Saturday, May 3, 2014

Collard Smoothie

Collards divided into serving portions and frozen in zipper plastic bags
Over a year ago I began preparing green smoothies to go with breakfast.  Since that time I have greatly increased the amount of green beverage I have first thing in the morning and at the same time significantly reduced any other foods to accompany my breakfast.  The nutrients and volume of my green smoothies fill me up well.

Eating raw foods, such as what I put into my smoothies, enables my digestive system to work efficiently, without stress.  Digestive problems (constipation, diarrhea, or bloating and gas) can be terribly uncomfortable and lead to other health problems.  I put up with these issues for a long time until I realized they really aren't normal and that my body was trying to tell me something was amiss.

It was when I began to get noticeably sick that I discovered much of my problem was a wheat allergy (gluten intolerance). After my doctor's confirmation it was then up to me to make necessary dietary changes.  There is no medication for gluten intolerance.  One has to learn to live without gluten-containing foods. Eating a primarily raw, mostly vegan, diet has made all the difference for me.  

People have told me they could never give up bread, cookies, pies, pancakes, waffles, biscuits, and breaded products.  What I tell them is that if a person is sick enough, the adjustment to a new way of eating is not so bad; it tends to be self-correcting.  

Yes, yes, I know there are gluten-free grain products out there, and I do eat some of them.  But with my avoidance of gluten has come a surprising weight loss.  As the changes were made, I realized just how many bread-related carbs I was eating.  I can honestly say that most of the time, I don't miss the old way.

As a bonus, I have experienced that in eating nutrient-dense foods, I eat less and stay fuller longer because my body is satisfied quickly after I eat and during the digestion process.

Today I am giving you a recipe for a green smoothie made with fresh collard greens. Collards can be ingested raw and no chewing is necessary when they are in a green smoothie.

Green Collard Smoothie in-the-works
This is the smoothie we enjoyed this morning:

Green Collard Smoothie (makes about 3 cups)

2 cups orange juice
1 large handful of fresh collards*
3/4 to 1 cup of frozen mango chunks
1 banana, sliced
2 Tablespoons ground flax seed meal
1-2 Tablespoons raw unfiltered honey
ice cubes are optional

Combine all of the ingredients in the blender and process until smooth. Serve immediately.

*I include the stems because my blender can handle them. If your blender isn't up to that, omit the stems and just use the leaves.

watching the emerald green liquid
while it's processing is a gorgeous sight

The more high-powered your blender, the more effective it is to release the nutrients out of the leaves of the greens.

sharing my smoothie with Beloved

This recipe makes about 3 cups.  Beloved, who is not as excited about fresh, raw whole foods as I am, does agree to have a small serving of my daily smoothies.  Admittedly, some days the color isn't this vibrant (greens combined with strawberries comes out to an earthy brown).  

I usually add honey to the smoothies for the sake of the unconvinced, a la Mary Poppins philosophy ("just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down"). 

I'm also a strong believer in the thought that even small improvements do us good, so if your family will drink even a little of your green smoothie concoctions, be glad.

My daughter (a stronger raw-food advocate than me) pours her smoothie into a large canning jar. I like to do that, too. Then if it's just too much to drink for breakfast (that happens!), I tuck my flexible straw down and put a lid on the jar and refrigerate it for later consumption. 

Do be sure to drink it within 24 hours or it loses its freshness.  If I'm busy at lunchtime, it's a treat to finish up the smoothie on the run.

As you may already know, you can't buy just a small amount of collards, mustard greens, or kale.  When I get them home, I divide them up into handfuls (about 2.5 ounces each) and freeze them in sandwich-size zipper bags.  One 16-ounce bag of these greens from the store will make about 6 zipper bags to freeze. This one step can make the morning breakfast rush much easier.

This smoothie can be made with any greens: kale, mustard greens, spinach, bok choy, and others.

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