The Wellbeing Wednesday Challenge: update on our green smoothie consumption

Green Spinach Smoothie with Spinach LeafIt turns out our initial reservation (fear) when it came to green smoothies was unfounded and uncalled for. Not only have we kept our word and met our Wellbeing Wednesday Challenge goal of drinking three in a week, we’ve actually gone above and beyond and our total tally comes in at… five!

Along the way during the week we’ve also ticked the Group Challenge of eating three fresh salads. This abundance of green veggies and fresh, raw food is doing us a world of good – so if you need any convincing to become a green smoothie drinker, read on to see what you can look forward to. And we’ve included a few recipes as well to get you started.

What’s in a green smoothie?

Some green – that’s non-negotiable! But you can also add a lot of other delicious things to spruce it up. You can give your green smoothie a fruit base or if you’re hard-core you can go all dark green leafy veg.

You will need:

  • at least 2 green vegetables of your choice, to combine a wide spectrum of nutrients. Choose from lettuce, celery, kale, spinach, silver beet (also known as chard – and whatever you call it remove the stems), or cucumber (not leafy but still full of goodness).
  • some mango, berries, or pears if you’re going with some fruit.
  • raw nuts to give your smoothie a creamier texture. Brazil nuts are good, but almonds, cashews and pine nuts work too. Soak the night before in some water to make it easier on your blender in the morning and get a smoother consistency.
  • a green supplement for some extra, well, green: green barley grass, wheatgrass, spirulina, chlorella, or why not a mixture of super greens.
  • herbs to give flavour and extra nutrients: parsley, coriander, or mint
  • optional extras for even more goodness: maca powder, chia seeds (hydrated and ready to go), Super Sprout Organic Apple Powder, fresh ginger,… 
  • a sweetener if the green taste is a bit much: raw honey, agave syrup, vanilla extract or even dates.

Pick and choose from the few ingredients above and you can make a different green smoothie everyday – variety is also the spice of good nutrition folks.

What are the benefits of green smoothies?

Baby Spinach LeavesLike it or not, when we apply heat to fresh fruit or vegetables they lose nutrients. The longer you cook that soup, the tastier it may be but you’re decidedly reducing its nutritional value as well (sad but true!). A totally raw food diet curbs the loss of nutrients effectively but it requires time to think and plan meals – as well as commitment and at times specialised equipment like a dehydrator.

Enters the green smoothie – which is pretty much raw eating at its best: quick and easy to make, rich in nutrients of all kinds, tasty and versatile. A single green smoothie can deliver an abundance of chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, essential fatty acids, protein, antioxidants and fibre in one neat green package. We’re not saying to give up on cooked veg meals, but supplementing your cooked diet with raw green smoothies is one heck of a good idea.

Drinking a green smoothie will instantly up your intake of living nutrients for the day and help you get all your greens. Blending dark leafy veg breaks down the cell walls of all the nutrients, and makes them very easy to digest and assimilate. In short, becoming a green smoothie drinker should have you feeling and looking better very quickly (provided you live a reasonably healthy life to start off with!).

What we noticed during our green smoothie challenge

A stable and regulated appetite: a green smoothie for breakfast seems to set you up for a day of stable blood sugar levels. We were a little worried about having to raid the Echolife kitchen mid-morning like a plague of locusts, but not so: our green smoothie breakfast had us full and happy well into lunchtime.

Feeling full quicker: our stomach’s feedback was more in tune. We had a clear sense of when we’d had enough to eat, and as a result always felt satisfyingly fed but never full.

A craving for drinking water: our beverage of choice is green tea, and it’s normally a challenge to remember to drink water. Lo and behold, we couldn’t get enough (filtered) water on our green smoothie days (reaching the recommended 8 glasses was a snap – unbelievable!).

Clear glowing skin: we had better skin tone and texture by green smoothie number 2. That green drink does work fast…

Is there really any protein in greens?

Celery Whole BunchYou bet! As counterintuitive as it sounds, green vegetables and extra add-ons like barley grass or chlorella are full to the brim with amino acids and are a good source of protein – even comparable to meat or fish for plants like spirulina. And without any cholesterol content, plants clearly win for healthfulness.

If you’re vegetarian or vegan you might benefit especially from drinking a daily green smoothie. But they’re also terrific for omnivores and pescatarians…

Can green smoothies help with weight loss?

We wouldn’t quite go on a green smoothie diet – or encourage anyone to replace all their meals with green smoothies. But given the feeling of fullness a green smoothie provides, as well as the regulating effect on appetite and non-existent cravings for junk* we experienced, you may very well be successful using green smoothies as part of a weight loss or weight maintenance programme.

*We never really get cravings for junk, but define junk as high fat, high sugar – empty calories type food (the opposite of a green smoothie really!).

Easy green smoothie recipe

Green SmoothieA handful of brazil nuts (soak overnight in some filtered water)
2 or 3 celery sticks (leaves included please)
A big handful of spinach
A dash of vanilla extract
Filtered water

Blend all of the above together until reasonably smooth. Sip slowly (you might find yourself chewing at times, but that’s fine). Pat yourself on the back for doing such a good thing for yourself.

And green smoothie advocate Annette (Miss Wellness WA) shares one of her very own recipes:

1 organic green apple
a handful of baby spinach
filtered water
flaxseed oil
sunflower seeds
sesame seeds
the frozen fruit of your choice (blueberries, mango, raspberries, strawberries)

So are we still a bit scared of ‘the green drink’? No, we’re not: we will continue to have it at least three times a week. And you should too!

More reading about green smoothies? Ten reasons to drink them from Victoria Boutenko.

(Image credits: 1, 2, 3, 4)

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