Before I launch into HOW to best get vegetables into your diet, I’ll tell you WHY you should re-invigorate your passion for green and leafy. According to science, common sense, your mother, and Dr. Mercola, vegetables contain exclusive benefits that extend beyond active enzymes, vitamins and minerals. They even leave a positive psychological impression that contributes to the well-being of the person for hours after the deed is done! Check out this article (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/09/08/vegetable-health-benefits.aspx) for a thorough explanation about the overwhelming health effects that regular veggie consumption can have on your body.
Because I can disguise the taste of kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and countless other healthy foods by mixing it with a single banana. If you’re one of those people who can eat a tomato like an apple, congrats. For the rest of us that struggle with our relationship with good food, deception is my key to success. Did you know you could blend up a pound of kale, beets, spinach, the transmission for a 1997 Ford F-150, a scoop of concrete, 1 banana, and a squirt of orange juice and that it would taste like a tropical banana smoothie? There are several fruits that act as a tasty tarp to cover all other flavors under its delicious umbrella. I don’t care if the purists look down on me, my plan works.
If I’m being honest, and I’m usually brutally honest, I have no problem consuming my required number of fruits but veggies seem to be pushed to the back burner. My strategy has changed from forcing salads into my life into a plan that Taylor Swift would be proud of. So how do you get the right stuff into your diet?
Drink at least 1 shake a day.
I use it as a meal replacement and not in addition to a full meal but for those just starting out, you might want to ease into that strategy to give your body time to adapt to the different feeling of fullness you experience after a shake than say, 5 breakfast burritos. Which brings me to my next point.
Get your veggies in early.
Humans push things off as long as we can. Spring cleaning in June, Christmas cards in January, filing your taxes on April 15th, we all do it so we might as well admit it and plan accordingly. If you ask me, the best time to adopt healthy habits is before the day gets busy. I have my first smoothie of the day at breakfast time that way I know whatever direction the day goes, I’m guaranteed to consume at least 3 fruits and veggies. If you stop by the office you’ll hear my blender going in the back as I throw some frozen ingredients into my little ninja portable blender because I need convenience or I’ll be a regular at the pizza place around the corner.
So what do I put in it?
Good question Mrs./Mr. ___________. I have two basic recipes of shake that are structured around the base or liquid used to mix the main ingredients.
For a citrus based smoothie, I use orange juice as a base. I know it is sweet and contains sugars but when compared with an Egg McMuffin, I’ll call that a victory. For a more neutral flavor, go with an almond milk or coconut milk as the base. I generally stay away from cow’s milk but that is a different post entirely :)
The starting lineup stays consistently the same for me with a few veggies coming off the bench in a pinch. I always have kale, spinach, and avocado, and usually cherry tomatoes and carrots as well. You could pepper in sweet potatoes or ginger but be careful because they have potent flavors that need some familiarity before you jump in head first.
Next, the masking agents AKA fruits. If you don’t put a banana in your smoothies, I won’t be held responsible for the taste. In addition to the potassium packed sticks, I recommend FRESH FROZEN fruits which means they are frozen directly after being picked to help retain as many active ingredients as possible. Dominant flavor fruits like pineapple, blueberries and mangos are among my favorites. Strawberries and raspberries taste great and often don’t offer an overpowering flavor like our best friend the banana but still offer variety. Figs are a surprisingly sweet and easily mixed frozen fruit that mixes well in either the citrus or neutral base smoothie. Basically, throw anything you like in there and you’ll be happy with the results.
Some people have asked me about including protein powder in their smoothies to give them a feeling of satiety often missed with meal replacement smoothies. While I would like to comment about that, I’ll have to write another post about the inclusion of supplements in the diet (cliffhanger!).
Long story short, I am a realist who understands that the ideal is something we strive for, not a position most of us are already in. This smoothie plan is one step in the right direction, not a panacea for all of your weight loss/dietary needs. For this reason we have nutritionists in our referral network, so the experts can construct a plan of action for your specific and unique needs. If that sounds up your alley, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get referred to our preferred health partners in your area.