Eat Well, Live Well – the green smoothie


I have long been interested in ‘eating right’, though not always the best practitioner. As a child, Popeye sold me in the importance of eating spinach, but it has always been a struggle to actually eat it. It’s not that tasty. Drench it in oil and vinegar or other fatty/carb-loaded dressing and okay, yum. But that kind of negates the healthy aspect of it. Cooking it into things is good, from Indian curries to Italian tomato sauces, but I’m too lazy to do that terribly often.

And hence, the green smoothie. A couple years ago I began making these, and over the last 6 months they’ve become more or less part of my daily routine. Today, Elephant journal posted a good article about the amazing ‘green smoothie‘ with countless tasty-looking recipes. Here is my recipe:

1 cup yogurt (120 cal.)
1 banana, unpeeled (100)
1 small apple (seeds removed) (50)
1.5 Tbs PB (170)
25 g protein powder (100)
1/2 Tbs. Spirulina (10)
1/2 Tbs. Chlorella (10)
3 cups fresh spinach (40)
1-2 cups water to adjust thickness

600 calories of goodness; approx 300 carb, 200 protein, 100 fat.


You might not need that much protein, of course, in which case you can cut out the powder. And the PB is high in fat, so if you’re eating this as a snack (I use it as a meal replacement), you can cut that down or out completely.

Other aspects of food that I am interested in are cost, human rights, animal treatment, and environmental impact (buying local, organic when possible, etc.). Needless to say, it’s complex. But in terms of moral decisions, what we eat ranks amongst the very highest simply because it is a choice we make every single day.

Reading about recently has had me thinking a lot about the first of those aspects: cost. Despite what I’ve just written, it turns out that billions of people don’t have much choice at all when it comes to what they eat each day. Many of them face chronic malnutrition and/or starvation while many of us stress out about which restaurant to go to.

Living on less than £1 a day for food and drink is not easy but it is possible. Across the globe 1.4 billion people do it everyday for everything- food, drink, healthcare, education, travel, everything. (from livebelow…uk)

While I’m not going to give up restaurants or urge others to do so, I have been thinking a lot about taking the challenge to live for £1 a day for food for one week. Supposing I don’t eat out at all, most days I can get pretty far before hitting £1 in costs; but can I get through a whole day, let alone seven of them?

1 cup yogurt (30p)
1 banana, unpeeled (10p)
1 small apple (seeds removed) (20p)
1/8 cup PB (10p)
25 g protein powder (50p)
1/2 Tbs. Spirulina (10p)
1/2 Tbs. Chlorella (10p)
3 cups spinach (40p)
1-2 cups water to adjust thickness (free)

£1.60. (about $2.50). It’s often the most expensive meal of my day, breakfast being basic cereal and soy milk (about 30-40p) and dinner of pasta or something similar (under £1 if I go easy on the Parmesan cheese) – and we can’t forget my coffee – the liquid that keeps me alive – which probably runs about 50p/day. All relatively cheap by our standards for a day, but still more money than many people spend on everything in a given day.

Again, this isn’t to condemn anyone else’s eating choices. However I do know people who complain/worry about money and/or struggle with their weight and yet eat and buy coffee out several times a week. And paying attention to costs and nutrition in everything we eat can become an unhealthy obsession in itself. But, as with so much of life, if we bring awareness to our decisions, simply paying attention without judgment, we might come to see things that we once felt were justified or easier in the past as unnecessary and even harmful.

Notes: I just found and might try kelp powder at some point (and/or fresh kelp depending on price and whether my blender can handle it), and I did get frozen spinach this week as a cheaper alternative to fresh, so we’ll see how that goes.

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  • mickey

    Be careful with the kelp . . . it tastes like raw fish, very oceany

  • bob fulford

    Of all the edibles in the world that do not square with your ethos, bananas are at the top of the list. No edible has been and continues to be the basis for as much harmful environmental impact and human misery and death as is the banana.

    See: (Google) Bananas Unpeeled

    Those who are privileged to know are obliged to act.

    • Justin Whitaker

      Hi Bob. Thanks for the comment. The only thing I could find was the wiki page for the film:

      And I remember hearing things like this in the 90s and perhaps early 00s. I did give up bananas for a while on environmental grounds after hearing about the huge amounts of fuel needed to bring them to the US marketplace. And yes, I suppose England is no better. But I was under the impression that things had improved since 2000. I also found this:

      In that 2004 document fair trade is listed as a ‘solution’ to many of existing problems in banana consumption. All of the bananas I buy are fair trade. I know this doesn’t solve all problems (transport being one of them), but I think it still think it leaves bananas amongst favourable choices for mindful consumption. If you have more (and more recent) information, I’d love to see it and might use it in a future post. I’m especially interested in regionally differentiated ‘best practices’ suggestions. For instance, what should someone eat in England, vs France, N. America etc (more specific breakdowns would be better still)?

      Anyhow – thanks again.

    • Justin Whitaker