The power of the kale shake was so impacting in my daily health and fitness routine, that I began to suggest them to anyone who was looking to make a simple, healthy change in their life, especially if they were trying to lose some weight. I turned my family onto them, and now my mom drinks them about as frequently as I do. When my niece was less than a year old, I suggested we condition her to the kale shake by giving her small portions of our daily serving. By the time she could walk, if she saw us getting out fruits and vegetables with a blender, she would squeal with delight and run to the kitchen. She continues to drink them to this day and, as a result, will eat almost any raw fruits or vegetables presented to her.
Since the first days of making them, my recipe has changed very little. I have heard new research that suggests kale produces an acid called Oxalic to protect the plant from predators such as animals and insects and that too much of it can cause health problems in humans, such as kidney stones. Yikes...Researchers suggest cooking kale to boil out these acids, but then, like with most vegetables you cook, it tends to lose a lot of its vitamins and minerals. Plus, do you really want warm, soggy kale in your smoothie? I know I don't. To ease my mind on the matter, I began switching out kale with spinach for a while (which still has a nice taste), but felt like I was missing out on the powerhouse that is the kale plant. Nowadays, I mix half and half with spinach and kale or sometimes just plain spinach. If evolution is doing its job correctly, my body will handle that oxalic acid nonsense and build up an immunity, but in the meantime, I'll feel a lot better about my recipe alteration until more conclusive research comes along. That being said, I still grow my own kale, which has a sweeter taste, and enjoy it regularly.
All of this is bringing me to the main point of my article, which involves my new addition to the green smoothie. Last night, an ESPN documentary came on TV entitled "The Book of Manning". I was reading a book nearby but the story caught my attention and I began to watch with interest. The story progressed into the harsh training football players received at Ole Miss, with one player stating something along the lines of: If you could take the kind of running we had to do then you could, "run bare foot, naked through hell and come out on the other end without a sun burn". Intense, I thought to myself and made a mental note never to volunteer to train with Ole Miss players or attempt running through hell barefoot. Needless to say, the documentary got me pumped to workout and to train harder in the next few days. But there is an issue I often have when it comes to training that has been a big factor in my workout regimen: weight gain. I am in a minority of people who have a high metabolism for my age along with other personal factors (such as not being a huge consumer of meat after a six month vegetarian streak).
I wondered what I could do in the next couple of months to up my fat and caloric intake. Eating extra food, for people like me, can be a chore and harder to do, especially when you only try to eat healthy (I haven't been a "fast food" eater since high school). I regularly drink peanut butter almond shakes once or twice a day to try to up my intake, but even this only produces a little change for me. I've tried powders for years and have had only so-so results. The price of such substances can be a bit ridiculous too.
Still inspired by the Manning's commentary, I researched online (for what seemed like the hundredth time in my life) for something new that could help me out. I stumbled onto Bodybuilding.com, a site I have visited several times in the past, that had an article that gave me the one ingredient that I thought could put a change to my diet.
Canola and olive oils.
It seemed simple enough and further investigation lead me to see just how high these oils were in daily fat values, rich in monounsaturated and polysaturated fats, but pretty low in regular saturated fats. Plus, every tablespoon packs in 120 calories. Bingo. Here was a product that was cheap and I could easily mix to a number of shakes and recipes in the future. I ordered a protein mix I found on sale that contained plenty of good quality protein and calories, and vowed to make some killer shakes using my new knowledge.
Today, I dropped two tablespoons of canola oil into my green smoothie and hit blend. The shake did have that "vegetable" taste too it from the oil, so I put a spoonful of honey in the mix and a little dab of peanut butter to mask it. Success. The shake tasted good and with all the greens, my body would be absorbing what I needed and discarding (quickly) what wasn't. As I'm finishing this article, I'm downing the last of a peanut butter shake also containing two tablespoons of canola oil and flaxseed. Hopefully, I'll see some results with this new drink, especially when my powder comes in the mail. Before I can recommend this method of weight gaining for other "hard gainers" out there, I must first see what will happen a few weeks down the line. For this reason, drink canola oil at your own risk...Never thought I'd make a statement like that...
I will continue doing some more research on the topic of ingesting these oils as I am doing. Keep in mind, these oils contain about 22% of your daily recommended fats, so ingesting lots of it, especially if peanut butter is involved, is bound to put it on you if you catch my drift. Proceed with caution. In the meantime, I will be observing and recording any changes, and will keep you updated through future posts. Cheers.