Sunday, 21 February 2016

Liquid Lunch Anyone?

According to the Urban Dictionary, a Liquid Lunch is "a lunch break comprised entirely of alcoholic beverages and no food"... well not this one!

Au-contraire, not only is this liquid lunch alcohol free, it's nutritious, refreshing and tastes way way better than it looks, honest.

Feeling a little sluggish and under the weather, skin looking a tad dull, and with my 50th birthday now less than two years away, I decided it was perhaps time to make a few small changes to my lifestyle.  It could be said I'm partial to a little over indulgence, and can all too easily adopt the "what the hell, life's too short" attitude when it suits. Not that there's anything wrong with enjoying a drop of Merlot, tucking into a favourite chocolate bar, or sinking into the settee instead of taking some exercise (in fact I often enjoy all three at the same time)... and yes therein lies the problem!  Not that I don't buy into the idea that life is absolutely for enjoying, but I also acknowledge the importance of looking after myself - now more than ever. So, time to moderate my all too regular over-indulgence, and get a grip! 

For me, the need to change my habits wasn't anything to do with weight loss, but everything to do with feeling a little healthier and a whole lot 'cleaner' on the inside.  So far (touch wood), I've managed to get through life without too many ailments, and I've not had to work too hard to keep off the extra pounds.  However, I figure at the ripe old age of forty eight (apparently a time of life when everything can start to go rapidly downhill), I can't take this state of affairs for granted any longer... an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure as they say.

Now, having recently made just a few small tweaks to my lifestyle, I'm already feeling the benefits. Just a few months on, I'm feeling fitter, have more energy, my skin's looking better than it has in a long time and, as an added bonus, my clothes are fitting much more comfortably.

So what have I changed?  Well, for a start I needed to significantly reduce my alcohol intake.  I love sipping on a glass of vino to unwind, and would think nothing of pouring myself a glass or two most nights. Now, having taken stock of the situation, this treat is restricted to weekends only. Another positive change has been my hubby and I taking up a fun, energetic and very sociable form of exercise, Swing Dance. Not only are we having a great time learning this new skill together, but we've made some lovely friends and it's working wonders on my fitness levels and muscle tone (more about this in another post).

And so, onto the most recent tweak in lifestyle, my luscious green liquid lunch which I've been enjoying at least four times a week. Now I know green smoothies have become very popular recently and with very good reason. Yes, I can understand why some may find the look totally off putting, after all who could deny this concoction looks like something from the bottom of your garden pond. However just one serving of this latest lunch fad probably contains more goodness than I was previously consuming over the course of a week. What's more, it's refreshing, quick and easy to make,  and actually tastes really great. Of course if you find you need something more substantial for lunch, this smoothie would make an equally great breakfast, just add a spoonful of porridge oats and/or a drizzle of honey... deelish!

So, how to make it?  You'll need:

Blender - doesn't have to be anything fancy,  mine's only a very cheap and simple one. 
Curly Kale (v large handful) - one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet! Really pack as much of this into your smoothie as possible -  it's oh so good for you. Don't worry if you're not a huge fan, you'll barely taste it (same applies to the spinach and cucumber). 
Baby Spinach (v large handful) - good source of fibre, vitamins A/C, calcium and iron.
Cucumber (as much as you can fit in) - low in calories and rich in a number of nutrients.
Banana x 1 - low in saturated fat, no cholesterol, source of fibre.
Grapes x 4-6 - very low in saturated fat and cholesterol, good source of vitamins C/K.
Small cup of cold tap water.
Juice of half a lime or lemon.

Like a bit of spice? Then add one of the following:
Teaspoon of ground Cinnamon - good for balancing blood sugar levels.
Small pinch of  Cayenne Pepper - known to help boost metabolism. Go very steady with this until you've found the perfect amount for you... it really packs a punch!
Thin, thumb sized slice of fresh Ginger - helps aid digestion, ease nausea - also helps fight flu and the common cold.
For a bit of change you could use a small unpeeled apple or pear, kiwi fruit (skin removed), or any variety of frozen fruit (mango and pineapple are delicious). Keep the fruit to a minimum though, in order to avoid overdoing the natural sugar content. 

It's an absolute must for me to enjoy this smoothie super chilled. If you don't have time to wait for that, add some crushed ice before blending. 

Then, quite simply, slam it all in the blender and give it a good blast... voila!

I guess I should finish by saying something along the lines of this liquid lunch is to be enjoyed as part of a well balanced diet... so there you are. I should probably also say that on the days I have my smoothie for lunch, I do also have a regular breakfast and dinner.  This particular tweak to my lifestyle was about increasing my intake of the nutrients and goodness found in it's ingredients, not about dieting!


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