Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kitchen Reform Week 12: Drink Your Veggies

We are a nation of carnivores. And corn-ivores -- being that much of the diet we exist on (snack foods, colas, sweets) is derived somehow from corn.

I have news for you, however: corn that has been smashed into syrup doesn't count as a vegetable. Besides, there's more than corn in High Fructose Corn Syrup (so ubiquitous we've given it a monogram, HFCS): Yellow Dent #2, a corn that yields a lot of starch, sulphuric acid (a corrosive whose principle uses are lead-acid batteries for cars, mineral and wastewater processing), and three ingredients that end in -ase and come in bottles with large Xs on them. I found this out by watching a couple of dudes try to make it at home: check it out.

HFCS is not our BFF.

The statistics on consumption of fruits and vegetables in this country are astounding. Less than a third of us are eating  fruit daily, and that has actually decreased in this century. And only about a quarter of us eat vegetables daily. New England, Florida, the West Coast and Colorado top the list -- but that means that upwards of 15 % of the population consume fruits and veg. In Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina less than 5 % of people consume fruits and veg daily. The rest fall somewhere in the middle. That means 10-14% of people are eating F&V daily. This can only end poorly, with a crushing health care crisis our children will have to clean up -- that is, if they aren't too sick themselves.

So if there is one thing you can do today to up your health quotient, it is eat more vegetables. Better yet, drink them.

Green drinks are simply the best way to get the nutrients without the work of digestion, the calories used to prepare them, and the time it takes to eat them. Zip 'em in a blender, down them and go. You can tailor them to your energy needs, your mood, the weather -- your options are endless.

The basic recipe for a smoothie includes protein, fruit (for sweetness), vegetable, nutrient additives, liquid and ice, if you wish -- just a handful of cubes can really thicken it up. Here are a few of my favorite ingredients for smoothies:

Vegetables: Ginger, spinach, cucumber, fennel, kale (not too much, it can be stringy) (about two cups)

Nutrient additives: maca powder (no more than 1 Tablespoon a day), ginseng (a few drops), hemp seed, (about a teaspoon), cinnamon, chia seeds, raw cocoa powder, nutmeg, honey, agave.

Liquids: almond milk, coconut water, tap water. (about a cup total)

Fruits: Whole if you have a blender that can take it, like a Vita-Mix; I do not so I chunk and freeze fruit to make the smoothie thick and creamy. Frozen banana chunks, frozen pear chunks, frozen pineapple chunks, any berries or melon. Anything goes. (about a 1/2 cup serving)

Fats: Avocado, almond butter, hemp -- and the last two also add protein.

I also sometimes cheat and use prepared powders to add protein and vegetables, my favorite for protein is Wegmans vanilla whey powder, and the green powder I like now is Amazing Grass.

So do anything you like with it -- here's what I do in the mornings, more or less.

Green Breakfast Smoothie

1 cup almond milk
2 handfuls baby spinach
1 knob ginger root, peeled
squirt of ginseng
fennel, about 1/3 of a bulb
cucumber, a few inches
scoop green powder
scoop whey powder
1 teaspoon hemp seed
1/2 banana frozen
1 cup water
6 ice cubes

Blend until smooth. Serves two.

If you don't want green, skip the powder and the spinach, add a frozen mango and go with the vanilla shake. Or a chocolate (which is my lunch, so excuse me while I go make it.)


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