As I mentioned yesterday, my goal for this week is to eat nine servings of vegetables and fruit every day.
How did I come to think I need nine servings? Well, I read this article, which mentions getting nine cups of vegetables (3 cups leafy greens, 3 cups colorful, and 3 cups cruciferous) every day in order to help with autoimmune diseases. This caught my attention because around the same time, Eric started having concerns that his dairy-free diet wasn't helping his eczema like it used to. He had a breakout and couldn't find any dairy in any of the foods he'd eaten recently. So he was open to looking into other possible causes.
Somewhere in my reading that same day, I also read something about how one doctor thought success wasn't so much in what you take out of your diet, but in what you add in. More vegetables and fruits = more vitamins, minerals, and all the other good stuff you find in them.
Then, one of my coworkers, Dan, did a presentation on smoothies and their role in his health and healing. At 58 years old, Dan "had a number of health isssues, including ulcerative colitis, spastic colon, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, chronic knee pain, chronic back pain." And he weighed 307 pounds. Then he found out he had adult 2 diabetes.
Dan and his wife watched the documentary Forks Over Knives and decided to try the recommended diet. No success. They tried eating more salads. Didn't work. Then Dan discovered smoothies. He drinks two larger (50 and 64 ounces) smoothies every day, and thereby getting lots of fruits and vegetables in his diet without suffering salads.
Now, his ulcerative colitis and spastic colon are in remission. His blood pressure is perfect and his cholesterol numbers are near perfect. Diabetes is gone. Dan lost 87 pounds and his sleep apnea is gone. The only pill Dan continues to take is vitamin D.
Sounds promising, right? I admit smoothies have always had a bad image in my mind. I thought of them as a treat, an easy, calorie-dense way to eat lots dairy and fruit, with no real nutritional benefit. The week I tried to avoid sugar, I gave up most fruit, and after that, smoothies seemed too sweet.
But I hadn't tried green smoothies, or smoothies without dairy. Smoothies with vegetables and lots of fruit, no dairy or sweeteners, are really just a bunch of partly chewed up fruits and veggies. Easier to eat, certainly, and possibly easier to digest.
Dan eats only smoothies six days a week. He has a sweet morning smoothie and a savory dinner smoothie. On the seventh day, he eats whatever he wants.
I decided to make one smoothie a day and drink it in two parts. My recipe gives me about 40 ounce of smoothie. I drink half immediately, and the other half four to six hours later.
I started this last week and plan to keep it up indefinitely, although I don't plan to give up other foods at this point. My smoothie contains the following ingredients:
- 2 cups kale
- 2 cups water
- 1 piece ginger root
- 1 banana
- 1 orange
- 1 apple
- 1 carrot
- 1/2 a cucumber
- 1 cup berries
- 1 avocado
If I don't have a usable avocado, I substitute a can of light coconut milk. I find that without the fat, I'm hungry again very soon after drinking the smoothie. I put the kale, ginger and water in the blender and blend that first, then I add everything else and blend it again. I'm using my trusty old Hamilton Beach blender that I've had since college. It's no Vitamix, but it gets the job done.
With the avocado, I'd say the smoothie contains nine servings of fruits and vegetables. I'd like to add a raw beet to the mix, but I keep forgetting to pick one up.
Dan's recipes include a few ingredients I don't use, including dark chocolate and cinnamon in his morning smoothie, and onion, garlic and honey in the dinner one. I've got some other ingredients that I intend to experiment with, including spinach, celery and bell peppers.
Do you drink smoothies? Any suggestions on ingredients and recipes? I'm trying to keep things simple, so putting as much as I can into the one smoothie is working for me so far. I've looked at a bunch of recipes that sound interesting, but ultimately only include a few fruits or veggies.
Eric's drinking smoothies, too. So far, his eczema seems to be improving, but it's really too early to tell. I'll keep you posted on that.
Week Twenty-two: Dietary - Eat Nine Veggies a Day