Our CSA box has taught us more about vegetables than I would’ve ever imagined. We joined a local farmshare group, Johnson’s Backyard Garden, when they first opened up to the public. Ever since then, every two weeks, we’ve gotten a box full of delicious, organic, seasonal, fresh veggies.
Moving toward a plant-based diet hasn’t been easy transition. My husband used to be extremely meat-centric. When the kids were little, I prepared lots of pasta and potatoes. Vegetables were a sad salad or lonely side dish. It wasn’t easy going green.
But our family’s tastes have grown over the years. JBG introduced exotics (at least, for us) such as kohlrabi, beets, different types of kale, spaghetti squash, and eggplant. These were all veggies that 1. we’d never seen before (kohlrabi), 2. didn’t really know how to cook (spaghetti squash, kale), and 3. weren’t sure we could choke down (eggplant, beets). Having a big box full of stuff I’d paid good money for and being genetically predisposed to avoid waste, I embraced preparing new dishes.
But when you have a glut of, oh, let’s pick beets, it’s necessary to get creative. After awhile, we discovered it was good to drink our veggies. There are two delicious methods: making smoothies and juicing.
Making Veggie Smoothies
Kale gets snuck into our breakfast smoothies often. It’s just kind of a green background note to the frozen strawberries, bananas, and almond milk my hubby likes to blend up (full disclosure: he’s the Breakfast King at our house — I happily eat his concoctions).
When we had beaucoup of sweet potatoes, I roasted and mashed, spooning the cooked veggies into a plastic ice cube tray (remember those?) and freezing for later use. Adding a cube or two of these goodies to a smoothie makes it very creamy and filling.
Here’s an interesting recipe I found in Eating Well that was contributed by singer Jason Mraz. You’ll want to make it yours.
Avocado Green Smoothie
1 1/4 cups cold unsweetened almond milk OR coconut milk beverage
1 ripe avocado
1 ripe banana
1 sweet apple, sliced (Honeycrisp is recommended)
1/2 large OR 1 small stalk celery, chopped
2 cups kale leaves OR spinach, lightly packed
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
8 ice cubes
Blend it all in a blender until smooth. Makes two servings, about 4 cups. Mraz sometimes adds coconut oil (1 tablespoon) and chia seeds OR sprouted flax to make this more filling.
Juicing Those Veggies
I converted my husband to this idea with the way that all women over the centuries have enticed reluctant males — I pointed out the need for a new kitchen gadget.
Having the right equipment makes juicing easy. After a lot of research and considering our needs and habits, we opted for a Breville Juice Extractor, which also functions as a blender. It comes with a great instruction booklet and makes the entire process easy.
I like drinking my beets; they add a bit of earthy sweetness to all sorts of mixtures, though a little goes a long way. Did you know you can even juice lettuce? Here’s a recipe that came from Kris Carr’s book Crazy Sexy Diet: Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Like You Mean It. Karr gives advice and tips on easing into juicing, and I’ve included one of her green juice recipes here:
Make Juice, Not War
2 large organic cucumbers with skins (peel if not organic)
4 to 5 stalks kale
4 to 5 romaine leaves
4 stalks celery
1 to 2 big broccoli stems
1 to 2 pears
1-inch piece ginger root, peeled
Juice all ingredients. Makes two servings, almost 32 ounces. Other optional greens: parsley, spinach, and dandelion. Add sweet pea or sunflower sprouts when available.
Don’t have a blender or juicer?
There’s always the option to buy your veggies in a drinkable form. Just watch that some not-so-good-for-you stuff doesn’t get snuck in there, such as sweeteners and ice cream. Some “healthy” juices and smoothies really aren’t all that healthy. A 12-ounce McCafe Strawberry Banana smoothie from McDonald’s, for example, includes fructose and 210 calories. Naked Juice’s bottle of Berry Blast is actually two servings (total 250 calories) and contains 29 grams of sugar, more than the recommended daily allowance for women — 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons.
Here are a few Austin-based resources for smoothies and juices: