What should I buy organic, and what isn’t such a big deal?

You’ve heard of the “dirty dozen,” the fruits and vegetables that test highest for pesticide sprays. Top of the list is PEACHES. My suggestion? Plant a peach tree! I have three. Here are the others in the top 12 to buy organic or grow yourself, wherever possible:



Bell Peppers










Spinach has moved down on the list, out of the top 12, which is nice. Sometimes I get taken to task by those who buy ONLY organic produce for not being a purist on that topic.

Here’s what I have to say about that: if you can afford to buy all organic, that’s EXCELLENT, go for it! But I am above all trying to bridge the gap here for the majority in the middle, who have to balance health concerns with budget restraints. I always say, remember (a) that animal protein and processed food have higher pesticide concentrations than conventional produce, and (b) almost all the studies documenting the powerful effects of fruits/vegs in our diet were done using CONVENTIONAL produce. Therefore (c)  don’t avoid eating produce  (and eat something else) because you are afraid it may not be organic, but (d) wash your conventional produce well using a good fruit/veg wash.

Here’s the bottom 12 of the produce ranked by the Environmental Working Group examining 87,000 studies by the FDA and USDA between 2000 and 2007. These would be produce I would feel more comfortable about buying conventional and washing well:







Sweet peas (frozen)




Corn (frozen)



Interestingly, tomatoes didn’t make my “Safe Dozen” list, but if I’d made a “Safe 13,” it would be on the list.

May I make another summertime suggestion: when you cut up your melons, rinse the flesh before cutting it up, because the knife slices through the pesticide-coated rind, and those chemicals end up on your fruit.

California trip: Costco product review (part 2 of 2)

Today I’m talking about a product review / comparison of Trio Bars and Bora Bora bars at Costco, both of which I love. I wish they hadn’t discontinued Lara Bars, but such it is. (I met Lara about 6 years ago, and she’s a raw foodist who “walks the walk.”)

Bora Bora bars are 180 – 200 calories (48 grams), three varieties, and cost $1 each and are the higher quality of the two brands, because they have sprouted flax seed and all organic ingredients. I love Trio bars, too, because they taste so yummy and are made from nuts, seeds, and fruits. Trio bars are four different varieties, 230 calories (40 grams), and cost $0.80 each. The price is much better than similar bars. I would buy these over virtually any “protein” bar I’ve ever seen, since the proteins are almost always fractionated versions of soy or whey, both ingredients to avoid. Occasionally at a health food store you can find hemp protein bars, which are preferable if you are really insist on eating bars that force protein to be a bigger macronutrient than normally found in nature.

Occasionally someone writes to me that they’re eating whole foods and mostly raw, without losing weight. I’d be amazed if that’s the case for anyone who undertakes the lifestyle for any extended period of time. I always immediately wonder about thyroid issues. But one thing to look at is the question of how much you are eating of high-fat nuts and seeds. They are good for you, but an ounce or two a day is sufficient. A Trio bar takes the edge off my hunger, but I’ll be hungry an hour or two later. Low-calorie, high-micronutrient food like what is in green smoothies is a very important part of a mostly raw, whole-food, plant-based lifestyle. It is unlikely but possible to be overweight eating nothing but raw plant food, if you’re overindulging in nuts/seeds/unrefined oils.

I like how Costco has more and more organic, whole-food options. However, be careful with your selections. Some of the stuff Costco sells is what I call “feel good” food, which is radically different than “good-for-you” food. They have whole-grain pasta, which is good, and Rice Dream, and lots of organics (produce as well as boxed and other foods). But a lady was handing out samples of “organic” PopTarts recently at my Costco in Orem, Utah (different brand name than PopTart, same concept) and literally shouting about how the product is “so good for you.” Cane juice crystals, the main ingredient, are a very marginal improvement over refined sugar (still a concentrated sweetener). And the white flour was organic. Big deal. Beware of junk food masquerading as nutritious food, which is in fact only about 5% better than the typical junk food.

San Diego class at Windmill Farms Market: lots of long-time readers there, loved it! Ed, you are just THE BEST. Thanks for printing directions to our next class and for being so kind and helpful. Russell, your bringing your book The Green Smoothies Diet and telling everyone you’ve read it three times made my day. I think **I** haven’t even read it three times. Other readers with whom I’ve chatted via email over the past two years, it was so fun to put your faces to your names! It’s kind of weird to have a job where you don’t interact face-to-face very much–mostly email–so I always love to do a class where I meet real, live 12 Steppers and GSG readers. It means a lot to me.

Fullerton class at Christy Funk’s cute natural baby/childbirth store BellySprout was wonderful. I’m soooo sorry to those who came and couldn’t find a place to stand. Half the attendees at both classes learned of the events through the GSG newsletter/blog. You are busy and I am honored that you spent your evening with me.

Thanks for your support, for reading my book, for making my daughters feel like rock stars.

Always use an antibiotic for strep and ear infections, right?

With winter coming up, I know many of you have kids who get strep or ear infections or any number of other illnesses we have come to think of as “normal.” When my family quit eating processed foods many years ago, we eliminated any need for asthma drugs and antibiotics.

In Europe, antibiotics are used to treat ear infections only when patients experience recurrent drainage or pain, because infections resolve themselves over 85 percent of the time. One study shows that 75 percent of childhood ear infections are caused by viruses. One study followed 168 children with ear infections where antibiotics were prescribed only if the child had a history of meningitis or subsequent serious infection, or if the illness involved a high fever or profound weakness. Antibiotics were recommended for only 6 percent of the children. No serious complications were observed in the others, who recovered fully. Another very large international study showed that antibiotics did not improve rate of recovery in ear infections in nine countries.

Mothers who breastfeed have the highest chance of avoiding the ear-infection cycle that many are in today–the best preventative measure you can take, according to multiple studies.

More than 75 percent of patients seeking help with sore throats are given antibiotics by their doctors, when only 10 percent are caused by bacteria (or 30 percent in children). Even half of those who test positive for strep are positive because they chronically carry the bacteria even though it doesn’t make them ill. (I am one of them. When I had my last baby, they tested for Strep A and came rushing into the room demanding I be put on a “preventive” antibiotic because I was positive–fortunately, the baby came out before they could try to inject me.)

Doctors provide antibiotic prescriptions often even though they know they are unnecessary, because patients want a prescription. You are more educated than that. The scare tactics of “you must take this antibiotic or your child may get scarlet fever” are highly overrated (these complications are very rare and even most bacterial infections resolve themselves thanks to the human immune system).

My mother put me on antibiotics every time I got strep as a child; consequently, I got strep every few months. I spent 15 years trying to recover my immune system from so many courses of antibiotics. The last time I got strep, 15 years ago, I refused to take antibiotics and used goldenseal instead (an herb that kills bad bacteria without killing good bacteria, and it can also be effective against viruses). The strep went away and I never got it again. (In combination with the herb, I was changing my diet at that time and becoming much less susceptible to infections and have never had one since.) None of my children has ever had strep. One of my children had chronic ear infections as a baby, but I never gave her antibiotics and used natural remedies instead, and I did have tubes put in her ears.

On the other hand, risks of antibiotic use are significant and should be considered as well. Joel Fuhrman in Disease-Proof Your Child quotes a large study published in JAMA showing that women who used antibiotics fairly frequently had twice the breast cancer risk compared to women who took no antibiotics (over a 17-year period). Other medical studies show that children getting multiple rounds of antibiotics early in life are more prone to asthma, hay fever, and eczema. Killing the beneficial bacteria in your gut as antibiotics do (they can’t discriminate between good and bad bacteria) also means you have little defense against the next virus or infection to come around.

I use colloidal silver, oregano oil, and lots of alkaline water. I’ve never had to go to antibiotics. I much prefer methods of fighting infection that work WITH the immune system rather than against it.

Preserving raw foods, two ways to make living the lifestyle CHEAP!

If you’ve read my books, you know that I promote ways of making a whole-foods, high-raw, plant-based diet very affordable, especially the #1 and #2 highest-impact methods:

  1. Plant a garden and use everything in it (see Ch. 5 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods).
  2. Have a full-sized freezer in your garage and use it to stock greens from your garden, and fruits when they’re in season, against the winter.

Check out my garden, photo from yesterday–in this space, I have cucumber and squash plants in front, with kale and collards showing behind that.

In my freezer, the top shelf shows gallon bags of quinoa, brown rice, and cashew pieces. Behind that, I have walnuts, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds.   Second shelf, lots of peaches that I’ve chopped in sandwich baggies for smoothies, greens, alfalfa/clover sprouting mix, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and Costco mixed berries.

Third row down, lots of collards, chard, turnip and beet greens, amaranth, kale, and a little squash and strawberry leaves, plus edible greens I didn’t plant, like milkweed and morning glory. These are all frozen for wintertime green smoothies. I trust this more than any swine flu vaccine to keep us healthy!

Fourth row, frozen strawberries for Hot Pink Smoothie and bread for kids’ lunches.   In the door are jars of tomatoes–I don’t blanch them, just blend till chunky and freeze, for later use in soups and salsas.   Digestive enzymes on the top row, which I keep in my purse for any time I eat a meal that isn’t 60-80% raw.   Lots of baggies of peaches (chopped in eighths, anywhere I can find a nook or cranny).   I will be packing greens into QUART size bags, now, and utilizing all the extra space.   There’s still plenty of space in this freezer!

Someone left my freezer open a crack last weekend and lots of stuff defrosted.   So I threw everything in boxes and took it all into the grocery store near my house in a grocery cart.   Walked into their deep-freeze (which is utilized about 10%), unloaded my boxes, and went home to clean the freezer out after it defrosted.   Dragged my date back there that night (it was Saturday!) to haul it all back out and take it home and load it back into the freezer.   Just acted like I owned the place, past half a dozen employees, haha.   (Don’t try this at home without asking permission! I asked the owner once several years ago if I could use the freezer now and then for a day, and have taken that liberty a few times since then, when I defrost my freezer.)

It’s a long and winding road to good nutrition!

In my first newsletters, I told you a little about the rocky path to health that my family and I traversed.  It’s not very often clear and linear, that path, is it?  You try a lot of dumb stuff, yucky recipes you throw away, before you end up at the truth—and that’s if you’re lucky.  (A lot of people spend an entire lifetime following false prophets and believing false information.  Like the folks who put all their faith in the barbaric practices of oncology, or the crazy dietetics of the Atkins Diet, for instance.)

The good news?  That the failure of all the dumb stuff you tried before (drugs, Atkins Diet, etc.) were useful in one sense: they help you recognize the truth when you see it.

The longer and more twisty that path, the more likely you are to recognize the beauty and efficacy of pure, simple truths.  Like the one GreenSmoothieGirl.com is dedicated to: that eating an unadulterated diet of whole plant foods is a savior in a thousand different ways.

There’s the thing you’re preoccupied with now.  It might be cancer, or psoriasis, or leaky gut syndrome, or Epstein Barr.  An affliction that’s kinda wrecking your life right now, or someone close to you.

But the crazy thing is this.  Not only are your chances of addressing all degenerative disease and energy issues HIGHEST with a diet approach (and everything else I’m teaching on GreenSmoothieGirl.com), but you’re going to have so many unexpected health and wellness benefits, you’ll barely be able to count them at the end of a year.

Once I took RESPONSIBILITY for my own health and my little son’s, I undertook my own private health course. (I found that health and nutrition education in traditional institutions were heavily influenced by industries like meat, dairy, processed foods, and pharmaceuticals.)

Although my program 12 Steps to Whole Foods is a crystallized version of the education I underwent for 15 years, if you’re a reader, you can immerse yourself in the very best books.  I’ll give you a leg up, because I read a lot of dubious stuff.  Here’s a link to the very best, my favorite books by authors you can trust:



To Your Health,

–Robyn Openshaw

p.s.  The first thing you should do as you’ve decided to get healthy is invest in the most important tool in my kitchen: the BlendTec Total Blender. It’s so much more than the best tool ever for making mixed drinks at your next party. You’ll be a green smoothie chef in no time at all!

How did I discover the “green smoothie” that I named this site after?

It’s a great story, really, how I happened upon the “green smoothie,” the attention-grabbing part of this site dedicated to helping you eat right.

I was 27 years old, sitting on the front porch one warm summer day when my oldest child was a year old.  Knowing me at that time, I was probably letting him play in the sprinkler and eat an Otter Pop.  (This was long before I knew about corn syrup, and food dyes . . .)

I’d just put some canned pineapple juice, and some alfalfa sprouts and lots of spinach, in my blender.  I was sitting there drinking it when my baby toddled over and peered into my glass.  He asked me what it was, and (in one of those genius Mom moments), I said, “green ice cream.”

Well, that created a demand.  He wanted some.  I said, “No, this is Mommy’s milkshake.”  More demand.  It was all part of my evil plot, of course.

I finally relented (as I’d planned to all along) and let him sip some out of my straw.  He was hooked and a lightbulb came on in my Mom brain! This drink, the Neanderthal version of what I now make, came to be known as “Green Cream” in my young family.


Well, that pineapple juice thing I made (for over a decade, actually) is totally inferior, nutritionally, to what I make as a green smoothie nowadays.  (Not only is concentrated pineapple juice not a great food, but you had to “slam” that concoction or it settled into an ugly mess, undrinkable just five minutes later.)  But it began a quest for ways to get my kids to eat lots of leafy greens and sprouts.  And it taught me that blended foods are key in that quest.

Now I have a BlendTec Total Blender [link to it in the store].  You really must have this item if you are serious about nutrition.  Before I had a turbo blender, I had to settle for the above-mentioned “green cream” that had to be “slammed” before it became undrinkable.  A regular blender won’t allow you to use frozen fruit, fibrous greens, and lots of ice, for many years without troubles, with the Total Blender’s fantastic warranty.

Why is this so important, the purchase of a Total Blender?  Because you’re going to get 15 SERVINGS OF GREENS AND FRUIT in your one quart of green smoothie daily.  That puts you in the top 5 percent of Americans, for the quality of your diet, with just one simple habit that takes just 10 minutes a day.

I can’t overemphasize it.  It’s not just the best thing I have in my kitchen, it’s the most important thing I own, PERIOD.  I use it half a dozen times a day, and so it’s worth every penny.  We’ll talk more in my next newsletter about why a green smoothie habit is the first thing to change.

May you be blessed with good health from DAY ONE of starting this habit!

To Your Health,

–Robyn Openshaw

p.s.  If you can’t get a Total Blender right now, that’s okay.  Just start with whatever blender you have, but be aware that you may not be able to use lots of frozen fruit and very fibrous greens.  Your blend won’t be as smooth, but use water, spinach, and fruit, and get started anyway.  The important thing is just to START.