“No matter when you start, a diet that is focused on plant foods will help you work toward the prevention of many illnesses and feeling better overall”–Julia Zumpano, RD, LD
Diet choices have long been debated. From Adkins to Keto, 7-Day Rotation to Whole 30, Paleo to Low Carb, Mediterranean to Pritikin, and all variations in between, regardless of the varying diet trends, there’s no denying that fruits and vegetables are nutritionally sound food choices for promoting health. Experts may argue about which fruits and vegetables are the so-called better choices, but most will agree that eating unadulterated food from the ground is more nutritionally sound than eating chemically enhanced processed foods.
In fact, when going through the research, numerous medical clinics, cancer centers, and disease prevention sites recommend Americans increase their intake of fruits and vegetables. It makes sense too. All those different colors offer a wide array of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and anti-inflammatory properties that cannot be found naturally in processed food.
“Eating healthy food fills your body with energy and nutrients. Imagine your cells smiling back at you and saying: “Thank you!”.” – Karen Salmansohn
Think about it. Fruits and vegetables don’t need a label that says, “Vitamin-D enriched” or “Fortified with 12 essential vitamins and minerals.” They don’t need it because they naturally contain a wide array of vitamins and minerals–depending upon which plant you choose to consume. This is why, “eating the rainbow,” is an often quoted expression. If you eat a wide variety of colorful plants throughout your day and week, Mother Nature, thanks to the infinite wisdom of our Creator, provides all the nutrition your body needs for healthy functioning and vitality.
Like many, since March of 2020, I have become increasingly more focused on what I eat. Keeping my immune system running high, and my inflammation low, seems more important than ever in the era of living in a global pandemic. While I’ve been a plant based eater for nearly ten years, I find myself more attentive to daily consuming dark leafy greens and/or cruciferous vegetables as part of my desire to remain healthy and avoid COVID. While I recognize that eating well isn’t the only protective act I need to do when dealing with a highly contagious virus, these vegetables have long been established as possessing cancer and disease preventive properties, reducing oxidative stress, and lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease. Additionally, they increase bone health, protect eye health, and boost the immune system. Plus, their varying shades of green are chock full of fiber and a wide array of vitamins and minerals.
“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.”–Thomas Ediso
Below is a green smoothie recipe I drank throughout most of March that features leafy greens and cruciferous. After such an extraordinary winter with snows, ice, and then flooding, drinking a bright green smoothie felt like a personal manifestation of spring. Furthermore, since March was also the month in which I was wrapping up 12-weeks of training for the Virginia Beach Shamrock Marathon, this smoothie felt like extra-nutritional insurance for remaining healthy and ready to run.
I like to think of smoothies as a blended breakfast salad. When made fresh at home, I am the controller of ingredients, calories, fiber, and nutrition. I keep my smoothies whole food and plant based food based in order to start my day off on the right foot–especially since I would otherwise, at least during the work week, skip breakfast. While I often add healthy fats in the form of nuts or seeds to smoothies, I personally do not with this one, but you could. Instead, I tend to add a teaspoon of greens powder for an extra boost of concentrated green goodness, and sometimes matcha (ground green tea) if I feel I need a boost of energy and focus. This smoothie fuels my morning and keeps me full until lunch. The flavor is bright and tangy, and it’s super refreshing to drink.
Here few other tidbits and factoids I have learned while refining my smoothies techniques:
* Put greens and liquid in the blender first and blend well, this is especially important, if, like me, you don’t have a top-of-the-line blender.
* Spinach is always the sweetest greens, which is why I often blend it with other greens such as kale and swiss chard.
* Riced cauliflower, fresh or frozen, works well as a “green” since it’s cruciferous and makes smoothies extra smooth and creamy.
* Lightly peel/cut away any citrus fruit, leaving part of the pith (the white part). It is high in fiber, vitamin C, flavonoids–which boost the immune system–and it is anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial.
* Ginger and turmeric are both known for their immune boosting properties, reducing inflammation, and decreasing chronic pain. Fresh ginger and tumeric–both are roots–offer the most benefits, but ground versions are still beneficial. Therefore, I tend to add both spices to not only nearly all of my smoothies, but also incorporate them throughout the day.
I hope you’ll give this vibrant green smoothie a try. It is an easy way to increase your fruit and vegetable intake. Plus, you’ll start your day fueled with the power of green!
From my home to your, I wish you health, vibrancy, and vitality. Be well, and, if you do give this, or any of my other smoothie recipes a try, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Shamrock Marathon Green Smoothie
1 cup water
1 cup of your favorite greens, fresh or frozen, feel free to combine 2 different ones (think spinach, kale,
½ to 1 apple, quartered (I use granny smith apple.)
1 lemon, peeled, quartered & seeds removed
1 mini cucumber or ½ large cucumber, quartered
1 stalk celery, quartered
1 ¼ teaspoon ground ginger or 1” fresh piece
¼ teaspoon turmeric or ¼” fresh piece of turmeric
Dash of salt
Optional add-ins: 1 teaspoon greens powder and/or matcha powder, 1 tablespoon hemp, chia, or flaxseeds, and/or 1 scoop favorite protein powder
Makes 1 generous serving