We’re not big fans of juices and smoothies around here (even ones made from organic veggies and fruit).
What? No post-yoga juice fix? What’s wrong with us?
It’s not that we never do it (though I think the last time was like two years ago). And it’s not that we think it’s the worst thing in the world (indeed, it’s a way better choice than soda, gatorade or other artificially colored and flavored drinks).
But here’s the thing. Most juices and smoothies have crazy-high sugar and carb loads; roller-coaster effects on insulin, blood glucose and energy levels; and a tendency to promote weight gain.
Even if you reduce sugar and carbs by omitting the fruit and going all green (meaning, NO apple or coconut water either), they can still impede digestion through their effect on stomach pH. Misguided alkaline myths aside, our stomach needs to be acidic enough to properly digest food and prevent bloating, malabsorption and acid reflux.
This is no surprise from a Chinese Medicine perspective, which has long cautioned against eating too many raw, cold foods. From this angle, we see smoothies and juices as impairing digestion and metabolism, weakening the digestive organs, and promoting “damp” accumulation” in the body. This “damp” can take many forms, including excess weight gain.
This isn’t to say you should never, ever, ever have your beloved green drink. But think of it as a treat. And make it a once-or-twice-a-week indulgence.
When you do indulge, you can minimize the fall-out by following these tips:
- Stick to veggies and skip the fruit, apple juice and coconut water.
- Add ginger, cinnamon and/or cardamom to facilitate digestion and counter all the “cold-natured” stuff. You could add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime too.
- Add a spoonful of healthy fat, such as coconut oil, to facilitate absorption of nutrients (which aren’t very “bioavailable” when consumed in the form of a big, acid-diluting green drink).
- Avoid having juices and smoothies near meals (doing so will impair your ability to digest them…and likely result in bloating or sluggish energy levels).
Want a better, healthier option? Cook your greens to optimize their healing potential.
I love knowing we’ve gotten our “green fix” the for the day, especially during hotter summer months. But drinking a raw green drink, while tasty, nearly always leaves me with stomach cramps, bloating and low energy.
So I cook our greens, turning them into something much easier on the digestion and much more “bioavailable” when it comes to accessing and making use of valuable nutrients. Don’t worry—these “cooked green drinks” are still brilliantly colored and crazy-delicious.
How does this “cooking your green drink” work? It’s super-simple and super-fast (quite possibly faster than waiting in the Whole Foods juice line).
The recipe is basically the same as for my measurement-free soup—click here for a post containing specific instructions.
Our latest version, pictured below, featured shallots and ginger sauteed in coconut oil, plus chard, fennel, a quarter of a green apple, a cup of water, a splash of coconut aminos, thyme, coriander, cumin and love:
You can of course get creative…and add any greens (or other veggies) you want. We’d love it if you share how you’re cooking (and eating) your greens in the comments!
For more on the whole “juice-smoothie-coconut water” issue, see our Guide to Overcoming Sugar Addiction. It’s free with subscription to our newsletter (sign up here).
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