I have been trying out new ways to get more green vegetables into my diet in an easy vegetarian recipe. I’m doing this because there are numerous studies that show adding green vegetables to your diet really helps prevent all sorts of diseases, and additionally helps get your power levels up.
Of course, considering the human body evolved in a time where there were no processed foods, no dairy farms, and no cereal factories, fruits and vegetables were the only real source of food and the human body is well prepared to make the best of them.
My issues with getting vegetables into my diet were two:
One, how should I say this… vegetables don’t really taste that great. I have tried adding non artificial sweetener to them in various forms (e.g. maple syrup), but once I do that, the calorie value of what I eat doubles so I don’t get the filling effect with a low calorie dish that I was looking for.
Two, no time. Even if I wanted to eat more vegetables, and make an effort to digest them despite their taste (e.g. eating them in a fruit salad) it still takes too much time to wash them, chop them, mix them in a salad and eat them.
My experimentation took me down an interesting road and I have found an answer for all these issues that changed my life.
Presenting the breakfast smoothie.
I have been vegetarian for over 20 years, and I always feel I’m missing protein in my diet. Over time, I developed a practice of having a protein smoothie daily. This adds about 40 grams of protein to my diet.
One day, I started thinking about what would happen if I throw some vegetables into my smoothie.
My intuition told me that if I do so, they will just make the smoothie chunkier, more bitter, and would not be as tasty as the protein smoothie I already have. I decided to give it a try anyway. Was I surprised?
The updated protein smoothie was delicious! It tasted like ice-cream and had the equivalent of a large salad in it.
Not only did it taste great, but it had another incredible effect. When I drink the smoothie, I feel a wave of ‘fresh’ energy flowing through my body. At first, I thought it was a mental effect of my telling myself that I am energized because what I read about vegetables and their energizing effect.
Over time, having the smoothie for breakfast has become a practice, and the mental effect should have worn off, but I still feel energized. Additionally, when I don’t have the smoothie for breakfast and eat a typical western breakfast, I feel not as invigorated as I do when I have my smoothie.
The fullness that I get from eating this lasts for approximately 4 hours, and by the time I start getting hungry again, it’s lunch time.
Over time I have tweaked this easy vegetarian recipe to match my taste and here is the recipe and advice on how to make it:
1/2 cup of frozen Broccoli
1/2 cup of romaine lettuce
1/2 cup of blueberries
1/2 cup of orange juice
1/2 cup of chopped spinach (fresh or frozen, but fresh is better)
One scoop of vanilla protein powder
I put it all in a blender on the highest settings for 1 minute. What comes out of this looks like a mix of green swamp juice, but tastes great.
My adjusted mix adds the following: A few leaves of radicchio lettuce, a couple of radishes to spice things up, a tablespoon of chia seeds, a few cubes of melon or cantaloupe
I additionally alternate between spinach and broccoli, and between strawberries, blueberries and cherries (Frozen, but fresh works great as well).
If you put the lettuce on the bottom of the blender, you will sometimes find the lettuce gets cut up, but because the leaves are not dense, the things on top of them don’t get mixed. Make sure the lettuce is packed tightly if on bottom.
I noticed that the chia and protein powder don’t mix well if you place them into the smoothie when you prepare it so I wait until all the other ingredients are liquefied, and while mixing on a low blender setting, I open the top, and put the protein powder and the chia seeds into the mix, then close the blender and go back to high for a few seconds. Additionally, this prevents the powder and chia seeds from sticking to the sides of the blender.
Another time saving piece of advice is to prepare the vegetables the night before. Wash them well and put them all in the blender in the refrigerator. That way, when you wake up in the morning, all you have to do is start the blender up and you have your drink in no time.
Flavors: peppers and carrots usually have a strong flavor, so unless you like them, keep them out. I tried adding tomatoes into this, with no real impact on the sweetness. I additionally don’t recommend including edamame beans or peas because they impact the texture.
One last piece of advice. If you put your vegetables into the blender right after you rinse them, some water will stay on the leaves. You can drain the water using a salad strainer or just spill as much water as you can out of the blender before you start mixing.
Feel free to experiment with this recipe and I’d love to hear what you come up with.