hibiscus mint smoothie - food as medicine


as a personal chef, i have many many hours each week in solitude - not only at my clients homes, but also in my own kitchen with my self-employed schedule. i enjoy this time alone, find motivation easily, and although my body settles into the rhythm of cooking for hours on end my brain needs additional stimulation. i devour podcasts. i swiftly listen through full seasons, so quickly that the stories tend to blend together. i catch myself in conversations saying "i listened to a podcast about that..." and then trail off, not fully able to recall the major points of the podcast. nevertheless, they entertain me while i am chopping weeks worth of vegetables. i don't know why i haven't considered audio-books before, but i signed up for a free trial of 'audible' and the first title i downloaded was 'how not to die' by dr. greger (founder of nutritionfacts.org).

my brief non-sponsored book review: 'how not to die' dives deep into how a plant-based diet can prevent and reverse the most common diseases. the first have of the book reviews the top 15 causes of death in our society and what specific foods could be used to prevent or treat them. this first half of the book was dense with data, summaries of research studies and medicine journal findings. so dense i was glad i wasn't trying to slowly pronounce medical words from a page and was simply listening at 1.2x speed. it became a bit repetitive as the solution was always: go plant based. the second half of the book summarizes dr. gregers recommendations for what foods (or categories of foods) we should be eating - condensed down to a list he calls the "daily dozen" (which has also been made into a free app to help you track your daily dozen checklist). 

i flew through the audio book and was so impacted that i downloaded the app and started checking off the daily dozen list. the biggest shifts for me were eating more fruit and beans and giving up my usual breakfast staple: eggs. this was not easy... i adore runny fried eggs, but questions and evidence were piled up against eggs (especially fried eggs). besides eggs and the occasional fancy cheese i cook primarily vegan for myself already. i'm still not ready to take on that proper title (i will still indulge on occasion), but i've made some shifts in my daily meals to align more with dr. greger's vegan diet recommendations. i shifted to my tofu scrambles for breakfast, but now that the weather has warmed up, i've been craving light and cooling foods in the morning. lately i've been enjoying some hearty toast with tahini or hummus, tomatoes and herbs and a refreshing and hydrating hibiscus mint berry smoothie! hibiscus, berries and ground flax seed were all highly recommended for multiple medicinal purposes throughout the book. hibiscus ranks amongst the top sources of antioxidants (as do berries) and promotes stable low blood pressure. ground flax seeds are a true superfood according to the numerous medical studies touting impressive health benefits. for me, the most motivating reason to incorporate ground flax was it's ability to reduce the risk of breast cancer. you really can't go wrong with eating more plants! plus, they are delicious. 



hibiscus berry mint smoothie ~ serves 1
1 cup frozen berries
1/2 cup fresh or frozen fruit - pineapple
1/2 small ripe banana
2-4 whole dried hibiscus flowers, or a 1/2 -1 tablespoon crushed pedals
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
1 small handful fresh mint (or to taste)
1+ cup fresh chard, kale or spinach
~ 1 cup water
1 medjool date (optional)

blend on high speed, adding a medjool date if the hibiscus is a bit too tart for your taste. if using all fresh fruit, you may want to add some ice cubes!

note: look for organic dried hibiscus flowers if your health food bulk tea section or order online. they are surprisingly inexpensive for their extensive health benefits!

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