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April 6, 2014

Breakfast with the Green Goddess. ~ Peter D. Schaller

fruits-and-vegetables

The good news is, people are talking about health these days. A lot.

It’s not such a secret anymore that the food industry is killing us, not so softly, with GMOs, preservatives, growth hormones and a list of chemical ingredients that I could only attempt to pronounce after at least two glasses of wine.

In fact, talk about health has become so abundant that it can be terribly confusing.

Now that we are fairly certain what the problems are, it seems that everyone has a $olution. Because enough people are paranoid about the poisons going into their bodies, there are plenty of opportunities to sell people the cure.

Every day, there are new products, new diets, new super foods and more confusion about what we should be doing to keep our bodies healthy.

Some of the information floating around in the insanely congested  cyber world we have created is valid. Some is just plain nonsense. For every claim there is a disclaimer. For every scientific study, there is a counter study pointing in exactly the opposite direction.

So, we can choose to spend the rest of our lives reading study after article after advertisement, to try to figure out who is telling the truth.

Or we can merely decide to simplify health and take things back to roots.

I do a lot of workshops with young people in Nicaragua on environmental responsibility and I always include a section on health. I would hate to commit the mistake of oversimplifying health, but there are three essential ingredients to keeping your body healthy: positive living, exercise and diet.

Obviously, a lot of external factors influence our health, but let’s take it back to basics.

If we keep our minds and our hearts pure, get enough exercise, and eat pure, unprocessed foods, chances are we will enjoy good health.

Positive living is a pretty broad concept and each one of us would probably define it in a very unique way. I would define it like this: keep your intentions pure and love life.

Every day, we interact with a lot of people, animals, plants and decisions. Living positively means letting love guide our interactions and decisions. We must think and act with humility and compassion and a taste for the symbiotic. Positive living can be enhanced through practices like meditation, service, yoga and art, but each of us has to find the right recipe. Find it, practice it every day.

Compassion is fitness for the soul.

With the busy lives we lead, it can be tricky to keep a strict exercise routine. I don’t always get enough, but I do make sure I exercise at least a few times a week.

I must confess, I am not much for gyms. The idea of people driving clear across town—in air conditioned cars—putting on special clothes, climbing onto machines reminiscent of torture devices, usually with blaring pop music…just doesn’t attract me.

In fact, my exercise routine is not much of a routine at all. Sometimes I walk, sometimes I run, sometimes I bike, sometimes I do yoga on the floor, sometimes I swim, sometimes at dawn, sometimes at dusk, but always, always, I make sure that my heart pounds like a 12 inch tom drum and I make sure to sweat.

As for diet, it’s not easy to wade through the oceans of information about food. So, I choose to simplify things and go fresh.

Food activist Michael Pollan presented us with an ironically revolutionary idea when he wrote “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Adding as many fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet as possible is a great gift to your body.

A diet based on fresh, raw foods will reduce our calorie intake, provide fiber for cleansing, as well as contributing essential vitamins, minerals and proteins that will help to both prevent and cure illness.

If possible, it’s always better to buy organic. When we buy organic, we support the brave farmers who are challenging the monstrous agricultural industry and trying to provide us with safe food.

However, organics are not always available and sometimes the prices can be discouragingly prohibitive. If organics are not an option, we should buy as close to the source as possible, at farmer’s markets or other places where local produce is sold. Buying local reduces the impact of transporting food across the miles and ensures freshness, which translates to higher nutritional value.

Here’s where the Green Goddess comes in. One of the best ways to keep a fresh diet is to seek out the cooperation and collaboration of your blender. I bought my blender at a thrift store for $20, don’t be tricked into thinking that high tech equipment is necessary for good health.

I love to start each day with a creative blend. One of my favorites, the Green Goddess, was just an experiment that happened to go right.  I’m not very good with measurements, so the following are some very loose suggestions. The ratio of ingredients can be modified to suit personal taste.

– Spinach, a healthy handful, chopped finely. This will provide you with Niacin, Zinc, fiber, protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, among other ingenuous benefits.

– Celery, three toothbrush sized stalks, reduced to tiny, green u’s . Celery is a pretty humble vegetable, but it will give you some essential vitamins and minerals to start the day- Riboflavin, vitamin B6, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorous, fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Potassium.

– Cucumber, a section as long as your forefinger, diced, don’t even think about messing with that deep green skin.  Cucumber will contribute Vitamin A, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and Potassium.

– Pineapple, three rings, solid and imposing. Pineapple will not only add a pleasant tang to the mix; it will also throw in some Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and Manganese.

– Fresh juice from three oranges. The greatest attribute of an orange is obviously Vitamin C, but you will also find some Thiamin, Folate, and  Potassium lurking in there.

Peter Schaller

The end product will be a frothy glass full of pure energy, with a tone that Crayola would haveto name Goddess Green.

It truly is a majestic creation, especially if you drink it outside, with first light dipping into the glass.

Drinking your breakfast instead of eating something more cumbersome will keep you light for the first part of the day and will help to get some key organs (kidneys, liver, bladder) into fast action.

Don’t get caught up in all the hype about health. It’s not a complex issue and it is certainly not about marketing. Keep your intentions pure, make your heart earn its keep a few times a week—it’s not just there to help you fall in love.

And, try having breakfast with the Green Goddess. She will add a charming and energizing presence to the beginning of your day.

 

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Peter D. Schaller

Peter Schaller is an artist and activist who lives in Nicaragua. In addition to working for a small community development organization, Rayo de Sol, he spends most of his time studying insects, leaves, clouds and alleys- seeking the extraordinary in the most ordinary places. He can be reached at 5 a.m., sitting at a table made from pallets in a yard full of endless wonders.