Green gunge – but it’s good for you!!!

One of my dear friends recently lost loads of weight by following a juicing diet. I was sceptical at first –  how couldjust drinking juice be good for you. It may be full of vitamins and minerals, but what about the fibre and surely you get too hungry (I like my food fairly solid!) and end up bingeing? But she practically glowed with good health as she dropped 2 dress sizes, so there must be something to it.

Health, whether good or bad, comes from the food we put in to our bodies. Juicing provides extra shots of vital goodies to help our bodies deal with the constant stresses and toxins we are exposed to, both external and internal, although I believe in the long run it’s best to eat the whole food rather than just the juicy parts. But if you want to know more about juicing, including some great recipes and tips on when to drink them, check out this article on the Health Ambition website –https://www.healthambition.com/juicing-recipes-for-weight-loss/.

Our bodies know what we need if we learn to listen to it. Since living in India, I have craved green leaves which must mean I’m low in B vitamins, iron or calcium (not sure which) and have even been known to stir fry cauliflower leaves that are usually discarded just because green leaves are hard to come by. On my recent trip to Kashmir, I came across hak which is grown locally in Srinigar. It’s similar to kale and I couldn’t get enough of it and begged the hotel to serve it to me at every meal, it was so gorgeous. It was sautéed in water along with mustard oil, Kashmiri red chilli, salt and a little local masala, or seasoning. Occasionally a little spicy, it’s deep rich green flavours were just divine!

After attending a healthy eating cooking seminar a few months ago, I discovered green smoothies. Made up of 60% fruit and 40% green leaves, they really are quite delicious and leave you feeling revitalised and full of energy – that’s after you’ve managed to get your head around the fact that the green gunge in the glass is actually something you want to ingest! Spinach is pretty easy to come by here; the little organic grocers stocks some beautifully green bunches, leaves not too big. It tastes pretty strong, much more so than the lovely baby leaves you can by in the supermarkets in the UK, so it’s green hard core from the off. Called palak, it’s not traditionally eaten raw here – my maid was horrified to find out I ate uncooked leaves, and surprised to find out I lived to tell the tale!

Green smoothies can be made with any green leaf as it’s base – spinach, celery or beetroot tops even mint. The key is to vary your intake and not have them every day – raw green leaves contain oxalic acid. Consuming large amounts of oxalic acid can be toxic (you would need a lot of greens every day for this to happen). It binds to metals, such as iron, making it unavailable for absorption in to the body. This therefore means that spinach isn’t a great source of iron in the diet, despite what Popeye might say. However, vitamin C enhances iron absorption, so matching spinach with lemon for example counteracts the negative effects of oxalic acid. And green leaves are an amazing source of vitamin B, calcium and magnesium to name a few.

I’ve featured my favourite green smoothie combination, but you can make up whatever you like. Grind the green leaves in the blender first before adding the other ingredients as the cellulose in the cell walls takes some time to break down.

Spinach, watermelon and banana smoothie
Handful of spinach leaves, thoroughly washed
Big chunk of watermelon
2 small ripe bananas or 1 medium
juice of sweet lime
flaxseed powder (if you want an omega 3 shot).
Place the spinach in the blender and blast on full power until the leaves are broken and mushy. Add in the fruit and juice and blast again until everything is incorporated and fluid – this may take up to 2 minutes depending on the speed of your blender. Sprinkle in flaxseed powder if you are using it and whizz again for a moment. Poor into a glass, close your eyes and deceive your brain as you knock it back. I managed to get my son to try it despite his dubious face – he actually admitted it tasted good but preferred his fresh pineapple juice as it looked more normal!

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