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My Newest Craving

My Newest Craving

Last October, in an article titled Tired of Boiled Broccoli?, I wrote about being more adventurous with veggies in order to make sure we get our daily portions. Today, I’d like to share my newest craze, one that really helps me get enough greens in particular.

My friend Christa Smedile, RD, LDN had been telling me for a long time how much she loves her morning green smoothie. The idea seemed intriguing. I mean, starting your day with 2 servings of fruits and 1 serving of greens sounded very appealing to the health nut in me. But come on! A green smoothie? It just didn’t sound sexy.

After hearing a few testimonials from her clients, who raved about increased energy, nicer skin, reduced need for caffeine, and fewer cravings throughout the day, I just had to give it a try. I guess that’s one of the bitter-sweet things about being a health coach. I feel driven to try every plausible strategy to really know how it feels. Also keeping in the best possible shape is part of the job description. So I have a little extra motivation to do things that I might otherwise find excuses not to do. 😉

Green smoothies - yum!

So I decided to give it a try, and I kid you not, I was hooked in no time! Now every morning, I blend 2-3 different fruits together with water and organic kale, spinach, parsley, mint, and/or arugula. Sometimes I also add plain yogurt and chia or flax seeds as well. It’s as fast and easy as putting sliced bread in the toaster. But the results are quite different. More specifically, my stress level seems to have gone down, and I feel generally calmer. Not a big surprise, considering that the SaS Compass predicts that better habits in food will also benefit mood.

Equally interesting, my smoothie does make it easy to skip my morning java or black tea, and so I agree that it can be a great way for you to cut back on caffeine if that’s something you want to do. Last but not least, on days that I travel and don’t have access to my morning magic potion, my body really craves it. That’s one great craving to have!

My husband is also starting to be a serious convert. He left for work very early this morning, but had made his own before I got up. For those of you who would love to hear your kids asking “Mom, can I have more spinach, please?” perhaps green smoothies are the way to go.

If you’d like to venture on the green smoothie journey, summer is the perfect season for it. Start with about 80-85% fruit and 15-20% greens. The sweetness of the fruit will seduce your taste buds and get the habit going. Organic apples, pineapple, mangoes and bananas are the tastiest fruits to get started with. Over time, increase the proportion of greens until they reach about 40%. Make sure to rotate your greens to increase your variety of vitamins and to keep things interesting.

To all of you coaches trying to encourage clients to eat breakfast, not only would a green smoothie be more nutritious than toast with peanut butter and banana, but I bet your clients would feel better faster, too. Nudging them in that direction may make the breakfast habit easier to establish. It’s definitely worth a shot.

So give it a try, and let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear your feedback.

For more suggestions on how to include more veggies in your daily meals, see Be Sneaky on p. 134 of our book.

  • I love this idea. And I’ve had some delicious green smoothies before. But fast and easy as putting bread in a toaster? How about cleaning the blender? Any pointers for us lazy types who hate to wash dishes? :-) Other than that it’s a great suggestion (and you already have me craving one of these smoothies!) I do think one problem in our culture, however, is always trying to make everything taste good. I know as my young kids grow up I’ll probably have to blend up their green veggies with a bunch of sugary fruits in order to get them to eat them, but I hope I can also teach them to think of food as fuel, and it doesn’t always have to taste good.

  • OK, Jeremy, I’ll admit that you may need an extra minute or two for the smoothie as you do for the toast, but not much more than that. Blending the ingredients together is faster than waiting for your toast to cook (at least, it is in my mini-oven toaster), so you can use the extra seconds to start cleaning the blender. LOL! Also, nothing wrong with just rinsing it in the AM, and doing a more thorough clean with the evening dishes if you’re in a total rush one morning.

    You know, “effort” is also a very relative concept. My husband doesn’t mind driving to the corner store if we’re out of milk or calling our cell phone provider if we have a billing issue, but to me these are real hassles. “It only takes 6 minutes!” he’ll say, and he’s right. On the other hand, don’t ask him to clean the pot and cooking utensils after a meal – that’s above his “talent level” he’ll say to avoid doing it. But to me, it only takes 6 minutes. So – what if you made the smoothie for everyone and got your wife to clean the blender? Not that I’m trying to be sexist and make Catherine responsible for dishes – just trying to get each partner to do something they don’t mind doing. Or what if you used a hand blender instead? Would that seem more practical to you?

    See if you’d like this one: http://www.amazon.com/Miallegro-9090-550-Watt-Immersion-Professional-style/dp/B00281QTE0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1341337521&sr=8-1&keywords=braun+blender

    The smoothie may not be quite as smooth as with a Vitamix or a Ninja blender, but it may be worth to you to saw the extra cleaning time.

    As far as taste goes, you’re right – in this culture, taste is often deemed more important than nutrition, and it’s a shame. But having started with more fruit and being in the process of increasing greens, I have found that my taste buds adjust quite easily. It’s really not the fruity taste I’m craving, it’s the green goodness. I bet that your kids can transition just as easily if you make the progression slow enough – especially if you don’t tell them that you’re reducing the fruit content. But good for you for teaching them that food is fuel – that’s a very important lesson!

    MJ

  • That’s a good point. We have our own “division of duties” around things like that. Good answer!

  • Michelle Adams

    I have been doing this since January and love it! My body craves it on the days that I miss due to travel too. I recently invested in a Vitamix, super easy to clean and very effective, well,worth the investment. This has been the single best thing I have done for my health in a long time. Love it! Thanks for the blog.

  • Good for you, Michelle! Happy to hear we share the same craving! Was that a New Year resolution? I’d love to hear what got you started in the first place.
    MJ

    • Mafit4u

      I needed to lose my baby weight and tried some different options. I read about trying the shakes and gave it a try. Just after doing it for a few weeks I noticeably felt different throughout my day. I had more energy, my cravings were reduced and my skin was looking better too. I lost 20 pounds in 2 months and have been able to maintain comfortably and I think the shakes are the key.

      I love getting my veggies in the morning and think of it as a fun challenge each morning. Every day it is a little different yet very good. The Vitamix just makes it easier as well.

      Do you have any favorite combos you could share?

  • Hi MJ,

    I’ve seen people drinking these green smoothies and always thought they sounded gross but then after reading your description, it actually sounded good. So i’m going to try it! Thanks for the great idea (and to Christa, too).

  • Lovely to hear, Christine! Did you get a chance to give them a shot yet? You can also try some basil or cilantro in there if that’s more pleasing to your taste buds. Pears are also amongst my favorite fruits to add. Hope you enjoy it, but please don’t get discouraged if the first attempt isn’t great – there are so many recipes to try!

    Michelle – I wish I had a specific recipe to share! I’m the kind of person who tends to throw things together as I go, without measuring much. But yesterday’s smoothie was really nice, and it was quite simple. I am traveling at the moment, and decided to bring some ingredients in a cooler + my hand blender so I could keep up with the smoothies while away. From memory, I think it was 1 cup water, 1 banana (I rarely skip the banana), 1 pear, 1 tablespoon chia seeds and lots of spinach. That was it! I remember doing something similar last week but with red kale instead of spinach and red grapes instead of a pear. That one turned brown/purple-ish – not as sexy looking, but quite tasty! 😉

    Have fun with the process, Ladies!

    MJ

    • Christine

      Hi Marie-Jo, my kitchen aid blender died just as I had brought home all the ingredients. I bought the ninja blender (it’s good!) and have started making the smoothies– I’m not hardcore on the veggies/seeds, so I do it with frozen blueberries and other fruits, plain yogurt, banana and kale. I love them and they have all the benefits you and others have talked about. Now I need to make it a standard recipe so I don’t have to stop and taste-test :)

      • Hi Christine! Thanks for sharing your progress – and congrats on adopting a new healthy habit! I’m very, very happy to hear that they work so well for you. But you know what? There are a few benefits to not having a standard recipe… As long as you keep trying variations, you’ll keep the process fresh. Novelty will keep it more interesting for you so it doesn’t become the same old smoothie over and over again. Similarly, your body likes the variation of ingredients, so that’s also something to keep in mind. And don’t forget to rotate your greens as well so you can get the various vitamins of the different greens. Different greens are also treated differently (think pesticides, especially when non-organic), so by mixing the greens, you limit your exposure those toxins.

        Keep enjoying the green goodness, and thanks again for sharing your experience!

        MJ

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MJ Shaar – in 20 seconds


MJ is one of the most sought-after experts blending positive psychology and health promotion. She spent over 15 years coaching, teaching, speaking, researching and testing smart health habits. Marie-Josée Shaar received her undergrad at McGill University in Organizational Behavior, followed by a Master of Applied Positive Psychology at University of Pennsylvania. She's certified as a Wellness Culture Coach, a Personal Trainer, and a Nutrition and Wellness Consultant.

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