Avocado Mango Mint Smoothie

Makes 4 C

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write about the amazing avocado.  I’ve alluded to it here and there, but finally it’ll get the attention it deserves.  Before I go on however, a little note of encouragement for all of you who don’t love avocados.  There was a time when I was with you.  I didn’t appreciate it, I didn’t get it.  It’s a fruit but it isn’t sweet or tart or refreshing, in the way you normally think of refreshing.  No, it’s creamy, rich, buttery even, and it’s subtle earthy flavor has been described as creamy pistachio.  Not sure I would agree actually, because the sublimity of its flavor is truly unique.  But one day I decided to give it another try and well, there was no turning back.  It’s been a love affair ever since.  I could write avocados a love letter, a poem or even an avocado song.  I want to, but I won’t.  Let’s get down to why avocados are so good and good for you.

HOLY FAT!  Literally and figuratively.  Avocados are super fatty and it may as well be holy.  In fact, 85% of its calories are fat derived and all of it contributes to anti-inflammatory properties.  (Remember that most illnesses begin as some form of inflammation, so this is important to remember!)  Half of that fat comes in the form of oleic acid and this goody helps our digestive tract produce transport molecules that helps increase absorption of fat soluble nutrients like carotenoids.¹  Good news indeed!  Avocados are involved in benefiting our hearts and cardiovascular systems.  They play a role in fighting cancer, too.  According to Rebecca Katz, glutathione, a combo of amino acids, acts as “an internal vacuum cleaner” escorting carcinogens away from healthy cells and out of the body.   The most interesting thing I’ve read is that avocados actually increase oxidative stress in cancer cells and prepares them for apoptosis, or cellular death.¹  So, they nurture our healthy cells by improving inflammation and oxidative stress while at the same time killing off cancer cells?!  Good job, avocados!  Oh, they also regulate blood sugar levels (another benefit of the holy fat) and they are great for the skin.  Added bonus, I’d say!

No wonder I eat 1-2 avocados weekly.  They’re delicious in salads, in sandwiches, over rice and beans, with eggs, in smoothies!  (I LOVE smoothies especially during these hot months.)  Even Claire has joined in on the avocado obsession.  Like mother, like daughter!

You’ll need:

1/2 hass avocado

2 1/2 C frozen mango

10-15 largish mint leaves, chopped (I like the smoothie on the minty side so I went with 15)

1 C water

1/2 C coconut milk

1 T ground flax seeds

1 T agave nectar

1 T coconut oil

1 t freshly squeezed lime juice

To make:

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until blissfully smooth.  You won’t need ice unless you use fresh fruit, in which case, add 4 ice cubes.

2. Enjoy!

¹http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=5 (There’s thorough info here on the fats in avocados that is very interesting!)

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Berry Herbed Smoothie

Yields 4 Cups

I don’t have a juicer.  I know, I know, but my kitchen is small and space is quite limited.  So since I don’t have one, I have to find other ways of getting a variety of good greens into my blended smoothies.  (I also don’t yet have a vita-mix and since I don’t love chunky bits in my SMOOTHies, it’s sometimes a challenge.)  This one however is a home run.  The tartness of the berries and the hint of sweetness of the banana play off the slight bitterness of the parsley in a wonderful dance that ends with the pleasantly warm and sweet flavor of the mint.  Your tastebuds will be very happy with this one, as will the rest of your beautiful body!

The stars of this smoothie for me are the herbs.  Parsley is, perhaps surprisingly, such a powerhouse of nutrition!  It is special because of its volatile oils.  Myristicin is particularly valued for its anti-carcinogenic properties.  This oil has been shown to inhibit growth in tumors, particularly in the lungs.  Myristicin seems to also help neutralize certain types of carcinogens such as benzopyrene which comes from cigarette smoke and charcoal grill smoke.  If that were all parsley did, it would already be super-parsley, but there’s more.  Anti-oxidant rich parsley has an abundance of (water-soluble) Vitamin C and (fat soluble) beta-carotene, both of which play key roles in heart health and immune function.  It is high in folic acid, a critical B vitamin, and not just for pregnant women either.  Finally it’s an anti-inflammatory and a digestive aid.  Super-parsley or what?  For more info, click here.

Mint is also a digestive aid, is an anti-microbial and has its own anti-carcinogenic properties to boast.  It has perillyl alcohol which, in animal studies, has been shown to inhibit growth of liver, breast and pancreatic tumors.  It’s also a good source of more of those goodies, Vitamin C and beta-carotene.

Cheers to that!

You’ll need:

1/2 C parsley leaves and stems

7-8 largish mint leaves

2 C water

1 banana

1 T ground flax seeds

1 T coconut oil

1/2 t vanilla extract, optional

2-3 C mixed berries (I used blueberries, blackberries and strawberries*, but any combo of 2 or 3 would work well!)

1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

4-5 ice cubes (if using frozen fruit, you don’t need ice cubes)

To make:

1. Place 1/2 C water in blender with parsley and mint and blend until herbs are finely chopped and you’ve got a deliciously fragrant green juice.  (You could add a bit of lemon juice here and take shots of this, too;)

2. Add banana, flax seeds, coconut oil and vanilla extract and blend until all well incorporated.  Lastly, add berries, the rest of the water, lemon juice and ice, if using, and blend thoroughly.

3. Serve with a sprig of mint.  Smoothies look great in small mason jars and add a bit of uniqueness when serving.

4. Enjoy!

P.S. For you non-vegans, a half cup of plain yogurt is a great way to get some protein and fat into this smoothie;)