Growing up in Florida had tons of advantages. We had a seemingly endless summer. We had a beach. We lived in a cute little house in a neighborhood packed with kids. We had fun, creative parents. It was a good life. The one thing that was lacking, though, were visits with our extended family. Our cousins, aunts and uncles all lived a 24-hour drive north which meant that visits were few and far between.
It was not until I moved to Kentucky that we were finally close enough to visit my extended family on a regular basis. I am constantly surprised to see the similarities between myself and these folks with whom I share genes. Not only do we favor one another, we also have a lot of common ground: particularly, my beautiful, earth-loving cousin F. As a little girl I admired F. She was pretty, care-free, hip and everything I hoped to one day become.
I remember riding with her to a thrift store, wind whipping through the windows as her car flew over the hilly northern countryside while we listened to tapes of REM. I remember writing her letters on cat stationary and receiving letters back that were written with elaborate curly lettering in bright magic marker. I also remember annoying her with my constant desire to “be friends.”
Many years later we have reunited and found that we actually have a lot in common including one huge obsession with nutrition and health. During our visit last year F. sang the praises of green smoothies. I went home excited about adding this new power food to my diet. I plopped my blender on the counter one afternoon and began to stuff it with tangerines.
“Whatcha making?” Bird asked.
“A green smoothie,” I responded as I shoved and entire head of Romaine lettuce into the blender. “I’m making enough for us both!”
“That is disgusting,” he said.
I argued that it would be delicious and full of nutrients and then flipped the switch and watched as the oranges and lettuce were brutally whipped into one oozy green liquid like what I would expect to come from Slimer during a sneeze. Bird winced. I removed the lid, sniffed and then tried to hide my horror. It smelled disgusting. Determined, I poured two big glasses and handed one over to Bird. One sip and we knew this was a kitchen fail. It was disgusting.
I tried making a few other green smoothies and had similar results each time – they all tasted like dirt or grass. How delicious greens could yield something that tasted so much like what I believe licking a lawn mower would taste was beyond me. It seemed this health craze was not for me so I put the lettuce back where it belonged – in the salad bowl.
Last weekend Bird and I again headed north to the family farm for a reunion. On a quest for lunch variety, I asked that F. give me some pointers on green smoothie making. In particular, what can I do to make them not taste like dirt. Always eager to share her health knowledge, F. enthusiastically agreed and on Saturday we gathered around her kitchen to meet what goes down as the most amazing kitchen gadget known to man – the Vitamix.
While the men-folk cooked up some caribou and onions, the women folk started pulling out all sorts of things to blend. F prepared three blended treats for me: one delicious fruit “sorbet” and two green smoothies. She went easy on my palate with the smoothies and explained you have to work up to all greens. A little fruit here and there is good to help cut the bitterness (or lawn-mower mouth). Both of the smoothies were actually quite palatable and after three years of eating humus sandwiches for lunch my taste buds rejoiced. “Change is GOOD! Have these for lunch!” my mouth cheered.
This morning I started what is going to be a two-week green smoothie challenge during which I will make a different smoothie each day. I considered buying a recipe book with green smoothies but decided to save the $$ and instead rely on my own creativity and the Internet. I think I’ll share some of my creations here, as surely you are all just DYING to know what that green thing is that is stuck in my teeth *wink* I will also rate the smoothies on a 1-to-5 scale, with 1 being so bad I can’t choke it down, and 5 being so good I wished I had more.
Smoothie No. 1:
1 handful organic baby spinach
4 large swiss chard leaves
1 sliver ginger
1 stalk celery
5 cubes frozen pineapple
VERDICT: I made this in the a.m. and then stored it in the office fridge until 4 p.m. today. The first right-out-of-the-fridge sip was NOT GOOD! All I tasted was celery and none of the ginger or pineapple. The smoothie then sat unloved on my desk for 20 minutes while I answered some e-mails. When I returned to it I noticed it had liquified a bit more and warmed slightly. I gave it a quick stir and then tasted again and much to my surprise it tasted better. It seems that by letting it warm slightly the ginger and pineapple flavors had a chance to really come out. I still think I would have left the celery out of this one.
This smoothie was not bad. Given time to warm slightly, I think I could drink it on a regular basis, although definitely not every day.