Pink Greens



Does pink taste any better than green?

“Have you had your greens today?”

It’s a valid question, but usually one without a particularly inspired answer from yours truly.

Unless a couple of fresh basil leaves perched precariously on top of spaghetti bolognese – and teetering on the brink of sinking into an inviting, if rapidly melting, bed of parmesan – qualify as ‘greens’, or a few strands of rocket tentatively quivering next to a rather more robust pile of scrambled eggs on toast can hold their own as ‘dark and leafy’ – then, no, I don’t suppose I often meet the recommended daily target intake of the emerald superfood.

But even I am aware that there’s more to the whole green gamut than bog-standard boiled cabbage and limp lettuce (and the above-mentioned little garnishes). However, I’m still not entirely sure what constitutes the stuff they sell as generic ‘greens’. I read somewhere that the tops of roots like turnips and beets are edible (oddly enough, I didn’t get over-excited about this particular revelation), but I still haven’t done enough (active) research in the Green Department to be able to confirm either way.

I’m on more familiar turf  with spinach and broccoli, although these remain at best a chore and at worst an endurance, depending to some extent on just how much of this nourishing green growth there is to plough through, but mainly on whether there is any cake for afterwards.

Some people prep their spinach with genuine relish and with no need of a proverbial carrot on a stick dangling in front of them in cake form. Again, I’m not sure whether you can eat carrot top greens, but I can attest that, as a root vegetable, the humble carrot completely comes into its own grated, baked and slathered in cream cheese icing (stick optional).


Making carrot greens more palatable

It’s not just a case of there is nothing green that could possibly entice me, no, worse than that, the phrase ‘collard greens’ actually makes my blood run cold. The words ‘kale’ or ‘chard’ make my heart sink. I recently spotted something called ‘black kale’, yet it was definitely green. That struck me as somehow sinister.

But even this level of aversion has never stopped me feeling guilty about the lack of green on my own plates.

That all changed with the advent of *Nutribullet  [*Other personal blender brands are available.]

Not that my dinner-plate landscapes have suddenly turned any more leafy, and my supper-platters remain as sadly arid as ever – but my lack-of-green guilt is completely blitzed away by this super-blender as surely as it breaks down all discernible traces of the token spinach leaves and broccoli florets I throw into it merely to assuage my conscience, secure in the knowledge that far more palatable strawberries, sweet melon, ripe mango and succulent purple grapes will disguise any residual hint of green.

My first few smoothies presented themselves Pretty in Pink, but I was still getting my greens!

Granted, my reformed consumption levels amounted to little more than a token smattering of leafage (I was too scared these juices might lose their rosy hue), but at least I now had a regular, if imperceptible, intake of green, albeit heavily disguised as pink. Then, as I dared to venture more into white grape and kiwi territory, my tangy melanges tentatively relinquished some of their rosiness as they gently nudged their way towards the more verdant part of the colour spectrum. I became slightly less wary of green as a shade. (Is this what they call Colour Therapy?)

Colour therapy

Moving in the right direction?

Nutribullets seemed to be all the rage. I’d see ladies nursing their Nutribullet cups on the bus to work, poised and ready to sip their way healthily through the morning.

I spent the best part of one particular West London-bound bus-journey contemplating the pale purple juice the slim girl sitting next to me had balanced on her knees. It looked really appetising compared to the off-beige effort resting on my own (more ample) lap, to the point where I was sorely tempted to ask this complete stranger what exactly she had blended, whether she had chopped it up ready the night before, and did she add a touch of ginger just to up her metabolic rate?

At work, 6 of our team of 10 had Nutribullets, so there was plenty of scope for comparison. (There’s nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition.) My desk-mate brought in some marvellous concoctions which were faintly reminiscent of a summer sunrise (as in: a spectacularly vibrant contrast to all the murky cups of instant coffee lurking around at that hour).

When asked to reveal the sweet mysteries of her fruity fusions, she’d primly respond: “Nothing too much – just papayas, pomegranate, lychees, peaches, starfruit, blood orange, that’s it…oh and guava with a bit of passion fruit. What’s in yours?”

“Two easy-peel clems, half a carrot, a bit of apple I cut the bruise off, a wilted celery stick and a shrivelled tomato I found at the back of the fridge.” I replied with total honesty.

It’s not that I couldn’t hope to compete, it’s just that I’d started to be economical, challenging myself to use up fruit and veg that would otherwise have withered and ended up in the bin.

Thus the Blessed Nutribullet effectively peeled another layer of guilt from my life.

As I was now straying into green territory, I decided to go properly hard-core and get myself some curly kale, no, not for pleasure, but so I’d be really brimming with health. Getting a little carried away, I fed Nutribullet leaf after leaf, possibly subconsciously trying to make up for a life-time of no kale (and relatively little that was green).

I took my kale-deficit juice to work and duly positioned it on my desk. But, without enough fruit to disguise it, this smoothie tasted a bit rough – like raw, mulched kale in fact. A colleague remarked in passing that it looked like “liquidised frog”. It soon slid down the sink.

Blended in Bethnal Green  for  Breakfast in Bloomsbury
“Liquidised Frog” 

Undeterred, I ditched the kale and got myself some alfalfa sprouts. This time I took to work a ‘live’ concoction that began its day pale green, grew shadier throughout the morning, turned beige and then thickened before gradually becoming a dark and murky brown. (You could actually see it changing by the minute.) By lunch-time, one of my colleagues asked why I was harbouring a container half-full of mud on my desk.

“I have to drink it.” I replied

By early afternoon I was forcibly straining this most health-giving but odious of elixirs through my teeth. A couple of Nutribullet-comrades took pity and reassured me that I was not only allowed, but actually supposed to enjoy fresh juices, and definitely not meant to be torturing my own mortal soul with them.

So no, I didn’t finish off that sprout-juice, but I carried on bravely blending, even if I had thrown myself slightly off-course with the kale and the alfalfa. It started to turn a bit experimental. Nutribullets were probably not especially designed to produce ultra-soft hummus from mega-crunchy peanut butter, but I discovered (purely by chance) that they combine the satisfyingly hard-soft salty stuff so thoroughly with the more unassuming, but no less substantial chickpea, that it produces a dip more velvety than you could ever hope and dream to whip up with a conventional food-processor.

Pre-Nutribullet, I had actually burnt out the motors in a couple of standard blenders in striving to attain the elusive subtle silkiness that so defines authentic hummus. I would have probably gaily carried on through life like that, had Nutribullet not been invented.

Nutribullet also proved itself as a short-cut means to making extra-fine soup and luxuriously smooth vegan banana/chocolate desert for Afters. It added a whole new dimension to the usually unremarkable texture of a simple omelette. Best of all, I found (again, totally on the off-chance) that if I added just enough best butter to a massive heap of digestive biscuits, I could motor up a cheesecake base so rich and dense that some said it was the best they had ever tasted.  The bullet also came in really handy if I ever ran out of icing-sugar (which I frequently did).

Sadly though, the more alternative uses I found for the magic bullet, the less likely I was to consume the recommended 5-a-day.

(The kale was, by now, but a distant bad memory.)

With this amount of abuse, this beautiful blender was inevitably going to give up the ghost long before its due time, and I have sadly just had to lay Nutribullet to rest. Not only had it started to look a bit battered and unsavoury, it had also started to leak.

But I’ve just acquired a new alternative brand. This time round, I’m going to handle it (and myself) with a bit more care.

So here’s to a (very) fresh start.

Now, where’s that persimmon, physalis, and dragon fruit? I’ll show that desk-mate of mine…

mixed fruit

Healthy Competition