A couple of years ago, I discovered the joys of green smoothies, which are drinks made of blended raw fruits and greens. Yes, I know they sound kind of bizarre and hippy-dippy at first blush. The first few times I saw folks drinking them, I took a big, old, not-very-polite pass, but eventually, I caved in and tasted one. And you know what? It tasted a little different, as in, whoa, that’s a lot of chlorophyll, but mostly, it was fruity. Here’s the thing, though. A half-hour after I had my first green smoothie, I WANTED ANOTHER ONE. Right away. And next day I came back for more. It was a definite craving.
The only other time I’ve felt such a strong and direct message to EAT THIS from my body was when I was pregnant and I had specific food cravings for Dos Coyotes Adobe Salad. I used to camp out in front of their restaurant, praying for it to open early. (I joke that my oldest child is made of hot chocolate and Dos Coyote salad). I listened to my body then–the alternative was more dry heaves and more misery, wow, how I hated being pregnant, but that’s neither here nor there–and I’m listening to my body now as well. Based on my physical response to them, I’m convinced that green smoothies contain a high percentage of the nutrition my body needs. And believe me, nobody is more surprised than I.
So now I have a smoothie most every day. They are very satisfying and have quieted my cravings for salty and sugary snacks. (And hey, they are a great weight-loss aid, if you’re looking for that sort of thing). I sleep much better when I’ve drunk one that day, and my skin is smoother and more elastic. They straighten my digestive system out very quickly, if you know what I mean. ;-) And I’m convinced that they give me much more energy. For what it’s worth, if I suffered from any kind of chronic illness, I’d definitely give these a whirl. But I think most people would enjoy and profit from them. I give them to my kids because I don’t think they eat nearly enough greens otherwise. I have found, however, that I have to either put their smoothies in an opaque cup (so they can’t see the GREEN which is apparently scary) or add raspberries, which lends the drink a sort of pinkish hue.
If you want to try to make your own, here are a couple of hints. Your first green smoothies probably ought to be heavy on the fruit and light on the greens until you grow accustomed to the taste of chlorophyll. (It probably won’t take long until you’re wanting to put more greens in but let that evolve naturally). Some people like to add frozen fruit or crushed ice to their smoothie. Initially, I think I preferred them this way, too, though now I don’t care. And you can also make savory smoothies, sort of like V-8 juice, except all raw, of course. So instead of apples and berries, use tomatoes, celery and greens, with maybe a little onion and lemon juice? Gazpacho in a cup!
So anyhow, back to the weeds.
There are tons of possibilities for greens, and I like to vary them so I don’t get bored. (Lettuce is lousy in smoothies, by the way). But I really enjoy parsley, Swiss Chard, spinach, and kale, and I’ve started to experiment with weeds like clover, dandelion greens, and lamb’s quarter. Right now, there’s a bumper crop of tender little lamb’s quarter growing along the edges in my hoop house and in my unweeded garden beds, so that’s been my green of choice lately. You can’t get any more fresh, local, or organic than that!
Lamb’s Quarter, or Quarters (Latin name, Chenopodium album, also called, quite charmingly, Fat Hen or quelite de ceniza) is an ancient relative of spinach. It was brought to North America by early European settlers as a pot herb for their table, but based on its nicknames, I suspect plenty of farmers discovered it made a good animal feed as well. It has colonized very well (I’ve known it to grow four or more feet high in the field, though it’s obviously not tender and delicious at that size) and grows most often in disturbed soil, or even up from cracks in the sidewalk. It’s not only mild-tasting and yummy, it’s also full of all sort of vitamins and minerals. According to this and other websites, lambs quarter is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. (Obviously). It is also a great source of “Niacin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.” (www.nutritiondata.com)
You can use lambs quarter anywhere you’d use spinach, such as in quiches, lasagnes, soups, and salads.
And smoothies. So, gather up your washed greens and chunked fruits,
blend really, really well,
and let me know what you think.