“Green” Smoothies Come in Other Colors, Too!

After my excitement about indulging in “green” smoothies, my friend Kimberley says, “This looks good.  Now all you need to add is flax seeds–and beets.”    The hubby spends much of his day in some type of travel mode, so I immediately dismissed the idea of the flax.   Makes a great curl definer, though!

Beets.  A couple of tastes of them as a child and I thought for sure that their mere existence proved that my mother was evil and  satan is real.   Yet, as an adult whose goal is health and wholeness, I kept hearing  Kimberley’s comment in my head: “They give you so much energy.”   When I consider how I felt for much of the last portion of 2011, and what I want my life to be this year, I do need energy.    I continued, however,  to hold out until another friend, Marcy, echoed Kimberley’s sentiments, even detailing for me how to prepare the beet.   No rocket science there, but as a person who stayed as far away from this veggie as east is to west, I definitely needed a “Beet 101” lesson.

If it’s any sign of its unpopularity, it took me two grocery stores to find these babies.   I was almost ready to give in, so I needed more prompting.    This bit of research came from Nutrition-and-you.com:

Certain unique pigment antioxidants present in root as well as top greens have found to offer protection against coronary artery disease and stroke, lower cholesterol levels in the body and have anti-aging effects…[Beets contain] significant amounts of vitamin-C, one of the powerful natural antioxidant, which helps body scavenge deleterious free radicals one of the reasons for cancers development…In addition, the root indeed has very good levels of potassium. 100 g fresh root has 325 mg of potassium or 7% of daily requirements. Potassium lowers heart rate and regulates metabolism inside the cells by countering detrimental effects of sodium.’ (http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/beets.html)

Okay, here goes.   This morning, I mixed my fruit, ice, milk, a little honey, and timidly added 1/2 of a beet root.    Even before I tasted it, I had to admit it sure was pretty.

As much as I wanted to hate it when the faint, but familiar smell of a beet crossed my nostrils, I have to admit that it was good.   The beets aren’t as undetectable as kale, but with enough fruit and honey, the taste is very subtle.   Our son thought so, too, until he realized what he was drinking.   (Originally, he thought the pink was an overabundance of strawberries, and he, too, commented on the attractiveness of the color).    Then, he tried to fake a distaste for it.    Later, he began to ask questions about beets and which parts (root vs. greens) offer what taste and what value.     In considering his cycle of emotions, I suppose fruit doesn’t fall that far from the tree.

I’m not sure I could handle even a subtle taste of beets in our smoothies every day.   I will probably alternate them with kale, another power-packed green, to give us our “green” component.

In the meantime, my husband, who loves beets, is doing a happy dance.   He already has in his recipe requests,   Kimberley has a “can’t be beet” (get it?) burger recipe she wants to share, and my dear mother is looking down from heaven and smiling.

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Green Smoothies

  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?  🙂

First Fruits (and Vegetables)

 

 

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.   

 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                             

 Matthew 9: 37-38

Our Daily Bread

On Labor Day, I actually labored.    My superhero endured the heat to trim, cut and edge on yesterday, so I thought I’d do my part and weed.   The weather was so pleasant until I also decided to stay outside and clean out the garage.  It’s amazing how the day before an impending storm can bring about such a peaceful day.   Hmmm…that’s a good start for another entry, but I’ll try it at another time.

         

While out in the garden, I had a chance to reflect on a number of things.   One thing was how nice it was to have a day with few have-tos.   I was so excited about that, in fact, that I almost slept in—that is, until I realized how much “help” the five-year-old would give me if I waited.   But I did cook breakfast rather than allowing everyone to go for themselves with cereal and bagels.   That decision almost spelled doom in terms of my to-do list, but thankfully, I was able to recoup.

There’s a neat story about meal time at our home.   It goes all the way back to my mom, who was “old school” in all her ways.   She cooked one meal, and if you didn’t like it, tough.   I was never a picky eater, although I do remember using ketchup and barbecue sauce to cover up the taste of black eyed peas and lima beans.   Having grown up in that environment, how’d I get to be such a bleeding heart when it comes to food?   The oldest is just plain picky, as I’ve spoken of before, and our son is a vegetarian.   The five-year-old comes the closest to eating the same diet of my superhero and I, a diet that encompasses a wide variety of dishes.   We’ve picked up something from each of our eating adjustments, i.e., fad diets, over the years—vegetarian dishes, lowfat, whole wheat pasta, you name it.   The impact of all of this is that, on any given day, I cook at least 2 different lunches and 2 different dinners.   The only reason breakfast isn’t consistently impacted is because everyone loves those rich, starchy foods—pancakes, waffles, biscuits.   Recently my husband and I experimented with the South Beach diet.    I was trimmer and I felt better, but it was alot of work for me.   The hardest part was cooking breakfast each morning.   I had to cook eggs and turkey sausage for us.   My son likes eggs, but the girls hate them.  The youngest likes meats, so sausage works, but she hates cereals, hot or cold, which the oldest enjoys.   After weeks of eggs, I missed my fruit smoothies, and 2-1/2 to 3 breakfast dishes each morning took a big chunk of my energy and enthusiasm for the rest of the day.   Charlotte Mason, in Ourselves, talks about the danger of gluttony and of thinking ahead to the next meal while consuming one.   Yet, with several appetites to cater to, I spend a ridiculous amount of time thinking about what to cook, when to cook it, and how each person might respond to it.   I know the food pyramid the way some ladies know their favorite store in a mall.   I actually took a picture of the stove one day recently before dinner.

 

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The chicken and fries were for the girls, and the spinach enchiladas (pictured in back) were for the guys.   Since I like corn tortillas rather than flour tortillas, I cooked hearty rice skillet, a vegetarian variation on beans and rice, for myself.   This is me each day: full-time short-order cook.

Anyway, after cleaning up the garage, I actually had a little school time with the kids—their idea.  We didn’t finish everything we needed to on Friday, and rather than try to rekindle our energy late on Friday night, we thought to wrap up when we’re more refreshed.     Then, after a brief check-in with the bigger kids, I actually had an opportunity to relax, respond to a few blogging friends, and type this entry, an entry that started on Monday, but will become public on Friday–HA HA!!     Is the start of school having this effect on anyone else?   Dance season for us began on Tuesday, and I’m still making the adjustment to having someplace to go almost each evening.

 

Dinner on Monday was buffalo burgers with roasted potatoes and broccoli for hubby and I, chicken and fruit for the girls, and a sandwich for our son.    My mom is looking down from Heaven and laughing.