backup to release the toxins instead, to ensure that the liver isn't compromised. Add fresh lemon in your beverages, dressings and meals throughout the day.

• Banana - Mood-booster due to its vitamin B₆ & tryptophan content. Also rich in vitamins C and A, potassium & fiber. Bananas are one of the sweetest fruits too, so it's the perfect addition to a green smoothie to counter the "green" taste.

• Apple - I used a green apple here since it's a low-sugar fruit. I've noticed that sugar (even natural sugar) throws me off balance and tends to cause breakouts. Nevertheless, all apples are loaded with the fiber pectin, which aids in digestion.

• Cucumber - Keep the skin on (only if organic)! It contains skin beautifying nutrients such as silica and vitamin C. Cucumbers possess a high content of naturally filtered, enzyme-rich water which provides us with ample hydration.

• Parsley - This herb packs a punch thanks to its powerful cleansing properties. It also contains vitamins A, C and E. I add it to my smoothies from time to time and frequently use it in various entrees.

Green Smoothie

YIELD: About 45-50 oz. *See note below for serving info. 

• 1 1/2 cups filtered water
• 2 cups organic spinach
• 1 cup organic kale, leaves torn in pieces
• 1/2 cup cucumber, sliced
• 1 organic pear, cored and chopped
• 1 organic apple, cored and chopped
• 1 or 2 organic bananas
• 1 Tbs fresh organic lemon juice

Optional add-ins
• 1/4 cup parsley (for extra detoxification)
• Ice
Liquid stevia, to taste (good for newbies)
Maca powder, wheatgrass powder, spirulina, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, 1/2 small avocado or 1/4 large avocado

1. Add the water, spinach and kale to the blender. Start on a low speed and blend until smooth. 
2. Move to a higher speed and add the cucumber, pear, apple, banana, and lemon juice.
3. Add in any optional ingredients, if desired.

• I use this recipe for 2 servings. I make it the night before and drink it for breakfast over 2 days. It will last for 2 days covered in the refrigerator. To save time and to increase your likelihood of drinking the green smoothie, you can double this recipe, freeze the smoothie in desired portions then take it out of the freezer the night before and let it thaw out in the refrigerator.
Investing in a high-quality blender is key here. Nobody likes a chunky smoothie! We spend loads of money on the latest skin care products, procedures, make-up, hair products, etc... most of which contain numerous chemicals and may be detrimental to your health. So why not invest in a blender that you'll use to improve your health? I recommend the Vitamix. The blender I had before was horrible, so I stopped making smoothies altogether. The Vitamix works quickly producing a super smooth consistency, plus it has so many other awesome uses too, other than just making smoothies. You can find reconditioned Vitamix blenders that are less expensive (but still expensive, I know...).

By the way, I hope you all had a fun and restful 4th of July!! My dad and I had some family over. I made my self-proclaimed famous guacamole, which my grandma said was the winning dish of the day. :-) That's the only opinion that matters when it comes to food, right? I also made brown rice & roasted butternut squash burritos with red bell pepper & cilantro. Those were a hit too! I'll be sharing that recipe very soon. We capped off the night with fireworks...

Even being pre-occupied making food and entertaining family, this 4th of July just wasn't the same. It was the first 4th without my mom. I'm learning to be open to feeling my mom's presence in other ways, but it's only been a little over 4 months since she passed, so I still find myself processing everything. I think she's with me more than I realize. 

Needless to say, spending time with my loved ones has become much more meaningful to me. It's unfortunate that losing someone would make you appreciate them more, but it does. There's always a gift to be found in your darkest hour, eh? 

I love you more, mom.

"They say people come and go. But the truth is, no one really disappears from your life. People never really leavetheir roles just change." Unknown


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