The other day, I was informed by a friend that another friend (one I don't know, but who is apparently also a reader here -- hello, friend!) thinks I "should try drinking green smoothies" as maybe they will help some of the health issues I am having. Hmmm. Yeah, green smoothies are very popular these days, and rightly so. They are packed with nutrients, but not hard to make.
My biggest problem with smoothies, and probably the reason I don't drink them every day, is IC patients can't consume much fruit (scroll down to the fruits on this list). No strawberries, no orange juice, no granny smith apples, the usual ingredients in a green smoothie. Those fruits have too much acid and IC patients have to be very careful about consuming acidic foods. I have learned though, that I can handle blueberries, some apples and bananas. So I decided to give it a try with the ingredients I know I can handle.
I bought a big box of organic, baby spinach yesterday, and today for lunch I enjoyed my first green smoothie, which was really brown because apparently blue and green make brown (not what I learned in kindergarten, but that's ok). It was really tasty. I used what I had on-hand plus the spinach I bought. These are ingredients I always have on hand so as long as I buy spinach I can enjoy one every day. Yum.
A couple tricks:
When bananas get beyond edible (too many brown spots -- which by the way, bananas with a lot of spots contain high levels of dopamin quinine, a naturally occuring dopamine -- good for your mood and leg cramps!) I peel them and break them in pieces and put them in a freezer bag in the freezer -- they are great for popping in your smoothie because the frozen, creamy banana makes the smoothie more palatable.
Buy juice boxes. Yeah, I know they create trash, but if you are only using juice in a smoothie, you'll never drink the entire bottle before it goes bad. You could freeze it in ice cube trays, but my kids are always happy to drink the juice left in the box after I make my smoothie, so I just buy 100% juice boxes.
Add some flaxseed or flaxseed oil to your. Flaxseed is really nutrient rich, and a little goes a long way. I have been adding flaxseed meal to granola and now to my smoothie. One or two tablespoons is plenty and 2 tablespoons of flaxseed have more than a day's worth of omega-3s. Even if you take fish oil pills, it's best to get at least half of your omega-3s from food. You can use flaxseed oil if you don't like the texture (it thickens the smoothie a little), but flaxseed oil doesn't have the fiber that you get from the meal. The oil also doesn't have the phytoestrogens found in the seed, so if you have to avoid plant estrogens, go with the oil. Flaxseed is fibrous so it can cause bowel trouble. Go slow to begin with. And pregnant and nursing women probably should avoid flaxseed and its oil altogether.
My Green Smoothie
makes enough for two -- or one really big one
1 golden delicious apple, cut from the core, leave the skin on
1 banana, peeled, frozen and broken in a couple pieces
1/3 cup blueberries, washed
1 cup packed baby spinach leaves, washed
1/4 cup apple or pear juice, more if needed to thin smoothie
2 T. Greek yogurt, plain (I used Fage 2%)
1/4 cup almond coconut milk (use regular milk if you like, but the almond and coconut milk has more calcium and vitamin E)
Blend all ingredients in the blender (even my old -- really old -- Oster blender handled it). Pour in a glass and drink. If you want to save half of the smoothie for later, place in a container in the freezer and defrost later.