Want to dramatically increase your intake of non-starchy vegetables? Make a point of getting in several servings before breakfast by drinking your veggies in the form of this hardcore-healthy Phyto Smoothie.
I know, green smoothie are a big thing right now. And if you’ve already discovered them, that’s lovely. But I would advise you against chugging down those sweet concoctions made primarily of fruits and fruit juice (I’ve seen some green smoothie recipes that call for two cups of fruit).
Why? Because imbibing that much sugar works against a lot of Healthy-Deviant eating goals (it can mess with your blood sugar and hormones, trigger unhealthy carb-and-sugar cravings later in the day, perpetuate the Great American Sweet Tooth, and so on).
Instead, start with this basic Phyto Smoothie recipe (my whole-food take of a green-juice favorite I learned from my brilliant friend Kris Carr, author of Crazy Sexy Juice, a book with dozens more yummy juice, smoothie and nut-milk options). Then adjust based on your tastes and what you have on hand. Just strive to keep the sugar content low and the vegetable content high.
Phyto Smoothie Recipe
In a high speed blender (like a Vitamix or NutriBullet) combine:
• ½ cup of organic unsweetened apple cider (alternatively, or for variety, you can use ½ to ¾ cup of a low-glycemic fruit (e.g., apple, pear, cherries, berries, pomegranate seeds or unsweetened cranberries) and adjust to taste)
• 1 cup cold water
• 1 medium organic cucumber, washed, not peeled (unless conventional) and sliced into 2-4 chunks (whatever your blender can handle)
• 2 stalks organic celery (trim off roots, but use remainder of stalk and leaves, cutting them into pieces that fit in blender)
• 2 medium size leaves of kale or a large handful of spinach, arugula or other dark leafy greens (chard always tastes salty to me, but whatever you dig is fine)
• ¼ to ½ organic lemon, skin on — adjust to taste (it feels weird to toss a lemon in with the skin on, but trust me, as long as your blender can liquify it, it’s good)
• ¼ to ½ inch slice of fresh ginger root (optional — just adds a little heat and bite and a fun aroma)
• a sprig to a handful of aromatic green herb, like mint, cilantro or basil (again this is optional — adjust to taste) and/or a little chunk of jalapeno pepper for kick (also optional, but great for giving your drink some zip)
Put all your ingredients into the blender and blend until you like the consistency. Adjust flavors and textures until you have something you pronounce drinkable.
Pour half the contents of the blender into a tall glass to enjoy now, and half into a travel container or Mason jar you’ll take with you to enjoy on your Conscious Commute or on one of your Ultradian Rhythm breaks later in the day (more about those in my forthcoming book, The Healthy Deviant).
Sip your first glass of green goodness while you make breakfast or while you get yourself ready for the day.
Keep in mind: This is not supposed to be a sweet drink. You are developing your Healthy Deviant palate here, not concocting a dessert. If you find you absolutely need it sweeter, add a little more juice, half of a date, a half cup of low-glycemic fruit or a half banana.
Alternately, you can add a half teaspoon or so of honey or real maple syrup (the less the better), or stick with milder, less bitter greens for now (spinach and mixed greens are usually pretty tame). But then strive to keep gradually reducing the sugar content and increasing the greens-factor as your taste buds adjust to the good-bitter flavors inherent in the mix.
Remember that you don’t have to faint with sensory pleasure to enjoy drinking this. And that one of the goals of this drink is to retrain your hijacked American taste buds to once again appreciate the taste of unadulterated, fresh phytonutrient-rich produce.
To me, this really tastes good — refreshing, bracing, enlivening — and I enjoy knowing it is nourishing my body, countering inflammation, supporting detoxification and elimination (one constipated pal of mine swears this drink cured her of her poo problems) and more. It’s something I look forward to drinking, particularly in the summer.
But is it a milkshake? No. It’s a kick-ass self-nourishing strategy. There’s a difference.
A few ways to make the most of your Phyto Smoothie experience:
• Embrace the smoothie (vs. juice) experience, and the presence of all that healthy fiber. Strive to “chew” each mouthful a bit before swallowing. This will quick-start digestion (thanks, saliva enzymes!), and will also leave you feeling like you’ve consumed something substantial (which nutritionally, you have) — a good thing for your satiety.
• Consider drinking at least a little of your smoothie before you pour yourself any coffee or eat your whole-food breakfast. It will provide a nice protective coating for your stomach lining, take the edge off your hunger, and leave you feeling far less desperate for gobs of caffeine.
• Drink at least a half cup of Phyto Smoothie directly after blending even if you’re not “craving it.” Many people find that getting fresh vegetable flavors into their mouths first thing in the morning nudges their palates to be more veggie-receptive later in the day. Plus, as noted, getting all that slow-digesting fiber into your system will make you less likely to crave sweets, and help support a regular elimination cycle, and nurture a healthy microbiome, and give you clear skin, bright eyes, and … the list goes on.
Have you drunk some yet? Way to go.
Final tip: Rinse your mouth with a little water or do a quick mirror check before you leave the house. Or be prepared to flash a big, sexy phyto-flecked smile at someone.