Most nutritionists include at least one smoothie or juice in their daily diet, but I usually opt for chewing my food vs. drinking it. That being said, smoothies are a great way to incorporate some specialty superfoods into your diet that you wouldn’t normally include in regular meals. In this guest post, my colleague Sarah Bernache shares a superfood-loaded green smoothie recipe that may just change my opinion of chewing vs. drinking my food.
I often discuss the importance of making nutritious choices or substitutions, but it’s also critical to vary the items on your plate – including your vegetables. I’ll be the first to admit that when I first started cooking, I found most greens extremely intimidating (and perhaps a little unappetizing.) Who actually bought those collard greens nestled beside the broccoli? And what did they do with them? I vowed to solve the mystery.
Although greens currently make up a huge percentage of my diet, the transition has been very gradual; I certainly didn’t grow up eating copious amounts of kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. It took the recent explosion of raw green salads and smoothies, my growing interest in nutrition and a lot of kitchen experimentation to settle on a few delicious recipes that I enjoy – ones that are easy enough to throw together at a moment’s notice and succeed at turning the most green-averse into kale aficionados.
Today I’m hoping to give you a rundown on Swiss chard, one of my favourite green choices, in hopes of reducing some of the fear and inspiring you to include this detoxifying gem at your next meal.
Chard, high in vitamins A, K and C and the mineral magnesium, is one of the most nutritious foods in the world. It has a slight bitter taste and is extremely perishable, so keep that in mind if you intend to try it. While you can stuff chard the way you would cabbage, have you ever considered blending it?
I’ll admit that it took me a ridiculously long time to get on the green smoothie bandwagon. It actually took the promise of clear, glowing skin to sell me. I’d stop into Fresh on occasion for their terrific Detoxifier juice and admire how healthy some of the servers looked, likely from consuming so many vegetables. Eventually I decided to try my hand at making my own concoctions and, voila, this beauty was born.
Smoothies are often marketed as an easy breakfast, but I usually lack the motivation in the morning to throw one together. Instead, I spend a few minutes in the evening whipping up two days’ worth and store it in a large Mason jar (it will need a good shake before consumption.) I’ll often have a glass in the morning before breakfast, or in the afternoon as a snack. Now, understand that this isn’t going to taste like your favourite strawberry banana smoothie, but it is fairly drinkable and will give you amazing energy. And, hopefully, a lovely complexion.
The amazing energy comes, in part, from the chlorella-maca combination. Chlorella is basically a power-packed, antioxidant-filled algae. Like other greens it binds to heavy metals in your body and absorbs them, encouraging your body to detoxify. It’s great for eye health (contains lutein), supports your immune system (vitamin C) and promotes healthy skin (there’s that word again.) It also delivers a full spectrum of amino acids, protein, iron and Vitamin D. Phew!
Despite this, many people are allergic or intolerant to chlorella. It has a hard cell wall (cellulose), which humans cannot digest. Mostly this will manifest as nausea or gastrointestinal problems. I’d recommend starting with half a teaspoon and working your way up to a higher dose. It’s also really important to consume a lot of water with it to help flush the toxins from your body.
Maca root, on the other hand, is an adaptogen, which means it will help your body out with whatever it needs help with. More specifically, maca is a root native to Peru rich in amino acids, phytonutrients, important vitamins (especially B12) and minerals. It’s great for libido, regulating hormones, providing energy and stamina, forming red blood cells (fantastic for muscle recovery!), metabolizing fats/carbohydrates/protein, adrenal support (for you caffeine fiends) and generally delivering a sense of calm and well-being. If you suffer with a lot of stress or anxiety, maca is one of the best things I’ve ever personally experienced.
Both chlorella and maca are available for purchase at health food stores, specialty food shops and some grocery stores (I bought my chlorella at Fiesta Farms and maca at Winners.) They’re expensive, but a little goes a lot way and the benefits easily justify the price.
One final word: even if you don’t include the maca and/or chlorella, including a vegetable smoothie into your diet will still do your body a world of good.
3 generous handfuls of greens (like Swiss chard, preferably organic, or spinach)
1/4 C parsley, roughly chopped
1 C fruit (a banana, berries, kiwi)
2 cups unsweetened coconut water or filtered water
2 cups filtered water (or more – to blend)
2 tsp raw maca powder (optional)
1 tsp chlorella powder (optional)
2 tsp ground flaxseed (optional)
Throw all ingredients into a high-power blender and blend until completely smooth, adding more water if necessary to get it to a thin, juice-like consistency. Store and refrigerate immediately. Consume within 3 days.
Sarah Berneche holds a B.A.H. and M.A. in English Literature & Creative Writing from the University of Windsor and a post-graduate certificate in Creative Book Publishing from HumberCollege. She works in corporate advertising and is currently pursuing her R.H.N. designation through CSNN’s distance education program to further her knowledge of food & nutrition. In her free time, she volunteers as a fruit gleaner and event organizer for Not Far From the Tree (http://www.notfarfromthetree.org) and as a contributing blogger & editor for LEAF (http://www.yourleaf.org).