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JUICING FOR HEALTH



 

November 28, 2010 on 12:48 am
Fragaria × ananassa 'Chandler,' a short-day co...
Image via Wikipedia

Parents have a difficult job. Fear is everywhere, and if we responded to all the adverts around us, making us afraid of the air we breathe and the water we drink, we’d live a sad, drab life. Most of us struggle to find the right food for our children. They need liquid, they need vitamins, they need fiber and they need protein.

Sadly many of the popular drinks contain only carbohydrates, and rather too much of that, they are also expensive. I found that my kids would drink cans, but they had learned so much about pollution at school that when I suggested water as a substitute they thought I was mad.

The problem with cola/soda is that it’s sweet and kids get used to that. It can also contain caffeine which has more effect on small bodies than it does on adults. In fact when you get right down to it, you wonder why we let them drink it all. There are many alternatives. Sparkling water is one, smoothies are another.

Most of us think of smoothies as creamy drinks, and this is great initially when you are persuading your kids to try them out. Imagine if you could persuade your children to drink something which supplied them with the water they needed AND lots of minerals and vitamins, without the caffeine and excessive sweetness? Guess what? That ideal drink’s a smoothie, so you’ll need a blender. I like the Blendtec Blender HP3A.

Take a look at any smoothie recipe and one thing that will jump right out at you is the sugar content. Although smoothies are made with real fruit, modern tastes seem to prefer food which is far sweeter.

The good things about this is that the sweet tooth is learned, so it can be unlearned. Ask anyone from outside the USA and they’ll tell you that everything here tastes sweet to them, often too sweet, in comparison to the food in other countries.

Here are three smoothie recipes to help with the process.

1. The original ice cream drink. It’s important to use strawberries and bananas here because they are nice familiar fruits – don’t try to introduce anything weird or wonderful. If you can’t get strawberries because of the time of year, frozen ones taste great.

Strawberry and Banana Ice Cream Drink

1 large banana

2 scoops of vanilla ice cream

3-4 fresh strawberries

Blend them all to make a refreshing drink that’s great for the summer.

2. Staying with nice, familiar strawberries, blend them with fruit juice and start to introduce some other fruit.

Pineapple and Strawberry Smoothie

8 large strawberries

1/2 banana

3 pineapple slices

1 cup of apple juice (no added sweetener)

If this isn’t sweet enough, try adding just a little honey.

Blend it all together until smooth and then add 1 cup of crushed ice as the final touch.

3. This last recipe introduces melon. I love the taste of melon, especially water melon, but I’ve never been able to persuade my kids to eat it. This recipe had the opposite effect. They liked the drink and so were curious about the fruit. The happy result is a house full of melon eaters.

Strawberry Fair

2 cups fresh strawberries hulled and chopped

1 cup apple juice

1/2 melon peeled and chopped into chunks.

As always, add honey if required.

I like to add ice cubes once the fruit is all smushed (technical term) together, the kids seem to enjoy the destruction involved!

Weaning your kids off cola is no easy job, but it’s very worthwhile, especially if you can do it by introducing smoothies. You might just succeed in teaching them that not everything that’s good for you tastes bad.

November 15, 2010 on 12:06 am
Lemon Berry Smoothie Remix
Image by terriseesthings via Flickr

Children seem remarkably resilient and can survive on an amazingly junk food diet, but processed food contains less vitamins and minerals and these are necessary not just for health and growth, but as a foundation for health in later life.

The easiest way to access vitamins and minerals directly is through fruit and vegetables, but children often reject these, finding green vegetables unpalatable, and preferring sweetened desserts to raw fruit. It’s amazing how kids can be convinced that foods will only taste good if covered in breadcrumbs, wrapped in a bun, smothered with sugar or at the very least sealed in a packet.

Children need to consume the right foods and perhaps more importantly, get into the right habits, so as parents how can we persuade them?

Good nutrition is a complex issue, not least because there is so much variation between one person and another. Tests have shown that two apparently identical individuals living similar lifestyles can have very different amounts of vitamins and minerals in their blood.

We all know that vitamins are essential, but did you know that minerals, in tiny quantities are also vital to the operation of our bodies, and that no matter how many drugs we consume, without minerals we cannot function properly?

The minerals we need in large quantities are:

calcium
chlorine
magnesium
phosphorous
potassium
sodium and
sulfur

But there are even more which are vital to the body in extremely tiny amounts. They act as catalysts in many of the chemical reactions in our bodies, and without them we would die very quickly.

Zinc is an example. Nutritionists believe we need around 8-11 mg per day to stay healthy, a tiny amount by any standards, but vital as zinc is essential in the operation of over 100 enzymes. Zinc is used by the metabolism, and the immune system. It is also important for proper growth, and a serious deficiency can result in growth problems.

Most fruits and vegetables contain some zinc, but some, avocado, blackberries, dates,raspberries and pomegranates contain more, so if your children refuse to eat zinc rich green vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, french beans or corn, you can always give them their minerals in fruit form, and if that is still not acceptable, create a fruit smoothie using a Vita Mix blender. A cup of Brussels sprouts has roughly the same amount of zinc in it as a cup of raspberries, but for kids, the raspberry smoothie is likely to be a lot more palatable.

Here’s a recipe.

Take one cup of Greek yogurt
1/2 cup of milk
1 cup of raspberries

Blend them all together with your Vita Mix Blender and taste. If it’s too tart, add just enough honey. If you’re just starting with smoothies make them with ice cream in place of the yogurt and milk and present it to your children as a treat. If you have to over sweeten to begin with, don’t worry. You can reduce the sweetening slowly over time.

Who should have healthy smoothies? The simple answer is everyone. Using zinc again as an example, recent surveys have shown that 35-45% of adults over 60 have diets which are deficient in zinc, resulting in loss of taste and smell as well as lethargy and loss of appetite.

Whatever your age, vitamins and minerals are essential to your health, so get out your blender or juicer and start experimenting. It may be healthy, but it’s also fun.

September 22, 2010 on 5:43 pm

While blenders are relatively commonplace, juicers are relatively new kitchen appliances. Both provide healthy drinks and as a result are sometimes confused, but they are not the same. To understand the differences, read on…

Do you like to blend? My Blendtec blender is in constant use, whether it’s whipping cream, mixing pancakes, or making sauces and dressings. I use it every day and am constantly grateful for the fact that I have two blender cups, other wise I would be lost! My favorite use of the blender is as a smoothie maker; I can throw in any fruit we have, add some fruit juice or yogurt, and know the result will be something that’s good for me as well as tasting delicious.

But blenders aren’t the last word when it comes to healthy drinks from fruit and vegetables. That position belongs to a completely different kitchen appliance, the juicer. Despite the fact that they are very different, many people seem to get these helpful kitchen gadgets confused, so when should you use one and when the other?

The big difference is in the mechanism. A blender depends on spinning blades to reduce the fruit to pulp and release some juice in the process. The basic laws of physics apply, what goes in, comes out, just in a different form. Nothing is separated, the fruit is just turned into pulp.

If you put fruit into your blender with it’s skin on and seeds still inside, the result will still contain that skin and seeds, just chopped up very small. Many people mention that this is one thing they don’t like about smoothies, that the fiber of the fruit is retained in the drink, something which is especially obvious with berries. These are very often used as the basis for smoothies, yet many children don’t like the texture of the result.

There are many types of juicers like the Omega Juicers and many different mechanisms, but all work to separate the juice from the fiber leaving no pith, peel seeds or skin. The result is a smooth juice and contains no lumps.

Nutritionists believe that as the juice is separated from the fiber, the nutrients in the juice are easier to absorb and more readily available to the body, so while smoothies may set you on a healthy path, use a juicer, and you’ve arrived.

Sadly for the household budget, the ideal kitchen would contain both of these devices. The juicer to provide pure juice with no contaminants, preservatives, colorings or extra sweeteners, the blender to create a delicious mixture of fruit juices or juice and other items, such as ice cream, yogurt or milk.

While a juicer can’t get juice out of a banana (they have none) it can extract juice from some apparently unlikely sources including carrots, spinach, cucumber, apples and celery as well as wheat grass, but what happens to the pulp that’s left over? There’s no need for that to go to waste.

Plan a glass of carrot (or carrot and zucchini) juice for breakfast, and as well as the juice you’ll have pulp which can added to bread mix to make muffins, or vegetable soup later in the day. Almost every type of fruit pulp makes a really tasty addition to cookies or muffins.

Juicers and blenders each have a job to do. To maximize your options for healthy living, try to find a place for both items in your kitchen.

March 4, 2010 on 3:44 pm

Recipe: Strawberry, Banana, And Hemp Nut

Summary: This is so good it can be addicting.

Ingredients

    • 1 cup filter water
    • 1/4 cup hemp nut(seeds) found at health food store
    • 1/2 frozen banana
    • 1 cup frozen strawberries or other berries
    • 1 1/2 T agave syrup
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Add water and hemp nut to blender. Mix well.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.Enjoy.

Variations

May use blueberries, raspberries

Cooking time (duration): 10 minutes

Diet type: Vegan

Diet (other): Low calorie, Reduced fat, High protein, Gluten free, Raw

Number of servings (yield): 1

Meal type: breakfast

My rating: 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

February 18, 2010 on 10:57 pm
Banana smoothie

Image by coderkind via Flickr

Recipe: Creamy Banana Healthy Smoothie


Summary
: A wonderful smoothie I have been drinking for last couple of days

Ingredients

  • 1 large frozen banana
  • 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/c fresh apple juice or 1 T agave syrup
  • 2 T ground flax seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Add all ingredients in blender and blend for 1-2 minutes.

Variations

May use 3/4 cup frozen berries.

Cooking time (duration): 3 minutes

Diet type: Vegetarian

Number of servings (yield): 1

Meal type: breakfast

My rating: 4 stars:  ★★★★☆ 1 review(s)

Fruit & Vegetable Juicers