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Monday, October 13, 2008

How to Grow Your Own Greens and Make Green Smoothies!!!


Hello Everyone!

I first started hearing about the importance of consuming green smoothies in the diet every day primarily from two authors: and Victoria Boutenko and Frederic Patenaude. Both authors are well known within the rawfood community and both have written great books about rawfoods. What they say is that greens should make up most of diet, not fruit as has been stated by others, citing our closest animal relative, the Chimpanzee that eats primarily greens in their diet. Greens are important for us since greens contain a great amount, and are the best sources, of important vitamins and minerals. Also, chlorophyll, which is abundant in greens, is very close to the makeup of our own blood, making greens a great boost to our bodies’ health and vitality.

Unfortunately, in our modern lifestyle it is often hard to find the time to consume greens by chewing thoroughly for hours all day long as our primate friends do. Also, it is hard for most people to get used to the taste of greens that are often bitter or very plain since our modern taste buds are conditioned to overly sweet and salty foods. Hence, the idea of green smoothies! By combining the sweet fruits with greens we create a flavorful and nutrient rich smoothie that will improve the health in our bodies even if we change nothing else in our diet. This summation was verified by a study by Victoria Boutenko where her volunteers drank a quart of green smoothie every day for two weeks or so. During this time the participants noticed many health benefits. For myself, I have noticed many benefits since drinking green smoothies every day. In general I feel much more energetic, alert, clear headed, strong, and hydrated. If I am feeling bad in some way, like dehydrated or tired, I just reach for my green smoothie (I usually make a quart that I store in the fridge and drink during the day when I can) and upon drinking I immediately feel better. It is the perfect food! When I make a great batch, it feels great drinking it. I cannot stop drinking it since it tastes so good and feels great in my body. It is like liquid energy in its perfect form that energizes and restores all of the cells in the body. Really, this is what I feel and imagine happening when drinking! I feel my cells sparkling with life thanks to the green smoothie!

So, I recommend that you try making a green smoothie and see how you like it. First, it is best to have a powerful blender, like a Vitamix or Blendtec, since only these strong blenders can completely pulverize the produce down to the cellular level allowing your body to more easily assimilate the nutrients and also give the smoothie a much better taste and creamy texture. We sell Blendtec blenders at our webstore: www.GreenHarmonyLiving.com. The basic recipe is simple. First add the water to the jar, then add a big handful of greens (kale, collards, lambsquarters, dandelion, nettle are the best), and finally add much fruit (berries, apples, pears, stone fruit, and bananas are great). You may mix the greens or use just one type, but be careful not to add too many bitter or spicy greens that will overpower your drink, unless you don’t mind the strong taste. Bitter is sometimes good for us. I remember as a child my mom giving me a bitter greens soup that was very hard to eat because of the strong taste, but I was glad that I did because afterwards I had the most energy I ever had. I felt like I could fly like Superman! Anyways, that is the basic recipe for a green smoothie. For more detailed recipes, please visit our recipe section of this newsletter.

Now I will talk about how I grow the greens for my smoothies. If you have decided to make green smoothies on a daily basis then I recommend growing your own greens since then you will have the freshest, most nutritious source available. If you have a vegetable garden you can grow the greens there. If you don’t have one, it is time to make one if you have the space. You really don’t need much space to grow greens, even if you have a few feet you can grow some greens. Adequate sunlight is helpful, south facing is best. If your south facing exposure is in your front yard, that is okay too. You are allowed to have a vegetable garden in your front garden. So, if you don’t have a vegetable garden, make a nice vegetable garden plot by taking out the lawn, rototilling the soil, and then adding a lot of natural compost. You may separate the area into individual beds with walkways between to give more structure in the garden. Compost is really important since it provides the nutrients to the greens so they will thrive and in turn give you their nutrients. I am really leery of the store bought compost bags since they are not really compost but usually partially broken down mulch, peat moss, and animal manures. Here in Maryland one of the best composts available at many garden centers is called Leafgro which is composted leaves. Unfortunately it does seem to have many fine particles of trash, usually plastic pieces. So, the best compost is usually one you make yourself from your kitchen scraps or if you can find some from a local farmer, health food store, or farmers’ market. Although I do not recommend animal manures since they can contain the harmful substances that the farmers may give them like antibiotics, hormones, etc.

So, once you have your garden plot ready it’s time to start growing these luscious greens! If you are going to plant now in the fall I suggest that you buy the seedling veggies you can find at your local garden centers or framers’ markets since there is not much time left in the season. I would also suggest that when you have more time to plan that you order from a reputable organic, heirloom seed catalog, my favorite is Seeds of Change, order the seeds ahead of the season (like in the winter for next spring) and start growing the seeds inside in little peat pots or in trays with soil. Obviously these seeds need to be exposed to direct sunlight so place near a south facing window or buy a light box that produces the light of natural sunlight. It will take a month or two to germinate and get to an adequate size for planting outside. It is time to plant outside in the spring after the ground has thawed and frost will not occur again.

I like to mainly grow kale and collards for my greens since they are the easiest to grow and can grow for all of the growing season from spring to fall. I also grow other nutritious greens like dandelion and lambsquarters that are annuals and regrow by setting seed in the fall and regrow in the spring. They tend to pop up anywhere in the garden so I just let them grow where they want except where I am growing other crops. I also highly recommend that you set aside a good size area that is located at a low elevation, consistently moist all year, and has a great humus content that appears as dark, almost black soil. Lots of compost can help compensate if you want to make such a bed. The special plant that will grow lavishly here is Nettle, also called Stinging Nettle. Most people may think it is a pest to be eradicated. That is why I recommend growing it in a place where it will do no harm if it runs freely. The Nettle is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet and as such I think deserves much respect. I have created such a spot in my garden where it grows happily.

I harvest from my own garden during our relatively long growing season, generally from April to November. During the winter I buy my greens from our local health food store that has excellent organic greens all year. The farmers’ market can also supply greens but check to make sure they are not too spicy or strong tasting. I have found my home grown greens are the sweetest. Also, the fresher they are, the better since fresher means more nutrients!

You can find more info about green smoothies at our webstore: www.GreenHarmonyLiving.com. See "Blenders". We also sell Blendtec blenders, and many other green, organic products for your healthy lifestyle.

Good luck on becoming a green superman or superwoman by making nutritious greens a daily part of your diet!

Thank You and Make Today a Wonderful Day!
Roland’s Websites:
Green Harmony Living Planet friendly website
Green Harmony Living Store Raw, Vegan, & Organic Foods & Products
Green Harmony Design Beautiful, Edible, & Sustainable Gardens
Green Harmony Tours Sustainable Ecotours to Germany

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