Sunday, May 22, 2016

Grow your own smoothie and juice garden

Red and green romaine, Red Sails lettuce, and spinach for smoothies

Sunday, May 22, 2016

If you love smoothies and juicing, try adding the ingredients you love best into your garden this year.    I love fresh juiced veggies and smoothies!  They add energy, nutrition, and alkalize the body, which my tummy really enjoys.  A plus is that what goes in smoothies and juices is super easy to grow, even for beginners.

There is debate on which is the best for you-juices or smoothies.  On the juice wagon, folks share that the nutrition is the easiest to absorb.  On the smoothie wagon, folks share that the nutrition from these veggie powerhouses is easy to absorb, you get the added benefit of the fiber your body needs, and the fiber smooths out any sugar spikes.  Smoothies are easier to prepare as well.  A juicer is expensive and is harder to clean.  A blender is easy to use and clean.  Personally, I like both!  Love a small juice in the morning and smoothies at lunch and/or dinner.

You can use the same recipe for juices and smoothies.  Any produce ingredient you put into a salad, you can use for a juice or smoothie.  To convert into a smoothie, add 2 cups of water or ice.  I also like to add a half an avocado for a smoother consistency and added good fats when using water.  If you want to make your smoothie a meal, add protein powder.  Juices and smoothies detox the body as well giving instant nutrition.  Your body starts absorbing the nutrients as soon as it enters your mouth!

Here are some recipes with backyard garden ingredients: 
Purple juice-1 large beet, 2 apples or pears, 1 fennel bulb, 2 large purple carrots
Green juice-2 large handfuls kale or any leafy green, 1 medium handful of parsley, 1 large cucumber, 1 half a lemon, 1 pear or apple
Red juice-1 large red pepper, 1 handful of red grapes, 1 large handful of spinach or other leafy greens, half of a hot pepper or pinch of cayenne pepper, 2 stalks of celery

Carrots, beets, apples and pears all contain high amounts of carbs.  If you are looking to for a low glycemic juice, just substitute other green veggies in place of these sweet additions.

Low carb green juice-2 ribs of celery, 1 cucumber, small handful of spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, and parsley with the juice of half a lime.
Low carb red juice-1 large red pepper, 1 cucumber, 1 large handful of leafy greens and half a hot pepper.

You can also add a shot of spirulina, wheat grass, ginger or hot pepper to up the nutrients to any of the above.  You can add dry, raw spirulina or wheat grass instead of the liquid.

You have heard of the nutrition of different colors on your plate.  The same works in your juices and smoothies.  Here are some color choices and what they generally are known for.
White/brown (coconut, dates, garlic, ginger, leeks, nuts, onions)-Helps digestive health and lowers risk of heart disease.
Red (beets, pink grapefruit, red peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon)-Heart health and lowers risk of lung disease and asthma.
Yellow/orange (carrots, cantaloup, oranges, pumpkin, sweet potato, squash, turmeric)-Lowers inflammation, strengthens the immune system, bones, and skin health.
Green (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, greens, kale, lettuce, onion tops)-Cancer, vision, immune system, bone and skin health.
Blue/purple (blackberries, blueberries, radishes, red cabbage, red onions)-Reduced risk of some cancers, health of blood vessels, lung health.

Experiment with what you have in the garden.  Use any veggie scraps left over from meal preparation you have for variety and nutrition.
Potted mixed greens for salads and smoothies.  Sorrel, dandelions, corn salad, chickweed, lettuce, cilantro

Right now, I am using cilantro, salad burnet, kale, sprouting broccoli, parsley, lettuce, spinach, chives, onions, garlic and garlic tops, dandelion greens, chickweed, corn salad, sorrel, snow peas, golden streaks mustard, tarragon.   Other veggies in season that can be used are loose leaf cabbage, pok choi, carrots, radishes for some heat, horseradish (also very hot so use cautiously), beets, and many herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme, basil.   Start a kitchen herb garden!

If you decide to experiment, lettuce, spinach and cucumbers are relatively sweet in flavor.  Romaine and red lettuces have more nutrition than other types of lettuce.  Nutritional value of lettuce types  Kale, dandelion greens, sorrel, mustard, and herbs can have a strong taste.   Start with a base of the sweeter greens and add the others more sparingly.  The stronger flavored greens and herbs are powerhouses of nutrition so are a healthy addition to your juice or smoothie.

My current favorite smoothie recipe:  3 handfuls of romaine or red lettuce leaves Everything you need to know about growing lettuce, 1 handful of other greens (kale, broccoli, sorrel, dandelion, chickweed, corn salad, parsley, cilantro and sprouting broccoli) Growing fabulous lettuce and greens a few springs of salad burnet (tastes like a Granny Smith apple), a few stalks of chives, a half an avocado, a handful of snow peas (for their sweet taste and protein), juice from half a lemon, 2 cups of water, and a scoop of vegetable protein powder.  The trick in blending is to add the greens and water first.  Blend, then add the avocado and protein powder.  I substitute this smoothie for a meal.  

I throw a little bit of everything in mine because each has different nutritional benefits.  If you are new to juicing and smoothies, it will likely take a while for your taste buds to adjust.  To help, start with adding fruit and wean yourself away slowly.  Granny Smith apples and berries a good lower carb fruits.

Lettuce and most greens prefer cooler temperatures, but you can keep them going all summer long.  Bolt-free, sweet summer lettuces  Resowing lettuce to get continuous harvests  Growing summer salads

I plan on keeping my greens going all summer because I love the taste and the nutrition of smoothies and juices!

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