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Smooth Out Your Life

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So simple yet so delicious and good for you! Shakes and smoothies can be used as a breakfast substitute, meal replacement or as a refreshing "pick-me-up" any time of day.

So simple yet so delicious and good for you! Shakes and smoothies can be used as a breakfast substitute, meal replacement or as a refreshing "pick-me-up" any time of day. All it takes is a blender or food processor, some fruit and a little imagination.

Fruit helps protect against cancer and the degenerative diseases. It's an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and natural sugars as well as amino acids, fibre and antioxidants. When consumed fresh, they can help to disinfect the digestive system. All fruit contains some form of natural acid which assists with the elimination from the body of toxins and other impurities.

I encourage uninhibited creativity in the realm of blended fruit drinks. As long as you have the blender handy, you can vary the proportions or add something sweet or tart or even a thickener to adjust the blend to your taste. You'll soon discover some favourites worth repeating (keep paper and pen handy) but you'll also be able to vary your fruit intake by regularly using different ingredients.

Canadian grown fruits include strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, huckleberries, cranberries and a variety of other delicious wild and cultivated berries. We also produce excellent melons, figs, apples, pears, peaches, plums, prunes, apricots, cherries and currants: all can be used in fruit drinks.

Drink fruit smoothies or shakes fresh from the blender. They don't store well and are most nutritious freshly blended. If you prefer your smoothies thicker and frostier, blend using ice cubes or frozen fruit. In addition to your chosen fruit, you can use soy or rice milks, yogurt, home-made nut milks (almond, cashew), or cow or goat milk. Most fruit tastes quite sweet naturally, however if you need to add a sweetener, try honey, good quality blackstrap molasses (a source of iron) or maple syrup. Increase the nutritional or medicinal properties of your drink by adding some spirulina, bee pollen (preferably from a local apiary), omega-3 and -6 rich oils (flax, pumpkin, borage, hemp) or carob (aids in the absorption of calcium). A dash of high quality vanilla bean extract adds mystery.

The Brynne household favourite, which serves four, goes as follows: three handfuls huckleberries, one handful raspberries, two medium or three small frozen bananas, a dash of spirulina, a spill of local bee pollen, a splash of omega-3 oils and enough rice and soy milk to cover them generously: blend and drink purple heaven!

Many of our fruits store well for later use when they are out of season. By harvesting or buying them in season, you not only benefit from them while they are most nutritious and flavourful, they are also less expensive and more widely available. Apples can be stored fresh for months in the proper conditions. Some fruit, such as peaches, pears and apricots, lend themselves well to canning. Dried fruit can also be used in fruit drinks: pre-soak them with hot water and then put both the fruit and soaking water into the blender with the rest of the ingredients. If preserving cherries for later use, it's helpful to pit them first.

A storage method that works well for fruit drinks is to freeze fruit while still fresh and at its peak (it retains most of its nutrients when frozen quickly). It's easier to remove a small quantity if the fruit is frozen in single layers on a baking sheet and then packaged to protect from freezer burn or other flavours. This method works well for sliced apples, peaches or apricot pieces, peeled bananas and any of the berries. If you do not have your own freezer, explore options for a communal freezer for your neighbourhood or apartment block.

Pesticide Surprise

Conventional fruit can contain a heavy load of pesticide residues. A study of 1994 to 1997 data from the United States Department of Agriculture identified fresh peaches, apples, grapes and pears to be among the top seven crops with the highest toxicity index (a measure of the frequency of pesticide detection, levels of residue and relative toxicity of those residues). It's reasonable to expect this data to be relevant to the fruit available in Canadian markets as well. Fresh peaches, due to the demand for "picture perfect" fruit, can have as much as 1,000 times greater toxicity index than canned peaches. If possible, grow or purchase your fruit locally, eat organic fruit and ask about how it was treated through the growing season.

Vitamin C Attack Refuted

A recent study by University of Pennsylvania researchers suggesting vitamin C may produce cancer-causing toxins has been refuted by numerous organizations and scientific studies to the contrary.

Released in the journal Science in June, the study analyzed the catalytic action of vitamin C (or ascorbic acid) in creating potential genotoxins from lipid hydroperoxide (rancid fat molecules). Researchers relied on test tube experiments.

The Linus Pauling Institute points out that in the body, enzymes quickly reduce the lipids to harmless substances. The experiment did not deal with physiological interactions in vivo (in live subjects). In addition, fats in living cells are in different locations from water-soluble vitamins and hence vitamin C cannot have the effect created in artificial conditions. Refuting one-sided press reports of the study, even its lead researcher Ian Blair said "Absolutely, don't say vitamin C causes cancer."

Other recent studies also contradict the Pennsylvania results. For example, John Hopkins University researchers could not find evidence of a "significant interaction effect on oxidative DNA damage in non-smoking adults" in their vitamin C study last year.

Another study conducted by Immunosciences Laboratory in California concluded that "ascorbic acid is an antioxidant and that doses up to 5,000 mg neither induce mutagenic lesions nor have negative effects on natural killer cell activity, apoptosis or cell cycle."

In contrast, studies conducted at the Linus Pauling Institute show that vitamin C effectively inhibits the formation of lipid hydroperoxides. When human plasma is exposed to oxidizing conditions, vitamin C forms the first line of defence as an antioxidant and no lipid hydroperoxides are formed. In fact, they are only formed after vitamin C has been exhausted.

It's been proven by the Pauling Institute that vitamin C-rich foods lower the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and other diseases. The more whole, raw, fruits and vegetables you eat, the better the body can use the nutrient. Vitamin C is antibiotic and has been prescribed for everything from the common cold to polio with impressive success.

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