Friday, October 2, 2009

"Go Green"... with Green Smoothies

Just about everyone knows they *should* include more green leafy vegetables in their diet. However, those are just the foods at which children tend to turn up their little noses. It took Popeye the Sailor Man half a century ago, to encourage the eating of spinach. After all, he knew it would help build strong muscles and give him lots of energy. It's true! (Although canned spinach hardly compares to fresh, raw greens). Green leafy vegetables, including spinach, chard, kale, collard greens, mustard greens and the like are full of important nutrients:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamins A, D, E, and K
  • Fiber
  • Cancer-fighting compounds
  • Vitamin K, Calcium, and Magnesium, which help strengthen bones
  • Heart-protective nutrients
  • Anti-inflammatory agents
  • Protective nutrients for eyesight
  • Vitamins to improve cognitive function
  • Iron for energy
  • B Vitamins for energy and the ability to deal with stress
  • Manganese to help balance blood sugar, activate enzymes, and improve thyroid function
  • Trace minerals, which most Americans seem to be deficient in these days
These a truly "super-foods!" With all those benefits available to us, why should we skimp on our greens?!

Okay. So, not everyone likes to eat salads three times a day. Especially not for breakfast. And those green leafies are a lot of fiber and can take FOREVER to eat properly (chewing *at least* 30 times per mouthful until you have created a watery "bolus," but that's another discussion). So, how can we make sure to get our greens--reducing them to a pulverized state so our bodies can digest them well-- without taking an hour or two for each meal?

Ann Wigmore (1909-1994) was co-founder of the Hippocrates Health Institute and the author of several books on "living foods." She was both a holistic health practitioner and a nutritionist, and a strong advocate of a diet that consists of only whole, raw, "living" foods. To include more greens in a form that is easier on the digestive system, she pioneered the blending of greens into raw "soups," which were then served at the Hippocrates Institute to those who were working to overcome serious illness.

Green Smoothies were made popular by a woman named Victoria Boutenko, a Russian woman who came to America with her husband and two children in the 1990s. She was invited to teach about Russia at community college in Denver. When she and her family first arrived, they were thrilled with the new variety of "foods" sold in American grocery stores... things that were convenient and didn't take much time or effort to make, i.e. our great variety of processed foods. After consuming American processed foods from grocery stores and fast food restaurants nearly exclusively, all four of the Boutenkos became very ill. The father had rhumatoid arthritis, the mother was obese, the son had juvenile diabetes, the daughter had athesma. After a lot of research and networking, they stumbled onto the raw food vegan way of eating. Gradually, their health problems went away, and they regained vibrant health. As a part of this new way of eating, Victoria struggled to get more greens into her family's diet, in a way that was palatable and more exciting than simply eating salads all the time. The answer? Green Smoothies! She even wrote a book about the benefits of including daily green smoothies as a part of a healthy diet: Green For Life.

Green smoothies, as mentioned in a previous post, are simply delicious fruit smoothies with a handful or two of leafy green goodness blended right in! Some basic guidelines follow:
  • Fruit or berry base (frozen berries, fresh or frozen bananas, other fruit or combinations: pears, oranges, pineapple, coconut flesh, apple, etc)
  • liquid to thicken (water, coconut water, coconut milk, juice, low-or non-caffeinated tea)
  • sweetener (soaked dried fruit like dates, raw honey, stevia)
  • greens (spinach, kale, collards, arugula, chard, mustard greens, dandelion greens, foraged greens, parsley, cilantro)
  • optional additional herbs/spices/flavorings: mint, basil, coconut oil, vanilla, almond extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, etc)
Challenge for the week:

Using the guidelines above, experiment on your own. If you come up with a particularly delicious recipe you'd like to share, post it below!
For more information:


  1. Thanks for the green smoothie template! I'll let you know what I come up with :)


  2. This morning's attempt was pretty good:

    - frozen mango chunks
    - spinach
    - water
    - dried mint flakes

    Although I am on prednisone right now so my "taster" is off... be forewarned when considering my concoctions :)


  3. That combination sounds excellent, Sabrina! Any other great combos since then?