My sister introduced me to the miracle of smoothies several years ago. Never a veggie fan, I learned that smoothies are a delicious way to consume nutrient packed spinach, kale, celery and cucumber (to name but a few). Smoothies are unlike juicing in that you are getting the benefit of the whole fruit or vegetable (think fiber).
In one of my 74 attempts at following Weight Watchers, I was dismayed to learn that, although most fruits and veggies count as zero points when eaten whole, become a point pig when blended. The argument on the web is this: when you eat your fruits and veggies whole, it takes more chew time, thus is more satisfying. THERE IS NOTHING SATISFYING ABOUT EATING KALE. Nothing.
I used to stress about being perfect when following Weight Watchers or any other diet program. For instance, I’d follow the program perfectly one day (usually Day 1). On Day 2, I might “sneak” a small piece of chocolate. On Day 3, I would “sneak” an entire pepperoni pizza. By Day 4, my mouth would be open and anything in my path would enter.
When you hit age 50, you realize perfection is a ridiculous endeavor. I’m still a work in progress to shake those perfection tendencies, but I’m getting better. For instance, I no longer berate myself for having a smoothie instead of having the veggies whole. The thing is this: I would never eat raw kale or cucumber. Both of these food items are full of nutrients. If whirring it up in a smoothie is the only way I’ll get the benefit of those nutrients, then whirring it up in a smoothie is what I will do.
My favourite smoothie right now is a bright, fresh tasting blend of veggies and fruit. This is what I blend:
Baby spinach (handful)
Celery (half a stick)
Cucumber (1″ peeled)
Ginger (1/2″ peeled)
Lemon (slice, with peel)
Frozen fruit – currently frozen mango, peach, strawberries and pineapple (1/2 cup)
Water (to cover)
Nobody pays me to write this blog, so I will not advertise what device I use to blend. There are many choices on the market. Mine rhymes with Butri-Nullet, is not expensive and works beautifully.
No, that’s not Kermit the Frog. What that is, is a smoothie. Made with spinach. Pear. Strawberries. Banana. Water. But mainly spinach.
I don’t mind my green leafies, as long as they are prepared by a chef with some sort of combination of goat cheese and warmed pecans with a drizzle of some sort of concoction that does not contain guar gum. But when it comes to a regular supper at home, when time and space in our galley kitchen is precious, time devoted to making a salad always seems to come last. Sure, salads is Michael’s specialty (as is grilled cheese sandwiches) and we could share the kitchen, but he and I both know we’d end up in couples therapy in a matter of weeks. Part of the success of our marriage is a strict, I cook, you clean. You cook, I clean policy. That comma signifies the space and time we allow each other to get on with our business. There may be punishment for the party that dares to cross the threshold while one of us is working in the kitchen, but that’s for another type of blog, and I tap the pink fur lined cuffs under the cupboard out of sight with my toe.
Back to the smoothie.
Starts with my Ironman, Death Race, marathon and triathalon racing Auntie Ev. Oh yes, she’s fit as a fiddle. She doesn’t look her age. And she eats vegetables for fun. She started bringing a green smoothie concoction to my Mom. I looked at them, through the blue tint of the plastic bottle and would silently gag in my head. Mom would try to convince me that “they really don’t taste that bad!”. Right Mom. Sure.
Then my sister is ranting and raving about the new Nutri Ammo** machine she bought. She claims she never felt better! More energy! Sleeping better! Taking stairs with a lightness of foot! And to tell you the truth, she’s been looking great and does have more pep in her step.
I cautiously asked her, what do you put in your smoothies? She replied, “anything!”.
So I searched the net and found a Nutri Ammo** machine at a national tire store. Stopped also at the grocery store and bought a bag of spinach, celery, carrots, apples, pears, grapes, pineapple, mango. Felt an early rush of healthfulness at the checkout line with my order of fresh healthy foods. I felt strong enough to resist the bars of chocolate, bags of potato chips, lip balm and magazines.
I got home, cleaned the Nutri Ammo** machine, read the instructions, and added spinach, apple, strawberries and water to it. I gave it a whir. I took it out of the machine, poured the green stuff in a glass and took a tentative sip. Hm. Not bad. Not bad at all. Before you knew it, I ate (drank) two cups worth of spinach! I did the “I ate two-cups of spinach and didn’t gag once dance” in the kitchen, and had visions of myself prancing and throwing back my head in joy on a beautiful sandy beach in my two-piece bathing suit. Then of course I had visions of all the loose skin I might have as the result of my dramatic weight loss, then wondered if they have Spanx bathing suits.
So how to introduce our new healthy lifestyle to Michael? I presented him with his glass. He took a sip. Did the eyebrow raise of approval, and claimed it wasn’t so bad. He did declare honey or sugar would help, and I immediately scolded him that I will NEVER get in a two-piece Spanx bathing suit if I keep adding sugar to my food.
Michael has affectionately named the green smoothie, a Slurry (TM). We are trademarking the name because we have visions of Slurry machines and stores all over North America, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Germany and Russia. We have visions of happy fit people in two piece Spanx bathing suits feeling renewed vigor playing volleyball on sandy beaches. It’s a happy vision with dollar, pound, Euro and ruble signs in our eyes.
There are several machines on the market that will “chew your food for you” (our Slurry(TM) Machine’s tag line). The Nutri-Ammo** is just one version, is a reasonable price, and is not that flimsy despite being a Seen on TV machine. There are more industrial models available like the Vita-blend** at Costco. Then there is the granddaddy blender of them all, The Blendtec Blender. It blends everything. Check it out.
So we’ll see if my new found love of spinach Slurry(TM) will give me a new lease on life. There is something satisfying about reaching the end of the day knowing that I’ve eaten my 7 – 8 servings of vegetables and fruits.
Eating a bit too much chocolate at work? Going out for Christmas lunches, company Christmas dinners, evenings out with friends, and indulging in all things rich, delicious, boozy and associated with the Christmas season? Hell, have you been staying at home to avoid the crowds and eating too much take-out, bags of potato chips, and left over Halloween candy?
You need a salad. I need a salad. So here’s a salad that visually looks like Christmas, tastes delicious, but won’t clog your arteries.
POMEGRANATE SPINACH SALAD
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
8 cups fresh baby spinach
2 oranges, peeled and segemented
1/2 small red onion, super thinly sliced
Remove the seeds from the pomegranate. If you know of an easy way to do this, share it with me. Our kitchen walls, my shirt, our counters, our floor, was covered in pomegranate juice.
In a small bowl combine the oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Whisk.
In a large bowl combine the spinach, orange segments, onion and pomegranate seeds. Toss.