necessity is the mother of invention {& that's why we're here, friends} we dance to the music, we play in the kitchen & sometimes that means one of us breaks the wine glasses {we're not saying who} the cook is a cubicle-warmer/learning & development specialist by day, & a writer/photographer/kitchen goddess by night who has fun inventing healthy things she can actually eat we seriously both need capes & a kick-ass theme song & the baker is a catering delivery superhero; no job too big or too early or too floral not to come home & make magic with a mixer & an oven we are always gluten-free, dairy-free, & magically delicious now, somebody turn up the music! we're about to get our dance on!

09 July 2008

vegan challenge: berry fiberlicious smoothies

Oh yeah. I'm going there.

There's no skirting around the issue. This is a post about how I got (am getting?) um ... unplugged.

More than you want to know, right?

Before I get to the recipe, I just have to provide the background and inspiration for it. I don't know if anyone else will appreciate this history, but since there is a reason behind every recipe here and this is my blog, I'm going to share it anyway.

Let me just say that in the past two years of having a malfunctioning and especially finicky digestive tract, I've learned a lot about the particular region of the body that I'll refer to as the lower digestive system (more than anyone should have to know, really) and have gotten oddly comfortable discussing the things it does and does not do. It is a major indicator of one's overall health, and especially so when digestive issues are involved. So my family doctor asks about it. My gastroenterologist asks about it. The naturopath asks about it too. Heck, even my chiropractor asks about it. So I've gotten used to paying close attention to its behavior and learned quickly to get over my really squeamy squeamishness about it.

If I've ever brought it up with you and you wish I would just shut up (or if you're reading this thinking good Lord, I wish she would stop), please accept my apologies. It's just that when this thing that wasn't working properly (and hadn't been for a long time) started working, I got a little excited. And like I said, I've gotten used to talking about it.

Wow, am I really writing this? It would seem so.

One of the side effects of my thyroid kicking back into gear again was that things started, uh ... not working quite right in that lower digestive region. In fact, there was barely any activity at all, at least not without a great deal of effort. For a little over a month. (not good)

I was just a little irritated, considering that I already have a fairly high-fiber diet. I have gluten-free steel-cut oats (fiber) with ground flaxseed (fiber), raisins, chopped almonds, and soymilk in the morning. I eat two apples with the skin every day, one in the morning and another before lunch (fiber, fiber). Especially now that they're in season, I eat a lot of raw veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peppers, snap peas, etc. (fiber, fiber, FIBER). I eat fresh fruits. I enjoy and regularly consume legumes like black beans, lentils, and kidney beans (hello, HOLY FIBER!!).

And still, no change. What the ... ??

I tried some teas that promised the desired effect and there was a little action. But nothing to write home about (even if Mom had been willing to read such news).

I had a follow-up appointment with my naturopath on Monday and told him that while the thyroid was alive and kickin', things in that lower digestive area were a little ... uh, stopped up. When he put stethoscope to that area, he told me that I had a shocking lack of bowel sounds (who knew??) and subsequently recommended I take psyllium seed. It's the primary ingredient in some of those powdery stir-in laxatives like Metamucil. So I went to my local Co-op and got myself some whole-seed psyllium that promised some terrific bulking action. Oh yeah. Now that sounds like a good time.

Now, I'm not one to be put off of odd- or foul-tasting foods if they have legitimately healthy properties. In fact, I'll probably tell you they're positively delicious. The recommendation was to add a heaping tablespoon of the seed to juice, but I thought I'd try adding it to some raspberry tea. I won't lie to you: it was disgusting. With all that soluble fiber, it turned into a gelatinous mixture, like Jell-o that hadn't quite set yet. It was gritty and there was no getting past the musky, earthy taste of the seeds. I could barely control my gag reflex.

So I did my best to find a way to mask it and make the consumption of this not only bearable, but tasty.

And friends, I did it (finally!!, the readers exclaim in unison). Smoothies are a fabulous way to absorb nutrients quickly and a delicious way to enjoy all the summer fruit that's in season right now. I even added some Emergen-C to give it an extra added vitamin boost and a nice citrus-y zing and slight fizz to it.

One of the greatest things about smoothies is that they are very hard to screw up and very easy to make exactly the way you like. And berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc.) are super-fabulous in that they're full of fiber in their own right, so I am getting plenty of fiber action in these babies (if I'm doing my math right, about 10-11g for a single serving).

So, without further ado, this is my favorite version of my
Berry Fiber-licious Smoothie:

Frozen raspberries, approx 1/2 cup
Frozen blackberries, approx 1/2 cup
1 heaping tablespoon psyllium seed
Agave syrup (or your favorite sweetener like Stevia, honey, etc.)
Vanilla hemp milk (rice, soy, or almond milk will also do nicely)
1 packet Emergen-C (I used the tangerine flavor)
Splash sparkling mineral water (optional)

And as for alternatives ... I think it's obvious by now, but this recipe will work just fine without all the add-ins (Emergen-C, psyllium seed, sparkling mineral water) and would also work well with regular milk or orange juice. Whatever floats your boat!

Put frozen berries in the bottom of a blender
Add psyllium seed
Drizzle with desired amount of agave syrup
Add Emergen-C powder
Cover with non-dairy milk of choice
Add mineral water (if desired)

Puree until smooth. Pour in a glass and enjoy (entirely without the seedy, gritty flavor ... hallelujah!!).

And uh yeah ... let's just say a couple of these a day and things are on their way humming right along (in fits and starts, just in case you wanted to know). And so now I gulp down my pride and dab away a single tear trailing down my cheek, think ... if I can help just one person ... [sniffles]

{yes, that was a wee bit of sarcasm} :o)

NOTE: Increasing one's fiber intake should be done gradually, and with a lot of water. For some good fiber tips, check out this site.

smoothie photos by kirsten.michelle


carrol said...

Lots of Organic Agave Nectar. Visit .

Christianne said...

kirsten, this was hilarious. i'm so sorry you've been having the, um, problems you've been having, but i love that you're free enough with yourself to talk about it openly and blog ways to help other people.

so glad you're feeling better!!!

oh, and this post was the first of your food posts that had me thinking you could make for a great health-food restaurateur . . .

i'm always coming up with new things you could do with the days of your life, aren't i?? my apologies if it ever comes across in any way presumptuous, as though i should know what God has planned for you. i don't, obviously. but i just like the share the flashes of inspiration when they come. :)

ilse said...

Don't think i'll be trying this anytime soon - although I love your diet - mine has been carbs and fruit lately - I'm trying to be good, but i'm lazy!