Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.
– Edward Stanley, the earl of Derby, 1873
The earl’s comment could be made about both exercise and proper nutrition.
It is estimated that seventy percent of the way we look and feel is what we eat; I personally think that it’s even higher! The key to having balance in all parts of our lives starts with proper, balanced nutrition. When we eat well, we think well, act well, and live well, and the cornerstone of any great nutrition plan is fruits and vegetables, or “plant-based” nutrition.
Our lives have become so busy that we let our schedules get in the way of our own health, opting for the faster food choice so we can get back to whatever we need to do.
One of the easiest ways to ensure your daily requirement of fruits and vegetables is by making a daily green juice or smoothie. These green drinks can be made up of half or more of your daily fruit and vegetable requirements, and drinking it in the morning, either as a snack or part of a healthy breakfast, can give you a surge of nutrients that will jump start your day.
Why greens? Leafy greens and green vegetables are chock full of chlorophyll, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and amino acids that can nourish your insides, which will have a visible impact on your skin, hair, nails, and even your teeth while giving you more energy to truly live your life.
Should you do a green juice or a green smoothie? It depends on the equipment you have or want to invest in; either one is great for you and will provide you with all the benefits listed. The difference between a juice and a smoothie is the fiber!
When you put your fruit and vegetables through a juicer, you get just that, the juice; whereas when you put them in a blender, you retain all of the fiber and therefore get a thicker consistency for your drink. It’s similar to taking a shot of vodka versus drinking a frozen Chi-Chi: when you drink just the juice, your body will get an almost instant rush from the influx of nutrients, but when you drink a smoothie your body will have to do a little more work to break it down due to the fiber, so you get the same nutrients just not the same nutrient rush.
For those new to green drinks, I recommend starting with fruits and vegetables you already like eating before getting too adventurous with your recipes. It’s also good to ease yourself in by using a little more fruit in the beginning to make the juice or smoothie sweeter, then you can slowly use a little less fruit and a little more of your green vegetables.
Lastly, always try to use fresh, organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible. The point of making a green drink is to get the maximum benefit from the ingredients, so any pesticides left on them will be juiced or blended into your drink. If you cannot get organic, ensure you soak or peel your fruits and vegetables before making your drink.
Here is a recipe for one of my favorite green drinks, which can be made in a juicer or in a blender:
- 1 cucumber
- 4–6 celery stalks
- 4–6 kale stalks
- 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
- 4–6 Italian parsley sprigs
- 1–2 small apples
- ½–1 lemon
- water as needed, if blending
If you’re using a juicer: Chop the cucumber, celery, and apple to fit your juicer feed tube. You will want to put the kale and parsley through your juicer alternating with the large chunks of your fruits and vegetables to maximize the amount of juice you get from them. As for the lemon, you can put the whole lemon in the juicer, you can peel it leaving the white rind on (as there are lots of nutrients in the rind), or you can simply squeeze the lemon directly into your juice.
If you’re using a blender: The same directions apply – chop your fruits and vegetables adding them, your greens, and your ginger into your blender with water. Begin with ½ cup of water and start blending, adding more water until you have reached the consistency you want. Add the lemon to your desired taste.
This drink can be used as a snack anytime, but to make it more of a meal you can simply add half an avocado. By adding the avocado you are adding high-quality good fats that will keep you satiated longer. To add the avocado to your juicer, once you have completed juicing simply pour juice into your blender, add your avocado, and blend. For the blender recipe, add the avocado during blending, adding or reducing water to your desired consistency.
[author]Kristi Dowler is a personal trainer, running coach, nutrition counselor, and endurance athlete. Owner of VyAyr Fitness, she is dedicated to helping others live a healthy life. Find her at www.vyayr.com or [email protected].[/author]