Let’s talk about smoothies.
But before we start, we need to rewind a few years. Back to 2008.
In the summer of 2008, I was preparing to take a two week trip to Japan. But as the trip approached, I was feeling terrible. Really sick. So sick that I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to go on the trip. I wasn’t getting any better, and I thought maybe I had West Nile Virus.
I went to my physician, who ended up prescribing a powerful but disgusting antibiotic that gave me a metallic taste in my mouth for 10 days, which ended up lasting almost the entire trip!
The good news was that I started to feel better after a few days.
The bad news was that the doctor checked my blood pressure and cholesterol during that visit, and told me that I had high blood pressure, and borderline high cholesterol. He put me on blood pressure medicine, and said that he wanted to put me on cholesterol medicine too, if I came back and my cholesterol wasn’t any better.
That summer was my wake up call.
I about to turn 40 and felt terrible. I was also 30 or 40 pounds overweight. I was at the heaviest weight I had ever been in my life. Close to 190, at 5’ 8”. Not incredibly fat, but fat enough that my clothes didn’t fit well, and fat enough that I felt completely out of shape.
When I told the doctor that I planned to lose some weight and maybe get back into shape, you could literally see the skepticism on his face, as if he had heard that dozens or hundreds of times before.
But I decided right then that I was really going to do something about my situation.
I started riding my bike in the mornings before work. I would get up at 5:30 a.m. and ride at least an hour and then come back and get ready for work. I rode with a small group of other guys who had families and jobs.
As I started to lose weight and get into better shape while burning calories, I started looking at the other half of the equation. Nutrition.
Basically, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Ride your bike hard for an hour, and you might burn 500 to 800 calories. That’s not even one meal at a fast food restaurant! If you eat badly, you can quickly erase all your gains from exercise.
But other reason nutrition interested me was because of my blood pressure and borderline high cholesterol issues.
I did not want to take medicine for the rest of my life. I’m suspicious of prescription drugs, so I worried about what kind of effect it would have on me to take some drug for 10 or 20 or even 50 years. (I am not suggesting that other people should stop taking necessary, life saving prescription drugs, by the way. I’m just talking about my own personal aversion to taking them if I can avoid it.)
It is not controversial science to claim that eating a lot more fruits and vegetables is a healthy thing to do.
The fact is that most Americans don’t get enough fruits or vegetables. Two thirds don’t get the recommended number of fruits, and three quarters don’t get enough vegetables.
Have you tried to eat more fruits and vegetables? It’s hard to fit them into your diet!
And NOW we get back to where smoothies fit in.
I discovered that I could eat a massive amount of fruits and vegetables in a very small amount of time with very little effort and get an easy breakfast. All at once!
I started out with very simple smoothies. Mostly consisting of one banana, some blueberries, and a little bit of flaxseed oil. (I was following a Dr. Oz recipe, in fact!)
But as time went by, I got a little sick of drinking the same smoothie every day. So I started experimenting.
I also started reading about superfoods. Basically, superfoods are foods that have the very highest nutritional density. Turns out that blueberries were already way up at the top of the list of superfoods, so I was already going in the right direction!
I did some searching around for smoothie recipes with superfood ingredients. Most of the recipes I found sounded totally disgusting!
My smoothies, loaded with blueberries, tasted GOOD. I wasn’t about to try to choke down some disgusting smoothie that tasted terrible, just for the sake of “good health.”
So I started experimenting with my own recipes.
Was I successful?
Let’s put it this way. In the summer of 2012, my kid who just finished kindergarten had a friend over. She saw me making a smoothie and also saw a few of the ingredients going into the blender. One of them was bright green kale. And this kid is not a big fan of greens, if you know what I mean.
She asked me about the smoothie, and I told her that it was delicious, and that she should try some. She was suspicious, having seen the kale. She sniffed it, and finally took a sip. She loved it, and asked for me to tell her mom how to make it!
If it tastes good to the simple palate of a kindergartener, then I’d say that’s success!