It’s Going to Be a Green Monster Kind of Week

First, let me explain what a green monster is, then I’ll tell you why I’ll be drinking these all week.

I first read the term “green monster” on the blog  Oh She Glows.  This blog is written by a very creative vegan baker and blogger.  She has some of the best tasting and most innovative recipes I’ve seen on the web, and they’re pretty darn healthy, too!

Now, if you’ve been reading long enough, you’ll know that no one in the DP family is vegan or even vegetarian, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the occasional healthy vegan recipe, including, of course, green monster smoothies.

A green monster is a smoothie that is made with a few cups of greens (usually spinach or kale) in addition to the usual fruit, ice, milk/yogurt, etc.  Green monsters are almost always very green in color (thus the name) but have little to no taste of the greens in them.  They are an excellent way to get your  daily dose of greens!

Why will I be drinking these things this week?

Since college I have been eating a green salad for lunch almost everyday during the warm months (and soup in the cold months).  I am one of those people that just loves veggies dressed in olive oil and vinegar.

I know there are those readers thinking “yes, yes, me too!” and then there are some of you thinking “ugg, I knew there was something I didn’t like about this lady”.

In the past week or so, though, (approximately weeks 11-12 of this pregnancy) I have not, for the life of been, been able to eat a green salad.  Which is weird.  Beyond weird.   But, of course, being the huge fan of Sam’s Club that I am, I bought the giant container of fresh baby spinach this week (which for the record, I go through by myself in a week and a half with no problem.

So my problem is that I have tons of spinach and no appetite for it.  And my husband is not about to dig into a green salad either.  Because of this, I’m embracing the green monster smoothie, both to use up my spinach and also to get it in my body in the least offensive way possible.

One of my go to green monster smoothie recipes is this:

DP’s Go To Green Monster Smoothie

(makes 2 servings)

2-3 cups spinach

1 banana

1/2 cup milk or yogurt

3-8 fresh or frozen strawberries (depending on size and mood)

2-4 tbsp flax seed (depending on how things are “going” that day)

1 cup of ice

I throw this in my blender on high until it’s smooth, then pour into two small Mason/Bell jars.  I’ll keep the second serving in the freezer if Beard isn’t feeling a smoothie; it’ll thaw just by taking it out and sitting on the counter at least a half hour or more before you want to drink it.

 

As a treat, sometimes I’ll look up some crazy delicious sounding green monster smoothies, and this is one I loved from Oh She Glows:  Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bomb .

I did alter the recipe quite a bit when I made it because of what I had on hand:

  • I didn’t use tofu
  • My spinach was raw
  • I used extra cocoa powder instead of carob powder and Chocolate Infusion powder
  • I used cow’s milk
  • I used no oil
  • I used flax seeds instead of chia seeds (which DON’T do the same thing, but I just wanted flax in there)

The smoothie is a delicious treat!  Try it. 🙂

 

To Meat or Not to Meat

This is the third installment in my nutrition series.  I will be discussing whether meat is nutritionally necessary, not whether or not it is ethical.  That is a completely different debate for which I am unable to provide a clear answer.

There really is a lot of information about how the human body processes food and what enzymes are used to break down what we put in our mouth.  God made the body so well that there are actually specific enzymes for each specific food group:  carbohydrases break down carbohydrates like grains and sugars, lipases break down fats, and proteases break down proteins and amino acids. 

Simply looking at this information, it would seem that the human digestive system was created to eat carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.  Easy, right?  Well, not really.  Proteins do come in many different forms, like meats, legumes, nuts, dairy, etc.  So meat is just one possible source of a necessary portion of our diet.

Let’s take a closer look.  Some typical vegetarian sources of proteins include beans, tofu, yogurt, and nuts.  Typically beans have about 8 grams of protein per 1/2 cup, tofu has about 20 grams per 1/2 cup, yogurt has 8-12 grams of protein per 1 cup, and nuts have anywhere from 2.5 – 9 grams of protein per 1/4 cup.  Meats, on the other hand, can be more protein rich per serving.  Beef has roughly 7 grams of protein per ounce of meat, chicken has 8-9 grams of protein per ounce of meat, and fish ranges from 6-8 grams of protein per ounce.  I am making the assumption that when one eats meat, they typically eat between 4 and 8 oz, which means per serving meat can have several times the amount of protein of your typical vegetarian protein sources.

Is this better, though?  You always hear people say “Protein is good for you.  Eat more protein.”  While protein is good for you, it is only good if you eat a proper amount for your body size.  Too much protein and your body cannot use it and either converts it to bodily fat or excretes it.  So the question is:  how much protein does a person need each day?

Adult females need about 46 grams of protein per day, and adult males need about 56 grams of protein per day, according to the CDC.  Children, of course need less protein because they are smaller in size.

I’ll use myself as an example.  How can I consume 46 grams of protein per day without meat?

First, let’s say I have a cup of yogurt and some granola and fruit for breakfast.  I use Greek yogurt, which has more protein, so that’s 12 grams, plus I’ll estimate about 2 grams for my granola because it has almonds and sunflower seeds in it (but not 1/4 cup of each!).

Then for lunch I’ll have a big old salad with lettuce, all sorts of veggies, 1/2 cup beans, 1 oz. of cheese, and a slice of bread and butter on the side.  I dress my salad with olive oil and vinegar.  That gives me 9 grams of protein for the beans and 8 grams of protein for my cheese.

Then for dinner let’s say I make omelets, which I love doing!  I use two eggs in my omelet, plus lots of veggies and maybe a slice of toast.  This gives me about 12 grams of protein.

My grand total for the day is 43 grams of protein.  That does not include any meat.  (I didn’t include any snacks, but anything like nuts, peanut butter, etc would add to your protein amount.)  So it is not terribly difficult to eat enough protein on a meatless diet.

But, there is one little nagging piece of the puzzle left:  vitamin B-12.  It is a water soluble vitamin needed only in small amounts in the human diet, and without it, permanent damage can be done to the brain and nervous system.  B-12 is a vitamin we obtain ultimately from bacteria, and before the sanitation craze of the current generation, you could get B-12 vitamin from vegetables that weren’t scrubbed to death. Nowadays your best (and really only natural sources) of vitamin B-12 are found in animal meats, especially liver. 

Vegetarians can of course eat fortified foods like breakfast cereals to obtain this vitamin, and their brain will function just fine.  But the fact does remain that B-12 is the one nagging vitamin that cannot be wholly obtained from non-animal sources.  It is because of B-12 (and my strange fear of fortified foods) that I choose to continue to eat meat.  I buy organic when I can, and local is even better.  But I feel it is right for my family and nutritious for us to consume meat.

(P.S.:  Plus, I like a good steak every once in a while.)