Green Energy—Yum!

green scene

Happy Memorial Day, Friends! It’s Brooke here with a few questions for you: Do ever have those days (or weeks) that you feel tired and sluggish, even after getting a good night’s sleep? Do you wish you had more pep in your step after lunch?  No, the solution’s not caffeine, although it does make my world go ‘round. Answer: Time to load up on the veggies and fruit! There are lots of ways to add green goodness to your life—you can grab some produce and munch away, create some amazing salads, throw some greens into your cooked dishes, or juice that precious goodness into a glass. But one of my favorite ways to enjoy the bounty of the earth is to make green smoothies.

The USDA’s recommended daily amount varies for each person according to caloric intake, metabolism, and physiology, but a good standard for someone consuming 2,000 calories a day would be at the very least 2-3 servings of vegetables (more if possible!) and about 1.5-2 servings of fruit per day. The average American gets only 1.5-3 servings of veggies and fruit—total!—a day.

pretty veggies

When you realize all of the amazing ways that fruits and vegetables can help you live a healthier, longer, more vibrant life, you will run—not walk—to your nearest grocery store or farmer’s market. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and energy from the sun. Studies have repeatedly shown that a healthy diet low in saturated fat, high in whole grains, lean proteins, veggies, and fruit reduces the risk of most chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and so on. Consuming the abundant vitamins and minerals found in vegetables and fruit helps improve our mood; boost energy; enhance immune function; maintain efficient digestion; impart radiant skin and hair; and reduce risk of chronic and lifestyle-related diseases. This is great news!

I love green smoothies for several reasons:

1) They appeal to my lazy side—with just a little prep work, I can throw everything into my blender and within 30 seconds, I have a pitcher full of happiness that supplies about 3 or 4 glasses throughout the day.

2) They are fun to drink—as I live my fit life, salads make up a good portion of my diet. But sometimes I get tired of dealing with all the fixings (my salads are always full of crunchy, tasty veggies, nuts, and fruit) and coming up with new ideas all the time. Smoothies are a nice change of pace.

3) They make me feel good—this can also be said of dark, green leafy salads as well as freshly juiced produce. I’m slightly embarrassed to say this, but when I first cleaned up my eating, this fresh energy from the abundance of raw vegetables was a new experience. I noticed this after eating a lunch of quinoa, black beans, avocado, and then a big salad (spinach, chard, arugula, etc. plus celery, carrots, green onions, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, and almonds). I didn’t get the charge of caffeinated energy I knew so well, but my insides felt so light and clean, not heavy and bogged down.

heart veggies distressed

Digestion is the most energy-consuming function that the body carries out. That’s why you are so sleepy after stuffing yourself on a large meal—your body uses much of its available fuel to process what you just ate. Let me put it this way: meat can take 2-3 days to completely pass through your system (yikes!), a regular full meal can take 6-8 hours to digest, and most fruits and vegetables are out of your system in 2-3 hours. By consuming green salads or (especially) smoothies and juices, you are able to bypass much of this effort because the produce is mechanically broken down into smaller, more bioavailable parts. Almost immediately, your body begins to utilize the vitamins and minerals to repair and renew your body. This is why you feel so much better and full of energy within a day or two of adding dark green salads, juices, and smoothies to your menu.

cute vegetables

Here’s one of my favorite recipes. The fun part about smoothies is that the sky’s the limit on what ingredients you decide to use. A good rule of thumb when you are starting out is 1:1—1 green vegetable to 1 fruit. Ideally, you want to use more veggies than fruit. Green vegetables are virtually dripping with nutrients that you need for a radiant glow and optimum health. Also, fruit does contain sugar, even though it’s natural—so just be mindful of those luscious gems, especially if you are tightening up your sexy body. You’ll see, however, in my recipe below that I used more fruits than vegetables, mainly because I was out of more vegetables and my peaches were very ripe and had to go!

Sweet Greens

Note: Use organic produce when possible.

 smoothie ingredients_corrected

  • 2 c. spinach, raw
  • 1.5 c. water
  • 3-4 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 peaches, small
  • 1 pear
  • mint, small handful
  • 1 banana (optional)

Add spinach and water to the blender and blend on medium speed. Add celery in handfuls as it is incorporated with the spinach and water, increasing speed to high. Add peaches, pear, mint, and banana. Add some ice to add thickness if you like. Pour in a glass and enjoy!

Makes 4-5 10-oz. glasses

Here’s to your brighter, healthier day—drink up!

Brooke

green smoothie_corrected

Lovely and tasty!

 

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