Start out the New Year in the green

By Dana Zia, The Golightly Gourmet

I just spent 10 days in my beloved Hawaii. Other than swimming with sea turtles and visiting my daughters who are living there, I ate. Oh yes, I love the island foods and this was a particularly interesting foodie holiday as both my daughters are working in restaurants over there and know the industry intimately. So I had not one but two informers on the inside. Yes, I ate.

Now, back home again, I am reflecting on all those delicious island flavors and feeling rather round. I cannot deny that my one of my favorite foodie experiences was the simple green smoothie that I sipped while sitting in a light filled, back ally juice bar.

My daughter guided me there since I was whining (yes, whining) about all the rich foods and she knew just the tonic for me. As I was marveling over the green smoothie, its flavor, color and nourishing life force, I was astonished how I had forgotten about this amazing food. I used to make them almost daily for detoxification, nutrition and satisfaction. Time to bring them back.

Green smoothies are blended drinks that combine leafy greens with fruits, veggies and healthy fats such as almonds, chia and flax seeds and coconut milk. Since they have whole foods and healthy fats in them they are chocked full of nutrition and fiber and are low in the glycemic index unlike “juiced” veggies, which can be high in sugars.

These nutritional powerhouses are an easy way to deliver our recommended 5-9 servings of vegetables and fruit a day. They are quick, convenient and portable. Plus green smoothies are filled with raw foods which are the absolute best way to consume veggies and fruit as they retain all their micronutrients and antioxidants that are lost upon cooking.

If you are one of the millions of people with digestion issues, you will be happy to know that green smoothies are a very beneficial aid for you. Blending fruits and vegetables together breaks down the cells of plants and improves digestibility. Your blender unlocks the nutrients and maximizes their delivery to your body more than chewing any salad could.

When I am drinking green smoothies in the morning for breakfast I experience a loss in cravings of naughty foods, mental clarity (yup, a high commodity) boosted immunity, increased energy, weight loss, glowing happy skin and excellent “regularity” if ya know what I mean. Now you know why I am amazed that I ever stopped consuming green smoothies. (Slap forehead)

There is no way to go wrong with making them but there are a few tips to making them delightfully delicious. Leafy greens to start with are spinach, romaine, and rainbow or Swiss chard since they are more neutral tasting. I love kale, mint and parsley too but they have a bit of a stronger flavor. Some folks prefer to use all fresh, raw ingredients, but I like using some frozen fruit since it lends a thicker, ice cream-like texture.

I suggest you blend your greens or veggies first with your liquid, whatever it might be, then add your other goodies and save the frozen fruit for last. If you like to creamify your smoothies, add a half an avocado, a tablespoon of nut butter, coconut water or milk or a frozen banana. Don’t be shy to add supplements like chia, flax or sunflower seeds. Adding a supergreen powder that has spirulina, wheat grass and other vibrant greens is also dynamite.