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Easy-to-Digest Foods for Upset Tummies, updated

(published in Tampa Bay Wellness, April 2013)

Do you have a “touchy” digestive system? Many people struggle with digestive problems. This could include anything from an occasional mild stomach upset, stomach flu, or food poisoning, to morning sickness, frequent attacks of gall bladder, gastritis, colitis or irritable bowel.  Or even the side-effects of chemotherapy treatment.

Chronically uncomfortable digestion, such as nausea, heartburn, reflux,  cramping, bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea can be more than just uncomfortable; poor digestion is associated with other health complications, including malnutrition, dysbiosis, unhealthy weight gain or loss, weakness, and headaches.

Acupuncture to strengthen the digestive function is very helpful for these conditions, as are Chinese herbs tailored for the specific condition. And, for individualized dietary recommendations, it is best to see an acupuncturist trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) nutrition. In the meantime, this article will outline a few dietary suggestions that will help most people feel better.

We will start with the most easily digested foods first, and progress to the more difficult.  Remember, these are generalizations. Everyone is a little different, so you may find that a few of the foods in some of the earlier categories need to be set aside until you are feeling stronger, or that you are okay with eating some of the later category foods sooner.  And always heed any food allergies or sensitivites that you have.

STEP 1:  CLEAR FLUIDS

Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea can make you not want to eat at all, but it is essential to remain hydrated with plenty of clear fluids. Warm or room temperature liquids are preferable since cold fluids can cause or worsen cramping.

One of the best clear fluids is coconut water: the liquid from the inside of the coconut, (not to be confused with coconut milk, which is a thick, white liquid made from the coconut meat).  All natural coconut water is typically tolerated better than plain water and has an ideal ratio of electrolytes, minerals with a small amount of natural sugars to keep you optimally hydrated and lightly fueled.

Other good fluids to sip include clear broths and warm teas:  for nausea choose ginger, peppermint or chamomile; for cramping pain choose chamomile, peppermint or fennel.

STEP 2:  CONGEE and MASHED & STEWED FRUITS

Congee:

Congee is the foremost of the easy-to-digest foods in Oriental medicine, used for all types of imbalanced digestion.  It is a great food to start with after you’ve been unable to eat.  In addition to being easy on the system, it is said to “nourish the Digestive Qi (energy).”  Congee is a thin porridge that is often used as breakfast in parts of China. There are many recipes available online, but I will give you the basic formula here:

I recommend using brown rice, millet, quinoa or buckwheat, as these are gluten-free, and usually easy-to-digest. Use 1 part whole grain to 5 parts water.  Cook on low for several hours. I usually cook this in a crock pot overnight on the “low” setting.

Small amounts of various fruits, vegetables, or spices may be added, depending on your individual TCM diagnosis. Examples include ginger, cardamom, raisins, chopped carrots and apples, which add a touch of flavor and texture to the congee, but are well-cooked for easy digestion. Or your acupuncturist may prefer for you to use vegetables such as zucchini, celery, water chestnuts. Either way, go easy on the added ingredients, because the blandness of the congee is what makes it gentle on the digestion and nourishing for the Digestive Qi.

You can also put cooked congee through a blender to feed to infants and toddlers with “tummy problems”. Again, ask your acupuncturist for specific herbs, spices, fruits or veggies to add to your child’s congee for his or her condition.

Mashed & Stewed Fruits:

Another good option at this stage is a little bit of mashed banana, blended papaya, or a pudding made from the two mixed together. Both are very easy to digest. Banana is better if you are having diarrhea. Papaya, since it contains some natural digestive enzymes, can be helpful for constipation. Applesauce (preferably unsweetened) is another great option. You can add a pinch or two of dried ginger to any of these fruits, to further assist their ease of digestion.

You can also try some stewed fruits, such as pears, prunes and figs, particularly if you have constipation.

STEP 3: OTHER WHOLE-FOOD STARCHES & FRESH FRUITS

When your system can handle more solid foods, try some plain baked potato or sweet potato (remove the skin initially if you need to), winter squash (such as butternut squash, acorn squash or pumpkin), cooked summer squash (zucchini or yellow squash), and cooked root vegetables (such as carrots, beets, or daikon radish).

You can also have plain whole grains such as rice, quinoa, millet and buckwheat.  If you are not gluten sensitive, you can add oatmeal (the old-fashioned kind, not the instant), or whole grain toast. In fact, all cooked starches should be well tolerated at this point, except for dry beans.  Avoid butter, oil or sauces for now, and no spicy foods.

Once you can easily digest the plain, cooked starches, you should also be able to digest most fresh fruits, though citrus and tomato may still be a challenge. Eat your fresh fruit at room temperature, instead of chilled, for better digestion.

STEP 4: COOKED VEGETABLES & GREEN SMOOTHIES:

Cooked Vegetables:

As your digestive system continues to strengthen, you can eat a variety of cooked vegetables, but initially avoid the cruciferous ones (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussel sprouts).

Avoid using too much oil or butter to cook your vegetables.  Steaming or roasting them is better than frying.  You can also sauté them in broth.  Go very easy on the flavorings, spices or sauces, at least at first, until you feel your digestion can handle them.

For protein, you may eat a small amount of plain, cooked whole beans (not refried beans) with your cooked vegetables.  If you eat meat, this is where you can start to add small amounts of organic roasted chicken or wild-caught, small species fish.  Be sure to cook both of them very well, to kill parasites and bacteria.  Use animal protein more as a meal accent, and not as a large part of the meal.

Green Smoothies:

You can also start adding some raw, green, leafy vegetables to fruit smoothies. This way, you receive the benefit of the green leafy vegetable, but it is blended for easier digestion.  Green smoothies are a wonderful way to intake green leafies, while only tasting fruit. Start with spinach or leaf lettuce, since they have very little of their own taste.

There are many green smoothie recipes available online, but you can take this simple recipe and improvise:  Add 1 cup of spinach to 1 banana, 1.5 cups of berries, and 1 cup of water or coconut water and a few pinches of dried ginger or cardamom. Blend until smooth and enjoy.  Avoid adding ice, dairy or sweeteners.

STEP 5:  RAW VEGETABLES, FATS & PROTEINS:

Raw Vegetables:

At this stage, you can to add in raw vegetables and salads.  Of the raw vegetables, those which are fruits (tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, zucchini and yellow squash) are the easiest to digest, while the cruciferous (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc) are the most difficult, and you may need to only eat them cooked.

Iceburg lettuce is difficult to digest, and has the least nutrients of all leafy greens, so use romaine, leaf lettuce or spinach for salads. You might find that the darker leafy greens, such as kale, swiss chard, or collards need to be cooked for you to digest them well.

Fats & Proteins:

Of the fats and proteins, avocado is the easiest to handle, and a few olives are fine for most people. Both coconut and peanuts can be a problem for those with gall bladder congestion.  Other nuts and seeds in small quantities are fine for some, but those with diverticulitis will likely need to avoid them.  If you eat animal-based foods, organic chicken and wild-caught, small species fish, as well as organic egg whites may be eaten in small amounts.

Vegetable oils, butter/margarine, fatty meats, and dairy products should be eaten sparingly if at all. These foods are very heavy and put a lot of burden on the Digestive Qi.

FOODS TO AVOID

Besides those fats and proteins listed above, other foods to avoid with poor digestion are wheat (including white flour and whole wheat), sugars, artificial sweeteners, greasy foods, highly processed foods, and chemical additives. Some people with reflux or heartburn may also need to avoid spicy foods.  The most highly allergenic foods are dairy, corn, wheat/gluten, peanut, and soy.

FOOD COMBINING

Some people find that proper food combining makes all the difference for their digestion. Food combining is based on the chemistry of digestion: starchy foods require alkalinity to digest, whereas proteins and fats require acidity.  And fruits are best eaten without any other type of food because they digest much faster.

The premise is that when you combine foods which require opposite types of digestive environments, then the chemical reactions neutralize each other, causing digestive stagnation, fermentation & putrefaction. This can lead to digestive distress, poor nutrient absorption, overgrowth of bacteria/yeast, lowered immunity, fatigue, pain and other illness.

There are many sources for learning about food combining, but to make it simple: Don’t eat starches with fats or proteins; Non-starchy vegetables can be eaten with EITHER starches OR proteins/fats, but not both; Eat fruit alone; Allow 40 minutes after eating fruit, 3 hours after a starchy meal, and 4 hours after a protein/fat meal before eating a different type of meal.

IN CONCLUSION:

When your Digestive Qi is strong, your digestion is smooth and effortless, you have vibrant energy, and your whole body functions better. Try these suggestions. But, if you find your digestive problems are persisting, I encourage you to seek an acupuncturist trained in nutrition to help with your individual condition.

Also, for more on Nutrition from the Oriental Medical perspective, See Nutrition, Part 2. 

Dawn Balusik
727-475-4710

Chocolate Decadence Smoothie

(recipe:  vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free)

Sometimes you just have to have some Chocolate!  This green smoothie is a great way to quell your worst chocolate cravings AND have your body thank you!

Chocolate Decadence:

3 large handfuls spinach, romaine or leaf lettuce
1 apple, core removed
1 cup almond milk
2 Tbsp cacao powder (raw, if you can get it), or carob powder (if you prefer).
2 Tbsp raw hemp seeds or raw cashews, or 1/2 avocado
2 to 4 dried dates (pits removed; soaked in water for 30-60 mins to soften).

Put all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.  Enjoy!

Optional Additions to Chocolate Decadence:
1.  Add 2 Tbsp natural almond or peanut butter for a “reese’s cup” version.
2.  Add 2 to 4 drops peppermint extract for a “peppermint patty” version.
3.  Add 1/2 cup cherries for a “chocolate covered cherries” version.
4.  Add 1 banana for a “chocolate covered banana” version.

Dawn Balusik, AP, DOM

Apple Pie Smoothie

Recipe (vegan, gluten-free, no added sugar)

If you’ve been enjoying apple season like I have, try this green smoothie that is a new twist on an old favorite….

Ain’t Your Grandma’s Apple Pie:
2 apples, cores removed
2 handfuls kale, spinach or other greens
1/4 cup raisins
1/8 cup almonds (about 6 to 8 almonds)
1 tsp hemp seeds or chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp apple pie spice or sprinkle of cloves
1 cup water

Put all ingredients into a good blender and blend until smooth.  Add more water if it is too thick.

In Oriental Medicine, apples are said to benefit the stomach, spleen and lung.  They stimulate the appetite, relieve diarrhea, clear heat, and moistens the lung.

They are also medicinal for the liver and gall bladder, to help thin bile that is too sludgy, and to help soften cholesterol-based gall stones.

Apples contain calcium, potassium, iron, sodium, phosphorus, Vitamins A, C, and B1 and B2, niacin, fiber and flavones.

Enjoy!

Everything Cookies

Recipe (Vegan, no refined sugar, low fat, can be made gluten-free)

When you just need a cookie, these are the favorite around our house.  We don’t make them often, because we avoid sugar, flour and oil.  But I adapted this recipe to reduce the amount of oil needed, and to replace the white sugar.  This is taken from several cookie recipes in the book, “Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero.

Everything Cookies (adapted by Dawn):

1 very ripe banana, medium
1/6 cup canola oil
1/6 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1/6 cup dark agave nectar (raw)
1/6 cup brown rice syrup
2 Tbsp Xylitol natural sweetener
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, or gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups rolled oats (gluten-free oats if you prefer)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Lightly grease two baking sheets.

2.  In a mixing bowl, mash the banana well.  You can use a fork or your hands.  Add the oil, applesauce, agave, brown rice syrup, and xylitol and mix with a strong fork.  Add the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and mix until the dry ingredients are just moistened.  Add the oatmeal, walnuts, cranberries and chocolate chips and mix well.  It is actually good to use your hands for mixing when using oats, to make sure the oats get nice and moist. If the dough is very slippery, add a few extra tablespoons of flour – it really depends on how big your banana was.

3.  Scoop the dough into scant 1/4 cup portions (a floured 1/4 cup measuring cup works well for this), and place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  If they want to fall apart, just press them together with your hands.

4.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until lightly browned.  Let them cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to wire rack.

(for an even lower-fat, lower-sugar cookie, skip the chocolate chips).

Enjoy!

Dawn

Awesome Asian Kale Salad

Recipe (vegan, sugar-free & gluten-free)

I have made this salad several times, doubling the recipe, and taken it to parties.  Amazingly, even though most people would say they don’t like kale, (especially raw kale), this salad is completely devoured within an hour of setting it out.  And many people demand to know the recipe.  So, here it is…

SALAD:

1 bunch kale, ribs removed, thinly sliced
2 small carrots, peeled and shredded
1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp sesame seeds

DRESSING:

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1.5 Tbsp sesame or canola oil
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp Bragg’s Aminos (you can use Tamari or Soy Sauce instead, if you prefer).
1.75 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or brown rice vinegar)

1. Combine kale, carrots, and bell pepper in large bowl.
2. Prepare the dressing.  In  a small bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and mix well.
3. Pour the dressing over the kale mixture and marinate for at least 1 hour.  The longer the salad marinates, the stronger the dressing flavors will be, and the softer the kale leaves will become.
4.  Toss with pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds before serving.

(Note:  if you really want the kale leaves to be soft, you can get your hands into the mix, and massage each leaf with the dressing, being sure each surface is well coated, before leaving it to marinate).

Enjoy!

Dawn Balusik, AP, DOM

Mint Chocolate Chia “Tapioca” Pudding

Recipe (vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free)

Around the holidays I seem to often get a craving for mint-chocolate treats. Rather than succumbing to a sugar-laden cookie or coffee drink, I have been experimenting with making my own satisfying, yet extremely healthy treat, full of antioxidants, beneficial fats, and fiber.

Here is my newest creation.  Try it and see what you think!

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
3 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp raw, organic Cocoa powder
1/8 tsp peppermint extract
15 drops of liquid stevia tincture

Combine all into a shaker cup, tumbler, or glass jar with lid, and shake well.  (Do not put in blender…you want the chia seeds to remain whole, since they will soak up the liquid becoming soft “pearls” like tapioca.)

Place it in the refrigerator, and let it sit for an hour or more, shaking or stirring occassionally.  Enjoy!

Nutrition facts:
Calories: 270
Fat:  15.5 g
Carbs:  22 g
Fiber:  14.5 g
Sugar:  1 g
Protein: 8 g

This recipe is endlessly adaptable.  If you don’t like mint, then skip the mint extract and add some dried cranberries, chopped walnuts or both. Or add a little fresh squeezed orange juice for a chocolate-orange treat.  (If you add juice, use less almond milk).

If you don’t like chocolate, use a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spices or apple pie spices instead with raisins and chopped almonds.

You could, theoretically, even make a lemon-lime pudding by squeezing some fresh juice as your main flavoring (again, if you use juice, use less almond milk). Get creative!

Lastly, if you wish to add some plant-based protein, you can add 2 Tbsp of hemp seed protein or another plant-based powder, and 1/4 cup more almond milk.

Happy Holidays!

Dawn Balusik, AP, DOM
727-475-4710

Plant-Based Meal Ideas

As I teach my patients the benefits of a more plant-based diet, many are at a loss for how to create plant-based meals.  Below are some meal suggestions that may make this transition easier.

For health, we need to increase vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fruits, nuts, fiber and water, and to decrease processed foods, refined grains, sugars, animal products, dairy, hydrogenated oils (ie. trans fats), excess salt, artificial sweeteners and chemical additives/preservatives.  So, be sure to read labels to avoid these unnecessary ingredients.

See how many different colors of vegetables/fruits you can get into one meal.  Eat a rainbow variety of whole foods daily, with at least one green veggie during at least 2 meals per day.  And have fun creating new, tasty dishes!

BREAKFAST OPTIONS:

High-fiber, low-sugar cereal with milk alternative (like soy milk, rice milk, almond milk or coconut milk) and fresh or dried fruit (like grapes, peaches, berries, raisins, prunes, figs) and/or nuts.

Whole grain cooked cereal (like slow-cooked [not instant] oatmeal, brown rice, oat bran, creamy buckwheat or rice bran cereal) with fresh or dried fruit and/or nuts.  With or without milk alternative.

Congee.  (see Easy to Digest Foods post).  This is a thin porridge used in China as a breakfast.  You can make it from 1 part any whole grain, cooked overnight in a crock pot with 5 parts water.  You can add fruits, vegetables, herbs or spices to give it interest.

100% whole grain bread/toast with natural peanut (or almond) butter and/or low-sugar jam, unsweetened applesauce, fruit puree, or raw, local honey. (no artificial sweeteners).

100% whole grain pancakes with unsweetened applesauce topping, or raw local honey, and fresh fruit.

Fruit smoothie from the blender.  Example: 1 banana, 1 cup berries, 2 large handfuls spinach, 1 cup water. You will only taste the fruit, but will also get the benefits of the greens!   (There are hundreds of smoothie recipes online. The best choices are “green smoothies” which contain green veggies, but taste like fruit.  See Green Smoothie Post and Green Smoothie Recipes for more info. )

Green Puddings – similar to green smoothies, but made with less liquid and are poured over fresh fruit and nuts.  (See Green Pudding Recipes).

Leftovers from dinner.

LUNCH  & DINNER OPTIONS:

Salad with lots of fresh vegetables, and perhaps fresh or dried fruits, seeds or nuts.  Choose a non-dairy based salad dressing like a vinaigrette, a ginger dressing, a lemon-tahini dressing, hummus, salsa, guacamole or just squeeze of lemon.

100% whole grain bread, pita, flatbread or tortilla, or soft corn tortilla with any combo of vegetables, beans, guacamole, hummus, salsa, tabouleh, or veggie burger patty.

Make pizza from 100% whole grain bread, pita, or flatbread, with marinara sauce and chopped vegetables, dried Italian herb seasoning and optional cheese alternative (soy, rice or almond).

Soup with a vegetable broth, tomato base, or bean base, such as minestrone, vegetable, black bean soup, vegetable barley, lentil soup, squash soup, vegetarian chili, etc.

Baked potato or sweet potato, or baked winter squash with non-dairy toppings (like guacamole and/or salsa, or cinnamon on the sweet potato or squash.)

Steamed or sauteed vegetables with garlic and spices, by themselves, or served over brown rice, millet, or quinoa, or wrapped inside of a whole grain tortilla, pita or soft corn tortilla.

Brown rice, millet, or quinoa with any combo of beans or vegetables, and any variety of non-dairy sauce such as salsa, tomato marinara sauce, curry sauce or Oriental style tamari, teriaki, or Bragg’s Aminos.

Pasta made from whole grain, corn, quinoa or brown rice with marinara sauce, steamed or roasted vegetables, or chopped fresh vegetables.  Wilted spinach is an nice addition to warm pasta dishes as well.

SNACK OPTIONS:

Fresh whole fruit  – apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, berries, plums, prunes, figs, etc.  Dip fresh cut fruit in peanut or almond butter.

Nuts: like walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, etc.  (Avoid those with excess salt or flavorings.)

Fresh cut cucumbers, celery, bell peppers or carrots dipped in hummus, guacamole, natural peanut butter or almond butter.  Apples with peanut/almond butter and cinnamon.

Natural tortilla chips (baked, not fried), with salsa, hummus, beans or guacamole.

100% whole grain bread/toast with natural peanut butter and low-sugar jam, unsweetened applesauce, fruit puree, or raw, local honey (no artificial sweeteners).

Baked potato or sweet potato, or baked winter squash with non-dairy toppings (like guacamole and/or salsa, or cinnamon & honey on the sweet potato or squash.)

Smoothie or pudding from the blender (See Breakfast options).

BEVERAGE OPTIONS:

Purified water  (drink 2 to 3 quarts daily, depending on your size and activity level).

Non- Caffeinated Herbal Tea or Red Tea (this counts as part of your purified water intake).

Green or White Tea (home brewed, not pre-made).

Black Tea (home brewed, unsweetened, or sweeten it yourself with stevia, xylitol or honey. Limit to 2 cups daily).

Organic coffee (limit to 6 oz daily).  Organic decaf coffee (limit to 12 oz daily).  (Use soy, almond or coconut milk creamers).

Fresh squeezed fruit and/or veggie juices (no sugar added).  Dilute all juices with water to 50%-25% strength, to reduce the blood sugar spike reaction.  (It is better to eat the whole fruit or veggie!)

If you drink alcohol, limit to 2 or 3 drinks per week.  (The best choice for most people is red wine.)

FOR WEIGHT LOSS:  (in addition to the suggestions above…)

Eat more fibrous vegetables, greens, whole beans and fruits than grains, starchy vegetables, or potatoes.

Avoid all processed foods, such as breads, crackers, tortillas, nut butters, jams, cold cereals, veggie burgers, cheese alternatives and milk alternatives, etc.  Aim to eat foods only in their whole, natural state.

Avoid all sugars, sweeteners, alcohol and white flour products.

Avoid fats and oils in cooking, sauces and dressings.  Limit nuts to 1 oz. daily.  Limit avocadoes to 1/4 daily.

For more resources to learn about plant-based meal options read any of Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s books, and see the Educational page on Nutrition on this blog.

Happy Eating!

Dawn Balusik, AP, DOM
727-475-4710

The Goodness of Green Smoothies

We all know we need to be eating our greens.  But, let’s face it, how many of us are getting even 2 servings of dark green leafy veggies per day, much less the recommended 4 to 5 or more?  Okay, let’s back up a minute, why are greens so good for us anyway?

Why Greens?
It turns out that green “leafies” are actually one of the BEST foods for human beings! Why? Leafy greens are full of live enzymes, vitamins, alkalinizing minerals, antioxidants, fiber, amino acids (yes…there is protein in greens!)  and chlorophyll:  all of which are wonderfully nourishing and protective for human tissues and detoxifying at the same time.

Chlorophyll is what gives the leaf it’s green color and, interestingly, the chlorophyll molecule is only slightly different from the hemoglobin molecule (the molecule in human blood that carries oxygen to all of our body cells).  Chlorophyll is known to stop yeast and fungus growth in the digestive tract, counteract toxins and radiation, de-activate many carcinogens, counteract inflammation, and promote healthful intestinal flora.

Greens help nourish, strengthen and heal every organ system in our bodies, as well as support the natural detoxification and cleansing mechanisms that we are born with.  They give us more energy, cut cravings for sweets and stimulants, and prevent diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.

In Oriental Medicine, greens are said to build Blood and improve the functioning of the Liver, which is responsible for removing toxins that come from the external environment and from our own body’s metabolic and hormonal processes.  This results in greater energy, better hormonal profiles, less depression, less PMS, luxurious hair, strong nails and dewy skin, as well as  better overall health in general.

If you are looking to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way, greens have the highest nutrient density of any foods on the planet.  This means they pack the highest nutritional punch with the lease amount of calories. The more greens you eat, the easier it will be to lose those extra pounds.

Why Smoothies?
So, now that we know we need to be consuming a LOT more greens, how do we get them into our diets easily?  The answer is Green Smoothies:

  1. Green Smoothies are very tasty!  There are a lot of smoothie recipes out there.  Some are fantastic, and some are truly awful. On the Green Smoothie Recipes page, I have listed some tried and true recipes that my family loves, and you can experiment with making your own.  Initially you will want more fruit than greens, in order to “hide” the green flavor.  But as you become a seasoned smoothie drinker, you will likely find that you actually enjoy the refreshing green taste, and will want to experiment with more veggies and less fruit.
  2. Green Smoothies are easy to digest, because they are blended.  The blender does a far better job at chewing up the plant cellulose than people can really do themselves.  Many people who can’t digest salad can often digest some green smoothie, especially if some warming digestive spices are added, such as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom or clove. However, in order to further assist your body in optimally digesting such a large amount of concentrated nutrition, it is advisable to drink your smoothies slowly, and mix each mouthful with some saliva, as you would if you were chewing it.
  3. Green Smoothies are convenient!  A great, “grab and run” item on your way to work or school.  They stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  4. Green Smoothies are quick and easy to make, requiring no special or expensive kitchen equipment other than a blender, which most people already own.

Why Not Juices?
Some health-conscious people who are familiar with green juices may be asking, “Why smoothies and not juices?” Well, there are several reasons why I prefer smoothies over juices:  the Number One dietary priority that I recommend is to consume Whole Foods.  Whole foods are those that are as close to their natural state as possible. For example, whole grain brown rice, as opposed to white rice, and 100% whole grain bread, instead of white bread, which has been stripped of its fiber and its natural vitamins and minerals.  Any type of food that has been processed or “refined” is no longer a whole food.

Whole foods contain all types of vitamins, fiber, minerals, and health benefiting phytochemicals that number in the hundreds, if not thousands, many of which modern nutritional science hasn’t yet even identified.  Why not give ourselves every advantage in the quest for excellent long-term health by consuming as much of the beneficial elements that we can in the foods we know are health promoting?  The best way to do this is by eating them in their whole-food form, and this includes fruits and vegetables.

While juicing does create a drink that is full of vitamins, minerals and beneficial phytochemicals, it strips the fiber out of the plant. In this modern culture, where people are already not ingesting enough fiber, it makes no sense to strip it away.  Fiber helps bind toxins and wastes that have been excreted from the liver and gall bladder (such as excess hormones and cholesterol), and it helps sweep toxins, waste products, bad bacteria, yeasts and fungus from our intestines, while toning the intestinal muscles and walls.  Fiber also slows down the absorption of the natural plant sugars, so that they don’t unnaturally spike the blood sugar. Juice does none of this. (Plus, juicer machines are very expensive and time-consuming to clean!)

Basic Customizable Smoothie Recipe:
I’ve been making green smoothies for myself and my family for years, and we love them. They are a regular part of our diets, often substituting as breakfast or a snack, or a light dinner. They make us feel cleaner, lighter and more energetic, and even help eliminate sugar cravings.

There are many green smoothie recipes on the internet and in books.  Some are great, and some are not. I will give you my basic version here, which you can customize:

2 large handfuls greens (spinach, romaine, leaf lettuce, etc….mix it up!), 1 banana or 1/2 avocado (for creaminess), 1 cup fresh or frozen berries, peaches or pineapple, 1 cup water.  (Optional: 2 dried dates, soaked in water for 1 hr).

Blend until smooth and enjoy!  They are sweet from the fruit, with no need for sugar, sweeteners or dairy products.  For a creamier smoothie, simply add more banana or ½ avocado, or 2 tsp of hemp hearts (hemp seeds).  Simple, yummy and wonderfully nutritous!  Aim to drink at least 4 cups per day (32 oz).

Be sure to change up your greens every few days, so that you can benefit from the nutrition in a variety of greens. And skip the iceberg lettuce since it has significantly fewer nutrients than any other leafy greens.

Lastly, try to use organic produce when possible. Organic food is less toxic, tastes better, and is more nutritious than conventionally grown produce.  But it is still much better to eat conventionally grown produce than no produce at all.

For more info on Green Smoothies, check out the book & website Green for Life, by Victoria Boutenko, the website by Robyn Openshaw at www.greensmoothiegirl.com, and www.incrediblesmoothies.com.

Dawn Balusik
727-475-4710