Super Green Spring Smoothies
Super Green Spring Smoothies
(apologies for the poor audio)
Perhaps, like me, when you hear the word “smoothie” you immediately think of a sweet fresh fruit drink thickened with banana? As tasty as such creations are, the drinks I’d like to encourage you to make are savoury and without a banana in sight. The smoothness in a wild green smoothie comes from blending all the ingredients very finely, and using a sufficient quantity of wild greens to result in a smooth and thickened final blend; having said that, there are other ways of introducing additional smoothness that I’ll mention later.
In this video I just used what was to hand. In this case:
Dandelion Taraxicum officinale (Daisy Family)
Cow Parsley Anthriscus sylvestris (Carrot family)
Cleavers Galium aparine (Bedstraw Family)
Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata (Cabbage family)
Smooth Sow Thistle Sonchus oleraceus
Common Nettle Urtica dioica
I also added fennel, spinach, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, salt and water.
Of course there are countless other plants you could make use of right now, such as the leaves of common mallow, hawthorn, lime, small nettle, pelitory-of-the-wall, ground elder, opposite-leaved golden saxifrage, wild garlic, dittander, horse radish, charlock, seabeet, sea kale, hoary cress, shepherds purse, fennel, chickweed and ox-eye daisy, to mention a few of the other plants I’ve incorporated into smoothies since the beginning of March. Use the leaves before the plants come into flower for best results as they are most tender then.
How you decide to balance out the flavours is down to experiment. Nevertheless, for my taste, the addition of fresh lemon juice, a little salt, and a good pinch of cayenne pepper transforms a potential ordeal into a genuine pleasure! Actually, what I didn’t do in the video, but would normally do, is add both a small grated carrot and a large ripe tomato to provide a little extra sweetness; on this occasion though I gave my last carrots and the tomato to the pigs for breakfast before filming. Doh!
Recently what I've come to appreciate is the perfection of the present moment, even the seeming paradox of the perfect imperfection of the present moment. That's partly why after a two year absence I've decided to blog again. It really doesn't matter that in setting up this video I didn't have all the ingredients I'd have liked to use in an ideal world. Also, it would be wonderful, although not essential, to use a bicycle operated smoothie maker, but I didn't. Best just to do it; don't wait for the perfect moment as life passes you by!
Incidental, if you are interested in bicycle smoothie makers, a few years ago I spoke to a chap living in Bristol by the name of Biggles. He was going to build me one of these. It didn't happen for various reasons. Perhaps he's still making them? bigglesrecycles. It looks like he is, as I just came across this charming site: http://bristolpedalrevolution.co.uk/machines/
The video is primarily focused on how to utilize wild plants, in this case in a drink, rather than being about clear identification. Of course proper identification must be carried out before you decide to eat any wild food. In my smoothie example, it's crucial that you can identify Cow Parsley and, in particular, accurately distinguish it from the other poisonous but fairly similar looking members of the carrot family: Hemlock, Fools Parsley and Rough Chervil. There are many good ID guides that can really help with this. I highly recommend The Wild Flower Key By Francis Rose and Clare O'Reilly (for when the plants are in flower), and John Poland and Eric Clement's excellent The Vegetative Key to the British Flora (for plants when not in flower - very often the time when you want to harvest leaves for eating).
Here are just a few key differences:
Hemlock (The leaf stems are roundish, purple blotched, and completely hairless.)
Fools Parsley (The leaf stems are grooved, uniformly green but completely hairless.)
Rough Chervil (The leaf stems are grooved, purple to green from base becoming purple blotched but with hairs of different length).
Left and above. Cow Parsley (The leaf stems are grooved or at least have a flatterned side, uniformly green or slightly purple, with fine, very short, even length and evenly distributed hairs)
The type of green smoothie as demonstrated is relatively easy on the digestion. Perfectly digestible and tasty, although taking longer to digest, is a version I sometimes drink about 2 hours before going for a long swim. The addition of avocado and tofu balances it out with fat and protein. It also introduces a more banana based smoothie type of smoothness. Here’s a recipe.
Tofu, Avocado and Nettle Smoothie
- 1/2 pack (approx. 125g) silken tofu (plain bean curd) diced
- 1/2 - 1 ripe avocado, scooped out and sliced
- 40 nettle tops or other edible wild greens
- water or milk - dairy or otherwise
- seasoning if desired
- cashew nuts, plain, a small handful
- almonds, plain, a small handful
- a handful of mung bean sprouts
- a bit of lemon juice and/or cayenne pepper and/or fresh ginger
Labels: Cleavers, Common Nettle, Cow Parsley, eating 100% wild food, Garlic Mustard, Green Smoothies, Sow Thistle, The Vegetative Key to the British Flora, The Wild Flower Key, tonic plants, Wild spring greens