I have to give teacher Mary Tafi credit for getting our family started in a serious way on healthy smoothies, half a decade ago.
Mary taught a class called Eat a Rainbow™ at my daughter’s elementary school. My daughter would come home pumped up that she had eaten a raw beet slice (really?), or some spinach salad (apparently it was easy to be green in Mrs. Tafi’s class), and one day she came home waving a flier with a smoothie recipe on it.
“We had this today, and it was really good! Can we make it at home?”
Why yes, we could! We did, and we loved it, too.
Since then, we have thrown this and that into the blender, whirled it up, and emerged with any number of custom smoothies. Depending on the season, and what was fresh in the fruit basket, stocked in the freezer or in the refrigerator, we had a smoothie for all purposes.
Tafi, a self-taught nutritional educator with a zeal that is positively infectious, has a few suggestions. Let’s call them…
Mary Tafi’s 8 power foods
- Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, arugula, cabbage. “These have powerful compounds that help detoxify the body and are thought to be protective against cancer.”
- Nuts: Almonds and walnuts. “Nuts provide healthy fats, and are a good source of protein. They are also a satisfying snack that keeps you feeling full. Just don’t eat too many; a serving is a quarter cup.”
- Spinach: “Very high in iron, phytochemicals like lutein and zeaxanthin, and lots of minerals, it has key phytochemicals that are helpful for eyes.”
- Lean protein like fish: “Wild-caught salmon is a good choice. It is an excellent source of protein, supplies healthy fats like omega 3 fatty acids, and is a good source of minerals.”
- Yogurt: “Nonfat yogurt is a good source of calcium. My trick is to buy the fruit-on-the-bottom variety, and just eat the top portion! So the yogurt has the taste, but not all the added sugar from the bottom.”
- Fruit: “Apples are a power food – an excellent source of fiber, phytochemicals like quercetin, and are thought to be good for the lungs. I’m a firm believer that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” She recommends getting them from the farmer’s market. Her favorite vendor at the Saturday Santa Monica farmers market is Miguel Loureiro from Fairhills Farms.
- Legumes: “These are a power food. Black beans are a favorite. They are low in fat and an excellent source of protein, fiber, and iron. I also like white cannellini beans, especially in soups and for making a dip for veggies.”
- Berries: “Blueberries are high in vitamin C and have powerful phytochemicals like anthocyanins and resveratrol.”
Mary also uses Juice Plus+, a juice powder concentrate from 17 different fruits, vegetables and grains. It is a complement to, not a substitute for, a healthy diet, and helps bridge the gap between the recommended 7-9 servings of fruits and veggies every day, and what reality brings when the days are long and busy. She has been a rep for the product for a number of years, and swears by it.
Mary Tafi’s 4 easy rules by which to eat
- Read the labels. The fewer the ingredients, the better. If you can’t pronounce it and you don’t know what it is, in general, it’s probably not good for you.
- Don’t trust the front of the package. Just because it boasts, “Good for you,” doesn’t make it so.
- Eat foods as they occur in nature. This means organic apples with the skin on (instead of apple leather, apple pie or applesauce).
- Simplify. Eat plant-based protein and lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and your nutritional plan doesn’t have to be that complicated.
Mango Orange Cream Power Smoothie
- 1 cup frozen mango chunks
- 1 cup orange juice
- 3 ounces organic plain yogurt
- 3 ounces organic vanilla yogurt
- 1 very ripe banana
- 1 tablespoon lignin-rich flax oil
Puree in blender and drink as a smoothie or pour into popsicle molds and freeze until solid.
- You can freeze either the mango OR the banana. As long as one of the fruits is frozen, you will have a thick enough smoothie. Some people add ice to get thickness, but there is no need to do that if you freeze one of the fruits.
- Feel free to use a 6-ounce cup of any particular kind of yogurt you like. Her suggestion to use half plain and half vanilla flavored was to reduce the sugar. Use whatever is easiest for you – the goal should be making the smoothie, and making it fun! In other words, if what is stopping you from making a smoothie is the lack of two kinds of yogurt, just go for it with one kind.
- If you don’t have vanilla yogurt, add a tiny splash of vanilla extract. Vanilla aids in the perception of sweetness, without adding extra sugar.
More great recipes from Mary Tafi