Grow Your Own Smoothies
Check out the sowing guide for February and you’ll notice that it is mainly greens. There is a saying that nature gives us what we need when we need it, and it seems that greens are what we need in winter. And if they’re in smoothies, even better.
That’s because most greens are rich in vitamin C, which strengthens the immune system in winter, contain antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals (which cause cancer) and have a detoxifying effect on the body.
One way to get in the requisite daily amount of number of greens (and fruit) is by making green smoothies, especially in winter when salads aren’t as appealing. Green smoothies are a combination of raw leafy greens and fruit, thinned with water, almond milk or yoghurt. It is a quick-to-make power drink and energy food that detoxes and helps with weight loss.
What’s the catch? There is concern that consistently eating large amounts of the same green vegetable over a long period of time can lead to alkaloid build-up (plant toxins) that can harm the thyroid. This is a defence mechanism by leafy greens to prevent animals (us included) from eating them into extinction. Preventing the toxic effect is simple – eat a variety of greens (the more the better) and rotate the greens, for instance kale and Swiss chard, which are from different families. Variety also beats the boredom factor.
Smoothies for starters
Use two or even three fruits to one vegetable, so that the smoothie is sweet and delicious. Start with mild flavoured veggies like Swiss chard, beet leaves or baby spinach. Use smaller quantities of those with a stronger flavour, like kale and broccoli. Smoothies are a great breakfast meal, quick and easy to make, and giving a nice energy boost to start the day
Blend 1 cup chopped fresh spinach (tightly packed into a cup) with 1 cup water. Blend until smooth. Add ½ cup each of pineapple and mango, and one peeled banana. Blend everything until creamy. Avocado is a good alternative to banana. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator. (https://simplegreensmoothies.com). Using this format, make your own combinations of fruit and veggies that work together.
Best winter greens for smoothies:
Swiss chard is an almost year-round crop. Sowing a new batch now will take you through winter. Plant in fertile, well composted soil that gets plenty of sun in winter and is sheltered. Plants are frost tolerant but tend to stand still in very cold areas.
Boost your metabolism by combining Swiss chard with one peeled orange and ½ cup of strawberries, almond milk or full-cream yoghurt.
A very good source of vitamins A, C and K, as well as dietary fibre and minerals. Research has found that chard is able to regulate blood sugar levels in the body.
Baby spinach varieties produce small, tasty leaves within 35 – 40 days of sowing. The leaves have a more delicate flavour than mature spinach. Sow every two weeks for an extended supply. Plant in well composted, fertile soil.
Blend baby spinach leaves with strawberries, blue berries, Greek yoghurt and water (to thin).
Like Swiss chard, leaves contain vitamins A, C and K and phytonutrients.
Beetroot tops are best harvested when they are young. Light, well-drained soil suits beetroot best (for good-sized roots) but if the soil is heavy then growing beetroot just for the tops is a good alternative, and plants can be closer together.
Use beet tops in any recipe that calls for spinach or Swiss chard. A yummy combo is grated carrot, pineapple and orange with chopped beet leaves.
The leaves are richer than the roots in calcium, iron and vitamins A and C. They also contain tryptophan, which helps to improve sleep cycles.
Kale is a long-season crop that can extend well into summer. Cold and frost gives the leaves a sweeter taste, and it is less troubled by pests than other brassicas. Pick leaves from the bottom upwards (or the outer leaves of bushy varieties), always leaving the top four leaves as the growing crown.
For a luxurious kale smoothie blend ¼ cup milk, ½ teaspoon ginger (finely minced), 2 bananas, 1 cup kale leaves (chopped), ½ cup chopped cashews, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 3 tablespoons raw dates (pitted, chopped), 1 pinch salt and 2 cups ice. (www.blendtec.com).
Kale is high in fibre, vitamin C, vitamin A (skin and eyes), and contains more calcium per gram than milk. It is also full of iron (reputedly more so than red meat) and contains antioxidants that help prevent cancer. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.