Thursday, November 06, 2014

My easy, breezy fruit smoothie, veggie smoothie diet

Well then. I have been eating healthy for years, preferring organic, non-processed, non-GMO and/or grass-fed foods, and cooking at home as much as possible. But during those same years, several extra pounds came along for the ride no matter what I did. I exercise about four times a week, trading out yoga, strength training and the occasional Zumba class, but even this just seems to maintain my weight and tone me, not reduce me.
Recently, I introduced myself to my own self-styled smoothie diet. and lost three pounds in less than a week. As I child, I was tremendously skinny and didn’t like food. I preferred beverages. I could drink shakes, juices, milk, water, kool-aid with no problem, but the idea of food sort of made me ill. There were no such things as fruit or veggie smoothies back when I was young.
I remember on one particular birthday, my family asked me to make a wish and blow out the candles on my birthday cake, as many of us do. My special wish that young year was to become an angel, because I had heard in church that angels don’t have to eat food.
As I grew up, I somehow got over this food aversion. Fancy that. Today you might say, food, cooking and nutrition are major focuses for me. I even wrote a book of poems on food, Omnivore Odes: Poems About Food, Herbs and Spices (Finishing Line Press, 2013). But one thing hasn’t changed since childhood; I still love beverages. And yes, today that includes those savored glasses of wine and microbrew.  
Now that fruit and vegetable smoothies have arisen in our culture, I’m a great advocate of them. I have a juicer at home, and initially started juicing some of my favorite vegetables on the weekends when I had time to chop vegetables, go through the process and clean the juicer. But while juicing, I kept thinking of all the valuable fiber I was missing that was going instead into the back yard composter.
I soon realized that you can make your own fruit or vegetable smoothies right in your own standard blender, if you use the right ingredients. You don't need a Vitamix or other mega-blender. And these smoothies contain all the healthful fiber that the fruits and vegetables naturally hold. Weekends became the time I’d enjoy my fruits smoothies. And I’d bring vegetable smoothies to work to supplement my lunches. But didn’t these smoothies seem to make me feel full?  I did pack lots of nutrition into these 12-fluid-ounce portions. But then I'd eat food on top of them. Was this smart?
Follow your bliss, said Joseph Campbell. One of my means of nutritional bliss were smoothies. Why not try to incorporate these superfood powerhouses into a weight-loss program, I said to myself. After I started my smoothie diet, I lost three pounds in less than a week, as I mentioned above. What did I do? I changed how I used them.
What usually goes into my fruit smoothie: banana, mixed berries or cherries (the one pictured uses organic, frozen mango), a dollop of peanut butter, a tablespoon of ground flax seed and enough rice milk to allow it to liquefy in the blender.
A rundown of my usual veggie smoothie: cucumber, celery, spinach or mixed greens, Italian parsley, dill weed, avocado, peeled and seeded lemon, cayenne pepper, salt, one heaping tablespoon of green food powder such as Kyo-Green, two tablespoons olive oil, a cup or more of pure water.
Here's the Modus Operandi: The first weekend, I had a fruit smoothie for breakfast and a veggie smoothie for lunch, then a regular dinner. A regular dinner is similar to what’s pictured on the plate. During the work week, I add two hard-boiled organic or pasture-raised eggs to my fruit smoothie breakfast, and perhaps a couple of squares of dark chocolate to my veggie smoothie lunch, followed by a regular dinner.
The eggs, in addition to the peanut butter in the smoothie, provide added protein in the morning. The green smoothie has its fair share of good fats and vegetable protein for the afternoon, and the dark chocolate is a just-because treat! Plus, both smoothies are loaded with antioxidants and fiber.

Oh, by the way, a regular dinner means no dessert, y’all. And sadly, no wine or brewskis either, but maybe some hot herbal tea before bed. But I do plan to celebrate my success on Saturday nights with the reward of a glass or two of wine.
What are the measurements for the fruits and vegetables? I leave that up to quantities I have on hand in my refrigerator. Sometimes I chop up enough ingredients to make two veggie or fruit smoothies and keep them in mason jars for the next day.
Don’t go out and buy pre-made smoothies from the grocery store -- or purchase smoothies at a snack bar. They often contain hidden calories. There’s nothing like using fresh, organic ingredients that you process at home. This diet does take some preparation, which you might take care of the night before each day. Planning, shopping, peeling and chopping are required, especially for the veggie smoothie.

I don’t like to mix fruits and vegetables in my smoothies, through some people do. The way I make them, the fruit smoothies taste sweet and the veggie smoothies savory, almost as if like a green gazpacho.
I won’t lie. The first few days of the smoothie diet were tough. I’d usually feel quite hungry by late afternoon before dinner. Maybe not so easy and breezy initially. But after a short while, my system got used to it and I wasn’t very hungry. I’m planning to continue until I lose about 10 pounds. I’ll keep posting on progress.

The point is: If you're going to diet and want to lose weight, nourish yourself as deeply as you can in the process. Keep up your health. Don't fast. Make life enjoyable. Get enough fiber. Maintain your energy level. Sleep well. I believe the smoothie diet helps accomplish all of the above.
Note: In addition to  following this diet, I continue working out about four times a week from 40 minutes to an hour each session. I regularly take vitamin and mineral supplements, as well as Omega-3 fish oil and probiotics. Plus, I drink water. I always keep my water bottle handy at work and when I work out. Sometimes when we feel hungry, we’re actually just thirsty! ##


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