Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The power of green

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(Barbdunn/Flickr)

(Barbdunn/Flickr)

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, which means green will be a very popular color over the next few weeks – including in your diet.

But you don’t need to just have a spinach salad or sautéed kale to increase your intake of vegetables, especially dark leafy greens. Another great way to add greens to your diet is to make a green smoothie.

Green smoothies provide a great deal of energy, help your body heal and maintain health and provide you with important nutrients and vitamins to help you attain an optimal state of wellbeing.

Green smoothies are creamy, filling and delicious. They are great for breakfast, a mid-day pickup snack or even as a post-workout meal (just add a spoonful of peanut butter or a scoop of a clean protein powder).

One of the most important ingredients in a green smoothie is, yes, leafy greens such as kale and spinach.

Kale is a superfood packed with tons of nutrients and antioxidants with only 33 calories per cup. One cup of kale also has three grams of protein, two and a half grams of fiber and an assortment of vitamins such as Vitamin A, C, K and folate.

Brain development relies on folate, Vitamin A is key for good vision, Vitamin C helps keep your immune system healthy and Vitamin K is important for keeping your bones strong.

Spinach is another dark green commonly used in smoothies. Spinach is a highly nutrient-dense food with high amounts of antioxidants and vitamins but still low calories. Spinach contains antioxidants that help destroy dangerous, free radicals in the body and is protective against many cancers.

Like kale, spinach is full of nutritious vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamins A, C, K and calcium, iron, zinc and fiber. So Popeye was right when he said spinach was what gave him his powerful strength and healthy muscles.

The base is another important component of a green smoothie. I tend to use a banana – typically a frozen one – to give my smoothie a thick consistency. Bananas are also an excellent source of vitamin B-6, which your cells need to grow and develop.

They are also packed with heart-healthy minerals like potassium which helps to build muscle, improve nerve functioning and decrease blood pressure. Bananas are also high in fiber, helping to cleanse your digestive system and keep you fuller for longer.

Berries are another of my favorite types of fruit to add to smoothies. Black berries, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are all delicious additions to the creation. Berries are packed with Vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants for heart and brain health.

The final step in preparation is to add liquid to the smoothie. My go-to choice is almond milk or soymilk. Soymilk is naturally high in essential fatty acids, proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Soymilk is also lower in sugar than cow’s milk and has no cholesterol.

Almond milk is low in calories and contains no saturated fat or cholesterol. It is an excellent source of Vitamins A, D and E. Soymilk and almond milk are delicious alternatives to cow’s milk, so try one of these plant-based variations in your next green smoothie.

If green smoothies sound appealing, you can visit Harvest Market across from Blue Wall in the UMass Campus Center to try one of their delicious green smoothies before making your own.
Here is an easy recipe to get you started:

The Lucky Leprechaun Green Smoothie
(Play around with the amount of ingredients you use)

Ingredients:
– Spinach/kale
– Frozen banana
– Frozen fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries)
– Handful of cashews/spoonful of nut butter
– Scoop of protein powder (optional)
– Almond milk/soy milk/water
– Ice cubes

Directions:
– Add all the ingredients in a blender, mix, and enjoy.

Haley Harzynski can be reached at [email protected]

(Barbdunn/Flickr)
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