Thirsty? Make this green smoothie in 5 minutes
This smoothie gets me through fasting without any hunger, fatigue, or headaches! I feel hydrated and fresh all day long, and recommend this recipe to anyone trying to infuse more nutrition in their diet.
My Approach to Healthy Eating
A personal philosophy I incorporate in my life, and specifically in my diet, is to add the good before removing the bad. What this means: many people try to limit specific foods, or entire food groups, from their diets when trying to lose weight, gain muscle, or become healthier in any other way.
Fad dieting in the US is an extremely popular approach, but has little long-term benefit. According to the American Council on Exercise, 1/3 of weight lost on fad diets is regained within a year, and most weight is regained in upto 5 years. Much of the weight loss comes from muscle loss, rather than fat loss; reduced calorie intake can also slow down metabolism, causing weight gain after any divergence from the diet.
My approach is not to eliminate any food groups or even any specific foods or ingredients. Rather, it is to add more nutritious, whole foods to my diet, and I find that I naturally become more inclined to reach for healthy options rather than unhealthy ones. Ultimately, I end up with predominantly healthy options in my pantry, and don’t even have to actively think about removing unhealthy foods from my diet – they disappear on their own!
This smoothie is a great example of this approach. I fill up on this plus a healthy breakfast choice (see my article on my Ramadan diet). Because I am so filled up from this combination, I feel fresh and filled up all day, and don’t feel any need to break my fast with junk food or unhealthy cravings. Each ingredient serves a key purpose, and I have included the major benefits of each ingredient below.
How I Shop & Prep
Of course, when buying the ingredients for this smoothie, I shop sustainably. For me, that means local and package-free. I bring my own bags, and don’t purchase anything wrapped in packaging (especially plastic). For most produce, I try to buy organic, especially if the exterior is going to be consumed (like apples and berries). I purchase add-ons like flaxseeds, chia seeds, and coconut flakes in bulk and fill them in my own container. I recycle my coconut water bottles, and buy bigger sizes (rather than single serving bottles), but hope to start buying coconuts and using their fresh coconut water instead.
I wash and chop a few bunches of spinach each weekend to easily use it when making this and other recipes. I also pre-chop and freeze cucumber, avocado, and mango/pineapple in proportions for this recipe ahead of time. Freezing ingredients makes the final product extra cold and delicious! Usually, I make 3 of these at a time and end up having 3 smoothies each 2 days (1 each morning and half in the evenings). I chop using my food processor or Magic Bullet (the Magic Bullet goes with me where ever I travel).
Here are the key ingredients I use and why. These ingredients can be increased in any part of your diet, or enjoyed fresh on their own.
Coconut Water High in potassium, calcium, magnesium, and some sodium, making it high in electrolytes. Potassium specifically counteracts high sodium levels in the body and has been linked with improving cardiovascular health and specifically lowering blood pressure. Coconut water has been shown to lower cholesterol triglyceride levels and LDL cholesterol. The calcium and magnesium in coconut water may reduce stress and muscle tension, and magnesium is key in the body's serotonin formation, which, among other benefits, helps the body relax.
Spinach Filled with vitamins K, A, B1, B2, B6, E, and C, along with manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and choline. These vitamins and minerals reduce the body's cholesterol levels, fight free radicals, and promote cardiovascular health, specifically by lowering blood pressure. Alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant in spinach, reduces glucose and can even been used to manage diabetes. Chlorophyll, is a cancer fighting pigment (it blocks the carcinogenic effects of heterocyclic amines found in burnt foods - so add spinach to barbequed meals), present in spinach, with also stimulates the immune system, and detoxifies blood. Vitamin K promotes calcim formation and has great beenfits for bone health. I love spinach for it's high iron content. Eating it raw helps retain as much of the nutrition as possible!
Cucumber This guy summarizes the benefits of cucumber better than I can.
Avocado Avocado is also packed with nutrients, and many healthy, beneficial fats that keep you feeling full. Beta-sitosterol in avocado may reduce cholesterol. The folate in avocados has anti-carcinogenic properties and benefits during pregnancy. Like the other veggies in this recipe, it is a good source of fiber and promotes healthy digestion.
Parsley Parsley is the superfood I use in this recipe that deserves an article of its own. Parsley has an impressive list of minerals and vitamins, but the two key features I'll highlight are parsley's antioxidant levels and detoxifying properties.
The antioxidants in parsley fight free radicals and can ultimately prevent chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease. Flavonoids, apigenin, and myricetin are compounds in parsley that, like spinach, can block effects of certain carcinogens. Myricetin also reduces blood glucose levels and can be used in diabetes management. The vitamin K in parsley encourages calcium formation.
Parsley can be used as a diuretic to treat kidney/gallbladder stones and bladder/urinary tract infections. The antioxidants in parsley can detoxify the body from heavy metals, by attaching to them. It's a great addition to your diet if you aren't ready to remove less-nutritious or harmful foods from your lifestyle - it takes care of detoxifying some of these toxins for you! Here are many more benefits of parsley.
Lemon Lemon juice is packed with vitamin C, with great benefits for skin, immunity, cardiovascular health, and diuretic effects. The citric acid in lemons can prevent kidney stones and polyphenol antioxidants in lemons can reduce weight gain and improve insulin resistance.
Ginger Ginger is a great supplement to aid digestion. I use ginger as an addition to lentils and other foods that can be hard on the stomach. Ginger is a carminative, a substance that soothes the intestinal tract and promotes the excessive gas elimination from the digestive system. This is key when breaking a fast, which can make the body feel bloated. Gingerol, the bioactive substance in ginger, is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral, which makes fresh ginger great for fighting infections. I use ginger tea as a quick remedy whenever I am feeling sick.
Mango/Pineapple Mangos include fiber, pectin and vitamin C to lower cholesterol. Pineapples are anti-inflammatory, and great for reducing joint and muscle inflammation.
The antioxidant content in pineapples and mangoes can prevent cancer by fighting free radicals in the body. Vitamin C in both fruits is great for boosting the immune system and for glowing skin, and vitamin A promotes good eyesight.
In smoothies, having one fruit mixed in with multiple vegetables adds yummy flavor!
Green is Simple Smoothie
2 cups of coconut water
1 handful of spinach, chopped
½ cucumber, sliced
½ avocado, sliced
1 tablespoon of parsley, chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon of ginger, chopped
½ cup of mango and/or pineapple, diced
Optional: 1 tablespoon of flax meal, unsweetened coconut flakes (optional), chia seeds (optional), matcha or spirulina powder (optional), 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
Combine all ingredients in blender and enjoy!