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Green smoothie that can boost your mental clarity

Supergranny has just flown home and it's time to clean up! Don't get me wrong, the house has been pristine — literally sparkling — with her in it. If I hadn't seen our family tree, I would suspect she was related to Mary Poppins. Whereas I have a tendency to “panic shop”, my Mum is queen of the lists. And I approve of the habit, if not necessarily the contents. One of my favourites began “Gin, Lemons …” She'd only been in the house a few hours, but having already read a shelf full of stories, I admit that the lack of evening cocktail must have been a downer!

Still, once we'd rectified the situation, I thought I would balance out the booze with some super healthy smoothies. While I am a big fan of experimenting with whatever you can find in the fridge, as I promised you last week, I've given you a sure-thing recipe that we have tried and tested too. I'll admit that Mum's initial response was “Well it's not quite a Gin & Tonic!” but she did come back for round two. Even better, the kids have been asking for this again and again — despite knowing exactly what's in it. As with all smoothies, I just give them an extra small one, to go easy on their little systems.

So why is this recipe so good? See the box for the run down on the health benefits of green smoothies in general. But this one in particular contains a big dose of Kale. Kale is the superstar of the plant kingdom right now, given its unusually high calcium content and tremendous antioxidant and detoxification properties. Cucumber is helpful for detoxification too, with emerging research starting to suggest that it also has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. Watch this space! Then we have green apple for a crisp clear taste and banana for the B vitamins and natural sugars. You could use any milk but I mix this up with vanilla almond milk — the vanilla just gives it an extra bit of sweetness which is handy as Kale can be overbearing in terms of flavour. In my view, using any milk is preferable to juice as it keeps the overall sugar content down.

So, give this one a try and let me know what you think. If you are normally a soda and juice person, this might be a bit of a shock to your taste buds. You can always add more banana and reduce the kale to ease yourself in gently. Enjoy.

Five benefits of drinking your greens!

1. Energy and mental clarityMaking a smoothie that includes leafy greens dilutes your sugar intake dramatically. Don't worry — you can still sweeten it with a little fruit. This recipe has half the fruit of a regular smoothie but contains some additional protein too from the plant-based milk. The fruit will give you a burst of energy, but the protein will help to slow down the sugar release into your bloodstream — meaning you get a more sustained energy release and prevent those dips in focus and concentration.

2. High fibreLeafy green veggies are extra rich in fibre. A good fibre intake helps to lower bad cholesterol levels and decreases the risk of bowel cancers. Along with the protein, the fibre also helps to steady the sugar released from the fruit.

3. Alkalising propertiesA diet high in processed food, refined sugar and meat/dairy can contribute to acidity. Research suggests that the body helps to neutralise acidity by leaching calcium from bones — resulting in a depletion of bone density. Fruit and vegetables tend to be alkalising — but none more so than, you've guessed it, the leafy greens.

4. AntioxidantsLeafy greens are jam-packed with antioxidants that help to protect your body from disease (e.g. Alzheimer's, heart disease and cancer) and prevent signs of premature ageing. If the health-factor doesn't get you — perhaps the anti-ageing factor will!

5. Chlorophyll

This is the green pigment that allows plants to absorb light from the sun and convert it into usable energy. More research indicates that it is powerfully cancer protective. Unfortunately chlorophyll is diminished in the cooking process, so including raw leafy greens (such as spinach, kale or lettuce) in a smoothie is a fantastic way of maximising your intake!

Green Apple and Kale Detox Smoothie

Ingredients (serves two adults):2 large or 3 small kale leaves, central stalk removed and rinsed

1 granny smith apple, peeled/cored and sliced

1 ripe banana, broken into chunks and frozen (prepare several in advance)

3 inches of cucumber, washed well or if not organic, lightly peeled

1 ½ cups vanilla almond milk (vanilla hemp also works well)

Directions:Place all ingredients in a blender and process on the most powerful setting. Pulse a few times at the end. The more you blend the more smooth and green it will go. If you have a vitamix blender — now is the time to use it (you may not even need to peel the apple.)

Please note that green juices or smoothies are not suitable for those on a vitamin K restricted diet.

The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns BA Hons, Dip ION is the Managing Director of Natural Ltd and a fully qualified Nutritional Therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a Registered Dietitian. For details, please go to www.natural.bm or call 236-7511. Join Catherine on Facebook: www.facebook.com/nutrifitandnaturalnutritionbermuda

Energiser drink: Apple and kale smoothie

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Published April 26, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 25, 2013 at 1:22 pm)

Green smoothie that can boost your mental clarity

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