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Juicing and raw foods with smoothies

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If you have wondered if you should be eating more raw food, you can consider the smoothie. I start every day with a fruit smoothie myself, as part of the Fit For Life diet that I adopted some years ago in connection with improving my health.

One thing that will help you with the process of getting smoothies into your daily routine is the mini-blender. There are quite a few, and you can find them anywhere from Walmart in Tucson, to a department store in the local malls. We have two: a Nutri-Bullet that my husband uses, and a Kitchen Ninja that I use.

I bought the Kitchen Ninja because it also comes with a blender top, which I do use once in awhile, such as to mix pastry for biscuits or pie crust. This evening I plan to make a gluten-free rhubarb crisp for dessert--I'm having family over for dinner, and because my daughter avoids gluten I will use a substitute for flour.

My crisp recipe is super-simple, in that it is not a recipe for a cobbler. My idea of a cobbler is a cake-like or biscuit-like topping that really sits on top of the fruit. But a crisp is a real topping made from flour, butter and sugar and not much more. I do use oatmeal or oat flour when I make them in order to reduce or eliminate gluten, and GF baking mix is also out there.

I have one GF baking mix from Bob's Red Mill right now; I got it at Sprouts in Tucson, but it is available almost everywhere. By now there has been a marked increase in GF products in general, and if you go to supermarkets you can find whole sections of gluten-free baked goods that are already prepared.

But once you have sized up a mini-blender, you will find that the jars are about the size of a drinking glass, so putting together a fruit smoothie is pretty simple. Typically I get out a few frozen strawberries, half a banana, a Tablespoon of soy powder and some fruit juice. What I like best is to juice a few oranges with my little plastic citrus juicer, which only takes a few minutes. Sweeten with stevia if you wish, and buzz it up for a quick smoothie with no leftovers.

It isn't a good idea to make large quantities of smoothies and save them in the refrigerator anyway, unless they will be consumed the same day, for example by other members of the family. Otherwise the Vitamin C begins to deteriorate within fifteen minutes and pretty soon your smoothie has lost most of its nutrients. What we are looking for are the vitamins and phytonutrients that only fresh produce contains. Cooking fruits and vegetables destroys a large percentage of their food value, no matter how much we may like our steamed broccoli or whatever.

It came to me one day that another thing you can add to your vegetable smoothie, like your carrot-spinach-almond smoothie, is salad dressing. Yes--a smoothie salad can be lovely. And for that purpose, here is a recipe that you can make up for a drinkable salad while you are working at your computer or driving somewhere.

SALAD SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

1 cup spinach
1 cup kale
1/2 banana
A small handful of unsalted whole almonds
8 ounces of carrot juice
1/4 cup French salad dressing

Place all the ingredients in the blender jar. Process the carrot juice if necessary, or pour it into the other ingredients. Turn the blender on and run it until the mixture is smooth. Enjoy!

It should be unnecessary to mention that this type of smoothie is a quantum leap ahead of coffee and a pastry on your way to lunch or home from shopping. But I will mention it because people are looking for nutritious alternatives to the Standard American Diet.

This is because many of us are now getting concerned about the food news that keeps washing over us--like the pork merger that stands to make it possible for pork to be imported from China, openly or covertly. China is a place where you can read many stories about abuse of human beings, as in workers. But if you have a faint heart, you don't want to know how animals are treated in China, regardless of whether they are supposed to be processed into food at some point.

We also read about American companies like Monsanto losing control of their genetically-altered seeds, and the contamination that follows when farmers are trying to raise crops that are normal or even artisanal, like wheat. We read about import-export deals and politicians tell us openly that regulation and inspection have to be abolished so that the "free market" can determine how much money a company can charge for foodstuffs that may or may not be safe.

Then, to crown it all, we see celebrity chef Mario Batali tell us on a television interview show that pretty soon we will be eating insects. Maybe he will--maybe he is already doing so--but I won't be doing that. I would think that there are a lot of Americans who will choose a vegetarian diet rather than submit to dangerous, uninspected food and ground insects.

So meanwhile, you can begin to size up what you are buying and eating. The labels are still on the backs of the packages, and the companies are still required to tell you what is inside.

Fresh organic produce is out there; meat that is processed cleanly and raised humanely is available. Let's take care of ourselves because--face it now--no one else wants to take care of us, and if you vote in the wrong politicians, you will be on your own in the food store. That isn't a place where "buyer beware" is appropriate, if you ask me.

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