• 14Dec

    I love using a large variety of green in my green smoothies. It’s important to rotate your use of greens because of the alkaloids they contain. But from a more mundane standpoint, I just like the variety of the different tastes and textures. At this time of year (December), kale is one of my favorite greens to use in my daily green smoothies.

    Kale is a wonderful green for green smoothies

    Kale is a wonderful green for green smoothies

    Kale is a dark leafy green which is most widely used by caterers as a garnish for fruit trays and usually thrown away. What a waste! Kale is one of the super foods when it comes to vitamins, phytonutrients, antioxidants and other things that contribute to your overall health.

    Where I live in southern Arizona, the nights are cold (near freezing) while the days are very moderate (65° F) during December. That’s perfect growing weather for kale and my garden now sports several varieties of kale. One variety is extremely dark green and curly. Another is curly but much lighter in color. Another is dark bluish green and not very curly at all. I rotate my use of these varieties kale with other cold-loving dark leafy greens from my garden like Swiss Chard, beet greens, broccoli greens and a few others.

    Blended together with fruit, these dark leafy greens  make for a delicious and healthy way to start your day. Plus, all the antioxidants help keep your immune system in tip-top shape during the prolific cold and flu season that is now upon us.

    Even if you live in a cold climate and are experiencing snow, you can still harvest kale from under the snow as long as it has been established from late summer. If you didn’t plan ahead for that, make a note for doing that next August or September. When I lived in the Northern US, I would usually harvest kale from under the snow all the way through the winter.

    If you don’t have a garden, you can still find fresh kale in most produce sections of grocery stores, and especially in health/organic food stores. Always try to buy organic kale whenever possible. Look for kale that is uniform in color throughout the bunch. Avoid anything that is clearly changing color around the edges or that is wilting. Kale is a hardy leafy green and takes a long time to wilt, so visible signs of wilting are a sure indicator that it has been sitting on the shelf for a long time. Once leafy greens start to go bad, the decomposition continues quite rapidly and can introduce unwanted toxins for your body to fend off. Don’t let that freak you out – just buy stuff that looks good and don’t be afraid to toss old greens once they start to turn bad.

    Not only is kale good for your body with all of its health benefits, it tastes pretty good too. That doesn’t mean kale is not a mild green. It has a rather strong “green” taste and may bee too much if you are just beginning on green smoothies. If that’s the case, just start out with small additions of kale to your green smoothies until you develop a taste for it (you usually need to taste something new 7-10 times before you start developing a taste for it, so don’t give up to soon if it doesn’t suit you immediately).

    Since kale is a tough leafy green with a lot of fiber, it is important to use a high powered blender like the Vitamix or Blendtec blenders. The Vitamix is my favorite, and will pulverize that kale down to the cellular level for easy digestion and no gas or bloating (which is a common complaint about kale – mainly because it is consumed without being fully chewed up.) Some people peel the dark leaves off the stem before adding kale to their smoothies. I prefer to add the stems too. Although the stems  primarily add fiber, they also contain certain enzymes not found in the leaves which aid in digestion. Just make sure you have a heavy duty blender like a Vitamixbefore you try to use kale stems in your green smoothies.

    The green smoothie combinations using kale are endless, but here is one of my favorite cold-busting, high-antioxidant green smoothie recipes for the Winter cold season:

    Cold-Busting, High Antioxidant, Kale Smoothie

  • 28Aug

    Fall is a perfect time to start a greens garden. Where I live (the desert Southwest) it is just starting to cool off enough that I can grow greens outdoors without UV shade cloth covering the garden area. I plant by seed now so that I can start harvesting baby greens by the end of September and full greens all the way through the Fall and Winter.

    collard-greensIf you live in a cooler climate, Fall is still a great time to plant a greens garden. Greens don’t like intense sun anyways, so it works out well. For extreme northerly areas, you may want to pick greens that are more frost resistant and you may have to cover up young plants for the first month if there are frost warnings. You may also want to use transplants rather than starting from seed. Many nurseries will have things hardier plants like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower already started for you.  These cruciferous veggies make excellent greens for you green smoothies!

    I will be starting bok choi, pak choi, turnip greens, kale, collards, arugula, radish (for the greens), carrots (for the greens) along with brocolli, cauliflower, swiss chard and spinach. Here are some of the health benefits of just 2 of these greens, and these are all good reasons to grow your own greens:

    Spinach: This dark leafy green (and others like it, including kale,  swiss chard and collards) contains lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidant carotenoids that may help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. Spinach is also a source of calcium and folate, a B vitamin that helps to prevent birth defects. Since pesticides are commonly used on conventionally grown varieties, growing your own is the best alternative. Otherwise, be sure to buy organic spinach.

    Cabbage: Cabbage is very inexpensive and and easy to grow, yet is highly nutritious. One of the  cruciferous vegetables (which also incudes brocolli leaves, cabbage leaves and kohlrabi leaves) contains nutrients called indoles, which may protect against both breast and prostate cancer. It also provides significant amounts of fiber and vitamin C.

    I grow greens year ’round, and you can too. It just takes a little planning and minimal effort (as far as gardening goes). But the payoff is an abundant supply of healthy, tasty, nutritous fresh organic greens every day for use in your green smoothies!

  • 27Aug

    young-spinachThe benefits of eating greens are plentiful. In fact, this entire site is all about the benefits of incorporating more dark leafy greens into your diet. When you make eating greens a regular part of your healthy lifestyle, you will have more energy, be more alert, and you will ward off the harmful effects of the toxic environment we live in which cause cancer and disease.

    One of the great benefits of eating greens is the effect it has on building and maintaining healthy bones. The myth that is out there in the media and even in the medical field is that you simply need to increase your intake of calcium. But think about this: we’ve been told for decades to increase our calcium intake and the incidence of osteoporosis, especially in older women, continues to rise. Clearly, calcium intake alone isn’t the only answer. Yes, it is part of the equation, but you also need vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium and about 20 other nutrients all working together to replace lost calcium in your bones. Just increasing calcium intake may not help you at all if your body can’t use it.

    Leafy greens, especially the dark leafy greens, are not only high in absorbable calcium, they also contain most of the other essential nutrients needed for your body to put that calcium to work. Coupled with a good exercise program (tailored to your body’s needs) and some healthy exposure to the sun, most women (and men too) can reverse the process of osteoporosis and regain healthy, strong bones. See this article in Women to Women about the calcium myth for all the technical details.

    Besides all the nutritive benefits of eating greens, greens also are packed with fiber and chlorophyll. This provides a daily cleansing of your digestive tract and will make you as regular as clock works.

    But please, don’t assume you can just start eating more salad to get all these health benefits. It won’t help, and could actually turn you and your body off from greens. You need to make sure that you break down the leafy greens to the cellular level, penetrating the outer cell walls to unlock all the wonderful benefits. You can do this with your teeth by chewing each bite 100-200 times until it is as thin as liquid. But since most of us don’t have the time or patience to do that, you will want to use a high-speed blender like the Vitamix or Blendtec to thoroughly masticate your greens.

    If you can handle the taste, you can blend up your favorite greens with some water and enjoy. But most of us have palates that simply can’t handle the strong taste of straight greens. That’s why I advocate green smoothies for healthy living. In addition to getting all the health benefits of greens, you also get the wonderful antioxidant properties of the fruit you add. Plus, if you follow my recommendations, you will always be adding some type of healthy fat and protein to your green smoothies to make them a complete, balanced meal. You can actually live on green smoothies alone! Of course, most of us enjoy other foods and I strongly suggest that you just start off with a green smoothie every morning for breakfast. Then just eat sensibly for your other meals. You will be utterly amazed at the wonderful health benefits that will accrue to you just by incorporating this one simple, delicious step into your life.

  • 07Jul

    Organic foodEat Green for life. Yeah, there’s a play on words there. I believe it is important to eat green leafy plant matter as well as eat food that is grown in green (energy efficient and sustaianable) fashion.  That’s the word play on the “green” part.

    The “for life” part also has a double meaning. I believe that eating healthy, organic green leafy matter will give you “life” in the sense that by eating it you will feel like you have more vitality, energy and life. But I also think it is something that you should never approach as a diet or a fad.

    You see, I’ve been eating greens in one form or another everyday since the early 1970′s. I have never felt like I was “done.” It has never occurred to me that eating greens had gone out of style. Oh, sure, I’ve changed some of the ways I prepare the greens, but eating green leafy matter is a permanent lifestyle for me, not a temporary addition to my life. So “for life” indicates that this is a life-long endeavor.

    After decades of eating greens, the way that I find I can eat the most with the most pleasure and least unpleasantness is through green smoothies. I have an entire section of this website dedicated to green smoothies, so I won’t go into the details here. But with a green smoothie, you essentially get all of the great healthy, life-giving properties of greens in a very palatable and bio-available manner.

    I’m healthier now than I’ve ever been in my life. I contribute 75% of that to my daily green smoothie.

    Here’s to your continued health!