Green leafy veggies are rich in a group of B vitamins, called folates, that maintain DNA stability. There is a widespread deficiency of folate in humans, and this deficiency has been implicated in the development of several cancers including cancer of the colon, ovary, breast, pancreas, cervix, brain, and lung. Supergreens are very protective— a powerhouse nutrient. Think of a superhero wearing a green kale cape.
Supergreens include broccoli, romaine lettuce, red- and green-leaf lettuce, spinach, endive, kale, chard, celery, bok choy, asparagus, arugula, carrot tops, beet tops, collard greens, escarole, frisée, mizuna, mustard greens, and radicchio. Some of these greens may have gone in your composting or trash can. Keep your beet and carrot tops and try them chopped up in a stir fry or blended in a smoothie.
I am inspired by Victoria Boutenko who wrote Green for Life. She conducted an interesting study on the myriad benefits of green smoothies. She asked study participants to drink a quart of green smoothie daily. According to the supervising doctor, after one month 66.7 percent of participants showed vast improvement with various health concerns. The testimonials and stories these participants contributed to the book are positively astonishing given the simplicity of the task. Boutenko’s daily quart of green smoothie improved the health of two-thirds of her participants. One quart is not hard to consume, especially when you make it really tasty.
I recommend you invest in a good blender. My old blenders made “chunkies” instead of smoothies, so I made the commitment and bought a Vitamix blender. It can chew up anything to create a silky drink and I use it daily for smoothies, blending ice cream recipes and making sauces, dips, soups, crushing ice into snow and more. Vitamix has been around for decades, and the machines are built to last.
Before I offer some tips on making smoothies, I know there are readers who are thinking, “If one quart is good, then drinking only smoothies all day will make me heal even faster, look even better, feel like a million...” If that’s you: slow down, Sunshine! Smoothies are a supplement to a healthy diet. So, have the smoothie in addition to healthy (heavy on the plants) meals. I don’t think doing a ‘juice cleanse’ and then breaking it with a bowl of double fudge ice cream is a good idea. I would rather you had the green juice regularly and transition your diet to more plant based. But hey, if doing a “detox” will help you break food addictions, and it will, then I’d say go for it; just follow up with a healthier diet.
Green smoothies look a little muddy if you use the very dark greens, but don’t let that put you off. I like baby salad greens, spinach, and romaine lettuce for my smoothies as they are lighter in flavor. If I'm making a smoothie that has added nut butter, or tropical fruits, I'll throw in a couple handfuls of frozen kale because the nuts and sweet fruits cancel out any bitterness. If you have blood sugar issues I would encourage you to make your smoothies more veg than fruit. You can also have your smoothie with a meal to slow down the release of sugar from the fruit.
Some folks love the really “green” flavor, and a friend of mine doesn’t put any fruit in her smoothies, instead preferring a big squeeze of lemon and a bit of fresh ginger. It’s up to you and your taste buds. I keep peeled, broken bananas in the freezer along with organic strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple. FYI: cherries will cause your smoothie to become very foamy!
Do your own thirty-day smoothie challenge and jot down any little health concern that’s bothering you right now. Include even smaller issues such as bags under the eyes or lackluster skin. Put the list in a drawer, drink your smoothies, and look over your list again in a month. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the positive changes.
So if you’re still wondering how on earth you are going to eat ten servings of vegetables in a day, start here - Have one quart of green smoothie per day, a generous salad of mixed greens, and a large portion of mixed vegetables. The meat, the beans, the cheese, the nuts or grains are a complement to the plants, not the other way around. This one change of eating more vegetables is huge - adding in a green smoothie gives you superpowers!