Breakfast has never been my thing and usually skipped it. Well at least since I was about 12 years old. I don’t like cereal and milk in the morning and always found that the cereal I liked (the sugary ones) made better snacks than breakfasts so I ate them in the evenings instead. When my mom was up with me she forced me to drink Carnation Instant Breakfast with milk or homemade eggnog (raw egg, milk and vanilla beaten) but most of the time, if she wasn’t around, I had nothing. When I went to University coffee was what started my day, with the occasional slice of toast. I really never liked hot or cold cereal.
Thirty years later I found myself sick and being told I HAD to eat breakfast (and 4 to 5 more meals a day). What was I going to do? Well that is where this book comes in, it revolutionized my breakfast! By going all morning with little to nothing to eat before 10 am I was negatively affecting my blood sugar and fueling my hypoglycemia. Also recently I learned that I was gluten intolerant, so no wonder I never liked cereal.
I had learned a bit about the value of greens previously. During my healthier phases in my life I always added a greens supplement which I drank in the morning. I knew it made me feel better but it never tasted very good and looked even worse. Those processed dark green drinks usually tasted better once I got drinking them regularly, but I always fell off the wagon within a few months returning to skipping breakfast all over again.
Green for Life, The Updated Classic on Green Smoothie Nutrition (2010) by Victoria Boutenko really opened my eyes to greens and a better alternative to cereal, coffee or even the greens drink and brought breakfast back into my life. It truly revolutionized my breakfast. It was also my first introduction to the chimpanzee diet and also to Raw Foods Diets.
Chimpanzees are very similar to humans sharing approximately 99% of our DNA sequence. It would also make sense that our diet originally would have looked more like theirs with fruits and greens making up the majority of their diets. However if you look at our North American diets today there really isn’t much we have in common. Our diets are over 50% starches (rice, potato, breads and pasta) and 30% animal proteins with some fruits, vegetables (mostly root) and very little greens. The other thing that our diets are full of is processed and cooked foods robbing us of nutrients found in fresh whole foods. Although I knew greens were important, when I thought of greens, I thought of salad. Like most people I probably would only have had a salad about 3-4 times a week. It seems hard to eat lots of greens but they are so beneficial.
Greens do offer so many benefits but we focus on the roots that grow below them most of the time. The greens have far more nutrients and vitamins than the roots. The root is a starch and carbohydrate which tends to be high on the glycemic index and spikes blood sugar. For instance, the glycemic index of red beets is almost 3 times higher than the greens. Also, the calcium in beet tops is 7 times higher and has 192 times more vitamin A than in its roots.
The fiber in greens acts like a sponge in our digestive system by collecting the toxins and by aiding in their removal. It also helps with the secretion on hydrochloric acid in our stomachs and there are numerous conditions associated with low stomach acidity including: bacterial infections, parasites, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, asthma, autoimmune disorders, celiac disease, depression, eczema, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, osteoporosis and many, many more. “Greens are the only food group that helps digest other foods through stimulating the secretion of digestive enzymes” which means they can be combined with any food.
I had never thought of greens as a protein but some are actually high in protein. I think we have all heard by now how “Kale is the new beef”, well it makes sense when you see that a pound of kale has the US Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of protein in it and has higher amino acids in most cases than the RDA average. Amino acids are important for our brain health and deficiencies can cause depression, lack of energy, and even cravings for unwanted substances. The proteins in greens are more completely digested than animal proteins making it easier for our system to convert these amino acids into neurotransmitters, the natural chemicals that facilitate the communication of cells in our brain cells. These substances govern our emotions, memory, moods, behavior, learning abilities and sleep patterns.
Greens also make our body more alkaline which means it protects us from things like cancer. Dr Otto Warburg in 1931 won a Noble prize for his research into this but our diets continue to take us down the acid path. When our body’s pH is too low we are acidic and cancer thrives in these conditions. Another response to high pH acid is that the body creates fat cells to store the acid which I’m sure we can all do without.
Of course there is chlorophyll in greens; it’s what makes them green. Chlorophyll carries significant amounts of oxygen with it and therefore plays a critical role in supporting the good bacteria in our intestinal flora. It’s like liquid sun energy and bathes our inner organs in sunshine. Chlorophyll has been found to be helpful in preventing and healing many forms of cancer and most illnesses can be helped by it. It builds up red blood cell counts, provides iron to the organs, purifies the liver, assists with healing, regulates menstruation and has many other healing properties.
The most important thing I learned was how greens are our original source of Omega-3’s. Omega-3’s thin the blood of humans and the sap in plants and as a result are used by the fastest functioning organs in our body, like our heart to help it beat properly. Omega-6 on the other hand does the opposite and thickens blood and plant juices. Omega-6’s solidify and cause inflammation of tissue and some scientists have linked excess amounts to heart disease, stroke, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, headaches and more. The imbalance of these fats in our diets has also been associated with cancer, depression, auto immune disorders and arthritis but also with obesity. We used to think saturated fat was the culprit but although we have been reducing the consumption slightly, we increased the amount of salad and cooking oils in our diets significantly. The number of overweight adults has climbed almost as significantly…we have been eating the wrong fats. Even meat from animals fed a grass diet is higher in Omega-3 than animals that consume corn and other grains high in Omega-6. Same goes for eggs and dairy.
One disadvantage of a diet rich in Omega-6 fatty acids is that it slows down metabolism and promotes significant weight gains. The funny thing is that obese people are starved of fat being that they have more Omega-6 than they need but are deficient in beneficial Omega-3. Also Omega-3’s are much more unstable than Omega-6’s and become rancid very quickly. For instance, flax oil, known to be high in Omega-3’s has to remain refrigerated and can become rancid at room temperature in as little as 20 minutes! Ingesting rancid oils can promote heart disease instead of preventing it by forming large numbers of free radicals. (This is why you will see fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants like berries in smoothies.)
It is critical that we just don’t increase our Omaga-3s but we also decrease our Omega-6 consumption. “Fish consumption counts, but our problems are probably caused not by the lack of fish in our diets but to the overconsumption of seed oils and the underconsumption of greens” – Dr Artemis Simopoulos. It is suggested that healthy balance of Omega-6 to Omega-3’s about is 4:1 and 6:1 which sounds easy until you see in my reference charts, there are far more foods with high Omega-6’s than there are healthy Omega-3 foods.
All of this is what makes green smoothies such a great breakfast. Basically with a green smoothie, you are starting your day with: stabilized blood sugar, fiber that acts like a sponge to clear toxins and cholesterol, amino acids to fuel our brains, chlorophyll to bring oxygen to our cells, a rich source of Omega-3’s (and antioxidants from berries) all in an alkaline, quick and easy meal.
I have to admit I am currently not a vegetarian, nor am I dedicated to raw food. I am however interested in using food to heal my body and the medical issues I have been experiencing. I incorporate aspects from both of these healthy lifestyles into what I feel is a more well rounded diet. For this reason I combine protein powder into my 14-16 ounce drink, even though it increases the acidity because it also helps burn the fat that can have stock piled excess hormones, and helps further reduce inflammation.
Since each type of greens has its own amino acid and vitamin composition, and to avoid a buildup of alkaloids from the same plant, one thing I do is rotate my greens (and fruits). It also prevents developing any new food sensitivities from over consumption of one food source. The other thing I try to do is to keep my ratio of fruit to greens about 40/60.
Although I currently use a Blentec blender to make my smoothies, for the first 4 months I used a Magic Bullet blender. If you are thinking about moving towards a green smoothie breakfast but haven’t done it before the Magic Bullet is a very cost effective way to start. You can buy eight Magic Bullets for the price of one Blendtec blender so take your time. Once you get to be like me, and have a hard time imagining a day without smoothie, then upgrade to a high power blender (in a few months). You’ll still travel with the Magic Bullet so it really isn’t a waste.
There are many websites and books about making smoothies but I find that I don’t tend to follow them unless I am trying to make something to impress someone who has never had one before. Otherwise I wing it with what I have in my fridge and freezer and no two smoothies are ever the same, but that comes with a small amount of practice. I hope to give you some starter recipes for Magic Bullet blending since they don’t seem to be as easy to find. I will also start a reference list of where to find smoothie recipes online.
As a bit of motivation for you, I started feeling better within days and it showed in my weight, skin and mood in the morning. I could see the fat leaving, although it wasn’t fast, it was a pound or 2 every couple weeks. After about 6 weeks of making smoothies for myself I offered one to my husband, who has always been a diehard cereal guy, and he has wanted one every day since! He too feels better and has been steadily dropping few pounds a month too. I can’t wait to see what his next cholesterol test looks like.
First Timer Magic Bullet Green Smoothie
Assemble in cup in this order:
2 big handfuls of Spinach (50% of cup)
1 fresh Banana or Mango
4-6 frozen Strawberries
Add Water to cover greens
Screw on blade and blend until smooth.
It may be necessary to add more water or to shake the contents occasionally to get the berries to blend. Tip: It is easier if the strawberries are thawed for 20 minutes to soften them a bit before starting.
If you are using protein powder follow the serving recommendation given by the manufacturer and add it after the smoothie is blended, re-blending only for a short time in order not to over process the protein. Whey protein, although one of the best proteins if tolerated, will get too fluffy if it is added too early in the mix and will make you feel bloated.