Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Fresh Start

I love the start of a New Year!  It's the opportunity to start over, start fresh, forgive old wrongs, vow to leave behind any unpleasantness in the old year, and start the new one with only the good things we want to carry forward with us.

The beginning of a new year is when most people decide to clean up, detox and start new diets, and that's true for me, as well.  Even though I've never met a vegetable I didn't like, I struggle like most people to get as many veggies as I want into my diet on a daily basis, and in a healthful way.  While I'm always in the mood to try a new recipe when I run across one that looks promising, they often call for lots of extra ingredients which significantly ramp up the fat and calories.  When starting out a fresh new year, we just want to add more vegetables without adding all of the extra caloric embellishments.

Good, clean eating means fresh vegetables and other wholesome ingredients unadulterated by any extra fats, salt, sugars or carbohydrates.  But I get easily bored with eating salads every day, so I have to find other ways to add green, leafy vegetables into my diet other than sautéing them in olive oil and garlic.

Some friends recently recommended that I try making smoothies.  For me, it's the perfect solution.  In addition to being able to incorporate more fresh greens such as spinach and kale into my diet, I can also add other healthful ingredients that I want to include in my regimen on a daily basis, such as flaxseed meal, good nuts like almonds (or almond milk), coconut milk, cinnamon, honey, yogurt and fresh fruit.  I'm not a big fruit eater, so this is one way I can get more healthful fruits into my diet, as well.  And the bonus is that you don't even taste the greens in the smoothie, yet you get all of the nutrients that they have to offer.

Smoothies also allow you to add some raw foods into your diet.  If a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is not for you, then smoothies are a great way to get some whole, raw foods into your body conveniently, so that you can benefit from all of the nourishing and life-sustaining components they contain.  And it feels like a treat ... like you're having a yummy shake every day!

There are lots of smoothie blends and recipes that you can find on the internet.  My favorites, like the "Greena Colada" or "Green Monster," include lots of leafy greens, since incorporating more of them is my primary goal.  But you can tailor your smoothie to include more of what you want in your diet ... such as carrots for vitamin A, or local honey which may help reduce allergy symptoms.

Another benefit of smoothies is that you can incorporate a lot of the fiber-containing peels and pulp that you lose when you only drink juices, instead.  You don't even need a $600 blender to do it, either.  Most blenders have a "liquefy" or "puree" setting that work very well and will create a deliciously smooth blend.  I've even found that the small bullet blenders work just fine for this, as well.

By the time I blend and drink up my tasty fruit-and-veggie smoothie in the morning, I've already had several servings of fruits and vegetables and some healthful nuts and flaxseed, to start my day.  This allows me to incorporate some excellent raw nutrition into my diet easily and painlessly.  No matter what else I eat during the rest of the day, at least I know that I've made a healthful start and have gotten some excellent nutrition into my diet already.  It's a good start to the day, and to the New Year.

And, bonus ... I don't have to feel (so) guilty about having a cookie or scone later in the day with my afternoon tea, either!  ;-)

Another way to eat more deliciously and nutritiously in the New Year is to to try some of the recipes in my sister, Ana's, new cookbook released just last year: "Everyday Alchemy: Transformative Cooking with Herbs."  These recipes incorporate a lot of healthful grains and veggies, as well, and star some powerhouse herbs and plants that can help punch-up your level of nutrition and literally transform your life!

Try it this new year and get a powerful start to all of your New Year's resolutions!

Bottoms up!

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