When Amy’s favorite juice recipe reached my mailbox, I looked at the color and almost immediately deleted that piece of mail. I don’t drink green drinks, I said to myself, hearing a subtle tone of Sam I Am. Then my cousin Adrienne began posting her smoothie combinations onto Facebook and I thought, where is she getting these weird concoctions? Carrots? Kale? Broccoli? Cucumbers? In a smoothie?
In one of those too-coincidental-to-be-a-coincidence moments, my husband recently reminded me of a doctor’s diagnosis that originally sparked my enthusiasm for a “greener” diet: a pre-cancerous situation on my ovaries, found while I was pregnant with our son. Cancer didn’t register with the gravity that it might have under different circumstances; I simply had too much going on to receive the full impact of that blow. Our oldest was three, I was close to birthing our son, and my husband was commuting from a job that was 4 hours away, so I only saw him on weekends. But driving home, I remember thinking that I needed to eliminate meat from my diet.
To make a long story short, my stint with vegetarianism didn’t last long. After our son was born, I found myself gaining weight as a vegetarian–the last thing that needed to happen. I now realize that I didn’t research enough recipes that were vegetarian and lower in fat, so the meat in my diet was replaced with white pastas, cheeses, and more butters and creams. Add to that a brief experiment with Depo-Provera, and about 35-40 pounds came out of nowhere. I quickly abandoned both the new diet and the shots, but the smoothie kick stuck.
Living in Texas, it is easy to find fresh fruits at inexpensive prices all year long, so unless it’s a cool or cold day, I might crank up the blender and include a smoothie as a part of our breakfast on any day. I also spend the money to buy frozen fruits when smoothie-friendly fruits are unavailable. Until recently, however, my smoothie combinations have been fruits, milk or fruit juice, ice, and honey. I’d not thought about venturing out to include vegetables. Then, under my cousin’s guidance, I checked out the Vitamix website and read about the many benefits of greens in your diet. Although the page is a glorified advertisement for their blender, the information is invaluable for someone considering adding greens in this way, and you don’t need their blender to enjoy some great taste combinations. Their mix-and-match smoothie recipe sheet boasts 350+ possible recipes, and it is free when you subscribe to their newsletter.
My diet over the years has changed tremendously, moreso because of age than anything else. One of my dearest friends, now in her early 50’s, would always tell me that after the age of 40, aches and pains come out of nowhere; she was right. At my last eye appointment, I learned that I’ve reached the age where I have to move things away from my face–contrary to what my near-sighted vision would dictate–in order to see better. With all these changes and more, I’ve become increasingly cognizant of taking care of myself for the longer haul. I love fish and shellfish too much to join our son as a vegetarian, but I’m constantly looking for ways to add more raw foods, more vegetables and fruits, and more whole grains into our diet. The “clincher,” as it were, in this green smoothie trial was that it allowed me to introduce more raw green vegetables into our son’s diet. He currently enjoys a few green veggies, but appreciates them most when they are cooked the wrong way, i.e., fried okra. So when I added a pear and spinach to the peach-banana smoothie that he loves and he never asked a question, I knew I was on to something. I had to confess the broccoli and carrots when he asked why his smoothie was brown, but otherwise, Vitamix’s claim did not miss the proverbial mark: the natural sweetness of the fruit totally masks the natural bitterness of the greens.
Praise be to God, that pre-cancerous condition had disappeared by the time I had my next exam. In fact, I didn’t even remember that time in my life until we were speaking recently about a wealth of illnesses occurring within our extended families. I don’t always do so well after the smoothie–the day I enjoyed the “brown” smoothie that said son eyed cautiously, I also recall eating my oh-so-rich, deep-fried Indian paneer, enjoying hot chocolate, and committing a host of other poor food choices. Directionally, however, I’m sold on this path, at least for the three of us who appreciate a good smoothie. Pray for our girls, would you? 🙂