What to do with my extra greens??

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: I bought some spinach at Costco and when I got home, I saw it was about to go bad. So I blended it up and froze it in 4 Tupperware containers. Is that okay, or does it ruin the nutrition?

Answer: Sure, that’s okay. Even slightly oxidized, two-days-refrigerated, or frozen-then-thawed greens, are better than most anything ELSE you might choose to eat on any given day. I’m a big fan of not letting food go to waste.

Next time, consider two ideas that can simplify your life a bit. You might freeze the blended greens in ice cube trays. Then keep the frozen “green cubes” in a Ziploc freezer bag to blend with fruit and water, for an easy, quick green smoothie that you don’t have to defrost, like you do your Tupperware portions. Or you can just freeze the raw spinach in baggies for later, avoiding any second step. Before you completely zip off the bag, stick a straw in it and suck out the air—now the bag will take up minimal space in your freezer.

Nutrition and single parents….part 3 of 3

Thank you, single parents who commented on my two-part blog series a couple of weeks ago.

I’m quoting Amanda from that blog series because what she said merits front-and-center attention:

“Robyn, I know what you’re going through, and thanks so much for writing on this critical topic! There’s very little information online about how to handle this problem.

Due to school and distance issues, my 11-year-old boy lives with his dad during the week and is with me on the weekends. One of the reasons we divorced is over the issue of nutrition. The dad is one of those poor folks who believes the ketchup on a Big Mac counts as a vegetable, and he’s not interested in learning anything different. If the FDA says it’s OK for us, then where’s the problem, right?

I recently heard from my son that he’s being made to take fluoride pills at night because their RO water treatment filters it out of the tap water. I asked, why do you think your system does that??? But dad heard from the dentist that if you don’t get “enough” fluoride, all your teeth will decay and fall out. If a doctor says it’s true, that’s all the proof he needs. Never mind the evidence I present to the contrary. I’m not a doctor, so my information can’t be valid, apparently.

So Robyn, I look forward to your entry tomorrow on how you deal with this emotionally. All I can do (without bad-talking his dad, which I understand is detrimental to my son’s emotional health) is present alternative information while he’s here, and hope that it somehow sinks in.

One ray of hope is this: I was raised by a hippie health food mom who shopped at co-ops and knew way ahead of time how important whole-food nutrition is. In fact, I was the only kid in my neighborhood who had a whole-wheat birthday cake every year. (OK, I have some trauma around that. :) When I finally “got free” from her influence and went off to college, I narrowed my nutritional plan to two food groups: beer and pizza, in that order. I gained 25 pounds and developed some weird blood pressure problem that had me passing out after a flight of stairs. Man, I felt and looked like crap.

Here’s the good news: now, 25 years later, I’m a natural health researcher and a passionate and committed servant of anyone who asks for my input on nutritional or health issues. My mom’s lessons stayed with me through those turbulent years, and although I got off track now and then, her love and persistence paid off.

So will ours as we continue to deliver this important information to our children in a compassionate and loving way. Stay strong! My suggestion: don’t meet resistance with more resistance, but trust that your message will get through. Children are very sensitive creatures, and instinctively lean toward messages delivered with love and a high vibration. Encourage them to feel the contrast in themselves between different foods and ideas, and they’ll often correct course naturally.

Much love to Robyn and all you GSG readers! Keep up the good work!”

From Robyn:

Believe it or not, we had no conflict over diet or how to raise the kids, when I was married!

Nothing has honed my communication skills more than being divorced! Trying to inoculate your child against bad information without criticizing the source of that information…..that’s the tightrope single parents walk.

I have my hat off in great respect for all the divorced parents who try very hard to show respect to the other parent. After all, the child knows he is HALF his father. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of saying or doing something for the cheap grab at “favorite parent” status. It’s just a bad thing to do on every level.

I love what Amanda says: to just trust that the message is getting through, even if a period of beer-and-pizza might take place. Me, too: my entire sophomore year of college was spent eating almost nothing but Top Ramen and bananas. The year I was pregnant with my first son, right before I bottomed out and turned it around, I ate mostly burgers and fries, Ben ‘N Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream, 7-11 Nachos, and I drank all the liquid out of pickle jars. But eventually my mom’s good teachings and example kicked in, with a vengeance!

Nutrition and single moms, part 2 of 2

Even though I am doing the very best I can for my kids’ health, even though I run a health-oriented web site and write books and speak all over the U.S., full time……even though there is no junk food in my house….I cannot control everything my children eat.

“Controlling” what the kids eat is a really great idea when kids are young. It is a word mostly excised from your vocabulary, as the kids get older. I control the food that I purchase and make, still. I don’t buy junk food. But “control” what teenagers eat away from home? No can do.

I certainly will not compete for “Most Favored Parent Status” (ask any divorced parent about that game, which I refuse to play) by turning into Pop-Tart Mom.

These are ways I remain happy despite the fact that I sometimes have to watch my children being fed a meal of Skittles and hamburgers. Despite that fact that I can’t influence their father and his wife to stop feeding them harmful chemicals.

I remind myself that I have done the best I could, and I have educated my kids about what I know. This dramatically increases the likelihood that they’ll have a healthy lifestyle for life despite living in a polarized “food schizophrenia” now. My one child who does not live with me comes home while she’s at athletic camps or tryouts, so I can feed her well, for energy and peak performance. This is initiated by her, not me.

I take some satisfaction in knowing that, while they tell me they often don’t have healthy options when they’re not with me, and I know not all their choices are good ones, on the other hand, they know what’s good and bad and they make better choices than the rest of America. All four of my kids love salad. They all love fruit. They are not afraid of green food.

(That said? Last night a friend brought us his “raw soup.” It was pea pods, red peppers, cucumbers, and avocado blended smooth. I thought it was fine. The kids didn’t like it but the oldest two just ate it. The third gave me some grief.

The fourth? He wailed and sobbed, he gagged, choked, begged, pretended to puke, rolled his eyes back in his head, claimed he was going to die, begged for salt, then cycled through all those tactics again. Ridiculous. I told him to get up and walk away, several times, but he wanted the whole-wheat zucchini bread his sister was making, so he stuck it out. And he curled up in my lap, after, and cried as if he was made to eat a bowl of wiggling termites on Fear Factor.

I tell you this so you’re reminded that I’m a Mom In the Trenches, too. Makes for some good laughs later, though! The drama could win an Oscar. This boy of mine is officially the most emotional human I’ve ever known.)

The point is, the rewards aren’t all being achieved right now.   It pays off over a lifetime, to teach our kids while they’re in our home, what good nutrition is. And then practice it right in front of them, making good choices ourselves.

After all, I had wonderful examples in my parents and my maternal grandparents. And yet I spent the entire decade of my 20’s eating mostly junk.

I have observed that my friends who are the most open minded to what I feed them when they come over (sprouted, living, raw stuff) always tell me how their moms baked homemade whole-wheat everything, and juiced carrots and celery or made green drinks, and shopped at a health food store.

And my friends who won’t try anything and make funny faces because they say “I have a strong gag reflex!” or whatever? They’re universally the ones who were raised on the Standard American Diet.

Some of the benefits of my children having a good example, a lot of childhood education, and far better nutrition than other kids in America transcend the nutrition they get today. They will be adults who aren’t squeamish and avoidant of natural colors (like green!) and textures and new foods.   Flax crackers and baby-turnip stir-fry and edamame for a snack and raw-vegetable soup will seem like home, instead of crazy-people food.

These are ways, mostly self-talk, that I find helps me not hyperventilate about things I cannot do anything about related to my kids’ nutrition. Gone are the days that I can take alternative treats to the pre-school teacher and ask the children’s organization at church not to feed my kids candy. My kids will make their own way and make their own choices. Moving more gracefully, rather than less so, into that space of parenting teens and young adults, helps me let go and allows them to learn from experience.

If you have tips, I’m sure some single moms would appreciate more of them!

My quirky weight-loss strategies, part 3 of 3

Another of my strategies is that I’m not afraid to skip a meal. I never, ever miss breakfast. And at lunch, because I always work out in the morning, I’m ravenously hungry. I don’t skip that either. But I often skip dinner, probably once a week on average. If I’ve had a big, late lunch, or a big late afternoon snack. Or if I’ve got a couple pounds to lose. It’s so good for your body to give it a rest.

I make sure I have at least a quart of green smoothie made FIRST THING IN THE MORNING. Then it’s made, so I’ll be sure to drink it since I’m not going to let it go to waste. And about 1 or 2 days a week, I have nothing for dinner except a green smoothie.

I go to bed hungry occasionally. Your body gets used to it. Your digestive system needs intermittent rests. (Don’t do this night after night, though.) It works best on a night that I’m really busy. If you’re really that hungry that you can’t sleep, eat a apple or banana (the magnesium in a banana will help you sleep). Or eat a big spoonful of chia seeds and chase it with a big glass of water. (It fills you up, for 40 calories and outstanding protein and nutrition.)

So, my second tip:

2. Skip dinner one or two days a week as needed, or have nothing but a quart of green smoothie. Have a day or two a week where you drink TWO quarts of green smoothie instead of one.

I virtually never eat after dinner, and I really try to avoid eating dinner late. (Eating late is only necessary occasionally because of a social situation.)

I drink a ton of water, most of it in the first half of the day. It helps your metabolism in countless ways. I drink a pint of water first thing, when I wake up. I don’t drink water with meals, but when I begin to feel just the tiniest big hungry, I drink a glass of water. Then I wait 20 minutes to eat a meal. That way the water is purifying, rather than being mixed with food and diluting gastric juices.

3. Don’t eat late at night.

4. Drink a ton of water.

I also never snack on sugar or processed foods by themselves. If I DO eat those foods, I don’t do it more than once a day and I do it only after a really good, 80%+ raw meal.

5. Don’t eat sugar/dead foods alone, only after a high-raw meal, and not more than once a day.

Finally, and this is a weird one, wear form-fitting clothes. ALL the time, even when you’re at home. The fastest way to lose track of how much weight you’re gaining is to do the baggy-sweats thing. Big, elastic-waist pants is you saying to yourself, “I’ve given up. Now I’m going to hide!”

They don’t have to be uncomfortable. On a day I’m working at home, in front of my PC, nobody’s around, like right now? I wear bike shorts or low-rise spandex pants and a very fitted t-shirt. If I’m up a couple of pounds, I’m annoying myself and I get serious about changing that situation.

6. Dress a little bit sexy. Even when there’s no one to impress but yourself, wear things that won’t let you get away with anything.

(Notice I said A LITTLE BIT. Please take this in the spirit it is intended, which isn’t to be provocative; it’s to wear things that keep you aware of any gradual onset of weight.) I never count calories, and I rarely get on a scale. This Strategy #6 keeps me honest.

You already know that keys to maintain a healthy weight are to rarely (if ever) eat animal proteins (and never processed meat), exercise regularly, and eat abundantly of whole, raw plant foods.

But these are my quirky, “works for me” habits that I believe lead to stable weight on the low end of the weight chart. I will be on a quest to learn more of these secrets that have served healthy people well, over a lifetime. Share your own tips here!

My quirky weight-loss strategies, part 2 of 3

I yo-yo like everybody else. (Women can gain and lose 4 lbs. in a week, simply from hormone changes within a cycle and accompanying water retention.) But I yo-yo within a 5-lb. variation. A year ago I dropped 7 lbs., and quickly, because of some stresses in my life. That is highly unusual, though.

I will tell you the things that work for me. Not that I think they’re the ONLY things, nor even that they’ll work for YOU. But they might help some people.

Have you read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point? Sometimes, I really believe, a very small shift in thinking, or a small shift in behavior, can put you over the tipping point. Perhaps a new little way of doing something could make a difference for you in managing your weight. Dropping whatever extra pounds you’re carrying, and staying there for life. That makes sense, since drinking one can of soda a day means a 15-lb. annual weight gain, or obesity within 2 years. On both the negative and positive ends, SMALL THINGS ARE BIG THINGS!

I’m going to record a free online event where I interview 30 Famous Skinny People and get their Healthy Weight Loss Tips. It will take a us a while to produce. If you know someone I should interview with a big name on the internet or anywhere else, who has great control over her weight and is rather verbal and articulate, write KRISTIN@GREENSMOOTHIEGIRL.COM.

My mom is my original inspiration when it comes to a woman who respects and values her body and limits weight fluctuations to a reasonable five pounds. (I know super-neurotic women who obsess, fret, tell everyone they know when they’re 2 lbs. over their “ideal” weight. This is, to me, not living a balanced life. Plus nobody likes you when you do that. Since almost everyone else is way more than 2 lbs. over their “ideal.”)

My mother isn’t a supermodel and has her flaws, was kind of your standard Mormon mom, except for one thing:   she was never overweight. As she was raising 8 kids, she did the basics: broke a sweat every day, and ate whole foods and very little processed food.  She did have her closet foods. With 8 kids, any “treat” food you buy is gonna be GONE.  She used to hide yogurt-covered almonds in her closet. (She wasn’t one of those super-human, uber-disciplined people none of us can relate to. Neither am I…I love chocolate!)

But, two really cool things. One, she never talked about not liking her body. Two, she didn’t change clothes endlessly and agonize over how she looked and denigrate herself with “I’m fat” comments.

Consequently, that stuff didn’t rub off on me. Until I was a teenager, I didn’t learn that part of what it means to be a girl, in this culture, is to put myself down and swing wildly from thin-to-fat, bingeing and dieting. (There was plenty of that to observe from my peers, in high school, college, and beyond.)

However, if my mom ate too much all day Sunday, on a fun family day, she ate strictly minimally and healthy the next day. If she ate too much for two days, she ate really well for 2 or more days until her weight was back to normal.

My mom didn’t “diet” and neither do I. So, here’s my first tip:

1. Get control before you’ve gained more than 5 lbs. If you keep thinking , “I’ll worry about this next spring,” or “I’ll go on a diet next month,” you are choosing to create a crisis rather than a mild, rather painless correction.

Five more tips, tomorrow.

Educate your kids about nutrition!

Here’s my video showing Tennyson why food matters in his life, and why he

should make good decisions about food.

He’s no different than you and me. He needs REASONS. And praise.

Here are my tips for teaching your kids–some I mention on the video, and

some you’ll just see me DOING:

1. Make it relevant to their lives. (In Ten’s case, link it to sports

performance.)

2. Keep it short. (I didn’t do a good job of this in the video. This

was for your benefit to tell you a bunch of things you can say to YOUR

kids.)

3. Make it interesting.

4. Make it visual.

5. Involve them. Ask them questions.

6. Avoid clichés like “eat your greens.” Tell them WHY eat greens.

7. Use car time. We spend a lot of time in the car. They’re trapped

there. So talk to them about things that matter when they can’t roll their

eyes and run away.

8. Ask them what they notice, when they eat right, and praise their

good choices!