Focused Living, One Month at a Time

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Challenge #29: Smoothly Satisfying

Before, hmmm...

I will eat a green-ish smoothie every day.

With all the conflicting information on diet, what makes sense?  Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, larvicides, genetically modified organisms, chemical fertilizers, microwaves, pasteurization, homogenization, hormonally injected animals, color dyes, artificial additives, and high fructose corn syrup? 

Or raw, organic, sun-ripened plant food? “

- David Wolf


They are all the rage, you must have heard by now…Green smoothies, cold-pressed juices, and all kinds of variations on this theme.  One website I came across recently boldly stated, “Green smoothies are the new coffee.”  That may be overstating it a bit, but there is definitely a trend going on here. The rules for me this month were simple (since I get to make them up myself, I like to keep them easy):  I will have one blended drink that contains both vegetables and fruits every day.  Why this challenge?  Some months ago, I did a three-day juice only “cleanse” with a friend, and that was tough – by the last day I felt bloated and otherwise gastronomically uncomfortable, and we both really missed chewable food.  But I lost a few lbs, and really did feel “cleansed.”  This month would be different – just adding one of these drinks into an otherwise reasonably healthy diet, to see if this makes any huge health difference or adds any other benefits that so many are raving about these days.

During, whoa...
The Hardware and the Contents

Green smoothies specifically seem to be defined as ones that include some kind of leafy green.  Most of mine did, but a few did not.  My go-to ingredients turned out to be:

·      Veggies - kale, spinach, green leaf lettuce, cucumber, celery, red bell pepper and carrots

·      Fruits – Pineapple, apple (usually gala or granny smith), raspberry, lemon, tangerine, tomato

·      Herbs, etc – Mint, cilantro, ginger and the occasional onion

All of these were used frequently, in various ratios, and I’m certain no two were exactly alike. My hardware was simple too – no fancy juicer or super-duper ninja blender needed.  And no specific recipes, but I did get some great ideas and tips from this excellent book.  Just a high quality (yes over $100) blender did the trick: no matter how much frozen stuff I had in there, it worked great once through on the “Smoothie” setting. Clean up was fast and easy too. My other standard piece of equipment was a steel straw with a spoon end – great for stirring up these concoctions, which separate quickly between sips. 

How it Went

This was fun.  It turned into a creative outlet each morning, coming up with different combinations, and then discovering the subtle flavor differences.  One of my favorite parts was the fresh scent that burst out of the blender as I poured it into a glass. And the taste was usually just as good. 

One major exception:  Once I tried adding a bunch of fresh (from my mini-garden) aloe. I took a large stalk and peeled it, tossing the slimy innards into the blender with all the other usuals.  YUCK!  The oddly different smell didn’t warn me enough, and the taste was overwhelmingly bitter – I am seriously almost gagging remembering it right now.  To try and save the batch, I added a bunch of pineapple juice and whipped it all up again.  It was tough, but I managed to down about 8 oz. of the new version and threw the rest out, lesson learned:  just say no to aloe!

Another misfire occurred while traveling. As you know, trade shows are generally not the healthiest eating settings. Although a handy market near my hotel offered Odwallas (the only greenish type juice available), they tasted too darn sweet to me!  They were overpowered with high-sugar fruit, compared with what I had been blending at home.  So I had just two of those, and the other three days I just tried to make sure I had some fruits and vegetables.  By the end of the trip I craved my own smoothies again.

Overall, I honestly didn’t notice any radical health changes or benefits, but I did feel good mentally each time I downed them, knowing generally how many natural vitamins, minerals and healthy fiber I was ingesting, and I will keep consuming these regularly.

After, YUM!
A Few Tips

If you want to try incorporating smoothies into your daily (or occasionally) eating habits, here are my brief recommendations.

       Prepare, prepare, prepare.  Cut up vegetables and fruits ahead of time and keep them handy, including the greens and herbs. A good chopping session once a week should do it if you want to try daily smoothies.
       Use your freezer!  I like cold smoothies, and a good way to keep just about all the items you are going to use fresh is to cut into smallish pieces and freeze them.  Even leafy greens, herbs, whatever, really.

        Try “savory” smoothies  - a few of my favorites were the bloody-mary-without-the-vodka style, like: tomato, celery, kale, cucumber, arugula, shallot, lemon juice, and a dash of cayenne pepper.  Not as pretty green to look at (mine were kinda pale brownish), but delicious in their own way!

I’d love to hearing about your adventures juicing and/or smoothing, any experiences?  Meanwhile, on to December – THE FINAL MONTH of this project (gulp), hope you’ll stay tuned!

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