We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Yummy Kombucha and Kale Smoothies

Adventures in Herbalism by Linda

Red kale, blueberries and cherries blend to make a purple smoothie.
   Today we take a step back from the indulgence of the past three weeks. Yes, it's true, even for the Salvation Sisters, three cocktail recipes in a row is bordering on excess at the end of our Sistercation adventure. This week we will journey back to the land of healthy and sensible eating. You may even consider my Kombucha and Kale Smoothie innovative... a revelation if you will. What cannot be disputed, is that it provides a nutritional power punch. Give it a try, and you may find the results are just what you are in search of, as Michelle and I did recently.

   A few weeks ago we had an event at my Whole Foods Market called "The Vitamix Roadshow". Watching the Vitamix Man whip up smoothie after smoothie which he sampled out to customers, gave me a renewed interest in getting my own Vitamix out of semi-retirement, and using it on a daily basis. Raise your hand if your are someone who is not getting your daily servings of things like kale and fresh spinach. How about your whole fresh fruit (not juice)? According to an article by Roxanne Webber published in the blog CHOW, over 90% of us do not get our recommended 2.5 cups of vegetables or our 2 cups of fresh fruit per day. Embarrassingly, I was in that majority, and I resolved to change my ways.
   In planning out my smoothie recipe, I knew that I wanted to include fresh fruit, kale and spinach, but I was hesitant about what liquid to add to the mix to aid the blending of the ingredients. The Vitamix Man just added water. I thought I could do better. I wanted to keep my smoothie dairy free and I did not want to add fruit juice because of the high sugar content. In the end I chose to add Kombucha, and I will explain why in a bit.

Prepping the kale.
   The benefits of fresh fruits are widely known, and they are in a word delicious, and yet the research shows we still fail to get our recommended daily servings. But as for the tough and chewy, slightly bitter and hyper-green kale... why should we eat it? The simple answer is that kale is considered to be, ounce for ounce, the most nutritious vegetable on the planet. Not only is it a treasure trove of Vitamins A, B, C and K, but it also provides a plentiful profile of trace minerals like calcium and iron. It also contains powerful antioxidant compounds such as lutein and zeaxanthin. As an added bonus, the high fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels. There is mounting evidence that eating cruciferous vegetables with their high Vitamin K content and powerful antioxidant profile helps reduce our risk of dying from cancer. These same benefits, in my opinion, cannot be gained by swallowing a multitvitamin pill daily. Getting our nutrients from food is what our bodies are designed to do. This is why I use herbal supplements. They come from plants...they are food. Which brings us to Kombucha.
   Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that has centuries of history behind its consumption all over the world. The fermenting process combines tea (an herbal drink) with Kombucha cultures, which are a combination of different strains of yeast. The fermentation process creates beneficial enzymes and bacteria (probiotics) and a whole host of beneficial compounds. It is also low calorie and low in natural sugars. There has been a "kombucha craze" of sorts over the past few years. It has been a renaissance of epic proportions, and at Whole Foods Market we sell cases upon cases of the beverage on a daily basis.

Michelle's favorite flavor is Pomegranate.
   An added benefit to the Kombucha and Kale Smoothie, is that it provides a completely raw meal. This means that along with the minerals, vitamins and plentiful antioxidants being consumed, this shake provides raw enzymes. Our bodies and our immune systems all function based on a complicated series of processes that involve using enzymes as catalysts. Cooking our food harms most of the enzyme activity in foods. Thus, millions of dollars are spent on acid reflux products, which only treat the symptoms of the problem, they do not cure it. Starting off your day with a drink packed full of raw enzymes contributes to your body's healthy functioning for the rest of the day. You feel more alert and have more energy, as a result of your body functioning better. The smoothie is replenishing fuel, literally concentrated with sunshine, which is what plants convert and store into their cells.

   The Kombucha and Kale Smoothie is now my breakfast and afternoon snack five days per week. I take five minutes in the morning (really, that is all of the time required), and I drink half while I am getting ready for work, and the other half I pack with me to work in a thermos to have mid-afternoon.
   Michelle became an advocate almost immediately when I suggested it to her after I began drinking it for a few weeks. She was delighted with the great taste, because it is actually delicious and refreshing, and much to her amazement, according to Weight Watchers Point System, the smoothie equals only one point! Having the smoothie for breakfast has allowed her extra points for things like a glass of wine with dinner, which made her really, really happy.
   As for me, I no longer have to listen to that naggy little voice in my head. The one that reminds me that the lettuce on my sandwich does not qualify as a serving of dark leafy greens, and that those four grapes I snagged from the sample bag in the produce department earlier in the day, does not equal my two cup requirement of fresh fruit. Give this refreshing smoothie a try and see what you think.

Green kale, strawberries and mangoes combine to make a green smoothie.
Yummy Kombucha and Kale Smoothies

   I designed the recipe to be completely raw. You can build or rif on this basic recipe to design your own smoothie. If you desire added protein... protein powder can certainly be added. Spirulina powder, 1 to 2 teaspoons, also works well. It's also a good idea to swap your greens on a regular basis. As an example, exchange red kale for green kale and baby bok choy for spinach. 
   The addition of chia seeds or ground flax will add even extra fiber and create a thicker texture. Of course, if you can buy organic fruits and veggies, that's even better for you! For the frozen fruit, I buy organic frozen fruit chunks and keep a bag of the mixed fruit ready to go, so that I don't waste time having to open each bag. Of course if you wish to add yogurt, or kefir, go for it.
   According to the laws of food combining, all melons should ideally be consumed alone, and therefore should not be a fruit selection for this smoothie. For those of you counting points on Weight Watchers this smoothie clocks in at one point per serving (2 points if you add whey protein powder) and is a nutritional powerhouse. The basic recipe follows:

Makes two 16-oz servings:
1 whole orange, peeled and separated into sections (removing any seeds)
3 large kale leaves (any kind is good), breaking off any tough stems
1 fresh banana (can use frozen) divided into two pieces
1 rounded cup spinach or baby chard
1 heaping cup frozen fruit of your choice (pineapple, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, peaches, mangoes, etc.)
1 cup raw Kombucha, any flavor (refrigerated section)

1. Add each ingredient to the blender in the order listed. Drink half for breakfast and pack half for lunch, or make one for you and one for a friend or spouse.


  1. In my quick "there and back" trip to Bisbee, Robyn from the Copper Shop, saved me some of her kale chips. Darned good. Olive oil, yeast, some other spices and then she pops them into the dehydrator. Surprised me as even the stems were tasty. Sorry I didn't spot Juliette on the streets.

  2. Love kombucha. It's easy to make at home and it costs very little.


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