Spring Smoothie Experiment April 22, 2014
Join us for a 14-day green smoothie experiment from May 10th to May 23rd! We will be sharing recipes, photos, and other nutritional information frequently, so subscribe to our blog no later than May 9th to participate with us for FREE (look for the “subscribe” area on the right-hand side of the blog page).
Ok, before we get down to the nitty gritty, here’s how it works:
- A simple hot tonic first thing in the morning to help detox your body and jump-start your digestion (recipe below).
- One green smoothie a day before or in place of a meal (or for dessert), for 14 days.
That’s it, that’s all. It might just start to change your life. You in?
But first, a curve ball: Chinese medicine and green smoothies do not get along well. This may come as a surprise to you, especially if you equate each of these things with good digestive health. In order to understand why these two are often at odds, it helps to have a basic understanding of digestive health through a Chinese medicine lens.
Healthy digestion requires the optimal function of the spleen and stomach. These guys are the primary organs responsible for much of your “digestive qi” or the energy driving your digestive metabolism. (As Westerners, the concept of spleen might not mean much, but in Chinese medicine, this vital organ holds the reigns when it comes to effectively and efficiently transforming the food you eat into useable energy, or qi).
What’s more, our digestive organs have emotional characteristic to go along with their physiological functions. Digest this: the emotional aspect of our digestive system is thoughtfulness, pensiveness and worry. When you nourish your digestive qi, you are better able to process thoughts into healthy actions and discard thoughts that do not serve you. When your digestion is burdened or weak, the result can be excessive worrying, overthinking or feeling emotionally stuck. A vicious cycle can occur in which these negative thought patterns can further weaken your digestion….which in-turn can lead to even more ruminating thoughts and brooding.
Can you relate?
So why are green smoothies (or any color smoothie, for that matter) at odds with the principles of Chinese medicine healthy digestion? One of the reasons has to do with the thermodynamics of food. Every food has an inherent temperature that doesn’t necessarily have to do with whether or not you keep it in the refrigerator or freezer. For example, plants that take longer to grow (carrots, sweet potatoes) have a warmer property than plants that grow quickly (ex. summer squash, cucumber). Foods with green, blue or purple hues are usually more cooling than foods that are red, yellow or orange. Red peppers, for example, are warmer in nature than green bell peppers. Raw foods are more cooling than cooked foods.
Now let’s apply this information to fruit & veggie smoothies. Green smoothies often contain raw fruits/veggies. Darn!…too much raw food can weak the digestive qi.
Smoothies are sometimes made with frozen fruits and drank at a cold temperature. Drats!…cold foods can dampen your digestive fire.
But get this: we LOVE green smoothies. And by “we”, I mean us two Acupuncture Physicians and our 3-year-old daughter. That’s right, our 3-year-old drinks her greens, and she’s loving every sip.
“But how can you hypocrites live with yourselves?,” you must be saying. “And how can you do that to your own daughter!!”
There are a couple of ways in which you can Chinese medicine-ify your green smoothies to benefit from the vitamins, nutrients, fiber, and protein packaged in these vibrantly delectable drinks while also protecting and nourishing your digestive qi.
1) Start your day with a morning tonic. Would you want to take a freezing cold shower first thing in the morning? Well, neither does your spleen. The first thing in which you should bathe your digestive organs every morning should be warm and nourishing. A simple hot morning tonic can wake up the spleen/stomach and stimulate your digestive fire. We love the following recipe, which we got from Jen and Jadah of Simple Green Smoothies. Make this every morning right when you wake up, regardless of whether or not you have a smoothie for breakfast:
Morning Tonic (modified)
1 cup hot water
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1-2 thin slices fresh ginger
Directions: Boil one cup hot water and pour into a mug. Add ginger and lemon juice and let steep for 3 minutes. Sip and enjoy!
2) Drink your green smoothie at room temperature. If you’re using frozen fruits in your recipe, allow your smoothie to warm up a bit before drinking. If you have the forethought to do so, defrost your frozen fruits or veggies in the refrigerator the night before. You can always make your smoothie in the morning, bring it with you to work, and drink it as a snack or for lunch after it has lost its chill.
3) Balance out thermodynamics of your smoothie. Foods that are in season during the spring/summer tend to be more cooling in nature than those that grow in the fall/winter seasons. You can balance out the raw/cold nature of your smoothies by adding one of the following foods or spices. You can also search for smoothie recipes online using some of the following ingredients:
4) Savor your smoothie: you don’t need to drink more than 1 smoothie/day. Have one as a snack or, if you add a protein boost, it can be filling enough to replace a meal: peanut/almond butter, coconut, oats, flax seeds, chia seeds, cacao, or any type of nut. The vitamins, nutrients and fiber in your fruit/veggie smoothie can help you to burn excess fat, reduce bad cholesterol, provide energy for your cardiovascular system, detox and hydrate your body, promote healthy bowel movements, and decrease your appetite for processed foods and sugars. But sip slowly and mindfully. Eating too quickly or while on-the-run can weaken your digestive qi!
If ever there were a time of year to embark on this type of smoothie experiment, it would be now. In the spring and summer seasons, the temperatures rise, plants and trees that were dormant during the colder months spark new growth, and our bodies shift in a similar way with the rhythms of nature. Foods that grow during the warmer months may tend to have a cooler thermodynamic property, and our bodies are more equipped to handle it during this time of year. If you want to be assured you’re eating foods that your body needs for this (or any) time of, eat what’s in season. An easy way to do this would be to sign up with a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) delivery service. Our favorite is Front Porch Pickings (www.frontporchpickings.com), which promotes “healthy eating habits through the weekly delivery of the freshest organic and locally grown produce available.”
Not sure you can stomach a green smoothie? Try this (modified) Beginner’s Luck Smoothie, which we got from, once again, the lovely ladies at www.simplegreensmoothies.com. We dare you not to love it. Their “Recipe” section contains so many simple & delicious recipes. You can easily modify a recipe to help “warm” your smoothie using the above chart (ex. substitute pineapple for banana).
2 cups kale, fresh (warming)
1 cup almond or rice milk (warming)
1 cup water
1 cup pineapple (warming)
1 cup mango (warming)
Instructions: Blend kale, water and almond/rice milk until smooth. Next, add the remaining fruits and blend again. Drink at room temperature.
Ready to join us? Subscribe to our blog no later than May 9th to participate for FREE in our 14-day green smoothie experiment, starting Saturday, May 10th. We will be sharing recipes, photos, resources, and other nutritional information every day-ish, so you’ll have lots of support. What have you got to loose, really (other than a little excess weight, some bad cholesterol, and your cravings for sugary foods)?
Want to double-down on your efforts to improve your digestive qi? Schedule weekly acupuncture during this 14-day experiment and we’ll help put that spring back in your step!0