12 February 2010

Green Smoothie Challenge: My First Smoothie

My first smoothie in the Green Smoothie Challenge (offered at www.vegetarianhealthcoach.net) was a lesson in the anatomy of a green smoothie.  I learned that each 32 oz smoothie typically provides 2 1/2 servings of vegetables and 2 to 2 1/2 servings of fruit depending on your preferences.   Most of the smoothie recipes used for this challenge also included a fermented dairy product such as yogurt and kefir which contains probiotics to aid digestive and immune health.  I chose to use cultured coconut milk kefir in my smoothies which is cholesterol free, lower in fat and dairy-free.  Each 32oz smoothie contained 235/265 calories, 5/6 grams of fat, 5/6 grams of protein, B12, Magnesium, Iron, Calcium, B vitamins, and Vitamins K, A, and C.

I was a little apprehensive about the taste of a green smoothie. Despite being a vegetarian, I was concerned that a vegetable smoothie just wouldn't taste good.  So I was delighted to know that my first green smoothie would contain one of my favorite greens, spinach.  I eat a lot of spinach. This is a good thing since it is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  For this smoothie, I blanched 2 cups of spinach.  I learned from this challenge that iron is better absorbed in spinach when it is cooked.

The original recipe for this first smoothie suggested 1 large grapefruit.  This concerned me since I do not enjoy grapefruits very often.  So I used oranges instead. By the way, I decided this year to break my "addiction" to Minute Maid orange juice by going one year without drinking store-bought OJ.  Consequently, I always have plenty of oranges at the house.  It made sense at the time to use some of those oranges.

My next ingredient was a whole banana. Bananas and I do not have a good relationship. The smell of the darn things have always given me a headache. And I am convinced (in spite of those that say its all in my head) that eating bananas make me sick. Nevertheless, I included a banana because I wanted to be as true to the recipe as possible.  And I thought maybe this challenge really would change my relationship with fruits and vegetables that I tend to avoid.

The final ingredient was 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk kefir. This was my first experience with kefir.  The challenge taught me about the difference between kefir and yogurt. Kefir contains 6 to 10 live cultures whereas yogurt contains 1 to 6.  Kefir is significantly thinner (drinkable) and more sour than yogurt.  Kefir is made from fermented grains (a gelatinous combination of bacteria and yeast) whereas yogurt is made by bacterial fermentation of mik. And most importantly, kefir probiotics stay in the intestinal tract much longer than yogurt.

With the addition of a few ice cubes, I was well on my way to joining the Green Smoothie Revolution. I was shocked at how good the smoothie tasted. Honestly, I did not taste the spinach very much. The predominant taste was that of a banana-orange smoothie.  Perhaps this was by design. The organizer probably wanted to introduce a smoothie that would not discourage participation but instead challenge preconceived notions that a green smoothie could not possibly taste good.  My confidence in the challenge and my ability to complete it were definitely increased by the success of this first smoothie.

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