The Irresistible Smoothie

For most of us, diet is an evolving thing. It certainly has been for me.

In my early twenties, inspired by the books of Paavo Airola, I stopped eating red meat and began frequenting the health food shop in the city in which I lived. Over the next several years cravings for chicken and fish dropped away. I was suddenly the only vegetarian in my circle of family and friends. For a few years I started the day with smoothies of yogurt, banana, wheat germ and vanilla. Then, when I shifted away from the area in which I grew up and experienced cleaner air, began eating organically grown food and dropped dairy from the menu, the hay fever and eczema of my youth disappeared. It was only then that I realised I had probably always been lactose intolerant.

Breakfasts in the Netherlands consisted of fresh organic fruit eaten with organic rolled oats, raisins and nuts, soaked in water overnight. When we arrived to stay in New Zealand’s subtropical Far North my diet took another leap into new territory. There is an incredible abundance and variety of fruits locally grown and available year round in our area. Now, inspired by the writings of people such as Norman Walker, Morris Krok, Viktoras Kulvinskas, Dr. O.L.M. Abramowski, Hippocrates Institute founder Anne Wigmore and Arnold Ehret (The Mucusless Free Diet) and by the personal living examples of our new friends Babaji in Kerikeri and Michael Miller, then of Te Ngaere Bay, I leapt enthusiastically into a pure raw fruit diet. Unfortunately, my previously perfect teeth had great difficulty standing up to the excess of fruit sugars they were now exposed to and I soon added raw vegetables back to my meals.

In the 14 years since that big shift to raw food I have not stopped experimenting. I do now eat some cooked food from time to time, such as blended pumpkin soup in winter. But the one common denominator throughout those years has been a smoothie for breakfast.

I rarely wake up hungry. I start the day with water (from one to four glasses), followed later by barley green powder dissolved in either water or freshly squeezed citrus juice (from local organic oranges, mandarins or grapefruits). The smoothie is consumed anytime between mid-morning and midday, depending on my appetite and the work circumstances at the time. Here’s the base:

½ – 1 cup filtered water

1 tsp dried dandelion root granules (optional)

¼ tsp dried or fresh ginger

½ tsp kelp powder or granules

½ cup frozen berries or other fresh fruit

¼ cup soaked nuts and/or seeds

1 tsp barley grass or wheat grass powder

1/4 tsp aniseed or fennel seed

1 tsp bee pollen

½ large avocado or 1 small avocado (optional)

4-6 ladies’ finger bananas (peeled, of course)

½ tsp dried liquorice root powder (optional)

¼ – ½ teaspoon dried stevia leaf

1 cm fresh aloe vera (leaf and gel)

The quantity of water is a matter of taste. I like a liquid consistency. You may wish to use less water for a thicker blend.

For me, bananas are the base of every smoothie. Several varieties grow vigorously in the Far North. To produce large bunches they need only a sunny, sheltered location and all the organic mulch you can give them.

Feijoas

The combinations of fruits and amendments that are added to bananas are only limited by one’s imagination. Oranges or mandarins, whole or juiced (I juice them when they are loaded with seeds) with carob powder makes a delicious smoothie. You can substitute cocoa powder for carob powder if you have a craving for chocolate. I also love pears or feijoas in a smoothie. They are both in season as I write this. I had a feijoa smoothie late this morning. And, of course, fresh is nearly always best. Any berries in season are great. Strawberry guavas grow like weeds around here and make a potent, mineral-rich and slightly crunchy blend (the numerous hard seeds are only partially pulverized by the blender). Most years I freeze guavas and dark purple plums for later use.

I soak seeds overnight. This begins the sprouting process and changes the molecular structure and flavour of the seed and turns the dormant seed into the beginning of a growing plant, more easily digested than the raw seed or nut and potent with life force. I rinse the seeds several times (until the water runs clear) in the morning just before adding them to the blender. I use one or any combination of the following: almonds, sesame seeds, flax or linseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts or cashews.

For extra zing try adding ginseng (the great Asian rejuvenating root) or maca (a South American root with similar properties – go easy with this one) and for assistance to the heart add one seed pod of cardamom. The ancient Egyptians chewed cardamom seeds as a tooth cleaner; the Greeks and Romans used it as a perfume. Today it is a basis for medicinal preparations for indigestion and flatulence, to prevent and treat throat troubles, for congestion of the lungs and for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis.

Today, I sweeten my smoothies with dried stevia leaf (you can grow it yourself), but other potential sweeteners are soaked raisins, dates or dried figs, dried sugar cane juice or honey. Stevia is recommended for anyone with diabetes or diabetic tendencies as it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels like other sweeteners, no matter how organic of origin.

I only use avocado at breakfast when I feel the need for a more sustaining blend, especially when engaged in heavy physical work or exercise.

I eat the smoothie topped with sprouted lentils and with bee pollen. It was bee pollen that eventually cured my lifelong hay fever and I rarely go longer than a week or two without eating pollen today. I use lentil sprouts because I like their flavour and because they are the most bullet proof of all the seeds to sprout in our present environment. While living in New Mexico and in Arizona, alfalfa seeds were the sprouts of choice and they grew easily. Here, with our high humidity, alfalfa sprouts tend to rot. Mung beans do well but I can only eat so many of them. And wheat is great but the organic seeds I’m able to obtain sprout extremely erratically.

I tend to include a little barley or wheat grass powder but you can experiment with other fresh greens such as peppermint leaves.

I used to include fresh coconut flesh and milk in smoothies but all the coconuts available here are imported and I wonder if they are treated with a fungicide when ships arrive in New Zealand. They are often less than fresh in the shops.

I use liquorice root from time to time. It is a potent medicine and should thus be treated with care. It has been used extensively in Chinese herbal medicine for thousands of years, in approximately half of their formulas, enhancing the action of the herbs it works with. Ginger is a strong tasting root, to be used with moderation. Like liquorice, it is a digestive aid.

I believe it is safe to say that if you started your day as I’ve described above constipation would be a thing of the past. The ingredients I’ve given are only guidelines. You can freely experiment to find what works best for you. Make sure you truly enjoy your creations. Eating should be an act of great pleasure and gratitude. It is more healthful that way.

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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.com

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