Four Green CoolerAugust 4, 2016 Written by JP [Font too small?]
There’s no doubt it: green vegetables are at the peak of their popularity. They are the rock stars of the produce section! These days, nutritionists are quick to recommend them as a healthy part of just about any dietary plan, whether gluten-free, low carb or macrobiotic. Finding greens while eating out is no problem either. Most restaurants from fast food chains to gourmet eateries now feature chard, dandelion leaves, kale or spinach as side dishes and, sometimes, even as primary components of a main course. And, of course, you’ve surely seen countless juices in your local markets or natural food stores that proudly proclaim their “greenness”. There is a lot of good to be found in this trend. However, the benefits can be even greater if you make more greens at home.
I absolutely adore savory greens. I regularly snack on kale “chips” or eat them as a meal-on-the-go. In restaurants, I typically order or substitute roasted broccoli or sauteed kale and spinach for starchier sides such as potatoes or rice. At home, guacamole or sliced avocado frequently makes it on our breakfast, lunch and dinner plates. However, in recent years, I’ve also discovered ways of adding greens to sweet recipes. Here’s one of my favorites.
I’ve carefully selected four greens for today’s recipe. The base is intended as a hearty snack or treat. But, if you’d prefer to make it more of a meal replacement, I suggest simply adding your favorite protein source. It’ll still taste great and it will make the end product more filling and nutritionally balanced.
Green #1: Mint leaves are an abundant source of antioxidant phytochemicals, including carotenoids, flavones and phenolic acids. This likely explains why a study published in May 2015 reported that the essential oil in mint leaves may help protect against cardiovascular damage and throat infections.
Green #2: As a citrus fruit, limes are known to be a natural source of vitamin C. While true, that’s just part of the Citrus aurantifolia story. In particular, lime peels are showing potential (in animal models) with regard to heart disease prevention by protecting against LDL cholesterol oxidation. By minimizing this process, lime juice and peels may discourage the progression of atherosclerosis or plaque build up in the arteries.
Green #3: Current research on spinach is revealing numerous health benefits above-and-beyond those attributable to its nutrient-density. Two standout studies from 2016 document spinach’s potential to reduce hypertension and, possibly, act as an all-natural antacid. As if that isn’t enough, in a previous blog, I singled out spinach as a safe strategy for suppressing appetite.
Green #4: Avocados not only lend a creamy consistency to this recipe, they also assist with the absorption of fat soluble nutrients and phytochemicals found in green leafy veggies – namely beta carotene (aka “pro-vitamin A), lutein, vitamin K and zeaxanthin. What’s more, the overall composition of avocados, rich in essential fats, fiber and minerals, is now recognized as one of the healthiest foods for populations ranging from pregnant women to those at risk for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.
Healthy Fellow: Four Green Cooler
2 organic limes
1 medium avocado
16 oz cold, purified water
10-15 organic mint leaves *
2 cups organic baby spinach
1 Tbs organic, raw, unfiltered honey
Nutritional Content: Calories: 255. Protein: 4 grams. Fat: 15 grams. Carbohydrates: 17 grams. Fiber: 9 grams. Two servings per batch.
* I used 10 large mint leaves, but feel free to adjust to your taste.
Clean the limes with a natural fruit and vegetable spray and rinse them thoroughly. Even organic produce is often coated with wax. Place the peeled and pitted avocado, washed mint and spinach leaves in a high-powered blender. Zest the de-waxed limes and add the zest in with the other greens. Next, add the juice of the limes, the chilled water, and drizzle in the honey. Personally, I think this recipe is best enjoyed very cold. So, I put the water in the freezer for a few hours before blending. Blend until reaching a smooth consistency. Before serving, sample it to see if you’re happy with the level of sweetness and texture. Adjust the amount of honey and water accordingly. And, if you’re serving it to guests, you might want to garnish it with a mint leaf or two on top.
A quick disclaimer about honey. Generally, I don’t endorse the use of calorically-dense sweeteners. However, honey is an unusual additive/food. In fact, some research shows that it behaves in a far different manner than other sugar sources. For instance, dietary honey may actually lower cardiovascular and diabetic risk factors when used in small amounts – less than 30 grams/day. Additionally, diets that include honey may confer protective effects in the gut by minimizing the presence of pathogenic bacteria, including H. pylori. For those who wish to avoid the honey, liquid stevia is a viable alternative. The brand I most often use is the alcohol-free, liquid stevia extract by NuNaturals.
As far as adding protein to the recipe, I suggest two candidates: collagen peptides and organic hemp seeds. Collagen powder has a neutral flavor that provides a unique source of amino acids that support connective tissue and lean body mass. Hemp seeds contribute a rare, therapeutic fatty acid (GLA), minerals (magnesium and potassium) and a vegan-source of “complete” protein. Both can be very healthy for you, provided that you choose carefully. In our household, we only use collagen peptides derived from grass fed cattle that is tested for impurities. In my opinion, organic hemp seeds are best. However, even organic hemp seeds may provoke allergic reactions in sensitive individuals – especially those of you who are allergic to other nuts and seeds. So, if they’re a new ingredient for you, it may be best to start slowly to assess your personal response.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:
Study 1 - Peppermint Antioxidants Revisited … (link)
Study 2 - Assessment of Wild Mint from Tunceli as Source of Bioactive Compounds … (link)
Study 3 - Effect of Essential Oil of Traditional Two Saudi Mint Types & Its Possible … (link)
Study 4 – Phytochemical, Antimicrobial, & Antioxidant Activities of Different … (link)
Study 5 - Impacts of Fresh Lime Juice and Peel on Atherosclerosis Progression … (link)
Study 6 - Antioxidant Effects of Citrus Aurantifolia (Christm) Juice Peel Extract … (link)
Study 7 - A Comparative Study of the Antacid Effect of Raw Spinach Juice and … (link)
Study 8 - Functional Properties of Spinach (Spinacia Oleracea L.) Phytochemicals … (link)
Study 9 - Nitrate-Rich Vegetables Increase Plasma Nitrate & Nitrite … (link)
Study 10 - The Role of Avocados in Complementary and Transitional Feeding … (link)
Study 11 -Role of Avocados in Maternal Diets During the Periconceptiona … (link)
Study 12 - Impact of Avocado-Enriched Diets on Plasma Lipoproteins: A Meta … (link)
Study 13 - Honey & Green/Black Tea Consumption May Reduce the Risk of … (link)
Study 14 - Comparison of Glycaemic Response to Honey & Glucose in Type 2 … (link)
Study 15 - Natural Honey Cardiovascular Risk Factors; Effects on Blood … (link)
Study 16 - Characterization of Lignanamides from Hemp (Cannabis Sativa L.) … (link)
Study 17 - Fatty Acids Composition of Vegetable Oils & Its Contribution to … (link)
Study 18 - Nutritive Quality of Romanian Hemp Varieties (Cannabis Sativa L.) … (link)
Study 19 - Skin Antiageing and Systemic Redox Effects of Supplementation … (link)
Study 20 - Absorption and Urinary Excretion of Peptides After Collagen ... (link)
Study 21 - Collagen Peptide Supplementation in Combination w/ Resistance … (link)
Avocado Oil May Improve Brain Antioxidant Status
Source: J Diabetes Res. 2015; 2015: 485759. (link)
Tags: Avocados, Mint, Spinach
Posted in Food and Drink, Nutrition, Recipes