I love to make smoothies, but I don’t randomly throw things into the blender. I learned the hard way that it usually won’t deliver the texture and nutrition I’m after, so I do plan ahead. Most of the time I come up with a decent smoothie, but occasionally I come up with a masterpiece. This one is one of those.
I start out first with an array of colors in mind, partly because I’m a real sucker for anything with vivid colors. But the main reason is because all those pretty colors represent different families of phytonutrients and antioxidants. These goodies in plant foods help to prevent or correct diseases, and I want as many of them as I can get. I have zero problem with fruits. Give me apples, peaches, pears, berries, and bananas and I’d eat them all day long. But I’m as unlikely as most people to eat some of — well, okay, a lot of — the available vegetables, especially things like beets and kale. Not to offend the beet- and kale-lovers of America, but those things taste like dirt. Even so, I want them in my diet because they are so health-promoting. And since I am a long-distance runner, I’m always interested in what I can consume to help my body work best, and recover well after a long run.
My only pre-smoothie experience with beets was in kindergarten, which I vaguely remember, but I do remember the “beet incident” rather well. In those days, children were usually forced encouraged to eat all their vegetables, with good intentions I’m sure. One day, our lunch included stewed beets. I tried to eat that nastiness, I really tried. But the way they laid there on the plate and practically bled was a total turn-off, and besides, I was no more fond of gagging back then than I am now. Anyway, my plan was to secretly deposit said stewed beets on the floor under the table. Seemed like a dandy idea at the time, but the woman in charge of lunchtime crimes was sharper than I had anticipated, and my reward was a double-giant spoonful of the dreaded beets. I lived, but so did the memory. Anyway, back to the present…
Dr. Greger has done us all a favor and dug up the research about beets and beet juice and their effects on athletic performance. Apparently, beet juice improves the performance of runners, but whole beets works even better. It turns out that it’s the nitrates in plant foods (beets and dark greens have tons) that helps the blood vessels dilate so more blood, and therefore more oxygen, can get to those working muscles. This also helps people with lung diseases breathe better, those with high blood pressure, and those with other conditions that depend on good blood flow. So if it helps them, then it should help me and everyone else too.
Nearly all the smoothies I make include berries because they’re good for gaining tons of antioxidants, and greens because they give us chlorophyll. The chlorophyll is what gives them that green color, and it’s really good for things like preventing cancer and also helping antioxidants work for us. Good enough for me!
Okay, enough blabber, where’s that recipe? Right here!
Some people suggest greens on top, while others suggest blending the greens in the liquids first before adding the other ingredients, and though I always put my greens on top, I’m not sure it really matters. At any rate I always end with the ice, so add it all however you like and blend until smooth. The pumpkin in this really makes it creamy, and I love it!
As you can see from these stats, this is a meal-worthy smoothie. If you aren’t that hungry, you can share it or store half in a lidded glass jar in the fridge. I wouldn’t save it for long, though. After all, it is real food and real food goes bad after a few days!