As a person who eats a high raw food diet and especially when I am juicing, the most frequent question I am asked is where do you get your protein? I want to address this in the post today and I think you might be quite surprised at the answer!
First let me begin by explaining exactly what the term protein means. Protein is one of the 3 major food groups essential for growth and health. Protein provides the building blocks of our body, is vital for energy, and is very much needed to make hormones, enzymes, tissues, and antibodies. Protein is basically made up of amino acids. All foods contain amino acids. Our body makes all of these amino acids but a few. The few that we do not make are considered essential and must be obtained from what is traditionally considered a "complete" source such as meat, eggs, and fish. Other sources such as grains, nuts, seeds, and dark leafy greens are considered "incomplete"proteins because they do not contain all the amino acids needed in the body. So it seems as if we can only get the proper amount of protein that we need from animal products, correct?? No this is not correct!
By eating a variety of whole, natural, unprocessed foods your body can get the daily amount of protein that it needs and thrive. There are numerous vegan and raw triathletes, athletes, and body builders out there that are using what nature gave us to feed their bodies. In fact Americans tend to overeat in the protein department consuming 2 - 3 times higher than the recommended daily allowances. Too much protein can cause lots of health issues such as constipation, sweet cravings, low energy, and weight gain. Too little protein can also cause lots of health issues such as sugar and sweet cravings, fatigue, weight loss, and poor skin color.
Now allow me tell you about one of nature's most best kept secrets, the most important food group our body needs, and the most overlooked in the entire American diet. Can you guess what it is?? It is dark leafy greens!!!
So now you might ask what are dark leafy greens? These are things such as broccoli, bok choy, napa cabbage, savoy cabbage, kale, collards, watercress, mustard greens, broccoli rabe aka brocolini and rapini, dandelion, mesclun, green cabbage, arugula, endive, chicory, lettuces, spinach, swiss chard, beet greens, turnip greens, and wild greens. I believe as others that this should be a whole separate food group because of their importance.
Dark leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses as they are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and Vitamins A, C, E, and K. They are chock full of fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll, and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals. Not to mention that they also may often contain more absorbable "protein" than animal sources.
Victoria Boutenko has done a lot of major research in her book Green For Life. In her research she found that eating a wide variety of dark leafy greens provides all the essential amino acids that we need. In addition T. Colin Campbell in his book the China Study also refers to the abundant amount of essential amino acids in greens. Both sources report that the body completely absorbs all of these amino acids better than they do the amino acids found in the traditional animal sources. So contrary to the traditional belief, dark leafy greens contain plenty of protein and our bodies can process it more efficiently. But here's the kicker, you do need to eat these in large amounts and with variety. How can anyone eat 1 - 2 lbs of dark leafy greens a day? Simple, juices containing lots of dark leafy greens and/or drinking a green smoothie every day.
What are Green Smoothies? A green smoothie is a blend of organic fruit and green leafy vegetables. Most people start with 60% fruit and 40 % greens. Place your fruit and vegetables into a blender with 2 cups of pure water and blend until smooth. You will have a quick, nutritious drink that can be used as a meal replacement or a nice refreshing beverage.
Green smoothies usually have a bright green color and taste great!! I personally try to have at least one per day. When I do I have more energy, my skin is smoother, my sleep is better, and I feel fabulous. I've listed one of my favorite green smoothie recipes here.
1 1/2 c frozen mango or 1 large or 2 small fresh mangos
2 really ripe bananas (brown spots)
2 handfuls of spinach
1 T cinnamon
2 cups of purified water, spring water, or coconut water
If using a high speed blender such as a Vita Mix place all ingredients in blender and blend for about 1 minute. If using another blender it is suggested that you chop the spinach first and then mix the spinach and water of choice for a few seconds before adding the fruit. This will give you a smoother consistency. Makes approx. 1 quart. Remember, you can pretty much mix any combination of fruit and green together sticking to the 60% fruit and 40% green. You might find after awhile that becomes too sweet and reverse it.
Drinking one quart of green smoothie a day can help to provide much needed minerals to the body which are necessary for bone growth, blood purification, and other functions in our body. Other benefits include helping to prevent cancer, regulating blood sugar, weight loss, improving digestion, strengthening of the immune system, clearing up congestion, and eliminating sugar cravings. They are tasty, easy and quick to make and clean up from and what a great way to start the day. Better than a bagel and coffee. They also are a great afternoon snack at 3:00 pm when you are getting that after lunch crash!
Are you ready to get your green on? What kind of green smoothie will you make? Let us know if you do and how you feel after one week of consuming green smoothies daily!!