Green health drinks are all the buzz right now, but not all are created equal. I am often asked through social media about juicing, and the messages usually look like this, “Is juicing really worth it? I don’t have a juicer and they are so expensive! But I really want to try something new, what should I do?”
The short answer…No! I don’t think they are worth it
I believe there is a time and place for juicing, but for the average person wanting to try something new, don’t invest until you have tried smoothies first. And i’m not talking about the tropical smoothies that are loaded in sugar and can easily freeze into popsicles for your kids…or a strawberry daiquiri. Here is the how-to on making healthy smoothies; take all the veggies you would be juicing (carrots, beets, celery, spinach, ginger, apple, etc.), blend and drink. Yes, it’s thicker and yes, you will not drink as many micronutrients because you can’t possibly drink 3 beets, 4 carrots, 4 celery sticks and an apple all in one go. But, that’s approximately the amount of produce you need to feed a juicer for just one serving. So, before investing in a juicer try blending up a smoothie using the same ingredients; this option saves on the juicer, saves on purchasing the additional produce and gives you a chance to figure out if this will be a sustainable lifestyle for you personally.
There are also health reasons for my recommendation for smoothies over juices as well; plain and simple:
It’s a whole food
I believe that food was made in its whole form for a good reason. There won’t be the wasted pulp which is likely expensive organic produce and usually gets chucked in the bin or compost, and it’s full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Smoothies can also be a great way too get in some extra nutrients, fats, proteins and calories for those who need a quick dose of goodness. However! Sugar can be extremely high in juices and smoothies, so if weight, hypoglycemia, diabetes, etc. are an issue, be aware that smoothies and juices can sometimes not be the best choice. Regardless of the list of issue above, excess sugar is not optimal for health, period.
So, what’s the message here?
Watch out for the extra “added” sugar and too much fruit in one recipe. Smoothies lacking in fiber and fat will make for faster digestion which will cause a rapid spike in blood sugar; make sure there are ample amounts of fiber and/or fat in your smoothie to slow the digestive process.
Pretty much any blender can get the job done, but standard blenders tend to over-heat with fibrous produce since it needs more time to puree into the desired texture. My tip for this is chop the difficult-to-blend veggies and fruits into smaller chunks and add them alongside a liquid so the blades can move easier. For more expensive blenders…which voids the whole investment argument of the juicer, but still worthy of mentioning…are Vitamix, Blendtec and NutriBullet. Ask around in your friend circle to see if you can borrow one first; it is much more likely for someone to have a nice one rather than a juicer. AND there are many more uses for a blender.
Why this recipe you ask? Well, it doesn’t contain added sugar and it has fresh ginger which is known to help settle the stomach of a nausea, including nausea from pregnancy and motion sickness. My favorite bit about ginger is it aids the digestive process by promoting gastric emptying. Ginger contains prokinetic properties that help the enteric nervous system and the brain stem communicate, which signals gut stimulation leading to faster motility. There are also supplements and pharmaceutical prokinetics agents made from ginger.
If you are a reader of my blog you know I have a focus in Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and prokinetics are an essential part of recovery from SIBO and preventing relapse after treatment. Ginger has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years as a digestive, anti-inflammatory and a promoter of circulation.
Another superfood in this recipe is matcha! If you’re new to matcha it supports my thoughts on the smoothie vs. juicing argument perfectly! Matcha is a Japanese wise tradition, a specific type of shade-grown green tea that is harvested at its peak, then stone ground. There is so much more to matcha than that, but we will cover that later! What is important is this, it is the whole food, no waste! In a regular cup of green tea, the leaves are brewed then discarded, not so with matcha. The equivalent of green tea to matcha is 10:1 so matcha has all the nutrients of 10 servings of green tea in one! I don’t know about you but sign me up for those antioxidants! It doesn’t stop there though, matcha is also high in vitamins, chlorophyll, fiber and is known to calm the mind, relax the body, promote detoxification, boost metabolism and lower cholesterol and blood sugar.
This smoothie recipe also contains kombucha which is another superfood, or super drink if you will, full of amino acids, minerals and probiotics. And it contains basil which is an herb known to help fight cancer, is anti-inflammatory, loaded in anti-oxidants and is a natural adaptogen.
I am not the biggest fan of green smoothies because they usually taste like earth to me, but not this one. It has sweetness from the basil and pineapple, creaminess from the coconut and matcha, warmth from the ginger and a bit of bitter from the matcha, acidity and tang from the pineapple and kombucha, I honestly love it! I call it my Tropical Shamrock Green Smoothie for obvious reasons, but not so obvious might be it’s an ideal anti-nausea component for those poor souls’ post St. Patrick’s day surviving a massive hangover. 😉
1 ¾ cups frozen pineapple chunks
8 large fresh basil leaves
1 ½ tablespoons raw fresh ginger root, peeled
½ cup full-fat coconut milk
½ cup plain kombucha
2 teaspoons matcha powder (I use this)
¾ cup ice
Peel ginger root and roughly chop.
Place the ginger in the blender with the rest of the ingredients, except ice.
Add ½ a cup of ice and bend, if a thicker consistency is desired add another ¼ cup of ice.