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feel good food that's good for you

simple kale smoothie green smoothie“Oh, thrice and four times happy those who plant cabbages.” Francois Rabelais, 16th century French writer

M. Rabelais might now be in the minority with that opinion, but from a health standpoint, he’s spot on. Cabbages have been cultivated for at least 6000 years, probably originating from wild, non-head forming greens (acephala), of which modern kale is perhaps the truest descendent.

Our forebears may not have known why kale and cabbages are so fiercely good for us, but historical figures have thought well enough of it to pass comment: Pythagoras praised it as an all-purpose remedy; Hippocrates (who else) declared it “the vegetable of a thousand virtues“.simple kale smoothie green smoothieThrough the ages, and from China to Greece to Scotland, cabbages have been used to treat illnesses and disorders as diverse as deafness, gastrointestinal problems and gout. Interestingly the Roman statesman, Marcus Porcius Cato (Cato the Elder, 254-149 BC), a powerful man who distrusted doctors, believed cabbages to be a direct line to the fountain of youth. Today, cabbages – and kale in particular -are widely touted as a top anti-ageing food, slowing collagen decline and aiding digestion (which is key to most nutrient absorption).

Nutrition Alert: Cancer-fighter and more

More acutely for many of us, kale and cabbages have form as anti-cancer foods of the highest regard. Consuming cabbages – and all cruciferous vegetables – has recently and consistently been observed to help prevent breast, lung, gastrointestinal and prostate cancers. Those are just the diseases that have been studied; doubtless other cancers are at least indirectly prevented or hindered by regular kale and cabbage consumption. Cabbages are now seen as more effective than tomatoes at preventing most forms of prostate cancer. For cancer prevention, more is better when it comes to all vegetables, including cabbages and kale. But within the context of a wide-ranging, plant-food based diet, of course. No super-sizing, please: too much can be harmful for those with hypothyroidism.

I’ve covered cabbages previously, but before I get to today’s recipe I will just tell you that kale in particular features an abundance of nutrients and anti-cancer compounds, including numerous phytochemicals (indole-3-carbinol, sulforaphane and allyl isothiocynates being the biggies), beta-carotene (150% per 1/2 cup), Vitamins C and bone-building K, folate, calcium, manganese, potassium, magnesium and iron. And of course fibre – some 5 % per half-cup. For the most part we benefit from it being steamed or simmered (save the water) for about five minutes, and this small step makes it a safely eaten vegetable for those with thyroid issues.

Kale also racks up a hugely impressive ORAC score of 1700. ORAC stands for ‘oxygen radical absorbance capacity’, and basically it measures the free radical-neutralising capacity of the tested substance – how effective it is as an antioxidant food. If you were to be populist about it you might call it a plant food’s ‘anti-ageing points’. As stated in the book,The Color Code(Joseph, Nadeau and Underwood, 2003), “the evidence is clear that people with the greatest amounts of antioxidants in their diets show the fewest effects of aging.” I will stick my neck out a fraction to append “and disease“.

Taste Factor

Kale and cabbages are tricky vegetables to promote. What makes them so healthy for us is also what makes them so ‘distinctive’ in taste – or disgusting to some. A goodly proportion of folk do seem to really loath this group of vegetables. These people may be labelled as ‘super-tasters’, meaning that they have inherited more taste buds. This group hyper tastes everything – sweet, salt, bitter, tart, savoury -so may have a fairly limited diet. Green vegetables in particular are super-tasted, and are therefore very likely to be avoided. Which is a huge shame.

This little recipe may not change the mind of a true super-taster, but it could convince some of you medium-tasters (we really need a snazzier name here) to give this deeply coloured, deeply nutritious green the respect it deserves. Unless you are a super-taster the fruit and seed butter will do a sterling job masking the kale. I love kale in all its bitter, savoury forms, but I don’t want it bulldozing its way through my morning juice or smoothie. If you think you or your child is a super taster/ picky eater, look at this interesting Harvard Medical School site for more information.

Product Review: Cherry Active Concentrate

Another drink that may be good for some of us – but for different reasons – is sour cherry juice. Sour cherries are well-known in folklore, but now also clinical studies, to help with sleep. They are naturally high in melatonin, the hormone that helps us get to sleep and stay asleep.cherry active concentrate

There is also some evidence that it helps with joint pain, and more especially the pain from gout. The great thing about sour cherry juice – aside from the taste and the massive amount of naturally-occuring antioxidants –  is that it doesn’t have the side effects of taking medications such as NSAIDS or off-the-shelf melatonin. But it isn’t always easy to get sour cherry juice, unless you live where such trees grow.

I have previous positive encounters using Cherry Active concentrate, so when I was recently asked to review it I was more than happy to do so. I rarely do product reviews here on food to glow, but as it is something that I use occasionally for both joint pain and insomnia I wanted to pass on my own experience. I was first introduced to it by Conner of Nutrelan who, upon hearing I was really quite unwell with a lung infection a few years ago, kindly sent me a big bottle of it with a pump dispenser. Along with daily turmeric I drank diluted Cherry Active everyday. The above pictured product is the handy 30 ml packets – the ‘dose’ recommended.

Of course I have no idea if that combination is what sorted me out, but I certainly improved much more quickly than with antibiotics alone (I was on strong antibiotics off and on for 5 months). And I have also used it to help reset my somewhat rubbish sleep pattern. Again, it is hard to know whether it, or just the thought of it (placebo effect), helps but as it tastes so darn good (and no added sugars, etc..),  it is my go to when needing a bit of shut-eye. That and my lettuce soup!

I use turmeric, sour cherry, ginger (tummy upsets) and kiwi fruit (slow bowel) to help with occasional health niggles. Which natural food remedies do you reach for? How well do they work for you?

simple kale smoothie

Simple Kale Smoothie – breakfast in a glass

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

3 de-ribbed black kale leaves OR 1 packed cup chopped kale leaves (any kind) – raw or steamed

1 apple (or pear), deseeded and roughly chopped

1 tbsp sunflower seed butter OR other seed/nut butter of choice

2 Medjool dates, stones removed

Squeeze of lemon juice

1 tbsp chia seeds OR flax seeds

1 cup water (can use kefir, but that makes it a very different drink)

5 ice cubes

Optional add-ins: ½ tsp ground turmeric; ½ tsp matcha green tea; 1 tbsp maca powder

1. Whack everything in your blender (I am hooked on my Froothie Optimum 9400 “super blender”)

and pulse to initially blend, then whiz on ‘high’ until smooth. Garnish with extra chia seeds if you like.

This filling and surprisingly tasty smoothie gives you protein, healthy fats and delicious, gut-friendly carbohydrates to start your day.  We sometimes have it as a snack or light lunch. 

I have quite a few more smoothie recipes and other kale recipes here on food to glow. See the Index for links and inspiration 🙂

simple kale smoothie green smoothiesimple kale smoothieLast year: Linguine with Spring Herbs, Chilli and Crab

Two years ago: Forager’s Fritters

Three years ago: Tuna and Creme Fraiche Pizza

Miss R’s track of the week: Sunlight, Easy Yoke and Throne – 3 magical ambient-ish tracks from Favela

Note: Excerpts from a previous post appear in this post.

Disclaimer: I was sent a sample product but I was not paid for a review. My opinions are entirely my own. I really only ever review things I know I will like or have used and liked previously.

Disclosure: I am an ambassador for Froothie and some links in this article may be affiliate links. However, as always, all product reviews are based on my honest opinion. If you’d like to know more about Froothie products, or this machine in particular, please visit the Froothie website for more details. Any purchases made through this/these link(s) are at no extra cost to you but give Food To Glow a small bit of money to keep the site afloat and developing healthy recipes to share. Thanks!

25 thoughts on “A Simple Green Smoothie – breakfast in a glass + Cherry Active review

  1. Liz Posmyk of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things says:

    Totally yummy, Kellie! We are growing Kale… so as soon as it’s ready, I think I will make this! Pinning it now!

    1. Good luck with your kale crop. Just think how many nearly free smoothies you will enjoy!

  2. Great pictures! This smoothie is breakfast tomorrow!

  3. Power to the green smoothie! There has been a real improvement in the food scene here in Sweden in the last year, most notably there has been kale (both curly and dino) in my grocery store for most of the year. Yay! I didn’t know that cruciferous veg were even richer in lycopene than tomatoes. Awesome news! Now I just need to convince my dad (a prostate cancer survivor) to eat some kale! Delish looking smoothie, and I’ve got practically all of the ingredients on hand. I’ll have to put it into my weekly smoothie rotation!

    1. Awesome, Katie! I’m always surprised when you tell me about various things you have a hard time getting but I’m really pleased that you have more recently been able to get kale. As for the nutrients, it’s that isothyocinates in combination with a few other phyto compounds in kale are now seen as more helpful than even lycopene, although lycopene is still very useful. So dad still needs his tomatoes -paste especially 😉

  4. nlockier says:

    Finally, someone who loves Kale as much as I do! If only others from our country thought the same! Great Blog! Definately going to come back to read the rest!

  5. Shannon says:

    That looks awesome! Turmeric? I must try this…

    PS — Any plant from the Brassica family (of which kale and cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower are members) is easy to grow in a backyard garden. Just hand-pick off any loopers (caterpillars can eat up a leaf in no time) and don’t wreck the soil with chemicals (soil microbes and beings are enough) to watch beautiful plants grow to perfection. They always taste better when picked from your yard!

    Another great post, as usual, Kellie.

    1. Funnily enough kale, and some of the other nippy greens, are just about all these rather brown fingers can grow! I am a massively lazy gardener but find that kale survives neglect and British winters beautifully. With our mild winter this year I was picking not only kale but sorrel and a few types of chard these past few months. But I must prune them back to get better growth. If only I weren’t so lazy! Lovely to hear from you, Shannon. Thanks for your wisdom. 🙂

      1. Shannon says:

        Lazy gardening is the ONLY way to go! I think our plants would prefer it that way.

  6. Sally says:

    Turmeric for tummy upsets…that’s interesting. Bravo for making a green smoothie look appealing 🙂

  7. narf77 says:

    Beautiful, vibrant and healthy, just how I like my men (I am holding on the “green” though 😉 )

  8. I love the kale tidbit: kale has more protein, calorie for calorie, than beef! TRUE!

    1. All hail kale!! I have to try and not overdo it. Everything in moderation…

  9. laura_howtocook says:

    I do love the sound of sour cherry juice and I also have heard about turmeric being good for your digestion. Your smoothies always look so good and I am hoping to get whizzing myself soon!

    1. Thanks so much, Laura. The sour cherry one is pretty nice, if I do say so myself. A bit weird, but nice. I get really nice organic frozen sour cherries from Real Foods in Edinburgh (the best health food store in the UK, imo)so hopefully you can get some too.

  10. naminami says:

    I’ve been growing kale for a few years now – still not widely popular or known here in Estonia. Especially fond of the fact that they keep growing way into the autumn, when all other vegetables have given in to the frosts!

    1. Lovely to hear from you. I thought kale had taken over the world! (joke) I’m glad that it has been successful for you. How do you like it best?

  11. I love the iridescent ‘kale green’.

  12. Karina says:

    It looks totally yummy! I definitely must try it! Great blog!

  13. i was doing that for a while i’m gonna start back again i need the nutrients.

  14. erika says:

    Loving the smoothies. Will you post more recipes soon?

  15. idjourneys says:

    Very informative and HEALTHY. I will try for sure. Great pictures, too!

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