Well Blog Editor, VitaMedica
According to a new government report, only about one in ten Americans eats enough fruits and vegetables. Are you like the vast majority of adults who aren’t getting enough of these nutritious foods?
This is dismal news given that you need to eat just 1 1/2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables a day to meet the requirements. Unfortunately, just 13% of Americans consume this much fruit and less than 9% eat this many vegetable servings a day.
Not surprisingly, consumption of fruits & veggies is highest in health conscious California and other western states like Oregon and Colorado but at a disappointedly low level in the “diabesity” belt (states where the rate of diabetes and obesity are the highest in the country) including Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee and West Virginia.
So, how can you boost your fruit and vegetable intake? The best way is to replace simple carbs with fruits, vegetables or both. For example, instead of having a bagel for breakfast, indulge in a bowl of fresh fruit topped with Greek yogurt. At lunch, swap out a sandwich with a salad topped with protein. For a snack, instead of grabbing a bag of chips or candy bar, opt for an apple with peanut butter or veggies with hummus. At dinner, skip the bread and have a salad. Place grilled meat on mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. Or, swap out pasta for spaghetti squash topped with marinara sauce or pesto. For dessert, replace ice cream with a bowl of seasonal berries.
By making these small changes, you can easily eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. More importantly, your health will benefit. By replacing simple carbs with fruits & veggies, your consumption of sodium and added sugars will be lowered. At the same time, you’ll increase your fiber intake – a nutrient that is crucial to gut health (most Americans aren’t getting the recommended 25 to 38 grams of fiber daily). And, it’s likely that you’ll feel less bloated and lose weight in the process.
Health officials are particularly concerned with Americans getting enough dark green leafy vegetables. These greens include kale, spinach, collard greens, chard, broccoli, red and green leaf lettuce – you know the vegetables you probably hated while growing up.
To help you increase your intake of these important greens, I have a great tasting green smoothie recipe that I think you’ll love. Let me start by saying, that I am not a smoothie drinker much less a green smoothie drinker. The one time I tried a green smoothie, I thought it tasted liked a combination of grass clippings mixed in with cardboard.
However, my personal trainer, Chris Juergens, made me try (and I mean forced me to try) his green smoothie recipe. I took a sip and admitted that it wasn’t so bad. So, I took another sip. Within 15 minutes, I finished his smoothie and sheepishly admitted that it tasted good.
I have now perfected this green smoothie recipe and in the process have converted everyone I know who previously would never drink a green drink into loving the smoothie! So, even if you have never tried making a green smoothie, I’d like for you to at least try this one.
The almond milk creates a smooth, creamy texture without adding cholesterol or saturated fat. The best dates to use are Medjool because they are plump, moist and add a delicious flavor. You can use a combination of dark greens like kale or spinach. Just make sure that you clean the kale first and use just the leafy part (not the tough, fibrous vein). You can use a protein powder or a meal replacement drink mix. I like LeanBiotics™ LeanMeal RS™ because it provides 18 grams of whey protein concentrate plus 8 grams of fiber. The banana adds texture and flavor. If you really start to enjoy making these, I recommend investing in a Vitamix machine. The machine blends incredibly well and makes clean up a breeze.
Great Tasting Green Smoothie Ingredients:
3/4 cup of almond milk or soy milk (plain or vanilla)
1 to 3 dates (pits removed)
2 handfuls (about 2 cups) of kale
1 scoop of LeanMeal RS Drink Mix (French Vanilla)
1 banana (peeled and cut into quarters)
1 to 1 1/2 cups of ice cubes
In a blender or Vitamixer, add (in this order) the almond milk, dates, kale, LeanMeal, banana and ice cubes. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour into glass and enjoy!
This great tasting green smoothie recipe totals about 365 calories and provides 25 grams of protein, 17 grams of fiber and 900 mg of potassium. If you want to reduce the calories, you can easily do so by removing or cutting back the dates and or banana.
Give this recipe a whirl and let me know your comments!
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.