Energy drinks: attention, parents of teens!

Visiting my best friend in San Francisco recently, I sat outside her high-end convenience/grocery store in the very affluent suburb of Piedmont grading papers.   The high school kids arrived en masse, at lunch and after school.   An amazing amount of candy and energy drinks walk out of that place–thousands of dollars’ worth daily.   Kids walk up and throw their backpacks in a pile (not allowed in the store), and they walk into the store with their wads of cash and come out with all kinds of junk food.   (These kids have money!)


One day the lead singer of the rock group Greenday was there (he is a resident of Piedmont).   So to impress some of my (new) teenaged friends, who dared me, I got a photo with him.   Unfortunately, the kid who took it with his cell phone emailed it to me, but I haven’t seen it!   Turns out, my own teenagers tell me, Billy Joe Armstrong is the most foul-mouthed rocker alive today.   Clean-cut Christian mom poses with edgy, famous, potty-mouth rockstar.   That’s kind of funny, no?   His kids play on the soccer teams there in Piedmont, and he and his wife were having lunch together and seem so nice.   I have a hard time imagining him screaming from the stage what I’ve been told he does!   (It’s shocking, is all I’m going to say.)


So I came home and read about these energy drinks the kids were guzzling by the gallon.   They’re called Alcopops or “flavored alcoholic beverages” because they have more alcohol than beer!   Beer has 5-6% alcohol, but these have 6-12% alcohol.   Here are some examples of the alcohol content by weight:


Tilt (8%), Rockstar (6.9%), Sparks (6%), Four (6%), Joose (9-10%), Monster, 3Sum, 24, Charge, Torque, and many more.   This is a $3.2 billion annual industry!   No soda bottler can pass up the opportunity to jump on this growing bandwagon.   And guess who drinks the most?   Yep, teens aged 12-17.   They consume 31% of the total amount sold.   These drinks contain alcohol, which is a depressant, but also massive amounts of the stimulants ginseng, guarana, and  caffeine.   (And no, caffeine doesn’t cancel out alcohol.   If you drink alcohol and caffeine, you’re still drunk.)   And of course they are full of sugar or chemical sweeteners, plus lots of other unpronouncable chemical garbage.


Parents, beware.   Are you okay with your 12-year old drinking beer?   Please educate others about this.   (And thanks, GSG reader Camille for sending me source material.)

a very personal blog entry

I promised recently that I’d tell you why I was stressed and my friends were dropping by with healthy treats. Like coconut-milk “ice cream” and whole-wheat pumpkin cookies and applesauce brownies.

It’s hard to talk about.   I’ve had this written a while but am finally getting the courage to post it.    So here goes.   Gulp.

I’m in the process of becoming a single mom, after 20 years of marriage.   I’ve been married virtually my whole adult life!   Because we don’t speak ill of each other, no one saw it coming.   Not the people closest to us or even our kids.

Sad times!   I think it’s tempting in the biggest crises of our lives to let go of our health, quit exercising, and turn to processed food for comfort.   I won’t do it, though–I’ve been there before.   That’s a good way to let anxiety or depression or low energy get the best of you, right when you need your health the most.

In an effort to simplify, instead, I did let my oldest three kids choose to quit piano if they wanted. (If you saw us on Wife Swap, you have to know that was hard!)   I’m proud of them–some decided to continue, caring about their goals even during what promises to be the hardest year of their lives so far.   I think they’re going to be okay, or at least, I’ll do all I can to that end.

And their dad has bought a house just a five-minute walk from here.   He and I are friendly, care about each other,  and will always put the kids first.   I’ll be officially divorced probably next month, because we agree on all things financial and custody-related, and we’re both fully capable of supporting a household, so no lawyers or conflict are involved, and papers are filed.

That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a lot of pain, or that there won’t be lasting scars.   I am so tremendously appreciative of the sweet emails and blog comments from so many of you.   You are a balm to the brokenhearted, and I love you.

As this site went live only a year ago, I’ve been reflecting on its short history. has always been, first and foremost, a labor of love to help people understand and love and nurture themselves and their bodies, and their families, better.   But I could never have anticipated the way “e-relationships” would enrich my life!

Even if I had to release my death grip on my “one of these kids will dang well be a concert pianist” dream, I’m not letting go of good nutrition.   One silver lining in this dark cloud of my family’s life is that I will be of more service, more relatable, now, to single moms.   There are a LOT of you out there.   A friend of mine said I’m entering a subculture you really know only when you enter it.  


And honestly, I think what I’m going through probably is like what many of you go through, because life includes tragedy along the way for almost all of us.   Right now is a very scary time in the economy and lots of people are suffering.   It’s likely to get worse before it gets better.   It’s a time when we might be tempted to ignore nutrition and our physical health.   But we can’t afford to, because when those things go south, so do many other important things, like our optimism, energy, and ability to reach goals.   Our health is one of the most important things we have, and all parts of it are related: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

I know some people think, “Well, Robyn has more time than I do to spend in the kitchen.”   (I don’t know how that was possible, even before now!)   But now I really have to “do it all.”   So I will learn some new things as I keep on  teaching people about the benefits of the whole, mostly-raw, plant-based diet  . . .  single.   Thanks for being in my corner.

Much love,




spinach and other personal items

I just drove my 11-year old daughter Libby and her teammate Tristan home from their soccer game in another city.   I started this really funny conversation with Tristan in an effort to end my daughter’s rant about how much she hates practicing the piano:


Me:   Tristan, do you take piano lessons?


Tristan:   Well, I used to.   But it cost $100 a month each, for my sister and me.   So my parents had to fire the teacher, because we didn’t have enough money for . . . um . . . food.   And clothes.   We were wearing all hand-me-downs.


Me (trying not to laugh, as Tristan’s mother is a top-ranking administrator at the university I teach at, and her father is a well paid professional):   Really!


Tristan:   Yeah.   My mom spends all her money on . . . spinach.   And other personal items.   She makes smoothies.


Me:   Really?   GREEN smoothies?


Tristan:   Yeah.


Me:   Did she learn about green smoothies from me?   (I don’t know Tristan’s mom well, as I deal only with her dad for carpool, nor have I noticed her in my 12 Steps subscriber list or at a nutrition class.   But readers turn up in the funniest places.)


Tristan (anger in her voice):   Yeah!   And now she’s reading MORE books and learning MORE stuff!   And she never gives us sugar!   Except for, we get root beer on Pizza Night.   Which is only like once a YEAR!


Go Tristan’s mom!   I had to clap my hand over my mouth to keep from bursting out laughing!   Spinach a “personal item,” indeed.

GreenSmoothieGirl Law of Physics (how will I find the time?) . . . part 2 of 2

Back to how it can be true that if you spend energy, you get energy:

First, are you a parent of at least two children, or are you close to someone who is?   Many first-time parents are so smitten by their firstborn that when they begin to consider bringing another baby into their family, they fret:   “I’m not sure I can love another baby as much as I love this one.”   Surely this baby has claim to ALL my love, new parents think.


Our concrete, finite minds not used to “abundance thinking,” sometimes can’t at first bend around the principle that spending can yield dividends.   That is, there’s more to be had, good things multiply, scarce thinking breeds actual scarcity, and abundant thinking breeds actual abundance–in relationships and the world.   Give some of your love and your CAPACITY for love multiplies.  


And so, parents take the leap and find, virtually universally, that they can, in fact, love another child as much as the first.   So much love that it makes your heart nearly burst sometimes.


Second, with the Olympics going on, one might want to consider Olympic athletes as well.   We love Michael Phelps, of course.   But Dara Torres is my all-time Olympic hero: because she is my age (41), and she silver medalled twice as of this writing, all while nurturing her competitors and chasing a toddler and proving to all the disbelievers that she achieved her athletic prowess and physique naturally.   She had earned a few Olympic gold medals before at least one of her 2008 competitors was even born.   While I was in Paris, I watched her on TV take first place in her qualifying heat after delaying the race to help another swimmer (who went on to take second) with a torn swimsuit.


Do Olympic athletes have less energy because they give so much energy to their sports?   No, they are fireballs of energy because energy begets energy.   When they turn their attention to other things–volunteerism, media, business, family–they have plenty to give.   And it doesn’t stop there: thousands of others are affected by their energy.   I have a big photo ripped from a magazine of Dara Torres taped right next to my computer screen.   Her arms, holding her daughter, are ripped and beautiful, and inspire me to push myself lifting weights.


Third, if you’ve ever owned a real estate property or started a company, you know that spending money on improvements often brings more business and profits flooding in.


So it is, with the time you will spend in the kitchen preparing a GreenSmoothieGirl diet.   That time will give back.   It will richly bless your life.   It will make possible your achieving goals you’ve had on the back burner a long time.   Go make it happen, one recipe at a time, just one step to whole foods at a time!

For parents or grandparents: race cars need better fuel!

My yoga teacher today, in the middle of class (to take our minds of the obscene length of time she makes us hold each pose, I’m sure) said the coolest thing today.

She said, I tell my kids why their school lunch isn’t made up of bags of potato chips, like their friends’ are.   I tell them that when you go to the gas pump, the nicest cars have to buy the best fuel.   It’s more expensive!   But if you want to go FAST like a race car, you have to give your body the good stuff.   Race cars aren’t meant to run on junk gasoline!

You wanna be a sleek race car, or a clunker with black exhaust pouring out the back?   Your choice.   Flax crackers, vegetable-quinoa stirfry, green smoothie: premium fuel in the tank of a Porsche.   Hot dogs, fries, soda: diesel or “regular” in the tank of a Pinto.

Try that out on your kids to teach them about food choices (and why you’re making the purchasing choices you are) and let us know what they think!   I could see that being one of those sayings your kids remember for life, and 20 years later you hear them telling one of their friends, “You know how Mom always said, you wanna to be a racecar, or a clunker?”   Or, “What do racecars eat?   Racecars don’t eat hot dogs or Ding Dongs.”   I love this analogy, because we’re trying to teach our kids to be racecars, right?   And little boys love them!   And it helps us parents remember at the grocery store, PREMIUM GAS COSTS MORE.

Finally a legislator is stepping up! . . . part 4 of 4

This is the email I received from my legislator, Rep. Steve Sandstrom (haven’t heard from Sen. John Valentine, president of the Senate, yet).   Write him at and tell him thanks and encouragement for his commitment to sponsor a bill to help our kids.




I would whole-heartedly support or sponsor such a bill.   We do not eat junk-food in our own household and our kids are healthy and thin.   I believe we need to push this issue, because childhood obesity is an epidemic.


I am actually in Sweden right now picking up my son who has been here playing hockey for the last two weeks.   It is very noticeable that the kids and adults here are not obese and they eat healthy.   We need to help the children in our state make good decisions for their own health.


 Anything I can do to promote this and get it passed, I am willing to do.  


I will be back in the States on Sunday and I will get in contact with you.




Rep. Sandstrom


Please sign this GreenSmoothieGirl petition to Utah’s legislators and school officials, and encourage health-minded friends to do so, too!