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Jamaican Green Smoothies

 

Almost every week, I see a friend posting about some green juice or green smoothie they had or need to have. I’ve enjoyed a few myself and I remember my introduction to the world of green beverages: an extremely refreshing bottle of callaloo juice I randomly picked up off a supermarket shelf some years ago. It had only 5 ingredients: water, callaloo, lime juice, ginger and sugarcane juice. You can’t do it any better than that! *ahhhhhh*

I usually whip up my green smoothies at home by grabbing whatever’s green and blending it with a little water and a bit of fruit. If I have any bananas that are becoming over-ripe, I normally chuck them into the freezer for use in a smoothie. This is because I find that frozen fruit makes the drink extra chilly and quite the right stuff on these ‘force-ripe-summer’ hot days we’re having.

Most green smoothie recipes that you’ll find online will call for green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, collard greens or mustard. But, if you’re in Jamaica, you don’t need to complicate things by thinking ‘foreign’! We have an abundance of our own green leafy vegetables to choose from. Don’t believe me? Look in your fridge! Don’t you see something green?! LOL.

Unless you live in a home with a very blessed backyard, or just went to visit your granny in the country, you’ll need to add the ingredients for your green smoothie stash to your regular grocery list. No! You don’t need to go through the hassle of travelling to the market to haggle for quality produce at great prices. To get all your fruits and leafy greens, you could use an affordable but high quality market delivery service like Real Farm Freshness. These are some courteous people who will bring your fruits, veggies and any other produce to your home or office door for likkl n nutten.  But, if you need the exercise from walking around and you enjoy the social interaction, please go to your neighbourhood fruit stand and green grocer, or a farmer’s market like the one held at Michi Super Center every month. Don’t forget that we need to build Jamaica by buying Jamaican and eating Jamaican!

Once you’ve got your fruit and leafy green stash, you’ll probably need some ideas for how to combine them for yummy beverages. While I enjoy my spontaneously crazy fruit and vegetable combinations, my green smoothies may not get the same frothy grins from you.  So, I checked out the blog at Simple Green Smoothies and they have a lot of info for the clueless and even offer a Free Green Smoothie Recipe e-Book. They also have what they call “The 60/40 Formula” in which your recipe is always 60% fruits and 40% leafy greens.

“For example: 3 cups fruit, 2 cups dark leafy greens, 1-2 cups of water. Makes 32-40oz or 4-5 cups.”

So you don’t have any excuse to say the smoothies will taste yucky or ‘green’. In fact, you could really benefit from taking on their “30-Day Green Smoothie Challenge” – which begins 1 July 2013 – and try to drink one cup of green smoothie goodness a day.

But, don’t get bogged down by all the recipes that call for weird sounding leafy greens, berries and super foods –  just use my list Jamaican fruits, vegetables and liquids outlined below, to make your green smoothies low-cost and local:

  Leafy Green Fruit Liquid Extras
Basic Callaloo Banana Water Lime
  Pak Choi Pineapple Coconut Water Ginger
  Lettuce Watermelon Nut Milk (coconut/soy/almond)  
  Cabbage Orange Tea (Peppermint/Lemongrass)  
         
Special Cucumber Mango    
  Stringbean Cherry    
  Carrot Guava    
  Tomato Passionfruit    
  Avocado Pear Otheiti Apple    
  Chocho June Plum    
  Broccoli Soursop    
   Sweet Pepper Sweetsop    

 

Once you’ve decided that you want to get your green smoothie habit going, my recommendation is that you:

  1. Plan for one week of juices.
    Fail to plan? Plan to fail!
  2. Make a shopping list.
    Don’t get too much of anything and don’t end up with snacks or other junk that distracts you while you shop.
  3. Get your ingredients.
    Wherever you can: Coronation Market. Market Delivery Service. Local fruit stand and green grocer. Farmer’s Market. Your backyard.
  4. Grab 5 mins to gather your stuff, blend and fill your bottle to go.
    The quickest meal you ever made! LOL.
  5. Always use local  fruits and veggies and buy whatever is in season.
    Healthy doesn’t mean you have to be wealthy nor make someone else wealthy.

Now, if you’re lazy – sorry – extremely busy, you could simply call up Live Juice Bar and order a few bottles of their “100% Fruit and Vegetable Juices and Smoothies made Live!” They deliver and you can win cool juice jars, bottles or even bonus juices when you order.

Remember, if you want to up your veg intake or just ensure you have something sensible for the day, try a green smoothie! No strainers, no twisting of muslin cloths to wring out precious juices. No fibre lost.

But, whatever you do, just keep it simple and fill up on your greens!

 

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The Plant-Based Cooking Demo & Lunch

Having shared with you some of the foods I eat on a regular basis, I found this video of reggae artiste, Macka B, singing about the vegan diet:

I really liked this song because of the variety of foods that Macka B lists and the fact that he displays a wealth of knowledge about proper nutrition and knows what essential nutrients he needs to get from his meals.

For some people, even after watching a video, reading an article or meeting someone who eats plant-based, and being convinced that this is the way to go, they still remain confused about what to eat and how to prepare it. This fact has been displayed in the many requests I have had (emails, SMS, instant messages, in-person) for recipes and, more so, a live demonstration of how I prepare these meat-free, egg-free, and dairy-free dishes.

Over time, I soon realised that I had promised quite a few friends that I’d make the time to come by their kitchens and give them a guiding hand in their exploration of the world of plant-based cooking. So, these promises were piling up and my ‘available’ time wasn’t. So, one morning (one of those when your mind is clear and bursting with ideas and strategies), I decided to drop a few lines, inviting a select few – on very short notice – to join me for a plant-based lunch and cooking demo.

Following some initial indications of interest, I scratched out the following menu for our foodie event:

Appetizer
Cream of Pumpkin Soup
Entree
Curried Ackee Wraps

Mini Burgers
Escoveitched Tofu with Bammy
Side
Garden Salad with Tofu Bites
Cool Potato Salad
Dessert
Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
Soy Ice Cream
Beverage
Pine-Ting Smoothies

Now, I could easily launch my own review of the experience, but my friend, Monique, did a great job in her blog post on IrieDiet.com (I love the fruit and veggie banner that she has!). Please click on the link to share in the event (pics included): Vegetarian for a day….or at least…a meal

All I can say is, everyone had their favourite dishes and I look forward to another demo sometime soon.

Stay Earth Strong!

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So, what do you eat?

On those occasions when my plant-based eating habits are observed, the persons enquiring usually seek consolation for the elimination of meat from my diet, by asking, “But, you eat fish, right?!” The expressions of horror that usually follow my denial often accompany the exclamation, “So, what do you eat?”

I have found it strange that so many persons believe the only food options available to us are: chicken, fish, pork, beef, mutton and fish, with the ever-faithful ‘side’ dishes of rice, ground provisions, bread and vegetables. Capitalist-driven affluence and the misguided pursuit of it, has resulted in voluntary amnesia for many persons. I say this because many people fail to remember that in our traditional diet, chicken was the Sunday dinner ‘main dish’, fish may have been a treat on Friday, and a little salt meat (beef or pork) would have accented the Saturday Pumpkin or Red Peas soup. Very few persons want to be reminded that most of our ‘back-in-the-day’ dishes were plant-based and things like (the choice cuts of) pork, beef and mutton, were reserved for family events such as weddings, funerals, and birthday parties. Instead, they wrongly associate meat-consumption with wealth and vegetable-consumption with poverty. (There is so much more that I could say about that… but, that will be addressed at another time.) However, in the interest of our health and the sustenance of our economy, we may all want to consider returning to the ‘country-style’ eating habits by increasing our consumption of the treasures we reap from soil and decreasing, if not eliminating, our consumption of animal foods.

Below you will find a sample menu of what I may eat on an average day:

  Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Breakfast Oats Porridge with Raisins Steamed Callaloo with baked beans Cornmeal Porridge
  Toasted bread with peanut butter Boiled bananas, yam and potatoes Fried Plantain with bread
  Orange and banana Melon and banana Mango and Pineapple
 
Lunch Sweet n Sour Veggie Chunks Soy patty with lettuce and tomato Vegetable Chow Mein
  Rice and Peas Meatless Red Peas Soup Arranged Vegetable Salad
  Tossed Vegetable Salad
 
Dinner Curried Ackee Cabbage and Veggie Mince Barbecued Tofu
  Roasted Breadfruit Spaghetti Brown Rice
  Avocado Pear Slices Arranged Vegetable Salad Steamed Carrots & String Beans
 
Snack Sugarcane June Plum Coconut Drops
 
Dessert Pineaple Upside Down Cake Sweet Potato Pudding Soy Ice Cream
These items were not selected with any particular dietary needs in mind. They are simply delicious, easy to prepare and readily available. If you have never prepared any of the meat substitutes e.g. veggie chunks, veggie mince, or tofu before, there are many easy tutorials and recipes available online. Or you may pick up these dishes from a vegetarian restaurant nearby.
Therefore, you have no reason to limit yourself. Try to eat something more traditional and plant-based today.
Stay Earth Strong!
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Should We Eat Meat?

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When we attend the Food & Nutrition lessons taught in school, we learn about the Six Food Groups as designed by the Caribbean Food & Nutrition Institute (CFNI). We are taught to use this guide to plan meals for healthy eating as it is modelled off the food we produce in the Caribbean.

The groups are:
1. Staples e.g. cassava, potato, plantain, macaroni, rice, porridge, etc.
2. Legumes & Nuts e.g. kidney beans, gungo peas, peanuts, cashew nuts, etc.
3. Vegetables e.g. callaloo, pumpkin, cho-cho, cucumber, garden egg, etc.
4. Fruits e.g. mango, guava, pawpaw, June plum, sweet sop, pineapple, etc.
5. Food From Animals e.g. meat, poultry, fish, milk, cheese, egg, yoghurt, etc.
6. Fats & Oils e.g. cooking oil, coconut milk, avocado pear, ackee, butter, etc.

The Caribbean dietary guideline is very well done, except for the inclusion of the ‘Food from Animals’ group. Although, the eating of meat is culturally acceptable for the wider society, we have had different social and religious groups who abstain from consuming animal products to varying degrees. So, we can admit that eating meat is a social normal but, are we really supposed to eat food from animals?
Dan Piraro of Bizarro.com produced a very animated and informative video about why meat is bad for you:
As brought out in Piraro’s video, in many ways, eating meat is like any other unhealthy lifestyle or habit that has long term effects. You won’t necessarily have instantaneous physical injury or other such drastic and obvious effects from maintaining an omnivorous diet. However, the practice of eating meat has its hazards.
Many medical professionals have identified various lifestyles diseases like cancer, diabetes, arthritis and heart disease, that are the direct result of a diet based on meat and dairy products. These foods are filled with saturated fats, parasites, viruses, and bacteria. Most of the animals raised for commercial consumption are raised on steroids, hormones, and antibiotics, and these extra ‘condiments’ for the meal are not eliminated all together from the heat process of cooking.
There are more factors that could be considered as we ponder the question, “Meat – to eat or not to eat”. Yet, there are more good reasons to stop eating meat than there are to continue.
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The Healthy Diet: Basic Nutrition Lesson

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We are as healthy as our body is whole, fault-free, and fully-functional. For every inch of us that lacks comfort and wellness, we are experiencing disease. Most of us are born in ‘perfect’ health and our state of wholeness changes as we grow and age. But, it is not our aging that is responsible for most of our ailments and complaints, but our lifestyle or habits.

Our lifestyle includes the way we dress, the food we eat and our physical activities. However, because the food we eat is the fuel for our bodies, it is our diet (regular food) that really determines our wellness.
To be healthy, our food needs to supply us with the chemical compounds and elements that our bodies are made of: water, carbohydrates (sugar, starch, fiber), proteins (amino acids), and fats. Other essential nutrients are vitamins and minerals.
Energy comes from carbohydrates, proteins and fats and we can get them all from plant-based foods. The Power Plate is a dietary guideline developed by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) to promote overall health and well-being. The Power Plate contains four food groups to choose from:
1. Whole Grains e.g. rice, bread, pasta, corn, bulghur, roti, etc.
2. Vegetables e.g. carrot, breadfruit, okra, tomato, yam, onion, callaloo, etc.
3. Fruits e.g. banana, mango, jackfruit, sweetsop, pineapple, naseberry, etc.
4. Legumes e.g. red peas, coconut, cashew, soy milk, TVP, gungo peas, etc.
These food groups are the sources of all the energy and other essential nutrients that we need.
Please note that it is recommended that we supplement our diet with a good source of Vitamin B12 if we choose to consume no animal products.
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