Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Our New Way to Start the Day: Green Shakes

There has been a lot of stuff going on in our household lately, which has led to a slight slowdown on the blog posts.  I thought last year was really hectic, with planning a wedding from the other side of the world while signing a big deal a month and a half before the wedding and then going on honeymoon and planning trips to Sri Lanka and South Africa.

But this year has also been really action packed.  I think that's a good thing, and I don't think I would like it any other way, but lately it has felt a little bit much.  We really can't complain though, because life is pretty good.

We are heading to Italy for a friend's wedding in Lake Como at the end of September, even though for budget and sanity and timing reasons we probably shouldn't (but then I ask you, how can you resist!?) and I'm hopeful that (1) we actually do get to go and (2) we get to completely decompress and unwind in front of a beautiful big lake with wine and cheese.  Please please.

Anyway, one of the key new things that we have incorporated into our lives, in an attempt to be healthier and to give ourselves more energy, is green shakes.  My first foray into this practice was a laughable disaster - teaching me the invaluable lesson that not all greens are created the same.  I didn't add enough water, didn't throw in any ice, and at the last minute was inspired to throw in a handful of peas.  The green sludge that morning tasted like an amateur rendition of pea soup gone bad.

Now, though, my shakes (always improvised as I am not keen to follow measurements) usually come out pretty tasty.  And the satisfaction of knowing how many vegetable and fruit groups I've hit so early in the morning?  Maybe nothing else tastes so good!

 I usually incorporate a base of the same key elements, though please keep in my mind my measurements are for two people and I make enough to fill two pint glasses to the brim and a little bit more.

- 1 green apple
- 1/3 cucumber
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 banana (frozen)
- 1/4 of a lemon, peeled
- 1 cup of water, give or take
- 3 medium sized ice cubes

Then after I have my base, I experiment with the additional items of the day, but in the categories of leafy greens and fruit.

For leafy greens I like to add one or two big handfuls of:
- spinach, or
- romaine, or
- rocket, or
- kale, either exclusively or in a mix,

followed by a garnish (1 or 2 sprigs) of:
- parsley, whether flat or curly, or
- cilantro

The ingredients may vary depending on what combination I am using - for example, I find the green juice is much sweeter if I use romaine, so I like to contrast that with something I find a lot harder to take, like green bell pepper.

I read that parsley and cilantro have good blood cleaning properties.  I confess I am not entirely sure what that means... but it sounds so good I feel like I'd be remiss in not trying it.  I've learned from past mistakes that a little of these herbs go a long way.  I feel fairly confident in reassuring you that you do NOT want to feel like you are drinking cilantro juice, no matter how much you love cilantro.

Then after my leafy layer, I like to experiment with my fruits.  I like to use (and try to rotate so I do not overuse the same fruits):

- 1 spear of pineapple, or
- 1 kiwi, or
- handful of blueberries, or
- 1/2 pear, or
- a handful of green grapes, either exclusively or in a mix.

I try to keep all the outer skin on my fruits and vegetables except where it really doesn't work (pineapple, kiwis and bananas).

I have seen recipes that include beetroot, carrots, oranges and mangos (not all together of course) but I find those to be higher in sugar content and I, whether rationally or not, really like my morning shakes to be a soothing light green color.  I know, I am weird.

Sometimes I throw in half an avocado and cut back on the fruit.  That makes the shake a lot more creamy and filling.  I have not yet tried to swap out the banana and/or avocado for yogurt, although that is something I have heard others do and I think it would not be a bad idea to get some more calcium.

Now that I have written out the ingredients list and the process, it sounds like a lot, but honestly, it is really easy and fast, as long as you spend one hour of your week prepping everything (washing, peeling, cutting) and keeping it all in tupperware in the fridge for the rest of the week.

This makes enough and is filling enough for us that we don't need to eat again until lunch.  Of course, I still need my coffee in the morning, but I am not in a hurry to give up on that soon.

Now this is something to which we can all really say, santé!

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