Coobook Report: Victoria Boutenko’s Green for Life

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Raw food expert Victoria Boutenko wants you to eat more leafy greens, but she knows chomping on big bunches of them can be difficult. So, in the second edition of her book Green for Life, originally published in 2005, she instead recommends blending kale, spinach, chard, and the like with different fruits and vegetables and drinking a quart of the resulting green smoothie every day. This method, she says, is easier to digest than chewing raw solids and still provides an incredible amount of protein and fiber.

Already own the book? The new version includes nutritional information on Boutenko’s favorite edible weeds (stinging nettles, dandelions, lambsquarters); testimonials from smoothie converts, who marvel at how their various ailments disappear after going green; and some 20 additional recipes for smoothies and puddings, which Boutenko perfected over six years of experimentation. She made her first green smoothie, a simple kale-and-banana concoction, in August 2004, and immediately became hooked. “I began to feel lighter, and my energy increased,” she writes. “I discovered that my body was so starved for greens that for several weeks I lived almost entirely on green smoothies.”

It’s worth noting that not everyone can handle the intensely grassy flavor of kale right away. In search of something milder, I attempted Boutenko’s Welcome Smoothie for Beginners, a new recipe that’s light on greens and heavy on fruit. When I consulted Boutenko about including strawberry stems, she pointed out that they “contain chlorophyll, similar to any other greens. We habitually remove them simply because it is a tradition, and it is not easy or palatable to eat them. But when we blend them, I don’t see any reason to get rid of a little extra chlorophyll.”

After minimal peeling and chopping, I stuck everything in the blender and pulverized for a few seconds. The result: Three friends who tasted my pale green creation appreciated the excellent balance of bitter and sweet. “Subtle tropical flavors,” remarked one. “Light and frothy,” said another. Next time, I think I’ll throw caution to the wind and up the amount of greenery with Boutenko’s Green Delicious, which calls for garlic, tomatoes, and five leaves of purple kale.

Welcome Smoothie for Beginners
Makes 2 quarts

1 cup chard

1 cup spinach

8-10 strawberries, stems included

1 mango, peeled

1 apple

1 banana

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cups water

Blend all ingredients well.

From Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko, published by North Atlantic Books, copyright © 2010 by Victoria Boutenko. Reprinted by permission of publisher.

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