I have to say that I absolutely LOVE pomegranates. I always look forward to the month of November in anticipation of making and enjoying fresh pomegranate juice, which has a flavor unlike any other fruit I’ve tried before, along with its deep red color calling attention to its rich antioxidant content.

I wasn’t always this enthusiastic about pomegranates; it wasn’t until years into my raw food journey that I came to truly appreciate them. After all, pomegranates cannot be easily peeled and eaten or bitten into like so many of the more common fruits we enjoy. Some of you may know this from experience. The good news is that there are many ways to enjoy pomegranates, the first being juice.

Before we get started, let’s take a closer look at what a pomegranate actually is.

When you open a pomegranate, you will see tough fiber interspersed with pockets of individual seeds each surrounded by a dark red fluid-filled pouch. These are called arils. When one juices a pomegranate, they are releasing the dark red fluid from these arils. Please know that using a nice bamboo cutting board for pomegranate preparation may lead to stains. I learned this the hard way, and now I use a cutting surface that doesn’t stain.

There are many techniques and juicers that can be used to make pomegranate juice, with our favorite method being the use of our manual citrus press.

We find that using a press does not break down the white pomegranate seeds, but rather, separates the juice from the seeds and fiber, resulting in a dark red colored juice, which we love. We have found that the use of some electrical juicers breaks down the white pomegranate seeds, yielding a lighter tasting pink juice which is a combination of red pomegranate juice and broken down white pomegranate seeds. Our taste preference is the dark red juice.

In order to get as much juice as possible out of our pomegranates, we cut the pomegranates into quarters. Cutting the pomegranates in half also works, but we have found that we get more juice if we cut the fruit in quarters. If you do not have a manual citrus press, a hand-held citrus juicer will work as well. Although, you may not get as much juice out of the pomegranates that you would with a citrus press. Before we got our citrus press, we used a hand-held citrus juicer and had good results. Be aware that juicing with either press method may lead to the red juice spraying onto surrounding counter tops, walls, and clothing. I wish I had known this the first time I juiced pomegranates.

We have found that juicing ripe pomegranates produces juice with notably less astringency than ripe pomegranates. How can you tell when a pomegranate is ripe? When the skin is cracked. We’ve rarely seen pomegranates with cracked skin for sale in stores; we’ve mostly seen them growing on trees in yards or at farmers markets. Does this deter us from purchasing pomegranates without cracked skins? No. We just realize that such pomegranates may have some astringency to their taste.

The flavor of pomegranates can be strong regardless if fully ripe or not, so we often enjoy the combination of pomegranate juice with fresh squeezed orange juice. The orange juice counters the astringency of the pomegranate juice with some sweetness and makes for a nice base juice for our smoothies.

Here is a basic recipe for orange pomegranate juice:

  • Three medium Valencia oranges
  • One medium pomegranate

We like to make smoothies with this juice recipe. Here is one of our favorites:

  • 1 cup orange-pomegranate juice
  • 2 cups chopped dandelion greens
  • 1 cups dark cherries
  • 3 bananas
  • ½ cup mangoes

I personally really enjoy this recipe with orange pomegranate juice, but I like straight pomegranate juice even more, especially in my morning smoothies. One of my favorite smoothies is my Ultra-Antioxidant Supercharged Energy smoothie that I enjoy a couple hours before I go on a run at this time of year. I even recently achieved two personal running records after eating this smoothie:

  • ½ cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 cups chopped dandelion greens
  • ½ cup blackberries
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • 3 bananas

Here are some nutrient highlights of the ingredients used to create this smoothie:

Menu Adult DRI
Vitamin B1 0.55 1.1 – 1.2 mg
Vitamin B2 0.74 1.1 – 1.3 mg
Vitamin B3 4.84 14 – 16 mg
Folate 230 400 mcg
Vitamin C 120 75 – 90 mg
Vitamin E 7 15 mg
Calcium 277 1000 – 1200 mg
Iron 6 8 – 18 mg
Magnesium 188 310 – 420 mg
Potassium 2543 4700 mg
Zinc 2.5 8 – 11 mg

Given that the number of calories in this smoothie is 672, this nutrient profile is impressive!

In addition to pomegranate juice, there are so many additional ways to enjoy pomegranates around the holidays. I was recently asked how to remove the seeds from pomegranates to use in recipes. So, here are the steps I use:

First, I change into clothing that I am not concerned with if I get stained, then I score the middle of the pomegranate:

Then, I separate the two halves of the pomegranate by essentially tearing the two halves apart over a bowl to catch any juice that comes out in the process. Inserting a spoon into the score can assist with separating the two halves.

To get the fluid-filled seeds (arils) out of the halves, I turn the halves inside out.

And then I remove the arils by hand over a bowl filled with water. The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the pith will float.

I then remove the floating pith pieces and drain off the water from the arils. Here is a photo of the drained arils:

Now, what do we do with these pomegranate arils? We love them in salads.

Many people ask us how much salad we eat regularly and are surprised when they see the actual amount. Over my almost 28 years of being on this raw food path, my salads seem to get bigger every year. When I first started, I thought for sure that I would be hungry on raw food because my vegetable intake reference point was a small dinner-sized salad with about a cup or two of lettuce, half of a tomato, and a slice of onion drenched in some type of dressing. After shifting to a more raw plant-based diet, my salads obligatorily grew significantly in size. Now my salads look more like this:

Here are the ingredients in the salad:

  • 5 cups shredded cucumber
  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • 10 cups chopped or torn romaine lettuce
  • 3 cups chopped or torn dandelion greens
  • ½ cup pomegranate arils (when available)

I love dandelion greens, but I know their taste is not for everyone. Nutrient-wise they are a powerhouse, but there certainly are other leafy green choices that do not have as much of an ‘acquired’ taste, such as frisée greens, escarole, kale, and others.

Here is the nutrient content of the ingredients of the salad:

Menu Adult DRI
Vitamin B1 1.2 1.1 – 1.2 mg
Vitamin B2 1.3 1.1 – 1.3 mg
Vitamin B3 7.4 14 – 16 mg
Folate 890 400 mcg
Vitamin C 233 75 – 90 mg
Vitamin E 10 15 mg
Calcium 684 1000 – 1200 mg
Iron 13 8 – 18 mg
Magnesium 266 310 – 420 mg
Potassium 4302 4700 mg
Zinc 5 8 – 11 mg

Given that this salad has 602 calories, this nutrient profile is impressive with the DRI being achieved or exceeded for a number of the nutrients!

There are many types of dressings you can add to this salad; we’ve found sweet dressings to balance out the bitterness of the dandelion greens. One of our favorites is tomato, sundried tomato, chia seeds, and dates. Here is a link to a dressing that we enjoy on this salad.

Nutrient-wise, pomegranates are rich in folate, potassium, and are appreciated for their notable anthocyanin content and the polyphenol ellagic acid, which has been studied for its antioxidant and antiproliferative properties.

How do you enjoy pomegranates? Please post in the comment section below.

We wish you all a joy-filled and healthy holiday season!

The Green Difference June 2015

Ever since my introduction to raw food 25 years ago, I noticed that there are at any given time a number of raw food enthusiasts who choose to limit their intake of vegetables, especially leafy greens, for various reasons. From my own research, clinical and personal experience, I have found that leaving out these important foods decreases the amounts of important nutrients in one’s diet.

In a recent video I show the content of selected important nutrients in three different smoothies: a fruit smoothie, the same fruit smoothie with dandelion greens added, and the same fruit smoothie with kale added. The nutrient differences between the non-green smoothie and the green smoothies are astonishing, especially for calcium and iron. Here is a chart summarizing the differences:

Fruit Smoothie Fruit smoothie plus dandelion greens Fruit smoothie plus kale DRI
Calories 436 510 536
Calcium 110 418 381 1000 mg, 1200 mg
Iron 2.0 7.0 5.4 8 mg, 18 mg
Magnesium 118 177 136 310 mg, 420 mg
Potassium 1484 2139 2382 4700 mg
Folate 157 202 216 400 mcg

Fruit smoothie recipe:

  • One Valencia orange
  • Two bananas
  • 2 cups pineapple chunks
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ cup strawberries
  • ¼ cup blackberries

Fruit smoothie plus dandelion greens: the ingredients in fruit smoothie with 3 cups of dandelion greens added

Fruit smoothie plus kale: the ingredients in fruit smoothie with 3 cups of chopped kale added

Calcium and Iron: The dandelion greens and kale increase the content of all nutrients listed in the table significantly, especially iron and calcium. The amounts of calcium and iron in the fruit smoothie alone are a good start, but when leafy greens are added, the amounts of these important minerals increase dramatically. Per calorie, the green smoothies are a great value calcium and iron-wise and go a long way in helping to provide the adult DRIs (Dietary Referenced Intakes) for these important nutrients. Without leafy greens, one would be missing out on these nutrients and the health value they provide.

Magnesium: Leafy greens are a reliable source of magnesium because of their chlorophyll content. Chlorophyll is the green coloring that one finds green plants, especially in leaves. The mineral at the center of the chlorophyll molecule is magnesium, so it is not surprising to see that the magnesium content of this smoothie notably increased when leafy greens were added.

Folate: Also known as vitamin B9, folate got its name from the Latin word for foliage, which makes sense given that some strong sources of folate are leafy greens. As evidenced in the table above, adding leafy greens to one’s diet can increase folate intake in many cases significantly. Folate is critical for cell division and DNA replication along with vitamin B12, and has a synergistic relationship with vitamin B12. For clarification of this relationship please see my previous blog post and video on folate and vitamin B12.

Potassium: Fruit is known as a great source of potassium and leafy greens can contain a notable amount of this important alkaline mineral, as the table above indicates.

Many more: There are so many more important nutrients found in leafy greens that we talk about in our book, the Raw Food Nutrition Handbook: An Essential Guide to Understanding Raw Food Diets. Some of these nutrients include the essential omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid, carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, protein, vitamins C and E, and many more. Many of these important nutrients work together synergistically to create an effect that is greater than the sum of the individual nutrients, so getting them from a whole food source is important. But if we don’t eat the food, we don’t get the nutrients. I see leafy greens and vegetables in general as playing a necessary role in a healthy raw food plant-based diet.

Video summarizing the points covered in this article:


In our neighborhood here in northern California, there are many places where we can forage wild blackberries from late summer into fall. When I go out to harvest wild blackberries I am reminded to be mindful of the thorns that these plants have on their stems and leaves. Blackberries are in the rose family, so it is not surprising to find thorns on these plants. Here is a nutrient analysis of one cup of blackberries (144 g):

Blackberries – 1 cup Adult Daily Requirements
Calories 62 varies
Calcium 42 1000 mg, 1200 mg
Iron 0.9 8 mg for men and postmenopausal women,  18 mg for premenopausal women
Magnesium 29 310 – 320 mg for women,  400 – 420 mg for men
Potassium 233 4,700 mg
Zinc 0.8 8 mg for women, 11 mg for men

In reality, I eat more than one cup of blackberries in one sitting, so here is a nutrient analysis of 3½ cups of blackberries (504 g):

Blackberries – 3½ cups Adult Daily Requirements
Calories 217 varies
Calcium 246 1000 mg, 1200 mg
Iron 3.1 8 mg for men and postmenopausal women,  18 mg for premenopausal women
Magnesium 101 310 – 320 mg for women,  400 – 420 mg for men
Potassium 816 4,700 mg
Zinc 2.7 8 mg for women, 11 mg for men

Often, people in the raw food community ask me if fruits are good source of minerals. The answer is that it depends on the fruit and how much one is eating of that fruit. As we can see, blackberries eaten in quantity can be a significant source of the minerals stated in the table above.

Not only can blackberries be a good source of certain important minerals, they are also well known for being a good source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that can neutralize free radicals before they cause damage to our cells.

A 2006 study measured the antioxidant content of over 1,000 foods and listed the 50 with the highest antioxidant content per 100 grams. Blackberries are number 19 on the list with 3.99 mmol antioxidants per 100 g. Foods that were higher than blackberries include ground cloves, oregano, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, walnuts, basil, and others. For a full list please watch the video associated with this blog post or view the study listed in the reference section.

There is a challenge with measuring the antioxidant content of foods per 100 grams, given that one must consider how much of these foods one would actually eat in one sitting. Does it make sense that someone is going to eat 100 grams of cloves in one sitting? No, usually when one adds cloves to a recipe, the amount is usually around 1 teaspoon (2.1 grams) or a similar amount. However, it does make sense that one would eat 100 grams of blackberries (a little less than ¾ cup) or much more as mentioned earlier. When antioxidant content was measured per serving size, blackberries topped the list at 5.75 mmol antioxidants per cup, followed by walnuts, strawberries, artichokes, cranberries, and others. Ground cloves were further down on the list at number 10 with 2.64 mmol of antioxidants per teaspoon. Per serving, blackberries had the highest in antioxidants per serving than all other foods tested, which would include other high antioxidant berries like blueberries and raspberries.

What are some of the antioxidants found in blackberries? One type is anthocyanins, which are famous for their blue coloring. Other examples of anthocyanin containing foods include blueberries and raspberries.

Here is a video explaining this information with some added facts on the nutrient content of figs:


Halvorsen BL, Carlsen MH, Phillips KM, Bøhn SK, Holte K, Jacobs DR Jr, Blomhoff R. Content of redox-active compounds (ie, antioxidants) in foods consumed in the United States. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jul;84(1):95-135.

Nutrient content of blackberries: USDA nutrient database


But isn’t fruit controversial for some reason?

To make it easy for people to find reliable information on fruit, the glycemic index, glycemic load, fructose, glucose, and carbohydrates in general, we dedicated a chapter in our book, The Raw Food Nutrition Handbook: An Essential Guide to Understanding Raw Food Diets to answering many common carbohydrate questions.

In the book we also cover other hot topics in raw food nutrition such as essential fats, protein, nutrient content of raw food diets, food combining, enzymes, hydration, vitamins, minerals, and many more. We value education on these important topics and are happy to finally bring this book to you. The book is available on Amazon and other online booksellers.

One of the best ways to keep in touch with us is to join our email list. We send out monthly newsletters, notifications of our speaking engagements, and more:

One of the best ways to keep in touch with us is to join our email list. We send out monthly newsletters, notifications of our speaking engagements, and more:

One of the best ways to keep in touch with us is to join our email list. We send out monthly newsletters, notifications of our speaking engagements, and more:

Pomegranate green smoothie

Here is the recipe:

½ cup of fresh pressed pomegranate juice

1 cup fresh pressed Valencia orange juice

2 medium bananas, peels removed

3 cups chopped kale, loosely packed

1 cup chopped mangoes, peels removed

½ cup blueberries

½ cup blackberries

Here is a nutrient analysis of the ingredients in this smoothie:

Adult Daily Values
Protein 15 grams
Calcium 361 1000 – 1200 mg
Iron 5.7 8 – 18 mg
Zinc 2.2 8 – 11 mg
Magnesium 203 310 – 420 mg
Potassium 2876 4700 mg
Vitamin C 462 75 – 90 mg
Vitamin E 4.0 15 mg
Vitamin B1 0.7 1.1 – 1.2 mg
Vitamin B2 0.7 1.1 – 1.3 mg
Vitamin B3 6.6 14 – 16 mg
Vitamin B5 2.3 5 mg
Vitamin B6 1.9 1.3 – 1.7 mg
Folate 258 400 mcg
Beta carotene 19538 mcg

This is one of my post-workout green smoothies. On days that I do not have a big workout, my smoothies are usually smaller.

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Large light green juice

I have shared this recipe on my blog in the past and now I have a short video explaining how I make this juice:

This juice has been one of my favorites for years because of its simplicity, nutrient content, and versatility. I find it to be a great introductory juice recipe for people new to juicing, since it has a lighter taste than green juice that contains darker leafy greens. I personally love the taste of dark leafy greens, but for some, the taste may need some “getting used to”. I can certainly appreciate this, given that when I became interested in health years ago, I did not even know that dandelion greens were edible. Now, they are one of my favorite leafy greens!

Here is the recipe:

5 stalks of celery (12” long)

1 lemon, peeled

2 medium cucumber, 8” long

This recipe makes about 32 ounces of juice. Here are some of the nutrients found in these ingredients:

  Light Green Juice ingredients Adult Daily Values
Calories 165.9  
Calcium 246.2 1000 – 1200 mg
Iron 2.83 8 – 18 mg
Zinc 1.67 8 – 11 mg
Magnesium 120.2 310 – 420 mg
Potassium 1832.9 4700 mg

The mineral content of such simple ingredients is amazing to me, especially calcium and iron. The sodium content of these ingredients is 270 mg, most of which is found in the celery. Cheers!
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One of the many things we love about this time of year is pomegranates and while visiting some friends this weekend, we enjoyed ripe, backyard-grown pomegranates. I do not believe that I have ever seen pomegranates this red and ripe – so ripe that the outer skins were splitting to reveal deep red colored arils in the inside. Pomegranate arils are delicate, red fluid-filled pouches that surround individual pomegranate seeds. The juice we made with these pomegranates had a rich and smooth flavor with no trace of bitterness at all. We used some of the juice to create some recipes including this green smoothie:

½ cup of fresh pressed pomegranate juice

Juice of three medium Valencia oranges

3 medium bananas

3 cups chopped collard greens

Here is a nutrient analysis of the ingredients in this smoothie:

Adult Daily Values
Calories 597
Calcium 328 1000 – 1200 mg
Iron 1.71 8 – 18 mg
Zinc 1.20 8 – 11 mg
Magnesium 152.0 310 – 420 mg
Potassium 2304.9 4700 mg
Vitamin C 253.9 75 – 90 mg
Vitamin E 3.32 15 mg
Vitamin B1 0.54 1.1 – 1.2 mg
Vitamin B2 0.59 1.1 – 1.3 mg
Vitamin B3 4.40 14 – 16 mg
Vitamin B5 2.71 5 mg
Vitamin B6 1.77 1.3 – 1.7 mg
Folate 424.7 400 mcg
Beta carotene 4241.4
Protein 11.7

I found the calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6, folate, beta carotene, and protein content of this smoothie to be impressive! Especially for almost 600 calories (kcal), which is a little more than one quarter of my calorie intake for a day when I am exercising. FYI, I am not one to count calories, but I find that I naturally consume more calories on days when I exercise than not. Since this is a high fruit smoothie, I really appreciate it pre- or post-workout. For example, late last week, I had this smoothie a couple of hours before running, and found that I had a tremendous amount of energy during my run, so much that I actually ran a couple of extra miles longer than my original plan. I felt great the next morning with almost non-existent muscle soreness, despite my longer than usual run.

For those who do not prefer such a high fruit smoothie, there are a variety of substitutions that one can make for the bananas and OJ. If you have any suggestions, we would love to hear from you. We wish you an enjoyable thanksgiving or thanksliving 🙂

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Wow, what a busy summer it has been for us. We spent a good part of the summer traveling and teaching and now we are getting ready to head out on the road again for our fall Science of Raw Food Nutrition I tour. Next weekend (September 29th and 30th, 2012), we will be teaching in Portland and the Seattle area and in October we will be teaching in Connecticut and Washington, D.C. This coming Wednesday, September 26th, 2012, we will be doing an evening talk at the Chaco Canyon Café in Seattle. More information on our fall tour, please click here. We hope to meet you at a future event!

Now on to our blog post: One of the highlights of our summer was the Woodstock Fruit Festival. This event was incredibly enjoyable with great food, fun activities, and a warm community of people. I was amazed with the amount of fruit available for the participants, as well as a variety of fruits that I rarely see in stores, such as longan and lychee. Of course, the festival provided plenty of common fruits such as watermelon, apples, and oranges. In fact, on many of the mornings I found numerous people making fresh squeezed orange juice, which was not unusual, except for the amount that some people were making: 32 ounces, 48 ounces, etc…

In the 22+ years that I have been eating a mostly raw, plant based diet, I have not consumed this much orange juice in one sitting, however it is not unusual for me to make 32 – 48+ ounces of green juice at once. I thought it would be fun to do a nutrient comparison between the ingredients used to make 32 ounces of fresh squeezed orange juice and the ingredients in 32 ounces of a favorite green juice recipe of mine.

Here are the ingredients in my juice recipe:

5 stalks of celery (12” long)

1 lemon, peeled

2.5 medium cucumber, 8” long

1 cup dandelion greens, loosely packed

This recipe made a little more than 32 ounces of green juice. Please note that there is definitely some variation in the amount of juice that one can make from whole foods due to variability in natural products. Here are some of the nutrients found in these ingredients:

  Green juice ingredients Adult Daily Values
Calories 213  
Calcium 373.1 1000 – 1200 mg
Iron 4.96 8 – 18 mg
Zinc 2.20 8 – 11 mg
Magnesium 159.5 310 – 420 mg
Potassium 2272.4 4700 mg
Vitamin C 94.8 75 – 90 mg
Folate 192 400 mcg
Beta carotene 4424.8 mcg  
Protein 9.51 g  

This is a very strong nutrient profile, particularly notable is the calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, and protein content of these ingredients.

Here are the ingredients for the freshly squeezed orange juice:

8 medium Valencia oranges, cut in half and juiced with a manual citrus press.

This recipe made a little less than 32 ounces of orange juice. Once again, natural variation in ingredients may yield different amounts of juice. I got as close as possible to 32 ounces by using whole ingredients for ease of replication.

Here are some of the nutrients found in these 8 oranges:

  8 medium Valencia oranges Adult Daily Values
Calories 474  
Calcium 387.2 1000 – 1200 mg
Iron 0.87 8 – 18 mg
Zinc 0.58 8 – 11 mg
Magnesium 96.8 310 – 420 mg
Potassium 1732.7 4700 mg
Vitamin C 469.5 75 – 90 mg
Folate 377.5 400 mcg
Beta carotene Not reported  
Protein 10.1 g  

I have heard many people over the years talking about fruit being low in minerals. In all of the research I have done on the nutrient content of foods, I have seen numerous exceptions to this notion. Oranges are a great example. As one can see, per serving oranges contain more calcium, vitamin C, folate, and protein than the green juice ingredients. The green juice ingredients are superior in iron, zinc, magnesium, and potassium content. Imagine that - more protein in oranges than greens??? Hmmm……

It is important to note that this comparison is per serving, if I were to make this an isocaloric comparison, which is a comparison where both samples have an equal number of calories, the green juice would be superior in most nutrients. It is important to consider how much juice one is willing to consume, which is why I did this comparison with equal volumes. Per calorie, green juice ingredients are richer in most nutrients, whereas per serving the green juice and orange juice ingredients are each superior in certain nutrients.

Let us look at an isocaloric comparison between oranges and the green juice ingredients. To get close to 474 calories, we will have to add more ingredients to our green juice formula:

8 stalks of celery (12” long)

2 lemons, peeled

6 medium cucumber, 8” long

3 cup dandelion greens, loosely packed

This recipe (version 2) contains more than double the ingredients as the previously discussed green juice recipe. This is a great example of the fact that greens contain fewer calories, by volume, relative to fruit. Fruits are in general more calorie rich than greens. Simply stated, one would have to eat a much greater volume of greens to get the same number of calories as the original volume of fruit.

Here are some of the nutrients found in the ingredients of version 2 of our green juice recipe:

  Green juice version 2 ingredients Adult Daily Values
Calories 476  
Calcium 846 1000 – 1200 mg
Iron 12.2 8 – 18 mg
Zinc 5.05 8 – 11 mg
Magnesium 363.9 310 – 420 mg
Potassium 4872.9 4700 mg
Vitamin C 213.2 75 – 90 mg
Folate 374 400 mcg
Beta carotene 11859.4 mcg  
Protein 21.6 g  

It is important to note that the nutrients reported in these nutrient analyses are based on the ingredients used to make these juices. Information on the actual nutrient content of fresh vegetable and fruit juices is very limited at this time, and I look forward to research being more complete in this area in the future.

Overall, I was AMAZED with the nutrient content of oranges, since they contained greater amounts of important nutrients than I had anticipated. Not surprisingly, an almost isocaloric comparison of 474 calories of oranges and 476 calories of green juice ingredients showed that the green juice ingredients were superior in all nutrients reported with the exception of vitamin C and folate, which were higher in the oranges.

The green juice ingredients were more nutrient dense than the oranges and the oranges were more calorie dense than the green juice ingredients. Each of these foods has their nutritional strengths and weaknesses, which is good information to know when making food choices.

Additionally, these juices were so beautiful and literally glowed when Rick and I placed them in the sun for photographing. There is something to be said for the appearance of foods and their appeal – needless to say these juices did not last long in our house. Cheers!

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Rick and I have a very active lifestyle and enjoy having a constant amount of energy throughout the day. On days that I exercise, I find that a fruit-containing green smoothie gives me that extra edge, energy-wise. Here is a recipe for one of my favorite post-workout green smoothies:

2 medium bananas

1 cup orange juice (juice of 3 oranges)

3 cups chopped collard greens (6 medium tree collard leaves)

½ cup fresh raspberries

½ cup fresh blueberries

Here are some of the nutrients found in this smoothie:

  Green smoothie Adult Daily Values
Calories 421  
Protein 8.00 g  
Calcium 210.1 1000 – 1200 mg
Iron 1.70 8 – 18 mg
Zinc 0.74 8 – 11 mg
Magnesium 105.2 310 – 420 mg
Potassium 1580.4 4700 mg
Beta carotene 4316.2 mcg  
Vitamin C 201.8 75 – 90 mg
Vitamin E 3.20 15 mg
Vitamin B1 0.38 1.1 – 1.2 mg
Vitamin B2 0.42 1.1 – 1.3 mg
Vitamin B3 3.67 14 – 16 mg
Vitamin B5 1.64 5 mg
Vitamin B6 1.18 1.3 – 1.7 mg
Folate 305.3 400 mcg

The nutrient content of this smoothie is notable and after running four miles today, this smoothie was a welcome treat.

Here is how I made this smoothie:

First, I squeezed the juice from three oranges, peeled two ripe bananas, and gathered and rinsed 6 medium-sized leaves from our tree collard plants. I placed the juice, bananas, and collard greens into our blender:


I blended the ingredients until smooth and added the rinsed blueberries and raspberries:


Once again, I blended the mixture until smooth and enjoyed my smoothie.

The blueberries and raspberries give this green smoothie a lovely purple-brown color. 🙂

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Chocolate mint growing in our garden

Chocolate, did someone say chocolate?! Yes, chocolate mint, which is one of the many types of mint that one can find in their search for mint plants. In my journeys to various nurseries and plant sales, I have seen the obvious peppermint and spearmint, along with other more exotic types of mint including chocolate mint, and so many more.

I personally love chocolate mint – the fragrance stays true to its name and the flavor to me has a mild peppermint flavor. I currently have chocolate mint and several other types of mint growing in a planter on our deck and find myself enjoying the fragrance of the mint plants whenever I venture into our backyard garden. I have yet to find information on the nutrient content of chocolate mint, so here is a nutrient analysis of its close relative, peppermint, which contains small amounts of important nutrients:

  Fresh peppermint leaves, 10 Adult Daily Values
Calories 0.35  
Calcium 1.22 1000 – 1200 mg
Magnesium 0.40 310 – 420 mg
Potassium 2.85 4700 mg

I know, nutrient-wise peppermint is rather unremarkable, but Rick and I have found it can really add some zing to frozen recipes especially on hot summer days like today.

Speaking of frozen recipes, I was recently inspired by the fragrance and taste of chocolate mint to create a fun and simple recipe that Rick loves:

Chocolate mint banana ice cream (1 – 2 servings)

3 peeled frozen bananas

10 medium leaves of chocolate mint

There are many ways that Rick and I have made this ice cream. We have used a food processor, high powered blender, and twin-gear juicer. Today, I used the food processor. First, I gathered 10 leaves of chocolate mint from the garden, and then cut 3 frozen bananas into pieces about this size:


Next, I placed the banana pieces and the chocolate mint leaves into the food processor and placed the lid on the container. I blended the bananas and chocolate mint leaves using short pulses until the mixture became more homogenous:


I then blended the mixture continuously until smooth:


I then scooped the mixture into a serving bowl and placed into the freezer for about 5 minutes to let the mixture freeze. Today was a really hot day, so the mixture was a little runny after blending. Freezing for a few minutes after blending keeps the ice cream from melting before serving. When Rick and I were ready to eat the ice cream, we removed the mixture from the freezer and served with a chocolate mint garnish:

This recipe makes one medium serving or two small servings. Of course, one can make more or less depending on how much one would like to have – Rick likes to eat a lot more than this! 🙂

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This week, Rick and I returned home from teaching out of town to find that many our small, six-inch long zucchini squash had grown to over a foot long! There was quite a bit of heat in our area while we were gone, so we weren’t too surprised, but now we are left with a dilemma – what to do with so many huge summer squash. Here are five ideas:

1.  Shred into salad – Simple and one of our all-time favorite ways to enjoy summer squash. Rick especially loves summer squash in his salad.


2.  Use in dressing – Summer squash is a great ingredient to help add volume to a salad dressing. For example, we use summer squash to increase the volume of our miso-tahini-lemon dressing which is a great strategy to decrease the fat content per volume of a higher fat dressing.

    1. Our recipe: Juice of ½ lemon, 2 tablespoons tahini (we like raw tahini), ½ teaspoon chickpea miso, 2 cups chopped summer squash. Blend in blender until smooth.

3.  Make spiralized summer squash pasta – Have a pasta party! Here is a blog post with recipes for squash pasta and sauce.

4.  Steam them – This helps to soften the toughness of large summer squash skin. We enjoy steaming large summer squash and adding some avocado for consistency and flavor. This recipe reminds me of the steamed summer squash mom used to make when I was young.

5.  Share the wealth – We are now in the process of trying 🙂 to share our squash with neighbors and friends. Resoundingly, they have said “hey, thanks for the month supply” (smile) and asked “how can we prepare these?” See 1 – 4 for ideas.

Nutrient analysis of summer squash – all varieties:

  Summer squash – 2 cups chopped (226 g) Adult Daily Values
Beta carotene 271 mcg  
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) 0.11 1.1 – 1.2 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.32 1.1 – 1.3 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)       1.10 14 – 16 mg
Folate 65.5 400 mcg
Calcium 33.9 1,000 – 1,200 mg
Magnesium 38.4 310 – 420 mg
Potassium 592.1 4,700 mg

Summer squash may not be a nutrient powerhouse, but it certainly can provide contributory amounts of certain key nutrients, such as the B vitamins listed on the chart above, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

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Rick and I returned home after being out of town for almost two weeks to find that many of plants in our garden had almost tripled in size, especially our basil plants. I love basil. I love the taste. I love the fragrance. I love how well it grows in my garden, etc. And, I am amazed by its calcium content:

Basil – ½ cup chopped fresh Adult Daily Values
Calories 21.2
Calcium 37.5 1000 – 1200 mg
Iron 0.67 8 – 18 mg
Magnesium 13.6 310 – 420 mg
Potassium 66.5 4700 mg

I enjoy basil in my salads and lots of other dishes that I make. I often use about ½ cup chopped fresh basil in my salads, which can provide a contributory amount of calcium, and other nutrients to my diet. Considering that ½ cup of chopped fresh basil has a little over 21 calories, the amounts of the minerals listed above per calorie is notable.

Basil is a member of the mint family, also known as the Lamiaceae. Other members of the mint family include peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, etc. I have grown numerous members of the mint family, and from my experience, many of these plants can grow and spread rather prolifically. Therefore, I currently grow mint family plants in containers to keep them from spreading throughout my garden. In my garden, I have found that basil does not spread as much as other mint family plants, so I grow it alongside my tomatoes.

There are many types of basil that I have grown in past years including: Thai basil, cinnamon basil, and my all-time favorite, sweet basil. Here is a photo of our raw food recipe for sweet basil with spiralized zucchini and marinara sauce:

Here is the recipe:

Marinara Sauce (one serving)

2 medium fresh tomatoes (2 cups chopped)

6 soaked sun dried tomatoes (1 ounce dry or 28.3 g)

½ tsp. dried oregano or other Italian spices

1 medjool or other type of date

¼ ripe avocado

Blend fresh tomatoes, spices, date, and avocado in blender, then add soaked sundried tomatoes and blend until smooth. For a lower fat recipe, leave out avocado. For garlic lovers, add ¼ clove of fresh garlic.

Zucchini pasta

To make zucchini pasta, we used a vegetable spiralizer. In general, for spiralizing, we like to use squash or zucchini that is younger in order to create softer noodles. We added the noodles to a bed of sweet basil and topped with marinara sauce, chopped bell pepper, and chopped heirloom tomato.

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Or more specifically, what is in our salad. 🙂 Here are the ingredients and nutrients found in a super-sized salad with dressing that Rick and I enjoy regularly. We like to change the ingredients in the salad and use different dressings for variety.

Garden Vegetable Salad

Romaine lettuce – 8 cups ripped

Frisée greens – 3 cups chopped

Dandelion greens – 4 cups chopped

Jerusalem artichokes – 1 cup peeled and sliced

Tomato – 1 cup chopped

Cucumber – 1 cup chopped

Carrots – 1 cup grated

Combine ingredients in a large bowl.


Salad Dressing Recipe

Lemon juice – 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed

Yellow summer squash – 1 ½ cups chopped

Red bell pepper – ¼ cup chopped

Almonds – 2 tablespoons

Sesame seeds, unhulled – 1 tablespoon

Chia seeds – 1 teaspoon

Pour lemon juice into a blender, such as a Vita-Mix, add chopped squash and red bell pepper. Blend until smooth. Add almonds and sesame seeds and once again, blend until smooth. Add chia seeds to mixture and blend until smooth.

Salad + Dressing Adult Daily Requirements
Calories 611
Protein 27.26 g
Vitamin B1 1.38 1.1 – 1.2 mg
Vitamin B2 1.63 1.1 – 1.3 mg
Vitamin B3 9.18 14 – 16 mg
Vitamin B5 3.72 5 mg
Vitamin B6 1.93 1.3 – 1.7 mg
Folate 953.29 400 mcg
Vitamin C 347.56 75 – 90 mg
Vitamin E 16.29 15 mg
Calcium 932.01 1,000 – 1,200 mg
Iron 18.19 8 – 18 mg
Magnesium 336.51 310 – 420 mg
Potassium 4427.69 4,700 mg
Zinc 6.11 8 – 11 mg

There are significant amounts of nutrients in these recipes, considering that the total calories for the salad and dressing are only 611! The daily values for several nutrients have been achieved in these two recipes and the protein content is notable.

Here is a simple alternative salad dressing for those of you who enjoy fruit:

Mango lemon dressing

One mango, peeled and pitted

One lemon, peeled with seeds removed

Combine ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

What ingredients do you enjoy in your salad?


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Hope you all had an enjoyable Thanksgiving, we sure did! We are thankful to have enjoyed thanksgiving dinner at the True North Health Center with friends and colleagues, and we even saw a student of ours there! Here is a picture of the salad course of the meal:

This salad and the other dishes were amazing, not surprisingly. The ingredients were simple, yet delicious, the way that we like it. We do eat quite a bit of salad, given that salads are a quick and easy way to eat a good amount of vegetables. Salads can be as simple or complex as one wants and as far as dressings are concerned, the sky is the limit. Here is an example of the type of salad that Rick and I eat often:

When we are traveling, salad dressings can be a challenge to make, especially if we do not have a blender with us, which is most of the time. I know that there are many types of small travel-friendly blenders, which can come in handy. However, when we are blenderless, we have a variety of simple dressings that require minimal preparation and taste great.

One example is avocado mixed with tomato, another is lemon, orange, or pomegranate juice squeezed on the salad, and another is some type of nut butter mixed with the juice of lemon, lime or orange. One of my favorites is sesame tahini mixed with fresh squeezed lemon juice over a giant salad. Sometimes I add some type of chopped culinary herb to add some flavor.

Raw food dressings do not have to be complicated and appliances are most certainly optional, given the variety of dressings one can make without them. Knowledge of how to make simple dressings is especially helpful when traveling and appliances are in short supply.

What easy salad dressings have you made?

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‘Tis the season to be festive, so Rick and I thought we would share one of our favorite holiday recipes with you! We have always loved pumpkin pie, so this recipe is a raw, whole food sweetened version of the filling for the traditional favorite.

Butternut squash

A very popular question that we are asked is “what type of sweetener do you use?” We very rarely use sweeteners in our recipes, but when we do use a sweetener, it is dates. There many possible alternative sweeteners which each may be more appropriate for specific recipes, but we prefer to use dates because they are a whole food and we enjoy the taste. We also consider simplicity and nutrient content when developing our recipes.


Here is the recipe, which makes 24 ounces or four 6-ounce servings:

  1. 2 Cups peeled fresh butternut squash
  2. 6 Medjool dates or ¾ cup of other type of dates
  3. ⅓ Cup soaked raw almonds (best if soaked for at least 8 hours prior to making recipe)
  4. ½ Cup good quality water (more may be necessary)
  5. 1 Tsp. ground cinnamon
  6. ½ Tsp. chopped fresh ginger
  7. ¼ Tsp. ground nutmeg

This recipe can also be used as filling for a raw pie, or one can substitute 2 cups of chopped pumpkin for the butternut squash if desired. Just remember to use pie pumpkin, which we have found to be more flavorful than the Jack-o-lantern type. 🙂

Butternut squash pudding

Here is how we prepare this recipe:

  1. Add ½ cup water to high powered blender, followed by spices and dates
  2. Blend until ingredients are reasonably homogenous
  3. Add ½ cup of butternut squash to mixture and blend, then add ½ cup of squash and blend, continue this process until all squash is blended with the mixture
  4. We often add some extra water during this process, if the mixture is too thick
  5. Add soaked almonds to the mixture and blend until mixture is completely smooth
  6. Pour into dessert glasses and sprinkle a pinch of ground cinnamon on top
  7. Chill and enjoy!

Have a Happy Thanks Living!

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Last night, Rick and I had a couple of friends over for dinner to share in our heirloom tomato harvest. 🙂 We made spiralized squash with some sunburst squash from the garden and a marinara sauce from garden tomatoes, sundried tomatoes and some other simple ingredients:

Marinara Sauce (one serving)

2 medium fresh tomatoes (2 cups chopped)

6 soaked sun dried tomatoes (1 ounce dry or 28.3 g)

½ tsp. dried oregano or other Italian spices

1 medjool or other type of date

¼ ripe avocado or one tablespoon of chia seeds

We blended the fresh tomatoes, spices, date, and avocado in a high powered blender, then added soaked sundried tomatoes and blended until smooth. For a lower fat recipe, one could leave out the avocado or chia seeds. For garlic lovers, one could add ¼ clove of fresh garlic. We used heirloom tomatoes from our garden for this recipe, but popular red varieties would work well too.

To make squash pasta, we used a vegetable spiralizer. The resultant “noodles” had the consistency of linguine al dente, since the squash used was mature – we let some of the summer squash in our garden get a little too big this year.

In general, for spiralizing, we like to use squash or zucchini that is younger in order to create softer noodles. We added the noodles to a bed of romaine lettuce mixed with chopped red bell pepper:

Summer squash pasta and salad (one serving)

4 cups spiralized yellow summer squash served on a bed of 4 cups of lettuce mixed with 1 cup of chopped red bell pepper.

 Here are some nutrients in the sauce, pasta, and salad:

Recipes Adult Daily Values
Calcium 245 1000 – 1200 mg
Iron 8.4 8 – 18 mg
Magnesium 239 310 – 420 mg
Potassium 4125 4700 mg
Zinc 3.7 8 – 11 mg

Here is a picture of the final dish:

It was sooooo good 🙂

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