Harvest Health

Harvest Health

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Green Smoothies……The Good and the Bad.

The green smoothie phenomenon has been sweeping the world for a few years now, and it looks like it’s here to stay.  As with most health fads, it has its good and bad points.

The Good:

  • v  Drinking regular green smoothies can dramatically increase your vegetable intake over a day, and over the week.
  • v  Portable - a good option for ‘eating’ on the run. A quick, nutritious snack
  • v  Often kids will happily have vegetables in a smoothie that they wouldn’t normally eat
  • v  Contains the whole vegetable, including the fibre, unlike juices where the fibre is left behind.

The Bad:

v  Most of the greens used in green smoothies are traditionally eaten cooked.  Some contain chemicals called oxalates that are neutralised when cooked, but not when eaten raw.  Oxalates can block mineral absorption and potentially cause kidney stones.
v  There is no chewing involved.  Chewing is the first part of digestion.  Although a blender will do some of the work for you by making the food into tiny pieces, the saliva involved with chewing has enzymes which begin the process of digestion.
v  They can cause digestive disturbances in some people.  There is no point in having a green smoothie if it gives you diarrhoea.
v  They are often made with a lot more fruit than veg, meaning they are sweet, and will cause a spike in blood sugar.

So, as with many health fads, green smoothies can be good, but not for all people, and not all of the time.  Spring, however is the ideal time to increase your intake of greens and give the occasional green smoothie a go.

Green Smoothie Recipes
There is no exact recipe, although you will find many on the internet.  Experiment with different greens, veg and fruit to find combinations you enjoy.  Ideally, make sure that the amount of veg is greater than the amount of fruit.  Greens to try include:
  • spinach,
  • silverbeet,
  • kale, 
  • beetroot greens, 
  • parsley, 
  • celery and 
  • cucumber.  
If adventurous, you can try greens from the garden such as dandelion, mallow or purslane!

The following is a basic green smoothie recipe:
1 orange, peeled
1/2 banana
3 kale leaves, stripped off stem
1 tbl chia seeds (optional)

Or for a more tropical flavour, try:
1/2 cup pineapple
1 stick of celery and/or 1/2 cucumber
1/2 apple
twig of mint
2 - 3 big handfuls of leafy green veg

Add approx. ¾ cup of water depending on desired consistency.  Put ingredients into a powerful blender and blend until smooth.  Enjoy a glassful, and the remainder can be stored in a glass jar in the fridge for a day.

Monday, 8 September 2014

A thousand steps. In a day, and over a lifetime

More beautiful Spring weather over this past weekend motivated my husband and I to take the family outdoors to celebrate Father's Day.  We went to a well known walk called the 1000 Steps Kokoda Memorial Walk in the Dandenong Ranges National Park on the outskirts of Melbourne.  It is a memorial to the soldiers who fought and defended the Kokoda trail in Papua New Guinea in the second  World War.  So, it is narrow, steep and challenging.

My children are 10 and 13, and I have to admit they were not willing participants in this activity that they were dragged into by their parents!  My 13 year old son in particular was most challenged by the steepness of the steps.  It gave me cause to reflect, as I waited for him and tried to encourage him.  Indeed, I think the steps are designed to make you reflective.

I reflected on the difficulty of the challenge and how it can be a metaphor for the challenge of life and for our health.  I likened each step we took on the path to the steps we take during our life.  We find some steps really difficult to take, and others require less effort.  Sometimes we need to rest before taking the next step, and other times we can keep going with less effort.  Meanwhile we are surrounded by other people on their own journeys.  Some finding it a greater struggle than us, and others seemingly taking effortless strides to pass us.  (If you do this walk, you will see people of all different abilities on it).

So wherever we are in our life, a large part of it is due to steps we have taken to reach there.  Each day we are faced with decisions on which steps to take.  Steps that will lead to greater health and vitality, or steps that take us further away from good health.  It's a daily challenge for us, wherever we are on our health journey.

Saturday, 6 September 2014


Two weeks ago I sighted my first cherry blossom, and the effect on my mood was immediate.  It made me feel very happy as it heralded the end of what has felt like a long and particularly cold winter here in Melbourne.

This year there seemed to be greater number of days that have been particularly cold, especially the early morning and evening.  The first signs of spring along with some blue skies and an increase in the temperature seems to have had an effect on the whole of the city and those of us that live here.

Spring brings an upsurge in nature's energy.  We are surrounded by visual evidence of this rising of energy in the appearance of leaves and unfolding of flowers.   As human beings we cannot help but be affected by this energy.  I don't know whether it is just that I am feeling better with the appearance of the sun, but it seems as though everyone is a little bit happier, a little bit more relaxed.  It as though we have been holding our breath, and can now finally breathe out.

Winter is a time of contraction, where we withdraw and are more inclined to stay at home.  This is not necessarily a bad thing as we hopefully use this time to pause and reflect.  The arrival of Spring means we breathe deeper, exhale, straighten our shoulders and feel a sense of expansion.

Embrace the change of seasons.  Become aware of the effect of different seasons on your mind and body.  At the very least, take a few moments to relax your shoulders, open your arms and breathe deeply, welcoming the energy of Spring.