If you came to this page from a Google search, click on Edit in the search bar on top of your screen. Then click on Find & type in the KEYWORD you are looking for, like CERTO. You'll get to the exact spot you are searching for.

Search HappyHealthyLongLife

  • Google



Books for a healthy happy long life

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
Blog Widget by LinkWithin

« Finding Soup at a Hair Salon? The Healthy Librarian's "Enlightened" Cajun Kale with "Spicy Sausage" & Rice Soup and More Of Course | Main | The Healthy Librarian's Weekly Facebook "Brain Backup" - My Favorite Health & Wellness News & Recipes for January 19-January 29, 2012 »

January 24, 2012


Sue in Denver

Hi HL,
I follow Esselstyn's "diet" almost perfectly, and five days a week I have this green smoothie (thrown into the VitaMix):
-A huge handful of organic spinach
-1/3 bunch organic kale
-1 head organic romaine
-1 tablespoon Chia or ground flax seed
-One lemon (excluding peel)
Fill Vitamix with cold, filtered water and blend well!
Delicious and just what you said--no way would I/could I eat all those greens every day!

Sue in Denver

PS-my "smoothie" is more juice-like in consistency.

The Healthy Librarian

@Sue, how could anyone have a problem with the kind of smoothie you're drinking! And just out of curiosity--do you notice any differences when you skip a day or two? I know I do!

You make me want to really blend up a salad, complete with a little balsamic vinegar--for a truly blended salad, and see how that tastes.

La Donna Flagg

I was concerned about the amount of fruit in my smoothie and I may try the suggestions above, but I add a cup of white beans along with some greens to mine for similar reasons.

The Healthy Librarian

@La Donna. Beans? Now that is an interesting addition. Amazing all the new uses for beans I'm discovering. In brownies, in chocolate humus, as a luscious lemon sauce for roasted vegetables.

Teresa Kato

So jazzed to read this post. I had read Lani's rationale for excluding green smoothies from a healthy diet and disagreed on a practical level (I feel great when I include them in my diet) but didn't have the research background or the science savvy to dispute it. I was particularly flummoxed by the seeming backing of Dr. Esselstyn, one of my health heroes (and you're another, by the way), so I truly appreciate your spin on Essie's view... his dietary recommendations and limitations are geared toward those with heart disease and other conditions that I do not have. Thanks to you HL... I will happily continue drinking my beloved green smoothies several days a week!


I think your green drink is great. Definitely the right way to do a "smoothie". I have a huge garden and make green juices with the excess, but would like to switch to smoothies. I've never been into smoothies because they usually make me too cold, but don't think your recipe would. Vitamix is on my wish list. My question for you and other readers is, have your ever used frozen kale? I briefly blanch and freeze all my kale in the summer, for winter eating, and have a whole freezer full.


Hi HL. Great topic. As it isn't possible for our kids to spread the smoothie out over the course of the day, we will typically have one with our breakfast and one with dinner. Do you think this might be too much sugar intake at one sitting? Also, I'm not sure I understand the nutritional differences in drinking a vegetable drink via juicing versus a green smoothie from a blender. I know Dr. Fuhrman recommends juicing. Can you help out with this? Thanks so much!

The Healthy Librarian

@Teresa. Thank you so much! I know I feel the difference when I drink them from when I'm out-of-town, and cannot. I see only positives for my particular body.

@Elizabeth. David Hunker over on HHLL - HL facebook was just saying he uses WF frozen kale exclusively. If I had a supply from my garden, I would use it. Only a food scientist could give you the low-down of the differences. I haven't a clue.

@Chell. If I had young kids & they were willing to drink a smoothie, I'd be very happy. You could always serve them some in the am, & some after school, or after dinner. If I'm understanding your question--juicing usually means extracting the juice from the fiber, and that for sure could give someone a sugar rush. Blending is the same as using a VitaMix or a high-power blender that liquifies the vegetables & fruit and retains the fiber.


Thanks, HL, for your response regarding the kids. It's always helpful to put things into perspective. As a recovering perfectionist, I can easily lose sight of the bigger picture. Not to say that continual improvement isn't important, but it's definitely a process rather than a destination. ; )

Regarding juicing vs blending - wouldn't one cup of 100% vegetable juice pack more nutrition than one cup of 100% vegetable smoothie? I understand that the fiber in a smoothie is very beneficial to our digestive system, and so I'm trying to understand the juicing proponents and what the experts would say.

Jim Richardson

Glad to see kale getting more publicity here. Many don't realize that kale is one vegetable you can pick fresh all through winter in most climates, even here in the "Great White North". Ask people who live in Finland near the Arctic circle about kale; it's a staple there as they cannot grow too many things outside. I live on a hilltop south of Buffalo, NY, typically over 200" of snow each year, one of the snowiest spots in the USA. As a geezer, by now I've tried every seed variety of kale I could get my hands on and recommend Winterbor as the clear #1 choice for autumn and winter eating and hardiness to both snow loading and raw cold temperatures. It is hardy beyond belief and tastes as good as any you can buy. I have about 40 18-inch diameter plants in my garden at the moment, and even though growth has halted under the snow, it's enough to last me 3 pickings a week until spring when the snow melts and the sun returns. One caution: if you have deer on your property, they love it and will even dig the roots under snow as well. You must grow it within 4 foot tall fencing in about 4 foot wide galleries or small circular 4 foot fencing areas: deer will not leap into such small areas. I also have 3 cats who love it cooked as a treat, not raw, but I don't expect many people to believe me. I wouldn't have. Red Russian is also a tasty variety that doesn't have the look of borecole but wilts quickly so you seldom see it in markets, and it not as cold-hardy as Winterbor hybrid. But both are easy to grow and start from seed and have few insect pests. I have yet to spray any of my plants. Hope this helps. Fresh garden veggies in the dead of winter?! -- not many people can say that but you can too if you try.

Jim Richardson,

Janet Mace

I read this post as I ate some leftover Cajun Kale/Rice soup (made a batch yesterday as it really RAINED in So. Calif. and it gave me plenty of time to shop and cook). I love all the vegan stews and soups, but smoothies do not tempt me at all. I don't like drinking my food, I guess and I never used a juicer that I paid over $300 for back in our hippie years of the 1970's, so VitaMix is out of the question. It's an interesting debate I guess, but I'll just watch from the sidelines.

Carole Hwang

Thanks for the super timely post! After months of Osterizing, I finally got a Vitamix over the weekend. Smoothie on! I could never chew the amount of kale and carrots that I have in my smoothies!

linda mandel

Debbie, could you explain why you wrote not to put non-dairy milk in a smoothie? I have a green smoothie for breakfast, and without the soy milk, it does not hold me as long.

My smooothie is kale, cooked squash or carrots, berries, flax, 1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk and a scoop of Shakeology (for the special nutrients it provides).

Thanks, Linda

The Healthy Librarian

@Jim, I'm putting my husband-the vegetable gardener--in touch with you!! He wasn't too successful growing kale this summer--and I want to save money by growing it--not buying it! He needs to know your tricks of the trade, although you've shared a lot in this post already! Thank you so much!

@ Chell: I'm definitely not an expert, but veg juice would certainly seem healthier than fruit juice. I'm all about eating the fiber. But, others think there are advantages both as a juice & a blended drink. Can't help you too much in that dept.

@Linda: So sorry about that off-the-cuff comment about "not adding non-dairy milk or yogurt" As far as I know there's no scientific or logical reason to leave them out. I just meant it as, "It's not necessary to add non-dairy milk or yogurt to your smoothie" -- because a lot people think you have to add "milk" or "yogurt" to make it a nutritious smoothie. There's no reason to leave it out! If it tastes better that way--for sure you should do it!!! I better edit that comment ASAP.

Chris in Ithaca

I'm so glad you posted this! I too had read with dismay Lani Muelrath's post a couple days ago, & felt pretty strongly that it was too general a dismissal of smoothies (IMHO):). As you've said, I know I couldn't consistently eat the amount of greens I can pack into a smoothie, and felt that if the alternative is not ingesting the greens, I was way better off getting those greens nutrients (fiber included) in me, than not. There are so many smoothie recipes out there that are really heavy on the fruits, with usually a small amount of just spinach added to qualify as a green smoothie. (Green-washing in smoothie-dom!) As those of us who've been drinking them awhile know, your tolerance for earthy over sweetness grows. I've used frozen greens when I had none fresh, and find that a fresh beet gives some sweetness & nutrients (& really improves the color!). I've always used water as the liquid too. Dr. E talks about the lack of satiety from not eating greens whole, but as you've said, Debby, I don't use them as a meal replacement, but as a supplement/healthy snack. Thanks again for posting this!

The Healthy Librarian

@Chris in Ithaca: So well said, Chris!!! I really appreciate your thoughtful & articulate response.

Where have I been? I only discovered Lani Muelrath about 3 weeks ago when a reader sent me her post in response to Tara Parker Pope's "Fat Trap" article on Jan. 1st. And then another reader sent me this smoothie post.

Chris in Ithaca

You're so busy reading and watching the source "docs" (pun intended!) and sharing them with the rest of us, along with all your knowledgeable commentary and notes! I've learned so much from you, and always look forward to your latest posts. merci beau coup.


There seem to be many Vitamix models, which do you recommend?

The Healthy Librarian

@Elizath, the basic 5200 with a 64 ounce container will work great.


Smoothies can be a nutritional life-saver when things get so hectic and stressful that there is no time to eat, or GI trouble interferes. I developed stress-induced gastritis a few years ago, and started dropping weight (I'm tall and thin- went from 5'10" 145 lbs to 133 in spurts of loss over a few months). The only way I stopped the loss was with smoothies- including peanut butter and/or chocolate with frozen fruit and soy milk. NOT Esselstyn approved, I know, but I had to do something to get calories to go down and get absorbed. I'll have to try the vegetable kind when I can purchase a better blender. My weight stabilized (still eating lots of snacks) at about 137- what I weighed at 30!
For people who struggle to keep weight or are recovering from illness, the right smoothie can be a way to get good nutrition in a palatable form.


There is a lot of discussion in this thread on this subject:

For me - as someone who was an out of control diabetic and morbidly obese they are not a good idea. Even as you describe. When you strip the fiber from the vegetable or fruit there are issues that arise. For people who are thin and do not have health problems - maybe they work just fine and they don't notice the really bad effects of the smoothie, but to suggest them for people who are sick or obese would be a really big problem, especially with issues of blood pressure (Dr. E says they raise BP as well). Dr. Esselstyn, McDougall, Klapper, Jeff Novick, Dr. Sultana, Goldhammer, Lederman and Doug Lisle (who wrote Pleasure Trap) are all against them in the daily meal plan , especially for people who are suffering from heart disease/diabetes/obesity- sure as a treat like a milkshake, maybe but not for a daily meal.

I know that many people are hooked on smoothies and juice - they taste great :) big rush of calories and sugar always does, so it makes sense why people feel great as soon as they eat them. But for me - someone who is still losing weight and working hard at completely reversing diabetes? They are not a healthy choice - but a dangerous one.

There is so much goodness in chewing food and letting our bodies take care of the digestion process with out aiding it by sticking it in a blender and breaking it down. I love just letting my body do what it does best. Drinking calories is just a problematic thing for anyone who is trying to lose weight or who has diabetes.

After all, some of the healthiest populations on the planet are not throwing all of their food in blenders and juicers. I like what Goldhammer says on this - eat food, as close to how it looks in nature as possible.

So - my thing is - if you are healthy, thin and you enjoy them from time to time - sure go ahead. But this advice for anyone who is suffering and sick is going to cause some pretty bad health problems, which I know no one wants for anyone.


oh - and Dr. Campbell is also against them - forgot to mention him :)


I just cannot bring myself to drink vegetables - to me, it's like drinking vomit! Amazing how we're all so different.

wendy (healthy girls kitchen)

When I first started making "green smoothies" they were more fruit than greens. But as time passed, they looked like this: spinach, kale, celery, parsley, 1/2 apple, 1 whole orange peeled but with the seeds, flax, water and ice. I was overweight when I started and had NO TROUBLE losing weight drinking the fruit heavy smoothie every morning for over a year. I only changed because my taste buds changed and I preferred a less sweet taste, plus, as my tolerance grew my interest grew in really upping the nutrient content of the smoothies. I can tell you that I never felt better than when I drank those smoothies every day. Oh, and my cholesterol plummeted from 231 to 147 on the sweet version smoothies.

What can I say? I'm not a doctor or a scientist but also find myself at the center of this controversy as a blogger. Just as there are a now list of Docs against the smoothie, there are lists of professionals who recommend them. In fact, in a recent Doug Lisle lecture he was asked a direct question about green smoothies and he specifically said that people should look for other things to cut out of their diet if they are having trouble losing weight, NOT the green smoothie. So why Natala mentions Doug Lisle as being anti-smoothie is a bit confusing.

I feel that with the restriction that we choose to place on ourselves eating the no-oil, very little processed food, vegan way, we had better be very careful about spreading fear about drinking green smoothies. They were a staple of my soup, smoothie, salad weight loss effort a few years ago that was a wild success. Now what, I should only eat soups and salads? Really?

Sorry, but I want to make sure there is some solid evidence backing up these docs claims before I eliminate something that has worked so well for me in the past with real quantifiable results.

The Healthy Librarian

Bravo, Wendy!! Couldn't agree with you more.

And here's a very interesting finding: I heard from someone who is a type 1 diabetic (must take insulin), who drinks green (veg heavy) smoothies, so she checks her blood sugar 1, 2, & 3 hours afterwards No change in blood sugar. In fact she cannot take insulin before a smoothie. The smoothie has no effect on her glucose levels.

wendy (healthy girls kitchen)

Thanks Debby. We really need more research on this.

The Healthy Librarian

I agree completely. And I'm pushing for research studies on plant-based diet issues at work. Stay tuned.


I thought about green smoothies for a long time before this debate.
And I was really thankful that Dr. Esselstyn answered one of my questions concerning smoothies which arose after listening to Dr. Lustig (fructose being metabolized in the liver): If fiber and fructose are separated by blending then fructose seems to be mainly metabolized by the liver.
But then I reflected that smoothies are really important to me in terms of well being. I am thin, I am in need of nutrients and I seem to have difficulties with absorption: In terms of weight smoothies seem to make no difference in my case. I eat / drink them as snack two times per day. But there is no way I could eat as many green vegetables without the smoothies so for me this means a real difference in point of nutrients.
Mine consist of 1 banana, Greens (dandelion, salads, kale, whatever green I can find)to fill the Vitamix, sometimes fennel or an orange for mildness and always about 1/2 cup frozen berries.
I am really thankful to Dr. Esselstyn for pointing out the problems of smoothies. I decided to keep them daily because I feel better when I have them. But I keep in mind that too much fruit in smoothies has to be regarded as a kind of treat because of fructose metabolism and a link to inflammation (according to Dr. Esselstyn Q@A on his homepage).
Knowing what Dr. Esselstyn says I wouldn't actually advise people to drink them if they have some kind of health problem (especially because most green smoothies are 'greenwashed': love this expression). I think we should decide individually according to our own reactions, health status etc.
Somehow this reminds me of the carbohydrate debate (Fuhrman / McDougall). It is too easy to focus on the differences which are really small in comparison.
I am trying to keep this in perspective: An oil-free vegan plantstrong diet with or without smoothies is really, really healthy. Let's focus on what unites us.
What the experts give us are guidelines. In the end we need to decide what works for us by trial and error.


By the way: adding beans is a genius idea (La Donna Flagg)!
I have to try this!

The comments to this entry are closed.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

TIP: You must confirm email subscription

  • Check your email after subscribing. Check you SPAM filter--the confirmation may be there!
My Photo

How to Email Me

  • HealthyLibrarian [at sign] gmail [dot] com

People I read

Blog powered by Typepad