In the summer of 2005 Russian-born American author Victoria Boutenko was messing about in her kitchen. She was looking for ways to incorporate more greens into her diet without drowning them in fat-laden dressing. Why greens? Green leaves and vegetables are an abundant source of minerals, vitamins, amino acids, chlorophyll, enzymes and fibre, all of which help to keep the body in tip-top shape. And Victoria was on a mission: to get rid of wrinkles.
The Boutenko family had been eating an all-raw vegan diet since 1994 and had witnessed the disappearance of serious illnesses, including cardiac arrhythmia, asthma, thyroid problems, arthritis and juvenile diabetes (1). But 11 years down the road they were finding their diet increasingly unsatisfying. Minor but annoying health problems kept cropping up, such as tooth sensitivity, rapidly greying hair, warts and moles.
Victoria believed a 100% raw diet was ideal for healing the body and slowing the ageing process but was perturbed by signs of less than perfect health in her nearest and dearest. She reckoned their diet must be missing something important, so she made it her mission to uncover the magic ingredient.
Reasoning that we share 99.4% of our DNA with chimpanzees and speculating that their natural diet might benefit their human cousins, Victoria studied Jane Goodallâs research on chimpanzeesâ feeding habits. She discovered that the banana-chomping chimp clichÃ© was only half the story: in addition to fruit, chimps ate lots of leafy greens (nearly half their diet), blossoms, pith, bark, insects and, occasionally, small animals. Victoriaâs diet, on the other hand, contained lots of fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds and juices but very few greens. What if greens were the missing link she and her family were craving?
She soon learned how hard it is to chow down plates of leaves. Her stomach rebelled. She had to sink her kale into rich dressing to make it palatable. And she didnât feel any better. So she went back to the library. This time, she discovered that plant cellulose is one of the toughest fibres on earth. For our bodies to extract the goodness of leaves we need to grind them to a creamy pulp but we are not blessed with the tough teeth our primate friends use to do this.
So Victoria reckoned a little help from the modern world might be in order to âchewâ her greens properly. She threw a bunch of kale and a cup of water into her Vitamix blender, whizzed it up and â¦ hey presto! A pool of sludge emerged, black and oozing a sweet sickly smell. One sip and she felt ill. In despair, she grabbed four peeled bananas, threw them into the slime and blended. What happened next amazed her.
Opening the lid with trepidation, she was greeted by a neon-green liquid that smelled of fruit and tasted of freshness. It was divine. She christened it âthe green smoothieâ (2). Within a few hours she had polished it off and was making more. Over the course of the next few months she drank some every day, varying the greens and fruits she used in the recipe. A wart and two moles peeled off her skin. Her husbandâs beard, which had turned grey, started to turn black again. Her childrenâs teeth lost their sensitivity. Victoria, formerly plagued by cravings for heavy food, stopped hankering after rich nut dishes and cooked foods and was content to sit and read in the evenings instead of raiding the fridge. Her energy levels soared. The level of stomach acid she was producing also improved (an optimum level of hydrochloric acid in the stomach is essential for good digestion and nourishment). She began to crave greens and felt so clear and energised that she made green smoothies a major part of her life. And her wrinkles began to recede.
So how do you make a green smoothie? Itâs easy! Pop 60% ripe, organically grown fruit, 40% organically grown green leafy vegetables and a cup or two of water into your blender (the more powerful, the better). Whizz until smooth. Drink!
Green smoothies are easy to digest and taste fruity but fresh. When blended properly, the nutrients in the fruits and greens are divided into small, easily absorbed particles. They contain lots of fibre, Natureâs sponge, which moves wastes through the system. They also contain plenty of chlorophyll, which has numerous beneficial actions on the body, including blood building, detoxifying, deodorising, reducing inflammation and improving vision.
If you consume green smoothies regularly, itâs a good idea to vary your produce. Different greens contain varying levels of nutrients and amino acids and it is important to use as wide a variety as possible. Greens include the leaves (e.g. spinach, lettuces, chard, etc.), herbs (e.g. mint, dill, parsley, etc.), sprouted foods (e.g. sunflower greens, pea shoots, etc.), celery, asparagus and wild greens (make sure you know your plants if youâre foraging!). Donât use rocket, mustard, watercress or other bitter greens, though, unless you want a tongue-lashing from your taste buds.
Try out the following combinations, blended well:
- 100g organic baby spinach + 2 ripe pears + 1 banana + 1-2 cups water.
- 4 ripe pears + 1 bunch parsley + 1 big cup water.
- 2 large mangoes + 1 bunch parsley + water.
- 1 cup strawberries + 2 bananas + romaine lettuce + water.
- 4 very ripe kiwis + 1 ripe banana + 3 stalks celery + water.
- 4 apples + juice of Â½ lemon + 4-5 leaves kale + water.
Experiment and find your own combinations. Just make sure your fruits and veggies are organically grown, ripe and fresh and your water is good quality bottled, filtered or distilled water. You could also add wheatgrass and barleygrass powder for an extra boost (3).
1 To read the Boutenko familyâs story, check out http://www.rawfamily.com, Raw Family and Green for Life (available from http://www.amazon.com). For more information on raw food diets as a tool for healing, see Leslie and Susannah Kenton, The New Raw Energy. Also check out http://www.fresh-network.com and http://www.therawfoodcoach.com.
2 If you are taking Warfarin, aspirin or any other blood thinning drug, or if you are on any other medication or are ill, you must consult your doctor before consuming lots of greens or taking green superfood supplements. Some green foods are contraindicated for persons taking blood thinners because they interact with blood thinning medication.
3 More about superfoods wheatgrass and barleygrass in a future blog. Both are available, either fresh or in powder / capsule form, from The Hopsack, as are fresh sunflower greens and pea shoots.
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 2:29 pm
Re: Youâre such a smoothie!
Postby an enquiring mind on Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:20 pm
I have read somewhere that the oxalic acid in raw spinach is not great for us - have you come across this and is this true, and if so how does it work? Are there other greens that we're better off putting raw into smoothies?
an enquiring mind
Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:03 pm
Re: Youâre such a smoothie!
Postby Rhoda-Mary on Thu Apr 17, 2008 11:50 am
Greetings, enquiring mind!
Welcome to the forum! It's great to have someone new to talk to...
According to Leslie and Susannah Kenton's classic book, The New Raw Energy, the oxalic acid in raw spinach (all green smoothie ingredients should be raw) acts differently in the body to the oxalic acid in cooked spinach. Raw oxalic acid apparently encourages peristalsis (gut movement - helpful for digestion), while cooked oxalic acid creates problems with mineral absorption.
I'll get back to you with more specific references from the book's bibliography once I find a copy of it. It's not as widely available as it once was, having been published in the 1980s.
Thank you for your question. Keep them flowing...