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Green Monster Spinach Smoothies (part II)

In part I, we talked about whether or not you can put spinach in a blended smoothie.  Not only "can" you, but you should.

Dumping as many handfuls of spinach as will fit into a blender is a great way to increase your daily dose of leafy greens.  Everyone has their own special tastes for what works with a blended smoothie, or "Green Monster" - here is one of my recipies:

  • Spinach (2 handfuls)
  • Protein (1 scoop)
  • Oatmeal (1/2 cup measured dry)
  • NAKED juice (1 cup)
  • Blueberries
  • baby carrots
  • Ice

 Above is one of my regular go-to recipes before I have to hit the gym for a class plus longer workout or run.  Sometimes I'll add blackberries, a banana, flax seeds, or almond butter depending on what's available in the kitchen. There are also numerous other resources online for great "Green Monster" recipies.

Here's a recipe from another of the fitness/yoga instructors in Charlotte who you may see referenced again once in a while.  Her site is a firehose of information for you ladies who love yoga, running, and most of all healthy eating.

This woman has a cookies & cream version of a spinach smoothie.


Green Monster Movement is a pretty interesting project that you should check out for yourself when you get a minute.

Overall, the key takeaway is that if you haven't been adding spinach (or other leafy greens like kale) to your blended smoothies, you are really missing out on a great way to boost your daily intake of valuable vegetables and nutrients.

Get on it. 




The Raw Foods Experiment

Former UFC Heavyweight Champ Brock Lesnar went from unstoppable force after his title unification win over Frank Mir last summer, to laid up in a hospital bed in early 2010.

What finally knocked Brock down to the canvas?  His diet. 

Lesnar developed a bacterial infection that turned into diverticulitis, which eventually ate a hole in his colon, spilling fecal matter into his abdomen (wow.)  The situation compromised his immune system to the degree that he contracted mono, and his loved ones feared the worst.

In the May 2010 issue of Muscle & Body magazine, Brock is fairly open with what led to his illness.

"I have changed the way I eat.  I've really cleaned my diet up.  I've added a lot more fiber to my diet, and also grouping my foods together has really helped.  It's made it easier for my digestive system to do its job and to get the most nutrients out of each and every meal.  This is a sickness that we've done to ourselves.  This is because of our western diets.  Our processed foods, I believe are a huge factor in what's creating a lot of cancer.  This thing has opened my eyes to a whole bunch of things."

Lesnar is fairly open that he probably "ate a whole cow in a year", and nutritionist PR Cole shared the estimation that Brock's meat-heavy diet probably led to his condition.

While I hesitate to use the term "cure", a Raw Food Diet goes a long way in helping the body's fiber requirements, as well as extracting even more of the best enzymes that are lost in fruits and vegetables once they are heavily cooked.

A few key notes from www.thebestofrawfood.com:

  • Cooking food above 115 degrees F kills the enzymes. Enzymes help you digest your food. Your body can create enzymes but that process takes a lot of energy. This makes you tired - remember how you feel after a heavy cooked meal? Further, the enzymes your body makes are not as good as the ones that were destroyed in the food. The food will not be broken down as well and thus harder to digest. 

  • It also changes the pH of the food and makes food acidic. We like to eat alkaline foods. Eating acidifying food makes your body acidic and thus a welcome feeding ground for disease.

    Without trying to download everything here, there is a litany of information on how to implement more raw foods into your everyday habits.  While I hate the term "diet", this eating philosophy has caught on amongst numerous celebrities, not only because of the health benefits, but cosmetic benefits as well.

    I highlighted the "Raw Model" Anthony Anderson previously, but the most notable celebrities who promote this sort of nutrition philosophy seem to be Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore

    There's probably a lot of crossover between raw foods and veganism, here's an article interview with Harrelson's former trainer Jon Hinds conducted an informative interview here.  I also stumbled onto a pretty interesting site - No Meat Athlete.

    Well, if you've read this far I can only assume you hve clicked on a few of the informative links and done your own research by now.  With regards to the question "how do I get started?" it is actually simple (and shouldn't clean eating be simple?)

    Eat lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  Eat foods as close to their natural states as you can (wash them when necessary of course).  And obviously by now you should have noticed a theme on this site with regards to utilizing the blender to combine your raw healthy foods into a smoothie.

    As for me, I will likely be combining my two "experiments" into one.  The early parts of the day will be largely raw foods (grapefruit, almonds, sunflower seeds, salad, whey protein) until dinner time.  Dinner will then be vegetarian (beans, brown rice, egg whites, oatmeal) though in the interest of full disclosure, there will probably be a few peices of fish eaten during the week.

    My hope is to stick to this, at least for a month into July and see how it goes.  Hopefully both the health results and performance results will be positive. 



    Can you really put spinach in a smoothie?

    Yes, you can.  And no, it doesn't ruin the taste. 


    I wouldn't have believed it myself if I hadn't listened to Craig Ballantyne (and watched his video).

    I didn't have as much trouble with my blender as Craig did, but his advice is spot-on.  Adding leafy greens like spinach or kale to your smoothies or blended drinks is a great way to get high volumes of plant nutrients into your daily diet without having to sit down behind a punch bowl-sized salad three times each day. 

    This is sure to be only the first in many discussions about "green smoothies", if you are anything like me (or most people) it will probably take a few times for you to get used to the idea of combining spinach in a blender with the rest of your smoothie.

    Here's another video of Atlanta Falcons' tight end Tony Gonzalez using spinach (and a bunch of other veggies) in his blender drink:


    UFC's Phillipe Nover talks nutrition


    When Phillipe Nover was featured on Season 8 of Spike TV's "The Ultimate Fighter", he was known for three main things.

    1. Fainting during the orientation speech on the first day  
    2. Having explosive knockout power
    3. Being fanatic about his sushi

    One of the other fighters started eating his sushi out of the fridge for a while before a few (gross) measures were taken to teach that fighter a lesson about messing with another man's food.  What wasn't lost on me was Phillipe's belief in eating well and taking care of his body, and the results showed as he advanced to the final round before losing to Efrain Escuadero.

      In an interview with PR Cole of Fuel The Fighter (Twitter: @fuelthefighter), Phillipe outlines his approach to nutrition and trying to keep things "clean" and natural while still having enough in the tank for his intense MMA sessions.

    Among other things, he mentions his preference for training early on an empty stomach (or close to it) which I have also found better results with in my own experience.  Phillipe also covers how he gets healthy fruit/vegetable-based carbs in his system as opposed to grains, and how to cook meals based around lean proteins.

    Also check out his "Incredible Hulk" shake receipe, which is pretty similar to what I try to get in every day as well.


    Key Takeaway:  It takes slightly more planning and attention to detail, but it is VERY possible to eat a clean diet based around natural foods, fruits, and vegetables and still train at an intense level every day.  Easy-to-access grains like breads and pastas can be a cop-out, since the body does not burn off these processed foods as efficiently as more natural ones.