Whether you juice ’em or blend ’em, green leafy vegetables (like the ones we’ve listed below, along with some of their benefits) contain more nutrients than any other food and should make up a good portion of the ingredients in your green juices and smoothies. If the taste is a bit too “grassy” for you at first, try adding celery, cucumber or fruit to sweeten the mix.
•Alfalfa: Excellent source of anti-oxidants; inhibits inflammation (beneficial for those with arthritis)
•Arugula: Contains cancer-fighting glucosinolates
•Basil: Rich in flavonoids, helping to prevent cell damage
•Broccoli: High in fibre; contains phytochemicals (linked to lower rates of cancer)
•Cilantro: Natural cleansing agent; helps to remove toxic agents from the body
•Collard Greens: Excellent source of vitamins B6 and C, carotenes, chlorophyll, manganese
•Kale: Contains seven times more beta-Carotene than broccoli
•Lettuce: Good source of chlorophyll, vitamins; low in calories
•Mint: Relieves symptoms of indegestion
•Mustard Greens: Loaded with nine vitamins, seven minerals, dietary fibre, protein
•Parsley: Contains volatile oils that inhibit tumor formation, removes heavy metals from the body
•Spinach: Protects against age-related memory loss, macular degeneration
•Swiss Chard: Thought to significantly reduce colon cancer; contains important vision nutrients
•Watercress: Contains cancer-fighting properties; helps normalize cholesterol and blood pressure; increases sexual energy and enhances fertility
•Wheatgrass: Contains approximately 30 enzymes; carries toxins from the cells
Drink Your Veggies
You may be thinking: why can’t I just eat these vegetables? Well, you can (and should)! But, according to one theory, by blending or juicing foods before you eat them you “predigest” them so your body can access and absorb their nutrients more easily. Plus, let’s face it; not everyone loves the taste of veggies. By adding a bit of fresh fruit to a mostly green drink you can balance out the taste and – hopefully – eat these nutrient-filled foods in greater quantities and more often!
Juice or Smoothies?
Making juices and blended smoothies are both great ways to incorporate more green into your diet; the difference lies mainly in your personal preferences. Because blending retains the integrity of the whole vegetable or fruit, you still get to enjoy all of the fibre it offers. Fibre helps to “sweep up” the toxins and strengthen our digestive system. The high volume of fibre found in most green smoothies can also help keep you full between meals – you may find yourself snacking less the more green smoothies you drink.
Juice, on the other hand, is loaded with enzymes, oxygen, minerals and vitamins that have been “freed” from the other food components (fibre included) and are therefore much easier for your body to absorb. Think of it this way: stripped of fibre, green juice hits your system in a stronger “cleansing” way. If you’re just starting to consume green drinks, however, juice may be too much of a shock to absorb daily. Until your body gets used to taking such a strong hit of nutrients in one go, you may want to stagger the two types of drinks.
Drink Green, Do Yoga
So, what do all these green drinks have to do with Bikram Yoga? Besides the obvious health and wellbeing connection, there are more subtle links. For example, Bikram’s series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises places special emphasis on giving you an “internal massage”; all the stretching and twisting we do in those 90 minutes (not to mention the heat!) is great for releasing toxins from the body. Green drinks work in much the same way, with ingredients like lettuce, cilantro and parsley working extra hard to flush toxic agents and heavy metals out of your system.
Julia’s Super Smoothie
Julia, whose busy days are packed with teaching/practising Bikram Yoga and being a mom, says this green smoothie helps keep her energy up (it’s also a great meal replacement).
- 3 bananas
- 1 L mango
- 8 L strawberries or 1 cup frozen blueberries
- 3 cups chopped kale
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1 tbsp maca powder
- 1 tbsp ground salba
- 1 scoop protein, hemp or whey
- 10 oz filtered water
Place all ingredients except leafy greens in a blender and pulse several times. Add greens and blend on high until smooth. Makes about 32 oz.
Katie’s Cleansing Green Drink
BYV teacher Katie, who runs a personal chef service and offers a multi-day juice cleanse (she makes the juice, you drink it), first started “drinking green” with Mary Jarvis at Global Yoga in San Francisco. This cleansing recipe is similar to one from the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida.
- 3 celery stalks
- 1 medium cucumber
- 1 handful spinach
- 1 apple, cored
Run ingredients through a juicer. If you want, omit the apple.
Glowing Green Smoothie
Forget the many health benefits – who knew a bright-green blended drink could be this delicious?!
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
- Small bunch spinach
- 3 celery stalks
- 1 apple, cored and chopped
- 1 pear, cored and chopped
- 1 banana
- 1/2 lemon, squeezed
- Optional: 1/2 bunch cilantro or 1/3 bunch parsley (stems OK for both)
Put water, chopped lettuce and spinach in blender; mix on low speed until smooth. Gradually move to higher speeds, adding celery, apple and pear. Add optional cilantro or parsley. Add banana and lemon juice last.
Four Leaf Clover Juice
We found this lucky little recipe online; it seemed appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day!
- 3 green pears
- 1 cup spinach or kale (packed)
- 2 celery stalks
- Juice from one lime
Run pears, spinach and celery through a juicer. Pour into glass and stir in lime juice.
Enter to Win!
Time to chase that pot of gold! Share your favourite green drink ingredient or recipe by leaving a comment below, and you could win a Yogitoes Skidless Towel (which may or may not be a groovy shade of green) …