Unless you’ve been living under a rock (and let’s face it, if that’s the case you’re probably none too fussed about dietary fads), you will no doubt have heard about the rise of the green smoothie. This ultra nutritious health drink, of green leafy vegetables, fruit and other beneficial supplements, is intended to work with your body to help gently detox, resulting in better digestive health, clearer skin, and even a few lost pounds.
The idea of a detox might send a shiver down your spine, conjuring up images of gag-worthy meal replacements, worthy but unpleasant supplements, and a wobbly week eating nothing in return for only small changes in the health stakes. With green smoothies, it doesn’t have to be so frightful. A couple of cups of this nutritious shake a day - without necessarily switching out meals in return - is enough to kick start your health; and the good news is, green smoothies can be made cheaply at home with no specialist equipment, and taken into work with you to boost your energy and well being, directly from your desk. If you’re planning for your bikini clad summer holiday, looking for an energy kick, or battling the mid afternoon energy slump, read on.
The theory goes like this: the chlorophyll in the green leafy veggies, and the fibre they bring, as well as the nutrient dense cocktail of fruit and vegetables, works with your body to gently cleanse, removing toxin build up, and clearing digestive ailments. Expect to be brighter, with more energy, less sluggish and better able to cope with working life, within three weeks.
The greater hydration levels achieved, as well as the nutrient boost, contribute to the brightness of skin and energy boost, whilst the detox of the digestive system - can help shift stubborn pounds. If you want a greater impact on the waist line, use green smoothies as a meal replacement at breakfast time by bulking up your shake with a filler like oats. Drink after a refreshing glass of hot water and lemon to get the maximum benefits. Stick to the second glass in work during your afternoon slump to stake off hunger pangs and keep you off the biscuits. The shakes, being full of fibre, are good at keeping you feeling full and helping you resist temptations.
So, what goes into a green smoothie? The beauty of this approach is that your smoothie is yours to tailor make. Recipes abound, either in published books, in the blogs of enthusiasts or professional sites selling extras you can put into your shakes to turbo charge them. Mix and match lists also exist to help you select different combinations of fruit and veggies to match your taste whilst giving you the optimum nutritional bang. Pop the ingredients you have to hand into a blender and off you go - by making at home and taking them into work in a flask, you have a nutritious snack to hand when you need it.
The basic principle to shoot for is a 60:40 proportion of veg to fruit, although in the early stages of experimenting with this approach, you might be advised to go with a 70:30 ratio, the sweeter fruit helping your palette adjust to the new flavours.
Green leafy vegetables, including spinach, kale, broccoli, herbs like parsley and coriander, cabbage and lettuce varieties, can be combined with fruit like apple, pear, kiwi, grape and melon. Liquid should be water or variants on non dairy, non caffeinated beverages such as roiboos tea or juice. Some recipes do include dairy additions such as yoghurt, milk or kefir, but these naturally add calories to your otherwise healthy drink. If you need extra sweetness in your shake, add honey or other natural sweeteners, and if you are using it as a meal replacement add in oatmeal to bulk it up and keep you feeling full. Spices like cinnamon can bring a bit of variation, and texture can be developed with crushed ice. Extras like seeds can be added for their nutritional benefits, and if you get really enthusiastic you can pick up tailor made mixes of ingredients such as pollen to give a boost to different aspects of your health.
On top of this, make the most of your imagination and try some combinations. Use the mix and match charts available as a guide, and adjust to your taste. Change your ingredients frequently in order to get the maximum benefit from the drinks, as well as allowing you to use seasonal ingredients - both for their better price and nutritional benefit.
Make your drinks at home to make them economically reasonable, and to make sure you can really tailor them to your preferences. Keep them in a flask to take into work, with couple of ice cubes for good measure, and enjoy the slightly smug feeling of settling down to a mid afternoon smoothie, which tastes fresh, is nutritious and keeps your hand out of the biscuit tin.