28 February 2013

Dear $(6,4)@#: Smoothies are healthy, right?

$(6,4)@#, the pen name of one of my plush cats, answers a question from the mailbag. Or from the aether, as Ownie has heard this question quite a bit.

Dear $(6,4)@#,
What’s this smoothie craze all about? Why does putting my food in the blender benefit me? Clearly it does, if I see juices and smoothies in the cold case at every place from Wawa to Whole Foods. How do I make a good smoothie?

Smoothie Seeker

Deer Smoothie Seeker,
Dis smoothie craze is all about blended sweet shtuff. Basically, if da powers dat be see electricity, an appliance, and a way to make peeps use it, den dere ya go, you get a craze. Did our ancestories have Vitamixes? No, ah don’t see it in da cave drawings. Dey chewed dere food really goshdarn well and so they didn’t need a machine to do it for dem.

Which brings me to da benefits. Chewing is good for ya. Ownie goes on and on about how modern life doesn’t value a good chaw-chaw-chaw of da veggies during meal breaks at work. AMOF, Ownie realizes ze needs to start Vitamixing foods for breaks again odderwise ze don’t chew and den ze is sluggish. Da body’s still gotta get somethin’ from food, no? So it spends a lot of time workin’ and workin’ on breaking down big ol’ chunks of carrots and wheat buns and burgers and all da shtuff dat you eats. Chewin’ real good helps use dose digestive enzymies dat the Intelligent Designer or whoever (or da Primordial Soup, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s noodly appendage) gave ya in yer saliva. You got teefs dat can grind and cut and a jaw dat works for a reason: digestion startz in da mouth.

Clearly, writing truth such as dis in plain English don’t make much of a diff since soft foods that people can easily eat without chewing, and “big gulps” to wash ’em down, are da norm in so-called “American” cuisine. Blech and belch.

We like our smoothies in a bowl...

So, hey, we’re Norteamericanos, here, and we gots places to go. Da Gandhi said, “Drink your food and chew your drink.” Much as we’d love to stick to dat bit of sage advice, capitalism demands moving real fast and denigrating time for routine body functions in order to keep getting more, more, more, et cetera (you can see, dis cat is a bit suspect of the ends of such means, but we digress). So, da smoothie.

pumpkin smoothie

Yesh, Smoothie Seeker, in theory, eating or drinking da—in essenz, pre-chewed—nectar of a smoothie is good for ya. Blending fruits and veggies breaks down the cellulose in dere cell walls so you get da good stuff dat much easier. Dey’re quick to make and even quicker to drink, bringing sugar to your bloodstream when you’re hungry real fast. You can also “hide” a bunch of good greenz (like kale and collards and stuff) in da smoothie so you can play April Fool’s jokes on your friends and meet your greenz quota while you’re at it. Da downfall is with many things corporations get their little hands into is dat smoothies are best enjoyed fresh.

Put on yer thinking cap for a sec: when you open up some cells to light, heat, air, and other Forces of Nature, da shtuff inside’s gonna break down. You want to be the recipient of what’s coming out when they break down, in your mout’ and tummeh. So you drink it pretty soons after you make it so you can get dose benefits. Odderwise, all da good stuff goes bye-bye.

If you must pick up a bottled smoothie, pick up one that gets rotated out of the case pretty often. If you must put what you put in your mout’ in da hands of others…

plum smoothie

Also, what tastes good? Dat’s right class, sugar. Read da ingredz: sweeteners in fruit smoothies. Rly? Necessary? Not at frickin’ all. It’s prolly to hide da chemistry set of additives at the end of the smoothie ingredz. Repeat after moi, Smoothie Seeker: da best way to get good stuff is to go to the source whenever possible. You want protein? Don’t reach for some super-concentrated whey protein or soy isolate. You can’t get that in nature! Drink some real milk (oh yes, dis cat advocates for milk over processed shite, even on dis vegan blog) or throw in a dollop of peanut butter! If yeh can’t get it in nature, yer bod ain’t designed to eat it, at least not easily.

So about da popularity of da smoothie. Mama Mina said to us, “What is popular is not always right, and what is right is not always popular.” Just ‘cos everyone else is drinking it don’t mean you should.

Big deep secret here: you—yes, you behind da screen—gots to ask yerself what is right for you.

Ya wanna smoothie to replace a meal ‘cos you think it’s gonna help you lose weight? Sure. Taking in liquid, streaming energy is gonna make you liquid, svelte energy. You are what you eat.

Just gotta make sure da smoothie is as complete as da solid meal you would replace. If you begin a smoothie regimen (replacing one meal a day with a decent smoothie), then you gotta check in with yourself after a few days and evaluate whether you are experiencing light-headedness, lack of satisfaction, etc.

Da Ownie’s biggest fear about smoothies is dat ze won’t be full. Dat dey won’t be satisfying. Well, false, dey are. If you make ‘em so and believe (key action, here) dat dey will be so.

I turn it over to Ownie Q for da basics.

Da Basic Breakfast Smoothie

Ownie here. This is day two of my 31-day smoothie challenge. For breakfast each day, I will be having a smoothie, as described below. From an estimated calorie count, it’s more than sufficient for one meal. As I ramp up my cardio and reestablish my cardio routine, I may add 1/2 cup rolled oats to my morning meal. We shall see and be flexible, trusting that my body will tell me, “Hey man, need calories here!” or “Nope, we’re good on greens.”

Ownie’s Breakfast Smoothie
Serves ONE (you read that right, one person)

1 cup non-dairy milk, yoghurt, or kefir, preferably unsweetened
1 tablespoon nut butter
2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds OR 1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 cup greens (kale, spinach, arugula, collards, you name it)
1 piece or 1 serving fruit, cut into 2-inch or smaller chunks (freeze bananas!)
1/2-inch chunk ginger (fresh or frozen)
spices to taste (dash cinnamon and dash turmeric, usually)

Load the blender. Pulse or gradually increase speed to get it going then blend on high for ten seconds. Dial back down speed, turn off machine, and pour.

How do you properly load a blender? Read your operating instructions (they come with the machine for a reason).

For the Vitamix:
Liquid first, then greens, then flax and pb, and lastly fruit. The bananas could be cut a little smaller and I had chunks. If you put the solids in first, the blades work harder to get the smoothie going, and you risk overheating the machine (then it shuts down and won’t come out to play until it’s cooled off).

All day at work on Tuesday I made smoothies. My basic recipe was as follows.

Smoothies for Sale
Makes about 3 12-ounce servings

1 cup unsweetened soymilk
half scoop protein powder (I was required to use it, apparently, and the stuff smells chemically to me)
1 cup frozen banana coins

To this add:
Blueberry: 2 cups frozen blueberries
Strawberry: 2 cups frozen strawberries
Blueberry-Strawberry: 1 cup frozen blueberries and 1 cup frozen strawberries
Banana Tropical: 2 cups mixed frozen cantaloupe, honeydew, mango, pineapple
Mixed Berry: 2 cups mixed frozen blueberries, strawberries, red grapes, watermelon, raspberries, and blackberries
Blueberry-pineapple: 1 cup frozen blueberries and 1 cup frozen pineapple

Blitz in the Vitamix, divide into cups, and enjoy!

Um, yea, so you can see why I'm making an effort to commit to cardio again:

August 2011

February 2013
Conveniently I took a photo in the same place in the house.  Don't see the difference? You're too kind. 

Notice the cheekbones went away. I was healthy with 'em there. Now I'm sleep-deprived, lower energy, and wanting 'em back. So...we commit to a healthy smoothie and cardio to begin the day for 31 days to develop a good habit that will last longer than 31 days.
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