Sunday, December 15, 2013


What do coconut oil, chia seeds, walnuts, turmeric and sauerkraut juice have in common? They are tremendously healthy and they each fold easily into a smoothie of orange juice and banana.

I love to start the day off making smoothies, green smoothies. It's a great way to pack a huge amount of nutrients and fiber into one glass, and over the three years I've been making them I've learned some new ingredients that make them that much healthier.

I start out with oranges and banana. Instead of juicing my oranges, I peel them, pick out all the seeds, and throw the segments into the blender. This provides a lot more fiber than orange juice, even juice with pulp, plus it's fresher and cheaper than buying juice. I add a banana for sweetness and potassium. Then I continue with the following five ingredients before I add anything green because although my husband and I will drink stuff that looks like sludge,  our teenage daughter would rather die (or so she says). So I keep her smoothie a cheerful orange. But to health it up I add:

Coconut oil -- Besides about a million health benefits (click on link), coconut oil helps make a smoothie more filling and it also, along with the banana, helps disguise the taste of the next ingredient.

Sauerkraut juice -- I love making sauerkraut! I got interested because of its probiotic benefits, then realized it's very easy to do. (I learned everything from this Caroline Barringer video.) I pour in some of the juice or use some of the kraut. Either way, the taste can't be detected (really!), and it gives the smoothie a probiotic boost. (Note: You can buy sauerkraut, but to have probiotic benefits, it must be unpasteurized.)

Turmeric -- I've read a lot about the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric but have felt hard-pressed to incorporate it in enough of the dishes I prepare. Smoothies are the perfect answer! And in an orange-colored smoothie it only warms the color up more. The taste is not detectable.

Chia seeds -- When I read Born to Run four years ago, a book largely about the Tarahumara Indians of northern Mexico who can all run -- men, women, and children -- 50-100 miles at a time, I took up running (1 mile at a time) at age 54, and I also became fascinated with chia seeds, one of the staples of the Tarahumara diet and a food very cheap and easy to come by here in Mexico. Putting chia in the blender not only thickens the smoothie, making it more filling, but it breaks up the seeds a little making them more bioavailable.

Walnuts -- I learned about putting whole nuts into a blender smoothie from Dr. Mark Hyman who has a great video about his favorite breakfast smoothie made with an almond milk base that I thought was awesome. Turns out my family doesn't like almond milk though. Amazingly, the texture of the nuts is barely discernible, and they add a nice flavor that goes well with the hint of coconut.

At this point, I pour off some of the thick, deep-orange liquid which is Alice's portion of the smoothie, then I continue with green stuff.

Pumpkin seeds (raw) -- I'm a magnesium fanatic. It's the only supplement I take and I recommend it to everyone because it's one of the most necessary minerals there is and yet most people are deficient in it. The foremost authority on magnesium that I know of is Carolyn Dean who wrote The Magnesium Miracle. No matter how I sing magnesium's praises though, my husband is never convinced he should take it. Alright then, I put pumpkin seeds in the smoothie. Pumpkin seeds contain lots of magnesium among other good things.

Fennel -- In my opinion, fennel is key to a good green smoothie. Use either the fronds or chop up some of the bulb or use fennel seeds. Any part of fennel imparts a lot of sweet licorice flavor that totally masks the flavor of ....

Spinach  -- If there's a healthier food than spinach, don't tell Popeye. The only thing I don't like about it is that it cooks down so much, so I like using it raw in smoothies. It does impart quite the green color though, so you have to have the right "customers."

If you bother to look up any of these ingredients using the links provided, you'll see that most of them are antioxidants, cancer fighters, and a host of other good things. But also, this smoothie tastes great and is filling. If it turns out too thick, you can either add more orange halves or serve it with a spoon.

Note: My blender is nothing special. It's got two speeds and is probably one of the cheaper models available at any store. It's serves me very well!

RELATED POST: Green Smoothies

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