Drink yourself healthy: The benefits of liquefying fruits and vegetables
Eating a nutritive diet is one of the cornerstones of living a healthy life. But getting that daily dosage of fruits and veggies into your diet can be cumbersome when you live a fast-paced, busy lifestyle. For many of us, the food pyramid is not perpetually on our minds as we go about our days, and we aren't always able to eat what we want when we want.
Fortunately, there is one way to enjoy fruits, veggies and dairy in a manner that is both both delicious and quick to consume — liquefying and then drinking them. Unlike solid foods, drinks are great in that you can sip them on the go, you can put several fruits and vegetables into them at a time and best of all, they often taste great and can help alleviate the sweet tooth craving in a healthy fashion.
Let's take smoothies for instance. Smoothies are a fine example of a food that is both deliciously healthy, easy to make and easy to consume. All you need to make a smoothie is a blender plus the ingredients you intend on using to make it. Personally, I like to use strawberries, blueberries, banana and kiwi as my fruity blend for my smoothies. I usually add skim or fat free milk to dilute the tartness, about a cup of ice to thicken it naturally and some honey to sweeten it. If you come across nutritious yogurt (sorry Dannon and Yogplait), you can use a cup of that to thicken and sweeten your smoothie.
When you buy a smoothie at a restaurant or "nutritional lifestyle center" such as Smoothie King or Planet Smoothie, you're usually limited to ordering what the folks in R&D have deemed a great fruit combo for a single smoothie. Plus you aren't guaranteed that their ingredients aren't processed. Do it on your own and you can mix and match as you please and guarantee yourself quality and nourishing ingredients.
Juicing is another great way to get those nutritious bodies into your diet should you wish. If you balked when you read the previous sentence, don't fret — I'm not talking about shooting 'roids into your bum. No, this juicing is all about squeezing vegetable and fruit juice into a concoction that is both delectable and incredibly nutritious.
There are several types of appliances marketed as 'juicers' in the commercial market, but the best one to buy is definitely the masticating juicer. These appliances, while sometimes expensive, will yield the most juice per ingredient, and that juice will retain most of its nutrients. You can usually buy a juicer at any store that offers kitchen appliances; Bed Bath & Beyond carries them for instance.
I unfortunately have not juiced anything myself yet, but I've been fortunate to drink some freshly-squeezed fruit punch (which contained carrots as well). All three times I drank it, I couldn't believe how tasty something that healthy was. When you drink freshly-squeezed juice, the difference between that and store-bought juice is similar to the difference between a Big Mac and a grilled burger — you notice the quality change immediately. What's more, you probably won't want to go back to the inferior, mass-produced juices you used to drink. Unlike V8 juice, vegetable juice combined with some fruit juice is often quite appetizing.
One of my best friends swears by juicing; he drinks three juice blends per day in between meals and workouts. His favorite blend is of orange, grapefruit, beet, kale, lettuce, tomato and carrot juice; all prepared at once in a single juicer. Yeah, you read that right — kale and lettuce included. Supposedly, kale juice is delicious.
Lastly, tea is an excellent source of nutrition. Both green tea and rooibos contain high levels of valuable antioxidants and have been linked to lowering the risk of contracting heart disease. Sipping chamomile tea is also a great way to aid relaxation. I personally love green tea and will drink it at any given chance... even bottled green tea is arguably healthier than diet soft drinks or sodas.
So if you're worried about how to stay healthy when you don't always have the luxury of eating what you'd like when you'd like, fear not! Just make yourself a smoothie, juice blend or green tea and sip that. Keep a steady supply of fruits, veggies and teabags or tea leavs around your abode so that you have this ability. Store drinks in the fridge if you must — all three have a shelf life of at least two days if stored correctly.
(All photos taken from Wikimedia Commons)