Monday, June 08, 2009
Blueberry, Pear and Baby Spinach Smoothie—Bursting with Health Benefits
Layers of spinach, pear and blueberries in a Vita Mix blender.
By now you know I’m rather partial to starting my mornings with a raw smoothie, especially one that contains blueberries. Today, I’m going to share another smoothie recipe that combines the antioxidant benefits of blueberries with the many health benefits of raw spinach, pears, brazil nuts, and flaxseed oil. It’s important that blueberries only be used in DAIRY FREE smoothies. It has been demonstrated that blueberries may lose their antioxidant power if eaten with milk as their have an affinity for milk protein.
Blueberries are not only a very good source of vitamin C, K and manganese, but they are on top of the antioxidant scale. Tufts University rated 60 fruits and vegetables for their antioxidant content and, you guessed it, blueberries were rated numero uno in their ability to destroy free radicals! The plant chemicals in this wonder fruit can protect against heart disease, glaucoma, cataracts, ulcers, dementia and cancer. And, they are low in calories. I just planted 3 blueberry bushes but in the meantime, I have found frozen organic blueberries for a pretty decent price. I like the frozen ones since they are usually cheaper, they are still considered “raw” and they make the smoothies thick without using ice.
I found some beautiful pears the other day which always are great in fruit smoothies. Pears are high in fiber with only one large fruit providing 7 grams! Pears also give smoothies a very creamy consistency.
Spinach may sound a bit weird for a smoothie but I love using greens in my morning concoctions (you may remember me putting Kale in my “Good Morning Kale” smoothie posted January 23, 2009). But with a high speed blender and all of this wonderful fruit, you won’t even know it’s in there and you will have the amazing benefits of this vegetable. Besides its phytochemical content said to prevent eye disease, spinach is a very good source of vitamin A, C, E, K, thiamin, riboflavin, B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese. There is some debate over the usability of calcium and iron due to its oxalic acid content, but according to Dr. Norman Walker (a pioneer in the field of raw juicing), the oxalic acid in our RAW vegetables does not have this effect. Since he lived to 99 years old, I think he’s a pretty reliable source.
I add some flaxseed oil to this recipe since it’s a great source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), needed by EVERY cell in the body. The body can convert ALA into all the omega 3 fatty acids it needs, including EPA and DHA. Most people get EPA and DHA from fish or fish oil. However, vegans depend heavily on getting enough of this through eating flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts and hemp. You may also supplement with a vegetarian source of DHA and EPA derived from algae. This becomes more important as we age since the body becomes more inefficient in the conversion of ALA to DHA and EPA. Make sure the flaxseed oil is “cold pressed” as heat destroys this delicate essential fatty acid. It must always be refrigerated. Also, check for the “when pressed” and “best if used by” dates to ensure optimum freshness.
As always, I throw in a few brazil nuts for their high selenium content, a powerful antioxidant.
Raw Vegan Blueberry, Pear and Spinach Smoothie [serves 2]
1 1/2 cups frozen, organic blueberries
1 large organic pear
2 packed cups baby organic spinach
2 brazil nuts
1/2 tablespoon cold pressed flaxseed oil
4 drops liquid stevia for added sweetness
1 1/2 cups cold, filtered water
Place all ingredients in a Vita Mix or other high speed blender. I usually put the frozen fruit on top so it doesn’t freeze up the blender. Process until smooth and serve immediately.
Per serving: 241.5 calories, 6.5 g fat, 1.3 g saturated fat, 0 g cholesterol, 3.8 g protein, 46.3 g carbohydrates, 9.5 g fiber, 1.9 g omega 3 and 1.7 g omega 6 fatty acids.