Now that summer weather has finally arrived, our gardens are starting to flourish. Soon, our refrigerators will be full of fresh vegetables and we’ll have the challenge of finding ways to enjoy and benefit from them. In the winter we make ”clean-out-the-fridge-soup” – but who wants to heat up the house on these hot days!
During our heat wave earlier in the month, a lot of folks asked me for my favorite summer smoothie recipe, and in this column I share my favorite. As we know, ”we are what we eat,” and the more nutrient density we have in our diets, the better we feel. I have found smoothies to be a tasty, quick way to ”drink” my fruits and vegetables.
I usually add protein to my smoothies to balance out the carbohydrates and fats. Whey is a much more digestible protein (for most) than soy and mixes easier; other options are rice, pea or pumpkin-seed protein.
Here is a favorite recipe that I make in my blender. (Note: There’s no need for a fancy, high-horsepower blender to make this. Do try this at home!)
I use diluted, unsweetened cranberry juice or filtered water as a base. For the ”cran-water,” combine four ounces of cranberry juice with 28 ounces filtered water in a quart jar and keep in your fridge for smoothies or as a beverage. This also works well with other unsweetened juices, especially my other favorites – antioxidant-rich unsweetened pomegranate or blueberry juice.
Another great option on those hot days is a cooled herbal tea such as Red Zinger, which has as a main ingredient the cooling herb hibiscus – or just make a jug of hibiscus tea and keep in the fridge.
Yaakov’s Great Green Smoothie
8 to 16 ounces diluted cranberry juice
Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating three or more servings of fruit such as cranberries per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) – the primary cause of vision loss in older adults – by 36 percent, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.
2 to 3 tablespoons soaked or sprouted raw sunflower seeds or raw almonds
(Soaking overnight is optional, but makes these nuts and seeds more digestible.
Studies show that nuts and seeds can help support healthy blood sugar balance. Individuals with type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance have difficulty controlling their blood sugar levels because the cells of the body don’t absorb sugar from the bloodstream the way they should. This can lead to high blood sugar levels, sugar in the urine and high blood insulin levels.
2 tablespoons lecithin granules
(Supports digestion of fats and healthy brain function, and is available in granules or liquid made from either soy or sunflower oil.)
2 to 3 tablespoons of ground flax seeds or soaked Chia seeds
(Great source of breast-cancer-fighting lignan fiber and anti-inflammatory Omega-3 oils.)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast powder
(Great source of B-complex vitamins, great source of energy.)
1 cup frozen blueberries or other dark berries
(Freezing breaks down cell walls and you may get more antioxidants)
Research has confirmed that metabolites of oxidation, known as free radicals, are at the root of the progression of chronic diseases such as macular degeneration, arthritis, atherosclerosis, diabetes, cancer and other signs of aging, such as the loss of skin elasticity and cognitive function. Antioxidants are gaining an ever-more important role in health promotion.
2 handfuls of greens (parsley, chard, lettuce, etc.)
Researchers in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Pennsylvania State University found improved insulin regulation and better inflammatory status if men who were at risk of colorectal cancer consumed about 20 to 40 grams of fiber per day, including fiber from vegetables and fruits. Lutein in greens protect the retina and macula as well as supporting brain health and healthy skin.
1 small cucumber
(Cooling ingredient for those hot days.)
1/2 frozen (not-so-ripe) banana and/or ripe avocado
(Great potassium sources.)
1/2 large carrot in chunks
(Great source of beta-carotene and fiber. More protective carotenes to add to the carotenes from the greens.)
2 scoops whey protein concentrate or pea/rice protein (20 to 40 grams protein)
(Protein is essential for health, energy, sugar balance and rebuilding muscle after exercise.)
1 to 2 raw egg yolks
(They are a great source of healthy fats and naturally contain lecithin, which helps us digest those fats.)
It is best to separate your eggs, so as not to include the whites in your smoothie. Save the whites for omelets because they contain avidin, which will bind with the important B vitamin biotin (found in the yolks), preventing its absorption.
Cooking the egg whites reduces the effects of the avidin. Use only farm-fresh eggs that come from chickens that get to go outside (avoid conventional grocery store confinement eggs such as Egglands).
The amounts of any of these ingredients can vary depending on your taste, and which vegetables or fruit are available; be creative and have fun concocting your own masterpiece!
Smoothies are very portable; I use canning jars that fit easily in my cooler for a great nutritious meal on the go, and when I have a smoothie to-go with me I avoid the other (less optimal) choices I might make for a snack or meal. Salud!