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Finding Clarity in the Blender | The Green Shake

Posted By Sarma Melngailis On January 2, 2009 @ 3:55 pm In Fitness/Diet,GreenChef Foodie Talk | No Comments

This post is a bit more upbeat than the last – no curse words, cranky complaining, cynicism or sarcasm. Writing down your thoughts is, in itself, therapeutic. But when you post it on the web and lots of people read it and give you all kinds of thoughtful feedback, well, that’s free therapy. I’ve learned a lot. THANK YOU!!!

Since it’s impractical for me to drop everything right now and run off to an Ashram to find myself, I had to see how I might be able to conduct the search locally. How do I do this, in my “spare” time? What spare time? How do I find solitude in New York City for some good self-awareness? And when? This has been an ongoing exploration.

I’ve also kind of yearned for a return of that ‘honeymoon’ excitement that I felt when first going ‘raw’. Raw and I have been married (though we have a pretty open relationship) for over four years now. Isn’t four years the point at which marriages are said to go stale? If you make it beyond four years, you’re solid, but it’s also a pretty common time to break apart? Am I making this up?

Meanwhile, I’ve been noticing this pattern more and more whereby things happen such as the following: pick a book randomly off the shelf without thinking too much about it, open it to any page with genuine curiosity, gaze anywhere your eyes land on that page, and you might just find yourself reading something eerily relevant. Or maybe you’re not sure how it’s relevant, but it makes you think, inspires you to do something, or at least causes one of those “note to self” moments. Or maybe none of it’s clear at all, but you (knowingly or not) end up tucking something away from it nevertheless. I feel like this happens when you’re not looking for it, whatever it is. It just has a way of finding you. As long as you’re open. Or maybe this is always happening, but you have to be clear minded enough to notice it, and take it for what it is: guidance.

Sometimes things just appear and then resonate for one reason or another at a particular time that feels like perfect timing. And I think this is how it’s supposed to go, I’m not sure. Charlie, who is in charge of Product Development (an understatement of her role for sure) at One Lucky Duck, had a few books under her desk. One caught my eye and I picked it up. Victoria Boutenko’s Green for Life. I’d seen this book around, but it was published after my first summer of being raw, so I’d not devoured it then like I did every other raw food book I could get my hands on. I read the inside flap of the book, which references how closely related chimpanzees are to humans, and asks why then do we not take a closer look at what they thrive on in the wild. So, I borrowed the book, took it home, and read it all in one quick sitting. In fact, I haven’t given it back to her.

Reading this book took me back in time with a bit of a familiar experience. Everything in it just makes sense… makes perfect sense. The way the whole concept of raw made perfect sense to me when I first learned about it. For me, coming across Green for Life seemed like perfect timing – just when I most needed a dose of renewed hope. And that hope does not come from a pill, or a bunch of dried up powdered herbs, or a previously unheard of berry or root from a far away mountain top snacked on by some ancient civilization apparently known for living long, disease-free, great-sex-filled lives. Think maca, goji, acai, to name a few. I love these too and consume plenty, as well as many supplements, but still one must admit there’s a bit of leap-of-faith involved with anything in a pill, powder, or labeled a “superfood”. Instead, this gets back to the basics: just eat LOTS of greens. Tons. And to make it all easier, so you don’t spend the whole day perched on a branch chewing and chewing and chewing, blend them.

I felt a bit like I had just decided to enter the graduate studies program of raw foods. At the time, I’d already been making myself green shakes, but only now and then and not nearly so thick and intense. I’d start with fruit and cucumber based shakes to which I’d add cilantro, and then slowly was starting to add a few leaves of dark greens here and there. But I wasn’t really putting much thought into it or why I was doing it. However, as I read this book, it all made sense to me – eating way more greens. This is what I was going to do. And I was not going to turn it into any puritanical fast. I was simply going to amp up the contents of my green shakes, as well as the frequency of my consumption of them, in place of other things. And I was going to do this without putting restrictions on myself. No pressure. Just happy warmth knowing that I was going to really enjoy doing this, and that it would do me well.

Well, do me well it has. I have been in a full blown love affair with dark leafy greens. Rainbow chard is miraculously beautiful, with the bright dark pink, red, yellow and orange stems delicately bleeding up and into the green leaves. Dinosaur kale, all sturdy and dark is just somehow vigorousness in a vegetable. Parsley and cilantro I can’t get enough of. And my shakes have become darker and thicker and thicker and darker. When I can get good sprouts, I add those too. Or spinach, or collards. It’s like the opposite of the horde of clowns spilling out of the teeny car – one can’t imagine how I could possibly get that volume of greenery condensed into one blender. I have mastered the art of making them just the way I like them, adding things in a certain order. For example, I add peeled limes at the very end, not blending it too thoroughly afterwards, so that I get little bites of the pith that explode lime flavor into my mouth when I bite into them. I eat them very thoughtfully, and crave them. I am comforted by them, calmed by them, excited when I’m making them. I eat them with a spoon and chew them slowly. I can appreciate the flavor differences when I use different greens, like different grape varieties in fine wines. And they fill me in the most satisfying way. Yes, I am in love with green shakes.

But what was this business about going to an ashram in the first paragraph and how is that relevant? Well, this has just been a bit like my first experience with raw foods all over again. I feel much better, and I’ve even had some funny physical detox symptoms just like the first time around. However, it’s the dissipation of brain-fog that is most interesting, as it is simultaneously liberating and difficult. Emotional detox. Some scariness that comes along with increased clarity. Because these green shakes are far from sedating, the way food can often be (and yes, even raw food if you’re inhaling it mindlessly and quickly – a tendency I’d fall into easily). Alcohol, drugs and ‘food’ all have a way of numbing you, or at least feeling like a buffer keeping the scary stuff at bay.

When I walk into my restaurant with my mason jar of green shake (or “swamp sludge” as the staff call it), and see all the pretty dishes flying by, all the more tempting because they are so good, clean, organic, raw and lovely, and our brightly colored sake cocktails, that jar is like someone tightly holding my hand. When I feel bombarded and exposed, it feels like a safety blanket. And when I’m eating my green shake, very often straight from the jar, I don’t ever want anything else. Yes, many nights I will eat a lovely dinner, have some wine or a bright pink prickly pear tini, and dessert. Yum! And that’s all good and fine. But for now, I’m also too fascinated by all the things that I’m finding inside now that the lights are turned on much brighter. Things that do me no service that I’d like to toss out. It’s like cleaning out your closet. What? What is this dusty pile of guilt back here crumpled in the corner next to a box of insecurity? Do I need these? I think not!

Sarma’s Giant Thick Green Shake Recipe

This is what I put in my Vitamix. I generally consume at least this much each day. There are endless variations, and you can add all sorts of supplements if you want, or not. I get a little carried away sometimes on that end, but you can leave them all out. By the way, notice they’re called “supplements” and not “substitutes”… I don’t think one should feel okay about eating green powder instead of fresh greens, but if you’re just supplementing, why not? I like sweetness so I throw in stevia and vanilla. You could use agave, or toss in a mango, or a ripe banana. Oh, the fun.


  • 1 grapefruit, peel cut away
  • 2 lemons, peel cut away
  • 2 limes, peel cut away
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled n chopped
  • 1 splash aloe vera juice
  • 2 tablespoons thawed E-3 Live or powdered crystal manna
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons liquid stevia, or 4 to 5 packets powder stevia
  • A squirt of green tea extract
  • 1 heaping tablespoon green powder
  • A wee pinch of Himalayan crystal salt
  • Now, stop here and blend the above to get your liquid base going… then add the following in batches, blending as you go, stuffing in as much green leafy goodness until you can fit no more.
  • 1 bunch of parsley or cilantro, or both, stems and all
  • 1 big handful sunflower sprouts if you can get them
  • 1 bunch or more of kale, swiss chard, rainbow chard, collards, spinach, watercress or any combination of dark greens (dinosaur kale is my favorite).
  • Pineapple is also great as a fruit base.

Store whatever you don’t consume right away in a tightly sealed glass mason jar.

You can eat it as is, or if you’re like me and sometimes you just desperately want to chew and crunch something more substantial, you can pour it over a bowl of some chewy crunchy substances, and eat it like cereal.

My favorite sweet crunchy stew of good madness is the following:

  • 1 fuji, honeycrisp, or other sweet crunchy apple, cored and diced
  • A few tablespoons of goji berries (chewy!)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon bee pollen
  • 1 heaping tablespoon raw cacao nibs (crunchy! …or, for crunch without the kick, try chopped almonds)
  • Some fresh berries if you have them
  • Sometimes I add a tablespoon of ground flax too.
  • Or some tocos for good measure.

I know, I’m combining food in a big way here, but sometimes you just have to live on the edge. Enjoy!

So there it is… I really do want to say THANK YOU in a big way. I didn’t want to blabber on at the start of this, but all the personal advice, contacts, and other references given to me through comments, particularly from the last post, have had a significant impact in steering me towards clearing things out of the way, so I can get on with doing what I need to do. Now my green shakes help too. Also, as always, colossal thanks to Dhrumil and WLIR for support and companionship (even if it is via email and twitter) along this ride.

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