Everyone seems to be juicing, whether it’s a smoothie infused with vitamins and probiotics or the latest and greatest kale cocktail. From celebrities to the masses, from baby boomers to twenty-somethings, we crush, squeeze, and puree at home with our expensive blenders or shell out by the thousands at pricey juice bars. In fact, according to a Chicago-based market research firm, SymphonyIRI Group, premium fruit and vegetable juice sales topped $4.48 billion last year (and that is excluding big box retailers like Walmart, wholesale clubs, and gasoline/convenience stores).
But is all this juice consumption really worth it? National health authorities all recommend eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day, but ironically, much of the research still indicates that it is much more beneficial to eat the whole fruit or vegetable than to actually juice it. Consuming the whole food not only allows proper metabolism of all the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, but the fiber is kept in tact…which is not the case when pulverized in a juicer.
In our face paced, technology driven world, people are always looking for a quick and easy solution to drink on the go or stash in their desk, yet wondering how to stay healthy and lose weight. Keep in mind is that juice (or a smoothie) should never be considered a meal replacement. The fad of following high protein diets never seems to fade; it is important to understand how you put your health at risk by following plans that are filled with liquid calories, fat, cholesterol, and animal protein, and deficient in naturally occurring dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, essential carbohydrates, and phytonutrients. Meal “replacements” such as powders, drinks and bars all embody the exact opposite of proper nutrition because they are all very high in calorie density, sugar, and unhealthy fats, and low in naturally occurring fiber and overall nutrient density. The process of chewing your food releases specific enzymes in the saliva which aid in digestion. This does not occur when you “drink” your food.
Remember what happens when a whole food is digested…it is a miraculous biochemical process of nature that simply cannot be replicated in a store bought product or even a vitamin. A whole foods, plant-based diet delivers powerful antioxidant protection and supplies the body with amino acids, essential fatty acids and other vitamins and minerals that support intestinal, muscular, and immune health.
So while I stand by my favorite recipe for this green-smoothie, use it as a way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet, not to “replace” the vegetables in your diet!
Kate’s Famous Strength in Green Smoothie
1-2 “sprigs” of Kale
2-3 cups Fresh Spinach
1 Tbsp Almonds
2 Tbsp Chopped Dates (or 2 medjool dates)
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 cup Rice Milk or Almond Milk
About 2 cups of Ice
Blend almonds and dates first, then add kale, spinach and rice milk. Add maple syrup and ice at the end.
Blend to desired consistency and top with another dash of cinnamon.
Yields 2-3 servings. Nutritional Information: 139 calories, plus Vitamin A, B12, B-6, C, D, E, Calcium, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Maganese, Niacin, Phosphorus, Riboflavin, Thiamin, and Zinc. Try replicating that in a multivitamin! Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2012. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 25