In the summer of 2011, while completing my master’s degree in Integrative Health, I had the great pleasure of attending a showing of the documentary “Numen: The Healing Power of Plants.” The film had been highly recommended by our nutrition instructor, Joan Palmer, MS, who had ultimately organized a group of passionate nutrition enthusiasts to watch it together.
Crying Over Plants?
I must admit, I was a teensy bit reluctant to attend. I really do love nutrition, but a movie on plants? That didn’t sound all that appealing. However, as Joan described the beauty of the film, and how it depicted the interconnectedness we share with our natural surroundings, she got weepy. Since I am a fellow weeper who is moved to tears on a regular basis, I was sold by her passion. I knew I had to see it.
The Veil is Lifted
As I watched the film, I found myself overcome with a wave of emotions – mostly driven by the very commonsense core message that plants fuel everything! They were our only source of medicine for thousands of years, and they work with our bodies because they share a similar biochemistry. It stunned me that I had overlooked that basic truth for so long. As the late Bill Miller, ND noted, “it is our problem that we don’t look close enough.” I knew I was guilty of that oversight. I had always been a major proponent of herbs, along with fruits and vegetables for health, but I wasn’t able to effectively incorporate them into my diet on a daily basis. In that moment I knew that had to change.
A Simple Solution = Spinach
The most pivotal statement in the film for me came from an herbalist and founder of a nutrition supplement company. I have always been a proponent of nutrition supplements. They are such an easy solution for me, and I have found tremendous relief from supplements such as ginger root, turmeric, vitamin D, omega 3 oils, B-vitamins and more. However, what he said made me rethink this choice. I am paraphrasing here, because it was dark in the room and my feverish note taking couldn’t keep up. But, there he was the founder of a supplement company and he was saying something to the effect of – “if you want to be well, then just eat more spinach.” He, along with many of the other experts in the film, pointed to the fact that whole plants have hundreds of compounds, many of which we haven’t even studied yet. The synergy of all the natural components in the plant are what provides the life-benefiting properties, not the individual nutrients. I have been eating spinach ever since.
Blending Tastes Best
Even if you are as sold on the value of spinach and other leafy greens as I was, their bitter flavor tends to be a bit hard to take. That is where blending is a real blessing. I have found that by blending frozen organic spinach into my morning smoothie, I barely even taste the green stuff. Besides, by blending you make the digestive process much easier on the body.
Spinach Smoothie Recipe
Here is the basic recipe I have been following for the past 3 years:
- ½ cup chopped organic frozen spinach (from Trader Joe’s)*
- ¼ cup frozen pineapple or ½ frozen banana*
- 1 cup coconut milk (from Trader Joe’s in Vanilla or Unsweetened)
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I rotate 3 different kinds: PlantFusion Vanilla Bean (for a low sugar option); Raw Meal Beyond Organic Snack and Meal Replacement, or Rainbow Light Protein Energizer)
Blend all ingredients together in a high-speed blender. I love my NutriBullet and my old-school Magic Bullet, as they both do a great job of pureeing the ingredients quickly.
- Optional: On days when I need a little extra vitamin C and B-vitamins, I will stir in a packet of Emergen-C in orange after the blending is complete. It tastes like a Creamsicle. Be sure not to blend it in because it may cause a fizzy mess (don’t ask me how I know.)
*Because I am now following a low sugar diet I have started skipping the fruit, and have increased the spinach to nearly a cup, yet I still love the taste!
Are you willing to give it a try?