Green-ish smoothies & powerhouse turmeric
I’ve been doing a lot of blending lately. It’s the time of year to take healthy things and make them palatable enough that maybe, just maybe, you’ll keep eating them past January 31st. And if the breakfast smoothie weren’t the best idea ever invented in that category, then I don’t know what is (wait, are we considering bacon a health food?).
My usual recipe for a morning smoothie is A) make and drink coffee while assembling and B) rummage through the fridge and freezer, throwing things at random into the Vitamix. My smoothies almost always include flax or chia seeds, kale and a liquid like coconut milk. Then fruit and celery and sometimes avocado are thrown in as available. If it tastes bad or too green, the solution is usually adding a dash of juice — lemon or cranberry — to brighten it up.
But this winter, a couple of roots have taken over my smoothies. Namely, the anti-inflammatory powerhouse turmeric and the gut-aiding, immune-boosting generally delicious rhizome ginger. I bought a wad of both roots at a recent farming conference, where I saw fresh turmeric for the first time.
My mom first told me about turmeric after reading a book about healing spices. It’s difficult to describe the taste the dry spice version lends to dishes, especially because it’s usually mixed into a curry and masked by the other flavors. That’s also because you don’t add this spice to flavor a dish (although it is in ballpark mustard to make that bright yellow color). Turmeric has a bitter pepperiness to it that’s easily overcome by curry or garlic flavors when cooked or, when eaten raw, by the other fruit and citrus additions.
But it is awesome. A few months ago I went for a long run with my dog basically out of the blue. I came back with an uncharacteristically sore hip that evening and into the next morning, bad enough that I put an icepack into pantyhose so I could walk around the house. I read online that it might be inflammation of the fluid in my hip socket and thought of turmeric. I made a quick smoothie of banana, peanut butter and a heaping teaspoon of turmeric and drank it down. Within hours the pain was gone!
After that, I’ve been adding turmeric to smoothies just to nip inflammation in the bud. When I stumbled across the dried spice at a market in Turkey, I hauled home bags of it (which I add to soups, chills and almost anything with strong flavors). When I found the fresh version (which you may be able to snatch at a local farmers market or, lo and behold, on Amazon), I found it even better for smoothies.
For easy assembly in the morning and to keep the roots fresh, I sliced the ginger and turmeric into chunks and put them in the freezer. That way I just throw in a couple slices — the less cutting before my coffee has set in, the better.
After much experimentation, I found the following recipe to be pretty darn good. The ginger and lemon bring freshness and the mixed berries and bananas add sweetness and their own set of nutrients. I know some
folks prefer truly green smoothies, with little more than kale, celery, lettuce and lemon. (Warning: I had a friend who drank the same one every day and got kidney stones from too much Vitamin C.) Variety is good.
This version does have some sugar from the fruit, which is why I drink it first thing in the morning before my workout. But it also has that variety of colors that means a variety of nutrients — and, at times, an odd brown color when blended. If you want it more purple, add a few extra blueberries. If you want less sweet, leave out the banana (although bananas add a certain creamy thickness to the mix and mask the turmeric). To prepare, cut and store enough bananas, ginger, turmeric and berries in freezer to use for several smoothies.
Green-ish but so good smoothie
- Half a bosc or other pear seeds removed
- Half a frozen banana (frozen with peel removed)
- 1 teaspoon of flaxseed
- 1 teaspoon of Chia seed
- Half cup of mixed berries frozen
- Juice of half a lemon
- Small slice of ginger
- Small slice of turmeric (or 1/2 teaspoon of dried spice)
- 1 1/2 cups of fresh kale cut into chunks (Trader Joe’s sells them pre-cut)
- 1/2 cup of coconut milk unsweetened
Cheers to health in the New Year!