Green Energy

Green Goodness

Green Goodness

One of the things that grounds me is running. I've run off and on since I was in college, but it's only in the last few years that I've gotten serious about setting goals, training, running longer distances. Half marathons are my favorite.

There's a significant amount of tweaking you can do for your running performance via nutrition. And as I've gotten more serious about my goals, my eating has changed a lot. I ensure that my energy stays pretty even all day by eating five times a day and by making sure that every time I do I get a good mix of fat, carbs and protein. And I've eliminated a lot of sugar. Not all of it. But a lot.

One of my latest fixations is eating more raw fruits and vegetables--and I particularly love kale + apple + celery juice. I was contemplating buying a juicer just so I could make it, when I decided to toss some kale leaves in my blender and see what happened. Kale is a great source of anti-oxidants and Vitamins A, C and K, especially when it's raw. Turns out you can make a really good smoothie with kale, bananas, almonds and mint as the foundation.

Below, the basics to get you going. This is a great recovery shake after a workout because of the carb/protein balance. And my dog--who's no athlete--loves it too. There's lots of playing around that you can do with this to suit your own taste, nutritional and caloric needs. For starters, this recipe is scaled to me--I'm small. Guys might want to double it.

Green Smoothie

Bunch of raw almonds (Don't go overboard if you're hyper about fat and calories, but almonds are great for you--they have Vitamin E, healthy fat plus protein. Athletes are advised to eat them at least three times a week.)

1/2 a banana (fresh or frozen chunks)

1/2 a large mango or one small apple cut into chunks or 1/2 a cup or so of blueberries or sliced strawberries (fresh or frozen)

Two or three handfuls of well-washed and well-shredded green kale leaves

Lots of fresh mint leaves

Dash or two of cinnamon, if you use an apple

Splash of agave syrup (Agave is a natural sugar substitute. It is not low calorie, but it is low glycemic index, which means it burns more slowly than raw sugar, honey or maple syrup--any of which you can use instead of agave. Or you can also use stevia as a low calorie option. It's way too sweet for me.)

1/2 a cup to a cup of water (Or mix 1/2 water + 1/2 soy or almond milk for a creamier consistency and more protein)

Put everything but the kale leaves in a blender and blend until smooth. Then add the kale leaves a handful at a time, tasting in between to make sure the smoothie doesn't get bitter, which can happen with too much kale.

You can also add a heaping teaspoon of any great source of Omega-3s, including ground flax seeds, flax seed oil, chia seeds or hemp seeds.

Or you can add my latest find--maca powder. Derived from a root vegetable that is like a turnip and grown in the mountains of Peru, maca is supposed to increase stamina and offset effects of stress--and to be nature's answer to Viagra, guys. I can't really comment on that, but since I've been using it, more or less daily, my energy has been higher and steadier. Placebo? Entirely possible--for a teaspoon of turnip powder a day, I'll take it.