By Kim Robson:
We all know we’re supposed to eat five servings of vegetables a day. Dark leafy greens are important sources of fiber, folate, carotenoids, vitamins C and K, and the minerals iron and calcium. Greens also contain coumarins, phytosterols, lignans, and flavonoids, chemicals that help with anti-oxidation and lipid/glucose metabolism. But sometimes,given our busy lives, “5 a day” can be a hard goal to meet. And for some, storage or even reliable access to fresh greens is problematic.
One easy way to get our full allotment of green vegetables on the go is to supplement our diet with shelf-stable green superfood powders. Green powders can be made from a variety of base ingredients, such as the blue-green algae spirulina, wheatgrass, barley grass, matcha tea leaves, or blends of dehydrated leafy green veggies. Some of these powders can be terribly expensive, though; and they may contain additives, fillers, sugar or artificial sweeteners, and emulsifiers such as lecithin. The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate dietary supplements, including green powders. Worse yet, one Consumer Labs studyfound one third of green powders tested to be contaminated with heavy metals such as lead and arsenic.
The best way to avoid all this is to make your own green powder! You can develop your own blend from various green superfoods; and you can add probiotics for immune support, enzymes and fiber for digestion, and/or protein powder for a feeling of fullness. You will need a dehydrator and a blender. Let’s start with some common ingredients:
- Dark Leafy Greens— can include kale, spinach, parsley, beet tops, broccoli, collard greens, Swiss chard, cilantro and herbs.
- Spirulina— a blue-green algae known for its micronutrients, also rich in vitamin A, vitamin K2 and iron. It’s 60 percent protein! Best to buy it pre-made, though; making your owninvolves a rather complicated setup.
- Wheatgrass— a nutrient — and an antioxidant-rich powerhouse full of digestive enzymes; super easy to grow in a window.
- Prebiotic Fiber— for added digestive health, constipation relief and hunger control.
- Metabolic Powders— can include ginger, licorice, turmeric, green tea.
- Probiotic Bacteria— for digestive balance.
- Protein Powder — for added protein and fullness.
How to Make DIY Green Powder
First, gather a bunch of organic leafy greens. Wash thoroughly and spin dry. Remove any fibrous or pulpy stems. Snip some wheatgrass if using. Arrange greens in dehydrator, closely but not overlapping, at 110 – 125 degrees for four to eight hours, depending on the humidity in your area. Blitz in a blender until powdered, adding spirulina powder and/or metabolic extras if using. Sift powder through a sieve or flour sifter to remove any remaining large pieces. Store in a glass container in a cool, dark place or in the fridge.
Note: Persons with certain health conditions such as kidney stones may want to cook or steam the greens before dehydrating to reduce the level of oxalic acid in the powder.
How to Use Green Powder
Use a spoonful of powder to get a good serving of greens. Smoothies are probably the easiest way to incorporate the powder into your diet, but you can also blend it into soups, sauces, salad dressing, hamburger or meat loaf, casseroles, scrambled eggs or quiche, energy ball recipes, and baked goods; or sprinkle it over cereal, oatmeal, salads, yogurt, even ice cream. If you have a picky eater, sneaking some green powder into their food is a great work-around!