New Yorkers are nice, and just tells the truth

My daughter and I just had a big laugh this morning. She fulfills book orders for me of The Green Smoothies Diet. If you get the book, you’ll see her 14-y.o. handwriting on your package (but the autograph is mine, LOL!).

She just walked into my office and said, “That lady who asked for two free books because she’d already bought 12 Steps and then bought a blender, is so nice! We didn’t hear back from her so I didn’t send her the books, but a month has gone by and her email, reminding us, is so nice. I thought New Yorkers were mean, but she isn’t!”

I said, “Yeah, she is, and plenty of New Yorkers are very nice. And actually, people everywhere who read our site are actually THE BEST, even when we screw something up.” (I love that my daughter gets to do customer service and learn that people are lovely all over the world.)

But then I remembered a notable exception and told my daughter. A woman took the nutrition quiz on the site, which admittedly has a high bar. If you haven’t taken it, here you go:

Those on my site who are already well down the path of getting away from the S.A.D. do well on it. Those who are newbies but feeling good about the fact that they are making a first step or two–quitting the coffee habit, starting green smoothies after a lifetime of S.A.D.–are sometimes frustrated by it. Sometimes they want to be told they get an “A” for those first steps.

But one woman wrote me recently and screamed, “I eat better than my co-workers and I got an F on your quiz! AN F!!! Fix your stupid quiz!” Well, I wrote her back a nice email. She wrote a week later and said, “I just looked at your quiz again and you haven’t changed anything! F*** YOU, GREENSMOOTHIEGIRL!”

Anyway, Emma and I ROFLOBO. That’s internet/text-speak for Rolled On The Floor Laughing Our Butts Off. (It’s the nice Mormon version of the more standard ROFLMAO.)

Please don’t have your feelings hurt because my bar is high here. Don’t slash your wrists if you get a bad score on the GSG quiz. We’ve strayed so far from good nutrition like billions of indigenous people have eaten for thousands of years, that the comparison (like what’s on my quiz) can be SHOCKING. If knowing what a phenomenal, disease-preventing diet looks like will upset you, please DON’T take the quiz and just start with Step 1 and enjoy the journey.

If I gave my college students an A for high-school writing, no one would try to write outstanding upper-division papers worthy of an elite business school at an outstanding university. That’s where you are if you’re reading this blog/site: I’m teaching you elite nutrition–on a budget for busy people.

I could certainly tell you a bunch of raw-food sites to go to, where the bar is HIGHER.

But this is, in fact, a high-bar kinda place. If I could find a way to TRUTHFULLY tell you that much of anything about the Standard American Diet is good, I would! You’d certainly love me more. (Ditto letting my kids sit around here watching TV without responsibilities–they’d think I’m nice, and fun, but my parenting would be lousy! It’s not going to happen.)

I’m going to just tell you the truth here at GSG. Unvarnished and plain though it may be.

What to do when your kids go into the “real world”

In 2008, after being married for 20 years, I found myself a newly single parent.   I was on my own trying to achieve a high-raw diet for my four athletes in elementary and middle school.

At their dad’s home, my children get a salad with dinner, but also sugar cereal, Top Ramen, junk-food snacks, meat for dinner, and . . . no more green smoothies.

What’s a mom to do?   I know many of you have similar questions, because I get them filling my Inbox.

Some of my kids are asking for good nutrition on their own. My two daughters are vegetarians by choice and ask their dad if they can come to my house when he makes hamburgers. My healthiest child begs for Brussels sprouts and steams them after school for a snack. And all the kids notice they don’t like how they feel, eating junk at his house.   But others of my children will eat junk whenever they get the chance.

These are a few tips if you or a parent you care about is dealing with this or a similar situation.   Because even if divorce isn’t part of your life, your kids may go to the in-laws’ or grandparents’ home and encounter a set of standards different than yours.


–Make sure your kids leave for school (or for their dad’s or grandparents’ house) with excellent nutrition up until that point.


–Let go and know that after all you can do, God takes you the rest of the way.   You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to do the best you can.   My mom always said that she sent her eight children out into the world and said a prayer after us when we walked out the door.   Control the things that you can, that feel right to you, and let go of the rest.   It’s like my yoga teacher says: I’m going to show you ways to push your body outside its comfort zone, but do you what you can and call it good.

That’s not to say, of course, that we dive-bomb into junk food hell.   If you ever needed good nutrition, you need it most in crisis.   You can’t control the emotional devastation of many of the trials that confront you in life.   But one thing you can control, with a bit of effort, is how you treat your body.

Don’t let nutrition and exercise be the first things to go.   Keep up the standards you can reasonably achieve and you’ll feel so much better, traversing the tough times.

To Your Health,

–Robyn Openshaw

p.s.   If the only habit you maintain through your kids living apart from you part of the time is a green smoothie, you’re still nutritionally far ahead of 99 percent of Americans.   Remember that even a pint of green smoothie is 7.5 servings of greens and fruit!

should you cut skin off fruits and vegetables?

My sons Kincade and Tennyson hate peaches because of their fuzzy skin. I tell them they’re crazy, because inside the fuzzy skin is one of the most fabulous foods on this planet, when they’re in season. (My mom soaked sliced fresh peaches in orange juice overnight–it’s wonderful, and even my peach-skin-haters love it.)

I refused to indulge the “cutting the skin off” thing, even when my kids were little, and I highly recommend you young moms avoid starting that habit. Do it just ONCE and your little ones have been trained to refuse to eat the skins of fruit.

I thought about this because I was with my friend Jean this week, and 9-year old Tennyson came to me and asked me what he could eat. I recommended a peach out of the big box I had on the counter. He whined about the skin and Jean offered to peel it for him. I wasn’t about to deny her this sweet gesture, but I thought, “Ohhh, here we go.”

Why does this matter? The skin of fruit has higher concentrations of antioxidants and fiber (with lower sugar) than the rest of the fruit. (I know, pesticides, too, but wash your produce well, and cut out the top and bottom divots in apples, because that’s where pesticides collect.) Remember that all the studies showing massive health benefits from eating fruits and vegetables are done with conventional produce. And remember that animal protein has a much higher concentration of pesticides than even sprayed vegs and fruits do.

The minute you cut the skin off the apple or peach for a child, you have consigned yourself to a lifetime of making the world’s fast foods a great big hassle. You won’t always be there to cut the skins off. Wouldn’t it be better to train them to eat the whole thing, so they can, in future years, come home, wash the apple in the bowl on your counter, and eat the whole, nutritious thing? Remove the peel and the food isn’t quite as “whole”–less fiber is slowing down bloodstream sugar absorption.

I’m hoping to get you thinking, young moms, so you don’t get this started. Don’t cut whole-wheat bread crusts off bread, either. We’re teaching our children to not use their jaws, causing devolution (the opposite of evolution) of their palates and jaws, and they need those strong muscles and wide palates to break down fibrous whole foods.

sometimes even GreenSmoothieGirl is “normal”

I went to the store with my kids last night to let them buy whatever they want to host a movie party  for their friends. They put the Starbursts, chips, and microwave popcorn on the conveyor belt. I was, of course, looking around furtively, hoping that no GSG reader (or neighbor, family member, or friend, for that matter) sees this egregious (and rare!) breach of protocol. My kids, however, are staring at the conveyor belt, lost in thought.

Ever wonder what your kids are thinking when they look like that?

In this case, I didn’t have to wonder, because my daughter leaned over and pointed at the loot, and whispered,

“Mom! It’s kind of like we’re a NORMAL family!”

LOL! (But, too bad that this is what “normal” now looks like!)

One part of my transition, 15 years ago, to feeding my family exclusively whole foods (almost all plant foods, 60-80% raw or more) was getting comfortable with the fact that some people don’t see me as “normal.” I say this a lot, but I think it bears repeating: remember that if you do this long enough, some of the same people who are rolling their eyes at you right now will be people coming to you for advice and help years from now. It’s Ecclesiastes 11:1, which will help you trust in karma, that if you do right and help others, good will be returned to you:

“Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.”

Birthday parties with whole foods!

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: What do you do for birthdays?

Birthday 1

So it’s my kids’ birthdays (yes, all of them–within three weeks of each other–go ahead and make your jokes about me and November).   And last night I had a family party.   Dinner was taco salad without the taco meat (though my mom brought BBQ chicken for those who wanted it).   I provided sprouted-wheat tortillas as shells, and I cooked brown lime rice, and black beans cooked in veg broth and salsa, plus all the fixings (lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, shredded cheese if you want it) and homemade dressings and guacamole and salsa.   And a big fruit platter.   It was easy.

You can see here I made a chocolate beet cake (see Ch. 11 of 12 Steps), containing pureed beets, no refined sweeteners, no white flour, and only high-nutrition coconut oil.   I also made a regular cake-mix with tub-o-frosting cake.   Check out my two oldest kids (and my niece, Macie) in the photo above, blowing out candles on both cakes.   Everyone had both options, and I told them exactly what each cake was.

Now check out what happened.   The cake that not a single person chose was . . . drum roll please . . . the cake mix.   Everybody loved the beet cake and some wanted seconds:

Birthday 2

See, what happens when you become the nutrition guru, the health food nut, the earthy crunchy, is that people learn that WHAT YOU MAKE TASTES GOOD.   They expect yummy food of you that doesn’t make them feel regretful.   They make the healthy choice at your house because they trust you.   I influenced my family in no way last night, didn’t say “This beet cake is really good,” or anything like that.   I just said, “This one is a cake mix, and this one is beet cake; which one would you like?”   It’s not that you’ll NEVER make anything that doesn’t taste good.   (Read the dedication in my new book for evidence of that!   No one is perfect.)   But you’ll learn a repertoire of things people really like.   And the people you love will appreciate that.

And then here’s what you’ll do with the junk.   This is where the entire cake-mix cake ended up, an ignoble end, but a fitting one.   Nobody ate propylene glycol and partially hydrogenated fat and refined sugar and vegetable oil and a dozen chemicals and preservatives I can’t pronounce.   (I’m so proud of my family.)

Birthday 3

Guest Writer: How to get kids to drink healthy smoothies

This post was contributed with permission by Caitlin Smith. She welcomes your feedback at CaitlinSmith1117 at

How to Get Kids to Drink Healthy Smoothies

If you’ve ever read your kids the book Green Eggs and Ham you know how much resistance can go into eating something green. Yet there are many ways you can get your kids to love green, healthy smoothies, helping them get their vitamins and grow up strong. Here are some tips on selling the healthy stuff to kids.

  • Call it something fun. Kids will eat just about anything if it appears to be cool, gross or fun in some way and the green color of these healthy smoothies can work well with this. Try naming your smoothies after your child’s favorite cartoons or making them sound silly.
  • Fine-tune them. If there are particular things you know your kids like or hate tailor your smoothies to meet their discerning needs. This doesn’t mean reducing the nutritional content, as sometimes just making them “slushier” will be enough to sell the idea on your kids.
  • Sneak the good stuff in. Many kids won’t instantly be in love with the idea of smoothies. The trick here can be to sneak in the good stuff in at first and slowly build up the level as your kids adjust to eating healthy.
  • Use kid-friendly containers. Crazy straws, fun glasses and even cup-clinging toys can make getting a smoothie so much fun that kids forget it’s good for them.
  • Add a good amount of fruit. For many kids, the sweetness of the fruit will mask any of the veggies and greens they may not find as favorable.   Plus, if you pick the right fruits they can add loads of vitamins as well.
  • Make it a treat. Even if you want your kids to drink smoothies pretty regularly, making them a healthy form of dessert can improve your chances of getting your kids to beg to drink them.
  • Drink them yourself. Leading by example is a great philosophy to follow and if you want to influence your kids to drink green smoothies what better way than showing them how much you enjoy them yourself?

There are lots of ways to get your kids with you on the healthy bandwagon, just have a little patience and be inventive and you’ll soon make green smoothies a family affair.