When it comes to cleaning up your diet, getting healthier, looking and feeling better generally and even feeling more emotionally stable, green foods are where it’s at.
Green foods are not only full of vital vitamins, minerals and fibre, they are also very healing to the body and very calming to the system overall.
My own history with green foods was very chequered. Apparently as a toddler I would pop whole Brussel sprouts into my mouth and enjoy them… I don’t know when that stopped, but what I do know is that I’ve never liked them since! In fact I hate them with a passion, even to this day.
From toddlerhood on, I was – like most children – anti-greens. There was nothing whatsoever attractive to me about them. I didn’t like anything green except the odd bit of lettuce, and I didn’t really eat any other vegetables, except a few peas and lots of potatoes, until I was 18.
So as you can see, I was not exactly the poster child for green eating!
So how did all of that change?
When I was 19 years old I finally started paying attention to my diet. Up until that point it had been ‘anything goes and in large portions’. It’s no surprise then that I was overweight and a little pasty looking!
My journey started with reading. At that point (1991) I had literally no-one around me that was into healthy eating. I had grown up working in my family’s Butcher’s shop, ate meat 2-3 times per day and was absolutely clueless how to eat any differently. As the internet was not yet ‘a thing’ books were my only option and so that’s where it all started for me.
In short, even though the diet books I read were generally contradictory and consequently confusing, the one thing everyone did seem to agree on was that eating more fresh fruits and vegetables was always a good idea. And this included greens!
I remember seeing a green smoothie for the first time and I couldn’t believe that people actually drank that stuff!
For me a few peas on my plate had been an ordeal, who on earth would want to drink a whole glass of green?
Well, it turns out, I did.
I wanted to lost weight, feel better, look netter and get healthy. I was not even in my 20’s and I already was out of shape and hardly a picture of vitality.
And so the experimenting began.
I started gingerly with adding more greens to my meals.
This translated to very basic steps like lettuce in sandwiches, wraps and rolls. I would also entertain courgette (zucchini) on occasion and I kind of quite liked it. Cucumbers were never an issue, but to be fair, they’re mostly water, so green-but-not-very-green, really.
Trying a green smoothie for the first time was a face-scrunching moment. I kind of liked it, but it was all very new to me. It tasted strong but not hideous.
I learned how to make green smoothies more palatable. This effectively meant adding more fruit for sweetness and using less dark greens, like kale and chard, and instead relying more on spinach which is naturally quite sweet for a green and lettuce, rocket (arugula), herbs such as parsley and coriander (cilantro) and adding more water to dilute it even more.
Slowly over time the fruit got less, the water got less, the greens got darker, and before I knew it, I was a full-blown dark green smoothie drinker and loving it!
From there I graduated to green juices made from spinach, cucumber, celery, lemon and apple. I would mix them up on occasion and add some extra dark leafies in there and pineapple instead of apple. Whichever way I mixed it up, I learned that green juices are refreshing and invigorating and green smoothies feel more nourishing and sustaining.
As I picked up desire, confidence and speed, soon it was time to graduate to green superfoods such as chlorella, spirulina and wheatgrass juice.
I remember the first time I ever added spirulina to my smoothie I had so much energy I was like a cat trying to run up the walls! I couldn’t believe how different I felt, it was literally astounding.
From there on, spirulina became a daily staple for me in my smoothies and this was perfect because at that point I was working out twice a day and needed all the energy I could get.
Wheatgrass juice was a whole other ballgame! When it comes to greens, wheatgrass is King. I will write a whole other blog post about wheatgrass in due course, but for now, just know that it is one of the most incredible things you can ever put into your body. It is also STRONG! The taste is far from subtle. Interestingly some people love it right away while others may feel nauseous. Personally I have experienced every type of response to wheatgrass juice, so I know how it feels to love it and hate it! I found that consuming it on a empty stomach is a must – ideally first thing in the morning.
Once I reached the summit with the introductions of wheatgrass, then it was to start exploring the other side of the mountain with the other greens I had missed along the way. This meant experimenting with green powders that were a mixture of vegetables, herbs, superfoods and other potent ingredients. It meant discovering (and loving!) E3 Live, which even to this day is one of my Top 5 recommended foods. It meant growing ‘indoor greens’ such as sunflower greens, pea greens and buckwheat greens (only for the very committed but you can now buy them pre-grown in some health food stores and online).
And lo and behold, what do you know, I ended up making a point of including greens at every meal, no matter what.
So that’s my own journey with greens and it’s been amazing! It just goes to show that when we are open to new things and the desire is real we can learn to like – and even crave – just about anything.
Although Brussel sprouts are still probably going to be my biggest nemesis for the rest of my days!