is a green smoothie a license to eat a boatload of junk food?

I was at a family party last night. My youngest brother and his wife (I have six brothers) just built a new home and hosted a game night. (Actually we mostly just watched the Olympics where Apolo Anton Ohno got juked out of a medal by a bad DQ call. According to Ohno,  by a Canadian judge favoring a Canadian skater.)

As we were sitting around, my brother-in-law Matt said to me, “Hey Robyn. You’ll be so proud. I’ve been drinking a green smoothie every morning.”

I gushed a little. About how proud I am (and  props to my baby sis–she’s making them, I ask, right? Right.). And do you feel more energy, have better digestion? I wonder.  Oh yes! he said. And my sister, looking very pinched, like someone who is trying reaaallllly hard to hold back, finally said,

“Sha. And he eats NOTHING else that’s healthy the entire day. Just crap. He figures that if he drinks a green smoothie, he’s golden.”

Do YOU? Think you’re golden, I mean?

Could your green smoothie habit possibly be holding you back in some ways, because you’re so self-congratulatory after slugging down a pint, that you figure it earns you a double portion of DoubleStuf Oreos after that?

(That was for you, Matt, just on the off chance you read this–since Oreos are your favorite cookie.)

If so, I’ve got some work to do.

‘Fess up.

Let’s Start an Office Green Smoothie Revolution

So here’s what you do. You send your office mates to, or have them watch my 3-minute YouTube vid. Together you chip in on a BlendTec or VitaMix for the office. Here’s my review on both machines to help you weigh the pros and cons:

Then you make a plan to take turns picking up ingredients once a week: Frozen mixed berries, bananas, and spinach are cheapest at Costco. Spinach, kale, and chard for the fridge. A couple other fruits like (now, in the winter) apples and oranges.

You have a rotation: Monday it’s Erica’s day to make the smoothie, Tuesday it’s Kyle’s turn, Wednesday it’s Juan’s turn, etc.

Six people in the rotation means a pint a day for each person. Work your way up to a quart, daily, after a while. (Start slowly for those who are in the poorest health to get past any “cleansing reaction” they might have for a few weeks. See that chapter, on my research, in my book The Green Smoothies Diet.)

This is a fantastic way to do very little work, and spend very little money, to get 7-15 servings of greens and fruit in your diet every single day. AND you have that critical piece, for success in making a major lifestyle change–SUPPORT!

One of the managers at BlendTec told me last week that her group is doing a green smoothie co-op as I’ve just described. She loves it and says, “If I’d known it was this easy to get the good stuff in my diet, I’d have done this long ago! Now I’m going to get it going for my family, at home.” She reports that the Accounting group is now working together daily to get a green smoothie to everyone.

Think of the increased energy and productivity and more positive mood, experienced by the vast majority in my research. Every workplace should do this. In fact, GET YOUR BOSS TO PAY FOR IT. I honestly believe your boss will get far more benefit from supporting a green smoothie co-op than it will cost. (You can send him or her a link here to my blog. Blame it on me. Say the boss will get his or her own smoothie made, every day, by the group!)

And report back here how it goes! If you’re a wife worried about your office-job husband’s health, go in and put on a little demo at his work.

Everyone can pitch in. Lots of people will lose weight too. (50% in my research did–every time I do a class, like I just did Friday, someone comes up to my afterward and says, “I was in your research study and I lost 40 lbs. doing green smoothies!”)

Excited? Me too!

Ready, set, GO!

Young moms make tough decisions about their babies’ nutrition!

I received this email from a health care practitioner who is a young mother. As I replied to her, it occurred to me that maybe these comments would be helpful to other young mothers who read this blog. (Similar content is found elsewhere on the site and in my writing.) Please do not consider this medical advice. It is my opinion based on my research and having raised four babies of my own. I do not suggest things regarding raising children that I don’t follow. But always, always follow your instincts as a mother. I believe those promptings to be God-given and more powerful and trustworthy than anything an M.D. (or any health care practitioner) will tell you. (That said, do your homework and listen to experts. Be selective about which “experts” you trust.)

Also, a heartfelt apology to those who don’t receive personal answers to emails because I get so many–I so, so wish I had time to answer them all like I did in the beginning, please forgive me.

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: My husband and I have recently started having green smoothies each day and we are feeling great. I have an almost 8 month old daughter, who currently nurses and eats avocado (almost 1 a day). We would like to start some other foods with her, but I’ve been  holding off as I don’t want to do those recommended by my  pediatrician and conventional books.

I read somewhere on your site that babies have difficulty  digesting cooked food for a  while. I would love to start her off on raw greens, spinach, kale, etc.  Do you think this is safe? I think the reason that most people give for the recommendation that all baby food be cooked is because  raw food could be contaminated with bacteria and cooking kills that. What do you think about this? She’s  eating the avocado raw and many books say raw bananas are fine, maybe because those are both contained within a skin? You also wrote about doing mostly veggies the first few years and then fruits, which I love! I think that makes so much sense. I guess my bottom line question is: are the raw veggies safe or should I cook the greens?

I’d  REALLY appreciate your feedback on this. I am a first time mother and a bit tentative about some of these decisions. My daughter’s health is literally the most important thing in the world to me.

Thanks so much for the help and inspiration you have given to me and my husband.

Much love, Heather

Answer: Heather, avocadoes are beautiful for babies (wonderful fats for brain development, easily digested, excellent enzyme profile, and higher in calories).   And yes, plant foods encased in skin are the safest of all. I would go to bananas next, not just because they’re in skin, but also because they’re enzyme rich, higher in calories than most fruits, and nutritionally powerful.   Then see if you can find raw goat’s milk.   Make it into kefir or  yogurt (see Ch. 8 of 12 Steps). Then try a simple green smoothie with few ingredients, teaching her to drink from a straw, or making it thicker and feeding it with a spoon.

But the longer you can nurse and avoid food, and the more of her calories she gets from your breast milk, the better–up to 18 months! (That said, don’t agonize about feeding her “regular” food–just make it wonderful whole foods!) If you do feed her cooked stuff, like brown rice or quinoa, do so in a meal WITH raw foods containing enzymes, like a green smoothie.

People are worried about contamination with bacteria, but the older your baby is, the less I would worry about this, especially as she gets older and especially if you have endowed your daughter with a healthy digestive tract by nursing her.   I personally worry more about denatured foods gumming up her little digestive tract (refined grain-based “cereals,” cooked veg/fruit baby foods, etc.) and forcing her body to produce lots of mucous to flush it out, than the fact that natural foods sometimes contain bacteria that, 99.9+% of the time, is not only common and safe, but also helps develop a healthy immune system.   Use organic produce for smaller babies/children as much as you can, and wash any conventional produce well with a good, natural fruit/veg soap.   Remember than conventional animal products (dairy/meat) have much higher pesticide and chemical concentrations than even conventionally grown produce. (John Robbins documented this well in The Food Revolution.)

A green smoothie testimonial I received recently

Green smoothies have just changed my life! I have been drinking at least a quart everyday for 6 weeks now. Sometimes I drink more, but always drink at least a quart. My kids also drink them with me every single day. I have even converted my husband who at first stuck his nose up at them. I have noticed so many good things happen. I have lost 17.5 lbs. I have more energy, therfore, am exercising more.

My moods are so much more even, I get stressed and irritated less. I sleep better and feel more refreshed in the morning. My chronic constipation has gone away. I have suffered with constipation since I was a child. I have less desire to eat foods that are unhealthy. Once your body starts getting the good stuff and then you stick some bad stuff in there with it…it lets you know!!!

My PMS symptoms have all but disappeared. My sex drive has increased. I just feel really good. My whole family has really seen a lot of healthy body responses come from adding green smoothies to our diets everyday. I have converted several people and get asked questions each time I am out with my green smoothie (which is a lot). I proudly and excitedly share our experiences and give them some things to try in their families!

(Submitted without a name–anyone want to take credit for this?)

Peru, part 5

I did, of course, take a Total Blender along to Peru to teach the orphanage’s cook. The kids were enthralled with how high tech it is. Here’s Carlos drinking a green smoothie and a not-great photo of me making it. I went to this open-air market (that’s how you buy food in Peru) and chose a lot of interesting things, including fruits kinda like we have in the U.S. and kinda different. Tree tomatoes. Apples that are long and skinny. Little, super-sweet bananas. A variety of spinach I’ve never seen.

My big mistakes were using cactus berries, which I thought would darken up the smoothie, but which actually just made too-big chunks of seed in it that had to be spit out. (I couldn’t find any berries that are dark in color.) And not using any ice (nobody has any) or frozen fruit. It wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever made, to be sure.