January is that time of year when everyone starts strong with the greatest of healthy intentions. I’ve seen many comments about resuming an exercise program, starting a weight loss plan, and doing some internal cleansing or detoxing via juicing and smoothies. These days people are pretty savvy about the exercise and weight loss, but I just thought I’d shed some light on the whole juicing and smoothies topic.
This week in the Soul Food Therapy Google Plus Circle we talked about juicing, but mainly smoothies; green smoothies to be exact. That happens to be our January habit, increasing our nutrient intake by way of these naturally healthy beverages.
Juicing is something I used to do back in the 80’s pretty religiously upon rising in the morning and at bedtime. My beverage of choice was green apples and celery. Yummm. Eventually I grew bored with the whole process and began drinking Barley Green (barley grass, chicory root, organic brown rice and kelp) – double yummm (NOT).
The problem with both of these is that they lacked fiber. Also, although I got lots of wonderful nutrients, I had to consume the juice of about 5 apples and a whole bunch of celery just to get my favorite cup filled. This became an expensive waste, throwing away all that pulp and roughage. And for me, roughage was what I needed.
When I recently announced that we would be starting a 21 days to a new habit challenge of juicing, one of my smart Dailey Method instructors quickly called out the fact that I said juicing and not smoothies. I had been using the terms interchangeably, when they couldn’t be more different.
Just to clarify, there is no reason why I would be juicing unless I just want some fresh juice. Since I don’t suffer from any digestive problems (all cleared up thanks to a gluten free diet), and really do need the additional fiber, there is no reason why I would want to throw all that wonderfu fiber away.
And why do I mention green smoothies in particular? Well, not only are they pretty, but in one week of drinking a green smoothie a day I get more wonderful raw leafy greens than I normally would in 2 weeks, possibly even 3 weeks. I love spinach, kale, collards, etc. but I don’t always have the time to cook them. And sometimes when the weather is cold, I still eat salads, but not quite as much as during the warmer months. I love to put kale, collards and cabbage in my soups, but, when I have the time.
So what are the benefits of a green smoothie?
1. They’re made in a blender instead of a juicer so ALL the pulp and fiber is used and consumed. No waste, and way less veggies to actually make a 12 oz drink.
2. This is the most time efficient way I know of to get your leafy greens and additional fiber into your diet.
3. When I have a green smoothie I somehow make it through the day without that afternoon coffee.
4. I can make my breakfast and drink it on the go – again, time efficient, as well as nutrient dense and filling.
5. Improved regularity.
6. I can throw those wilted greens in the blender instead of the trash, or even in the freezer until ready to blend them.
7. Blending my greens starts the digestive process and breaks them down so that when I consume them, I can take in a whole lot more. That way, in a less than perfect day diet-wise I know I’ve gotten at least 4 servings of fruits and vegetables in just that one smoothie.
I could go on and on, and I might in another post. Just so you’ll know, to make these wonderful smoothies you’ll need a good blender – usually upwards of $100 to start you off. You do NOT want to drink partially shredded beet greens or chunks of fruit. I know from experience. You’ll also need some recipes, or an adventurous spirit. I post recipes occasionally on my facebook page, but I recommend the ebook Drink Green Smoothies: A Beginner’s Guide with 80 Great Recipes. You may also want to consult your physician if you have thyroid or kidney stone issues, or any other health problem or medication prescription that may be affected by a sudden increase in consumption of fresh fruit and leafy greens.
I hope you’re inspired to try a smoothie a day with us for the rest of the 21 day challenge. No I do NOT encourage a diet of nothing but green smoothies. This is just a way to increase your vegetable intake, particularly raw leafy greens. And if you’re juicing more this month, well that’s wonderful too. You are still getting the vitamins and minerals, just not the fiber. Let me know if you are so inspired to join us, and be sure to sign up to receive further posts, as I’m sure there will be more to come on this topic. Happy blending, or juicing, whatever you choose.