Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.
Nothing smells as good as bacon. Thick, juicy, pan-fried perfectly crisp bacon. Mmmmmm. Bacon. It beckons me with its seductive smell. In Austin, a restaurant’s entire menu revolves around bacon. It’s name? You guessed it–Bacon. Yesterday, I came across this completely insane take on a bacon burger that I’d happily sample. Oh, let’s be honest–I’d devour the whole thing without coming up for air! I know it’s not healthy, but, dang, it looks and smells so good! Ah, bacon, how I love thee! I can’t help it. Bacon brings me to my knees drooling all over myself in submission. Don’t judge.
Why is a post about green smoothies opening with a bacon teaser? Because bacon tastes good, damn it. I know it and so do you. The difference between us is, my M.O. is to pass the greens and go for the bacon. If bacon had the nutrients equivalent to spinach, my body would look a lot different than it does and I wouldn’t be so worried about my health. Alas, bacon’s nutrient density totally sucks so it wouldn’t help me get to the positive side of the health spectrum.
In February 2012, I began thinking more seriously about health since I’d been living on crap for so long. Why did someone have to tell me Nutter Butters are vegan??? I’d heard about the importance of dark leafy greens as a regular part of diet so I thought I should make an attempt to eat more greens, but how? All sorts of negative thoughts ran through my head. I can’t stand the way they taste. I hardly like salads unless they’re drenched in some oily, fat-filled dressing to mask the flavor of the raw veggies and lettuce. Even then, I don’t like dark leafy greens in the salad mix at all. I wanted to consume more of these greens, though, and all I could think of was making salads. I pictured myself spending tons of money on greens with good intentions only to have them meet the same fate the rest of my produce typically suffers–undignified decaying in the drawers of my fridge. There had to be another way.
Cue the universe.
On my way home one day, I decided to stop at World Spirit Books to browse for nothing in particular (I love bookstores!). Displayed on the entry table was Green for Life: The Updated Classic on Green Smoothie Nutrition by Victoria Boutenko. The universe brought me a gift and I took it. As soon as I got home, I curled up on the couch devouring the book (chockfull of recipes) that same day.
Boutenko is considered an expert in green smoothie circles. Her book presents a case for accessing a much higher amount of nutrients via smoothies than is possible through regular consumption of salads or other non-liquid options. The book also explained that adding green smoothies to a diet does incredible things to the body. Here are some of its claims:
- makes the body more alkaline (helping to stave off cancer)
- provides a healthy dose of chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants (necessary for wrecking an environment in which cancer and other diseases thrive)
- triggers the body’s natural system for removing cholesterol, fat, and toxins
It also stated that some people have experienced their gray hair return to its original color! The book included many testimonials about the benefits of green smoothies, many of which mentioned weight loss among other things.
I was intrigued. The thought of puréed spinach or kale didn’t sound too enticing, but I figured the added ingredients (all health-supporting, plant-based foods) might just mask their flavor enough to successfully choke the greens down.
Excited at the prospect of actually consuming such large quantities of high quality nutrients and, of course, weight loss, I jumped into typical Val mode (read: all or nothing) to make it happen. I stocked my fridge with high quality, organic produce, purchased another Vita-Mix (my former Vita-Mix suffered a nasty demise during my break-up), ordered more green smoothie recipe books, and read countless other books on green smoothies and raw diets.
As soon as I was set up, I made my first green smoothie (the Welcome Green Smoothie for Beginners). It looked gross and I wondered if I’d made a mistake in thinking I could drink greens. I didn’t even bother to pour any into a glass because I assumed the smoothie was going straight from the blender to the garbage disposal (No, I don’t compost. Don’t judge!). I plunged my finger right into the blender and sucked the green sludge off it. What the??? It was delicious! Mmmmm! All I could taste was the mango, banana, and strawberries. The kale and spinach seemed to provide the lovely green hue and perhaps some texture, but nothing else. Aw, hell, yeah! I could do this!
I jumped right in to green smoothie land. I took pictures of the smoothies and documented recipes and feelings in a journal.
Day 1: Hard as hell. I only drank green smoothies all day although I wanted to eat crap (visions of Oreos danced in my head). Fortunately, environmental control (ridding my household of all non-health supporting food items) was in place to help me succeed. All I had to do was stay home to be safe from temptation. Felt fine most of the day until the evening when I got a nice headache that wouldn’t subside.
Day 2: Tired. Felt exhausted most of the day. Went to sleep early.
Day 3: Headache gone and energy way up! I felt energetic and in such a good mood all day!
Day 4: Linda, my brow waxing specialist extraordinaire, commented that my skin looked good and asked what I was doing differently. I told her about the smoothies and she told me that she’d just started a juice fast. (More to this story in a future post…)
Day 5: My skin feels rejuvenated! I noticed during my morning shower that my skin felt as though I’d been taken to a spa in my sleep for some spectacular treatment. My whole body felt extra soft, smooth, supple, and tight. I couldn’t stop caressing myself all day. Yes, I’m sure I looked like a weirdo. Rude!
And then, a strange thing happened as my boss and I walked out of our office building on Day 5. We crossed a path of freshly mown grass and I began to salivate! Truth! My boss laughed, thinking I was joking, but it’s true. It smelled nothing like bacon; it smelled clean, fresh, and green. It was tantalizing! This is freaky, but true!
I felt so full of energy and clarity. I felt mentally sharper and more alert and was able to think more clearly than before. I slept less, and I was able to sleep with my mouth closed! No more snoring! It was amazing! Dang! Victoria Boutenko was right about the difference green smoothies would make to my body! I hadn’t expected such changes to my body in only 5 days. Incredible!
How can a body change so quickly? I have no idea, and I’m not a nutritionist or any kind of knowledgeable health person. My guess is that the nutrients accessed via smoothies must be so great that the body immediately reacts favorably. What else could it be?
Every resource I’ve read praises the power of dark leafy greens, especially when chopped up or blended into smoothies (or juiced, but that’s another post). Apparently, these greens have such tough cellular walls that the nutrients they encase are impossible to access through typical chewing. (There’s a phrase that repeatedly comes up in these resources–drink your food and chew your smoothies.) We’d have to chew and chew and chew and chew and chew, essentially puréeing the greens in our mouth to get the full benefits. That’s exhausting! The surest, easiest path to these nutrients is either to chop them up into tiny pieces prior to eating or to drink them.
I’m way to lazy to chew that much, plus I don’t even like the taste of the greens so I made a choice to drink them instead. Blend some greens up with fruit and I’d be good to go. And, with the way they made me feel, I was hooked.
Today, green smoothies are a daily part of my diet. I recently set a goal to drink at least 2 quarts of green smoothies every day. I now make both sweet and savory smoothies, and I’m consuming greens I never thought I would such as, dandelion greens, beet tops, carrot tops, collard greens, and more. Interestingly, when I eat salads, I now eat them without dressing because I actually enjoy the taste of the vegetables. Who would have thought?
Granted, I still love the smell of bacon and it still tries to seduce me to the dark side. I’m hoping that the way I feel eating greens will continue to outweigh any temptation to indulge. I’ll just have to deal with that when the situation presents itself. Until then, I’m getting my green smoothie on. But don’t worry, I won’t judge you if you choose to swing by Bacon or order that sinful bacon burger I mentioned. Just make sure to get your greens on. Why don’t you try a green smoothie? I know you’ll love the benefits and you just might like the taste! And, be sure to let me know how it goes!