Do you struggle with getting your greens in? Many of us opt for a juice or a salad when we are feeling like we need to get more veggies into our diets. The problem is, rarely do these on-the-go meals provide enough nutrients. They may seem healthy but could they be doing more harm than good?
Busy adults and children rarely get enough greens in their diet. By greens we mean leafy veggies, filled with vitamins and nutrients and often hard to eat if your short on time or picky about taste. Stress makes us reach for the easy stuff, that juice or side salad. Stressed out parents struggle too. Whether you’ve got a picky eater or you’ve got very little time to take care of yourself, getting these vital nutrients into ones diet can be hard. No one has much time these days to focus on how many veggies they eat, but our bodies need them for optimal functioning. We need more vegetables and a great way to get them in our everyday diet is to drink them.
Get More Greens: Should You Juice or Blend?
Juice cleanses are trendy but don’t provide the body with all the nutrients one needs to feel their best. Vegetables and fruits, without the fiber do not include protein, which can lead to muscle wasting/weakness and poor brain function. Protein contains the amino acids necessary to build muscle, but also manufacture our neurotransmitters. So, how do you get the right combination?
Blend in Some Greens A smoothie or shake, blended with some leafy greens, fruits and nuts, seeds or protein powder is an excellent, portable meal. It contains all the fiber from the greens and fruit, plus fat from the nuts, seeds or protein powder to keep you full and limit the rise in glucose from the fruit. The amino acids from the protein and vitamins from the fruits and vegetables are an amazing way to get a full dose of your essential nutrients in a few gulps.
Juicing Isn’t Always Healthy. Vegetable juice with a small amount of fruit, depending on size, may be as calorie-dense as the smoothie, but will not be a satisfying meal on its own, nor does it provide all the nutrients your body needs. Our nutritionist Jessica Wilhelm says, “For this reason, if you have a substantial amount of weight to lose, I wouldn’t recommend juicing often because it will likely add too many extra calories (without the feeling of satiety) and compromise your weight loss efforts.
If you or a loved one is sensitive to sugar juicing is NOT the way to go. Wilhelm says “For those with diabetes, I do not recommend juicing, since the sugar in the juice enters the bloodstream rapidly without fiber from the original vegetables and fruits to slow the process down.” Even if you want to substitute a meal with a juice, it isn’t going to give your body the nutrients it needs, nor will it help your mood. Juicing isn’t the best way to fuel your body, you’re better off with a smoothie or shake.
Blend These Greens in Your Daily Diet
Crisp, mild, and highly nutritious, romaine lettuce is the perfect leafy green for green smoothie newbies. Romaine lettuce provides an impressive amount of calcium, vitamin A, iron, B-vitamins, vitamin K, and the minerals copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. Afraid of green smoothies? Maybe not with this green!
Romaine lettuce is crisp and refreshing. The flavor is so mild, you can go undetected in smoothies. Try it out on some of the pickiest eaters, they wont be able to recognize it.
Best Blended With
I’ve tried it and it tastes great, the light flavor of romaine makes it ideal for any smoothie. Use it with juice, berries, apples, other greens and cucumbers. My favorite is blueberries, banana, coconut water, and some spinach.
Collard greens are a cruciferious vegetable related to cabbage, kale and broccoli. They have cleansing benefits and are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These thick leaves are full of vitamins A, C, and K. They also provide your body with a healthy dose of fiber.
Collard greens are excellent green for smoothies. They are slightly more bitter than spinach, but less bitter than kale. The leaves in collard greens are sturdy, so blending these up with a high power blender is ideal to ensure smooth sipping.
Best Blended With
To offset any bitterness collard greens may add to your smoothie, we recommend blending them with flavorful fruits such as mango, pineapple, peaches, banana, or cherries
Did you know that one leaf of spinach has more than twenty different nutrients? Popeye was right my friends, it is the food that that gives your skin a healthy glow, lowers blood pressure, fights cancer, improves vision and heart health, boosts immunity and energy, and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Rich in potassium, protein, calcium, iron, niacin and vitamins A, C, B, C and B-12, spinach should definitely be making its way to your blender. No wonder spinach is one of the most popular smoothie greens!
Most people find spinach quite mild. Baby spinach is especially easy on the taste buds, making it a go-to green smoothie addition.
Best Blended With
Once again, the soft leaves of spinach make this super food prime for blending. Our favorite fruits to blend with smoothies are strawberries, blueberries, apples and pears. Since these fruits are low in sugar, the spinach acts as a nice neutral green. A little apple juice (diluted with water) will hide the taste but not the nutrients.
The Downside to Cold-Pressed Juices
Cold-pressed juices can provide an abundant amount of vitamins and minerals that we may not normally get in day. However, they contain very little fiber and protein. The cold-pressing process removes the fiber from the vegetables and fruits used to make them, which is vital for intestinal health. It is also important to look at the plant foods used to make the juice. If more fruit than vegetables are listed in the ingredients, then it is likely to contain a high concentration of sugar. Combine that with a low fiber content and blood sugar is likely to spike, which can negatively affect brain chemistry and mood.
For the Kids
Have a picky eater in your house? Add some spinach or romaine to their smoothie. Even as an adult with sensitive taste buds I really enjoy greens in my morning drink. Plus I start the day feeling way healthier about my choices. A handful of greens doesn’t taste like a salad and pairs perfectly with bananas, coconut milk or apple juice and a variety of fruits. Add some protein powder or yogurt and you have a meal in moments. Mask the taste with blueberries, strawberries or a variety of antioxidant rich berries.
Good luck and let us know how you and your family get more greens in your diet.
Take Good Care,
Emily Roberts MA, LPC & The Neurogistics Staff
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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is the clinical therapist for the Neurogistics Children’s Program. She has worked with Neurogistics for over a decade. Emily is also an award-winning author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, educational speaker and parenting consultant. Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.
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