Monday, January 17, 2011

More Thoughts on Green Smoothies

Well, I realized that I hadn't covered everything I wanted to about Green Smoothies in the last post. So, here are a few more little snippets of information that I have gained from both reading and personal experience.

Even though fresh fruits and veggies are always preferable, this time of year sometimes the produce (especially the berries) are either scarce or scary… take your pick. I really don’t care for pale strawberries and finding things like blueberries or raspberries this time of year can sometimes be difficult. When this happens it is okay to use frozen fruit… it is second best to fresh with canned being a distant, distant third option (and then ONLY when the fruit is canned in water NOT syrup!) Still, with a little planning you should be able to stay away from canned fruits. Grocery stores usually have all the different kinds of berries in their freezer case. Unfortunately, they can be a little expensive. What I have found works best this time of year is to load up on frozen berries at Costco. They have huge bags of strawberries as well as mixed berries. They also have the smoothie blend of fruits and yogurt, but I prefer to add my own this way I control how much yogurt I add and the ratio of the different fruits.

Organic produce is preferable whenever possible. Although the jury is officially still out on this, many studies have been done that suggest that organic produce is significantly higher in the nutrients we are trying to get from our fruits and veggies (and that is, after all, part of the reason we’re doing this, isn’t it – to get all of our vitamins and nutrients in a more natural and tasty way?). Some research out there suggests that organic produce can have as much as 1000% (yes one thousand%) more of some nutrients than its non-organic counterpart. While I might balk at the suggestion of 1000% more, I would tend to believe that the organic produce has to have more nutrients by the fact that the soil hasn’t been stripped of all the nutrients that will eventually make their way into the plants.

Mix up your greens… don’t put the exact same greens in your smoothies day after day after day. The greens have trace amounts of toxins in them (think of how houseplants can be poisonous to your pets) that will build up over time if you just keep using the same green all the time. There are enough options out there that it shouldn’t be too hard to mix them up… and you can mix them up even within a family of greens… for instance, there are several varieties of kale… which can all count as different greens.

Experiment with your greens, it really depends on your personal preferences! One of our friends who introduced us to green smoothies just loves dandelion or arugula in her smoothies. For me, both of these greens are way too bitter. Similarly, I love collards in my smoothies, whereas my sister-in-law doesn’t care for them in her smoothies at all. It’s really a very personal thing.

As I mentioned, ground flax seed is an easy add to your smoothie for Omega-3… just know that when your smoothie sits overnight (as mine usually does), it will thicken significantly due to the addition of the flax. There is something about flax seed that acts as a binding/thickening agent. As far as I know, there’s nothing wrong with this and it is definitely okay to add more water to your smoothie to loosen it up… I just think of it as one more way to meet your daily water intake requirements! :)

Just the other day I put some dried cranberries in our smoothie to see what they would be like… I really liked the addition, but keep in mind that any dried fruits are going to have a much higher concentration of sugars. This is not a good choice for those of you trying to control their sugar/carb intake.

I really like pineapple in smoothies, but I really hate cleaning fresh pineapples. I have found a couple of ways around this little stumbling block. The first is to go to the cut fruit section of the grocery store’s produce department. They will usually have fresh cut pineapple there. The other  thing I stumbled across is bags frozen pineapple at Trader Joe’s… this might be even more convenient than the produce section because I don’t have to worry about using it all up before it gets yucky looking in the fridge.

Also, I have come across fresh, sliced mango at Costco. This is a nice way to purchase mango, ‘cause they can be a bit of a pain to slice up due to the giant pit in them… I might be revealing something about my cooking skills here (or lack thereof), but whenever I try to slice fresh mango myself, I usually end up mutilating it… fortunately, this is fine for the purposes of smoothie, I just prefer to not deal with the skin & pit when possible, if that makes me seem lazy... well... what can I say?

If you have a high-speed blender such as a Vita-Mix, you probably already know that you can throw apples in core and all. However, from some painful experimentation of our part, I can recommend you NOT put orange peels in your smoothie (although a little orange can be a tasty addition) or any of the thicker fruit peels (banana, mango, grapefruit). Also, seeds are okay (think apples or oranges), but pits are not (cherries, peaches, mangoes)… again, those of you with high-speed blenders probably already know this… and I was just a little slow on the up-take. As for slower, more traditional blenders, yes you can use them, but I’m not sure if the results will be quite as smooth as with a high-speed blender. To be honest, we’ve had our Vita-mix since before we started this process, so I’ve never tried it in a traditional kitchen blender… maybe someone else can chime in here…

Also, if you’ve never done this before, don’t get too worked up over exact proportions or which fruits and greens to use. As I said, a lot of it is a personal preference and you’ll just learn over time what works for you and your family. Also, like anything you prepare for the first few times, there is a learning curve. My first few smoothies took me about 20 minutes to put together and left a mess all over everything in the kitchen (I even forgot to put the lid back on my blender a couple of times and ended up with smoothie on the ceiling… Yikes!). Now, it takes me about 5 minutes to put one together and I end up with almost zero mess aside from the equipment needed to actually make the smoothie. Give it a little time and you will get into the rhythm of making them.

Consistency will yield the best returns… Like anything that involves your health, a consistent, steady approach is what will give you the most noticeable results. Yes, you will benefit from green smoothies, even if you only partake of them from time to time, but I think that my DH and I are feeling significantly better by drinking green smoothie each day… and I have used the smoothies as part of my own weight loss plan… to the tune of now over 60 lbs!

Once again, happy smoothie-ing to you all. Let me know how it goes.

Yesterday's Run
Miles: 6.17
Time: 1:15
Pace: 4.9 mph
Treadmill Workout

1 comment:

Heather said...

Yay for busting past the 60 pound loss mark!!!!

We've found the smoothies to be a fabulous after dinner treat. We eat pretty early in the evening (because the kids are STARVING). By the time 8pm rolls around, Kent and I are both pretty hungry. Smoothies make for a totally guilt free evening snack. :)