Sunday, January 19, 2014

31 Days of Green: Day 19 Kiwi

Kiwi is a flightless bird from……..No wait; kiwifruit or also the lesser-known ‘Chinese gooseberry’ (and the preferred name is this household) is a fruit originally from China, although you will most likely find it from Cali stateside or New Zealand. Though exotic, you have probably seen these brown little fuzz balls harboring sweet green flesh and tiny black seeds that pop between your teeth at every supermarket. I didn’t like them when I was a kid because I couldn’t get past the brown fuzzy skin and little black seeds even though I loved the flavor of that sweet flesh. Now as a well-rounded adult I love kiwis. They are a nice portable fruit and lower on the glycemic index than a lot of other fruits. They are also rich in vitamin C (more than an orange), vitamin K, antioxidants and many other good for you nutrients.

Kiwi are great by themselves but I really love them in a smoothie. They add sweet, tang, and a little bit of grit to keep it interesting. When I was pregnant (and definitely undiagnosed before) I had very low iron in my blood, anemia. I took a prenatal vitamin with iron, an additional supplement, and I was prescribed a high dose iron. Iron is known to sometimes cause nausea and constipation; two things you don’t want more of when pregnant. Though I didn’t have any of these problems from the supplements, I still hate having to take supplements and especially prescriptions. I always want to try balancing my health naturally first. 

So when they first told me I needed to get my iron up I started chewing spinach and chugging Oj. Why? Spinach is a great plant source of iron and vitamin C helps your body actually absorb iron; whereas calcium makes it harder to absorb. After a few days of this little freak out I did more research and found a much more palatable solution. Thus this smoothie was born. It is still full of spinach but uses kiwi as a vitamin C source. In addition, I added nettle tea to this and my diet; it is another great source of iron and vitamin C.  It also has some of my favorite pregnancy food to make it creamy and filling from healthy fats.

After 2 months my iron did improve but was still lower than the doc deemed acceptable. She told me that it would keep going up but would probably still be low when I gave birth if I didn’t take the prescription, so I took it. Our babies’ health and mine was way more important than pride at that point. I did not get my iron tested again before our son was born but they did check his at his 6-month checkup and it was great. On a personal observation, I have noticed a big increase in energy, despite my current lack of sleep. Fatigue is a hallmark sign of anemia. I also started adding red meat back into my diet after our son was born, which I also attribute to this change. Plant sources of iron are not as easily absorbed as animal sources. Just a reminder, I am not a doctor, if you suspect anemia then get tested and work with your doctor. I think a balance of healthy diet and supplementation can help.

Iron Women Smoothie

Gluten Free, Vegan
Serves 1

1 kiwi fruit
½ avocado
1 hand full spinach
½ cup nettle tea, cooled
½ frozen banana

Rinse the kiwi. I left the peel on and just pulled off the hard nub on the end, but it is up to you. Add all of the ingredients to the blender and blend until thick and creamy.

Notes and Substitutions

  • The banana does not have to be frozen, I just like the texture that it gives.
  • You can add more or less nettle tea, depending on how thick you like your smoothie. I brewed about 1 tsp of dry nettle loose leaves for ½ cup of water and then let it cool on the counter before straining. You can also find nettle tea all ready in bags.
  • I don’t like my smoothies very sweet. If you want this sweeter then add the other half of the banana or some honey or other sweetener to taste.

Do you like kiwi? Do you have any fun ways to eat kiwi?

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