Yeah, you heard me. I can't log into Facebook without the scores of yogis I know touting their green juices, raw diets, gluten-free holy grails and big skinny smiles. And get this—I’m a yoga teacher.
So please excuse me while this yoga teacher upchucks. Don't get me wrong, I love me some smoothies. I just like them to taste good. I happen to be the best smoothie maker I know (Continue reading, I'll share my secrets).
Why the hell would I want to mar a delicious banana-blueberry-almond-butter-almond milk smoothie with the vegetable-y likes of kale? Sure, I dig my kale as much as the next yogi (I've at least got this evidence on my side should the yogi police come knocking on my door). I love it sautéed with garlic and red pepper flakes. I’ll even eat it in raw salads, letting lemon juice and avocado "cook" the kale.
But liquefied? I just ain't that hard core, man. I mean, why not just run into the backyard and grab a hunk of grass, some leaves and a few sticks, whip 'em up and call it a day if you want something that tastes like the contents of a landscaper’s garbage bag.
I'll say it again: Hurl.
So why did I start consuming these heretofore ralph-tastic green concoctions? Everything you read above was true until recently. I was anti-green smoothie and proud. I'm not sure exactly what sparked the change. Maybe it was a big move across the country with a baby on the edge of toddlerhood (with newfound ability to scream for no reason and passion for electrical outlets and choke-able items).
We christened our new east coast home with a never-ending loop of germ-y sickness. First I got sick, then baby, then me, then baby…you get the idea. But the physical sickness was the prettier part of the picture. Specifically, it was my own unattractive mental suffering and immense failures (at least in my own eyes) as a wife, mother and yogi; it was suddenly awakening to the crap piled high on top of me that made me want to dig myself out, shake things up, expand my horizons, jump out of an airplane, or, you know, maybe just put some damn kale into my blender.
I found a green smoothie recipe was just a tiny hop away from my banana blueberry almond smoothie. All I had to do was add some green, and not a lot of it, not if I didn’t want to, some cinnamon (hmm, I’d never thought of that) and try hemp seeds instead of my almonds. Well, I was shaking things up. And while I couldn’t quite work up the nerve to skydive, I could handle some swiss chard in a smoothie. Well, maybe just a little bit, okay?
I'm still doing the smoothies. Occasionally I branch out and join the little one for a hot breakfast, as the temperature has finally retreated down from the humid swampy mess that enveloped my skin all summer. But I fell head over heels for a Swiss Cinnamon Smoothie for breakfast:
Swiss Cinnamon Smoothie (Recipe from consciouscleanse.com)
Ingredients for 1 quart:
>>one cup blueberries
>>one medium banana
>>two Swiss chard leaves, stalks removed
>>one tsp ground cinnamon
>>one tbsp hemp seeds
>>two cups water, coconut water or almond milk
Blend on high until creamy.
Not only did it taste good (Swiss chard is practically imperceptible in this recipe, folks), but man, what a difference in my life. Look, I didn’t do a scientifically controlled study. I only have my experience. Did I say only? I mean, I have my own experience and that is way more like everything.
My everything included more energy, satisfaction (I used to need a small meal soon after my non-green smoothie—not so anymore), energy and feeling badass. The more I ate leafy greens, the more I wanted them. Those greens started to taste, um, good. I signed up to do a cleanse.
Truly, though, this chard-forged shift in my daily diet, which in turn engendered lots of shifts on other levels, had repercussions far beyond food. There’s an overall feeling of a return to who I really am. Did I really just say that? Excuse me while I go toss my cookies.
1. Smoothies require a base. Half a banana or avocado will do. I use banana.
2. Ideal consistency requires frozen fruit. A regular banana will result in a limp smoothie. It will be okay, but not great.
3. Bananas and other fruit should be almost overripe when frozen. If your banana is not ripe or just barely ripe (i.e. just yellow) when frozen, your smoothie will not taste as good. I buy bananas all the time so I always have some just ripe enough to eat, and some just past their prime to freeze. As soon as they start to look too brown, you just peel them, break them into halves or quarters, and stick them in a ziploc baggie and freeze.
4. Don’t put yogurt in your smoothie. Eat the yogurt, if that’s your thing. Just not in your smoothie. A good smoothie requires frozen fruit, a liquid base (unsweetened almond milk, water or coconut water, or a mix of two out of those three, are my preferred choices), nuts or seeds (my go-tos are hemp seeds, almonds or walnuts) and yes, some leafy greens (I prefer swiss chard). Just try a smoothie without freaking yogurt and then decide, ok?
5. About those greens. The chard really is pretty mild. Kale, a little more green volume. Recently I branched out into collard greens when my husband bought them by mistake. Not bad! Also, I have found that fresh, beautiful greens taste best. Big surprise! A few slightly weary-looking leaves will result in a bit of that landscaper garbage bag aftertaste. Ingredients matter.
6. Try letting the fruit be the sugar in your smoothie. If you want a sugar bomb, you can go to various smoothie establishments and drink your daily calories in one sitting (there will usually be a fruit juice base among other sugar sources lurking in those commercial smoothies). Have fun.
7. Enjoy what you eat. Life is too short to eat things that make you want to spew. But try to remember that what you think might make you barf may change.
Jean Marie Hackett is a yoga teacher who likes to write. She lives in Washington D.C., where she recently relocated with her husband, a toddler and two dogs after two beautiful years teaching yoga in Boulder, Colorado, and a number of years practicing law in New York and Boston before that. Green smoothies really did make her want to barf and yes, now she’s actually consuming them and even planning to do a cleanse starting in mere days—eek! Learn more about Jean Marie at her website, www.jeanmarieyoga.com.