I tried following “The Master Cleanse” when I was teaching and studying yoga in Asia, egged on my colleagues who had “felt the clarity of detoxification” by subsisting on water, cayenne, maple syrup and lemon alone for weeks on end.
The first hours went by quickly (so much clarity!) But nearing the 6th hour of not eating solid food I began to feel like 3 pounds of crap in a 1 pound bag. The 8th hour I thought I was literally going to die. All of that clarification felt more like my insides were turning outside. In the 9th hour, I gave up and decided that I liked eating my food and, if that meant eating virtuously all the time to avoid putting toxins into my digestive system in the first place, I was very happy to do so.
So, I’m not really a “juice cleanse person.” I like the ceremony of creating a meal and sitting down to it. Drinking food is something that correlates with life moving too fast for me to sit down and enjoy a beautiful meal, in my mind. (And who really has figured out how to eat a salad in a car gracefully yet?) But a nice little glass of bright, beautiful, flavorful things that my body needs (and that don’t require my cooking or eating a meal) has recently turned me on and, as it turns out, is just what I need sometimes to keep the day going (and going and going and going) in these those million-mile-an-hour times of late. Rather than kick myself for not having time to whip up something clean and delicious, I’ve allowed this Green Smoothie for Non-Smoothie People to enter my life.
It all started because the fridge clean outs have been pretty epic lately with all the recipe development I’m up to, I end up with lots of odd bits that need a good purpose but don’t necessarily seem to have any harmony among them; those couple of stalks of celery and kale, half-pieces of fruit that weren’t used as garnish, that half-banana left over from breakfast. In fact, it’s only since spending some time at Babylonstoren last spring when I was in South Africa that I’ve come to appreciate the way things – no matter how sparse – in their most natural state – will just fit together.
Babylonstoren is the largest working farm in South Africa, nestled at the foot of Simonsberg mountain in the Western Cape, about an hour and a half from Cape Town by car, on a clay and sand foundation that’s been inhabited by humans and our early ancestors for thousands of years. It’s land has seen a torrent of history, and is literally a cradle where the past, present and future meet in white-washed rammed earth walls, glass and 8 acres of fruit, vegetables, aromatic herbs and working farmland that produces meats, cheese, and wine. During my stay I spent hours walking the land, tasting things and taking photographs of everything I saw. The periphery of the property is bordered with orchards, vineyards and fragrant fynbos, but the maze of wonder inside these borders consisted of plant species I had only dreamed of. Guavas dripped from trees, orchids, lotus and cactus burst into bloom. Human-sized gourds dripped from the trellis in the middle of the garden, and rose apples lined the walkways en route to carob and honey. Once I was done wandering, I sat about drinking wine, eating one of the most beautiful, and satisfying meals I’ve ever enjoyed. In particular, they offered red, green, and yellow juices – blends of fruits and vegetables of the same colors, that contained ingredients that seemed to have little harmony in flavor but that were all present and ripe in the same seasons. Whether it was the terroir of the land in that moment, or the scents and flavors of the season itself, when combined, they just worked. Returning home, I filled my suitcase with edible souvenirs (and their cookbook) to try to hang on to the essence of the place for as long as I could. (The images below are some from my trip.)
The cookbook sits within reach in the kitchen and I pull it from the shelf and revisit the images often when I need the reminder that simple, incredible food is unique to the place we’re in, and always right within our grasps. It’s pages refresh the idea that things in their natural state just fit, and that whatever we have is enough. That bounty is perspective. We don’t need to try SO HARD to make something delicious, or special, or memorable. Just by placing the intention and pulling from the moment, it will be. Babylonstoren itself is a mishmash of new and old, fresh and fermented. It’s a collision that just works. Maybe much like the possibility of the smoothie and the busy schedule. Instead of giving into the smoothie, I find that it actually buys me space – in the day, in the fridge – and I appreciate that as its own ritual. So, I pulled out the misfit celery, kale, kiwi, banana and avocado out and what came of them is a concoction that’s a nice balance of sweet and tart, not cloying, and just cleansing enough without tasting like a lawn. That was ceremony enough.
A few notes here: I like the idea of having a baseline to start with when blending a smoothie and maybe this will be a good one for you. The ingredients here are what I typically have on hand and you’ll see that there are tart, bitter, sweet and buttery flavors in balance. You could add a little more kale if you wanted a more bright tasting smoothie, or some extra dates or a squeeze of honey to make it sweeter. Up to you. You could also swap out the celery for rhubarb, the kale for spinach or other leafy greens, and the berries for….whatever you have on hand. And, if you’re the type of person who likes to add protein powder you can do that as well. Also, I recently acquired one of these. It’s incredible, and so much more convenient than the old 1950’s blender that I had previously been keeping in that useless cabinet above the refrigerator (amIright?!) for milkshakes. I can’t wait to use it to mill grains, make soups…
- 1 celery stem with leaves
- 1 small handful kale or spinach
- 1 ripe banana, peeled
- 1/2 cup fresh, sweet blueberries
- 1 kiwi, peeled
- 1/2 avocado, stoned
- 1 lime, juice
- 2 dates or 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
- 2 tbsp coconut butter (also called coconut manna)
- 2 teaspoons hempseed to finish
- 1 cup almond or coconut milk (plus more if you like your smoothie less thick)
- Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a blender and mix until completely smooth. This recipe makes enough for two sizeable smoothies and can be stored in an airtight container and will remain fresh for one day.