Thursday, November 5, 2009
Home Sweet Home Green Smoothie
In the moonlit wee hours of Tuesday morning, I arrived home from a wonderful two-week California adventure. The first week of my trip was spent visiting friends old and new; the second was spent in silent meditation at a retreat led by Venerable U Jagara, a Theravada Buddhist monk born in Canada, and lay teacher Shaila Catherine, founder of Insight Meditation South Bay.
The retreat was held at the Quaker Retreat Center in Ben Lomond, California, near Santa Cruz, in the heart of a redwood forest. In this quiet, lush enviroment, laced with winding trails and populated by deer, owl and other woodland creatures, I and a group of about twenty-five others practiced jhana meditation, a type of deep absorption samadhi (concentration with awareness) developed using Anapana meditation: focused, one-pointed awareness of the breath.
For those of you who think a week of silent meditation sounds like torture, it isn't! Entitled "Deep Calm and Clarity," the retreat offered the opportunity to slow down, stop the endless mental chatter and truly relax and clear the mind for insight (vipassana), which I consider one of the greatest joys in life. Not only that, but the food was incredible (!) – prepared by gourmet natural foods chef Tod Nysether of Simple Pleasures Catering.
In addition to Tod's elegant creations (from a full Indian buffet one afternoon to dishes such as Chickpea Panisse with Cashew Sauce, Wilted Spinach Salad, Polenta Gratin, chewy Fresh Ginger Gingerbread and Raw Mudslide Pie from the Sweet Gratitude cookbook) we also feasted on Nature's bounty every morning and evening with a colorful variety of fresh juicy fruits: persimmon, honeydew, cantaloupe, pineapple and sweet grapes. I had never tried persimmon before and became an instant fan of this deep orange tree fruit with shiny soft skin and firm creamy flesh, tasting like a cross between cantaloupe, papaya and pear. Delicious.
Accustomed to eating way more greens than offered on the retreat, I compensated by taking chlorella capsules every day and happily munching on as much salad and steamed greens as possible. I knew that green juices, green smoothies and green salads would be back in my daily life soon enough. And so they are, superfoods and all.
Today's smoothie, chock full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, is spicy, sweet and thick enough to stand a straw in.
Home Sweet Home Green Smoothie.
1 cup red grapes
2 large handfuls baby spinach
1 jalapeno pepper
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
2 Tablespoons goji berries
1 Tablespoon raw cacao powder
1 teaspoon maca powder
1 teaspoon chlorella or spirulina powder
1 teaspoon freeze-dried acai powder
1 cup water
2 ice cubes
Add chia seeds, goji berries and water to blender and allow to soak while preparing and adding all additional ingredients. Blend and drink!