Today I put on my apron to share some recipes from my new How Not to Die Cookbook.
Have you ever wondered if there’s a natural way to lower your high blood pressure, guard against Alzheimer's, lose weight, and feel better? Well as it turns out there is. Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, founder of NutritionFacts.org, and author of the instant New York Times bestseller “How Not to Die” celebrates evidence-based nutrition to add years to our life and life to our years.
Health! Wealth! Happiness! I’m Dr. Michael Greger and you’re listening to the Nutrition Facts podcast. And while I can’t promise you all of those things, if you take a listen to the evidence-based nutrition found in this podcast, chances are you’ll learn something that you can use to make a positive change in your diet and in your health. My job here is to bring you the information you need to make that reality possible.
On today’s show, I don an apron. And yes – I just used the word “don.” If you go to the NutritionFacts.org website, you can see me decked out in a white coat and a chef’s hat, ready to cook up a storm from my new How Not to Die Cookbook. We start off by whipping up some delicious matcha ice cream.
This is Dr. Greger in the Kitchen, where I take the science, and put it into practice. Today, I’m going to share with you my new favorite dessert: matcha ice cream.
Matcha is powdered green tea leaves. What’s so great about green tea? Its consumption is associated with lower rates of heart attacks, strokes, and premature death, proven in randomized, controlled trials to prevent precancerous colon polyps from developing, and precancerous prostate lesions from turning into full-blown cancer, and so anti-viral there’s an FDA-approved green tea compound ointment used to reverse warts caused by the HPV virus. That’s why, in my Daily Dozen checklist, it is one of the healthiest beverages, along with water and hibiscus tea.
Matcha is probably the healthiest way to drink green tea, since you’re drinking it as a whole food—whereas normally, you just make a hot water-green tea extract, right, and throw away the leaves. That’s like boiling some collard greens, and throwing away the greens, and just drinking the cooking water! Think what proportion of nutrition you’d be throwing away. The same thing, with tea leaves. Matcha allows you to drink tea whole.
That way, you’ll get all the nutrition, but also all the potential contaminants. You know, China was late on the ban on leaded gasoline, resulting in higher-than-average lead levels in the soil on Chinese tea plantations. It gets taken up by the plant, but does not tend to leach out into the water when you just make tea the regular way. But if you eat the tea, like matcha, or if you throw tea leaves in a smoothie or something, I would recommend making sure your tea is sourced from Japan, rather than China. I have a video about the tolerable upper daily dose for kids, pregnant women, other adults, depending on brewing method and source country.
The problem with any matcha tea is the taste. Matcha has a strong grassy, earthy, mossy flavor. So, I figured, why not put it into ice cream? It could be the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down. Of course, traditional ice cream has way more than a spoonful of sugar—not to mention the saturated butterfat. And, the dairy proteins actually can interfere with some of the beneficial effects of the green tea compounds. So, how about making a healthy matcha ice cream comprised entirely of whole foods—just two whole foods, to be exact.
Take two frozen super-ripe bananas, and put them in a food processor or blender alongside with a half-teaspoon of the matcha tea—now, more if you can stand it, but it’s pretty strong stuff, so why don’t we start there. And, blend it up.
Blended frozen bananas take on this perfect, rich, creamy ice cream texture. Now, the more, the riper, the better. You want lots of little brown spots on there. Look at that beautiful green color here. Alright, I’m going to add a little, maybe a little mint garnish here.
The matcha actually makes the blended bananas taste better somehow. So, we’re talking just two whole plant foods—one a dark green leafy. Makes a gourmet decadent-tasting dessert. The more you eat, the healthier you are. That’s the way desserts should be.
Alright, I’ve got an unbiased taste-tester here. I’d like to bring out Josiah. Come on out here. I’ve got some green ice cream for you, turn you into the Hulk. Check it out. Try it! What do you think? Mmm! Good! Ah, now are you just saying that or is it really good? Yeah! It’s really good! Alright, fantastic! Alright, see, there you got it!
And now – it’s time for a vegetable smoothie inspired by a recipe in my How Not to Die Cookbook.
This is “Dr. Greger in the Kitchen,” where I take the science, and put it into practice. Today, I’m going to share with you my new favorite beverage: a vegetable smoothie. I know that sounds kind of gross, but bear with me.
The idea for this came out of my research into nitrate-rich vegetables, like beetroot and spinach— shown to improve both oxygen delivery to our tissues (by opening our blood vessels), and, amazingly, oxygen efficiency, boosting the amount of power we can extract from each breath. That leads to all sorts of athletic performance-enhancing benefits, but, most importantly, improves lung function in emphysema, brings down high blood pressure, improves peripheral artery disease, boosts cognitive function, may even enhance longevity by slowing our basal metabolic rate.
But, something like beet juice is perishable, hard-to-find. I was thinking maybe something like V8 would work, which lists both beet and spinach in the ingredient list—but evidently, so little you’d have to drink 19 quarts a day to get the daily nitrate target dose that I recommend. So, I figured I’ll just make my own.
In my new cookbook, it’s called my V-12 vegetable blast, which is more involved, starts completely from scratch from fresh tomatoes, and is tweaked to fit more of a beginner’s palate. I want to show this version that I’ve actually been using whenever I happen to be in my favorite exotic locale—home, and not stuck in some airport food court somewhere.
It starts with five reusable bags, and a stalk of celery goes into each. All these vegetables are prewashed. Then, one carrot in each bag. No need to peel them. You can just use kind of the back of a knife, and just kind of scrape off some of the kind of outermost bitter layer. Then a half of a red, orange, or yellow bell pepper in each. What do you do with the half you have left over? Dip it in some hummus, of course.
Next, one scallion in each, with the frilly little tips cut off. Then, one-fifth of a small beet in each (any more and it tastes really beety). Then, a fifth of a raw jalapeño pepper (which is totally optional, but, you know, I love things spicy). A quarter-inch of fresh turmeric root in each. If you can’t find it fresh locally, get it on eBay. Serious. It kind of looks like a little turd, but then you snap it open, and the color inside is just gorgeous.
Then, saving the best for last, the healthiest food on the planet—greens! Now, as you probably guessed, what I’m doing is pre-prepping five days of smoothies here to make it as convenient as possible to eat as healthfully as possible. And so, even though something like arugula has even more nitrates—in fact, I think, the most nitrate-packed food there is—and I think is even tastier, there’s no way it would last five days. It starts to turn yellow, gets slimy. So, what I’ve been using is really hardy greens, like kale and curly parsley. Plus, kale has something spinach doesn’t have: it’s cruciferocious.
So, I’m going to put a cup of each one in each bag. Then, all the bags go into the fridge and wait their turn. Then, when you’re ready to rock and roll, here’s what you do:
In a high-speed blender, pour one cup of a no-salt-added vegetable juice blend, or no-salt-added tomato juice. Then, one cup of ice cubes, an eighth-teaspoon of freshly ground pepper. Then, a half-teaspoon of horseradish. Now, I’m actually using prepared horseradish here. But, you know, I’m realizing, you could probably grate it yourself, actually get horseradish root. I’ve never actually tried fresh. Or, you could actually chop up little pieces and put them in all the bags. So, if anyone tries that, let me know how it comes out. And then finally, the juice from a half of a lemon. For a bonus, you can actually zest that lemon. Then, cut and juice that half, and save the other half for tomorrow.
And, that’s all you have to do, day-to-day, right? So, just a couple minutes, and this last step is to just throw in, you know, one of your bags of veggies. Now, to save even more time, what you can actually do is kind of pre-prepare all those wet ingredients. So, this is about four cups. So, you could juice two lemons into here, two teaspoons of the horseradish, add enough of the black pepper. So then, there’s really only three things; three steps every day: a cup of the juice mixture, a cup of ice, and then one of the bags of veggies, and then you’re all set for the day.
Okay; final step is to just blend, for ten burpees.
It fits into about one perfect Mason jar. Yep, look at that. Then, you pop in a reusable straw and… cold, refreshing, zesty, whoo zesty!
And, think what’s in this thing, right? It’s just all vegetables. It’s like a mountain of nutrition, right? It’s hard to imagine a healthier beverage.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images or studies mentioned here, please go to the Nutrition Facts podcast landing page. There, you’ll find all the detailed information you need – plus links to all the sources we cite for each of these topics.
Be sure to check out my new How Not to Die Cookbook. It’s beautifully designed, with more than 100 recipes for delicious, health-promoting meals, snacks, beverages, desserts. Not just every recipe is healthy—every ingredient of every recipe is healthy, all green-light whole plant foods. And, of course, all the proceeds I receive from the sales of my books all go to charity.
NutritionFacts.org is a nonprofit, science-based public service, where you can sign up for free daily updates on the latest in nutrition research via bite-sized videos and articles.
Everything on the website is free. There are no ads, no corporate sponsorship. It’s strictly non-commercial. I’m not selling anything. I just put it up as a public service, as a labor of love—as a tribute to my grandmother – whose own life was saved with evidence-based nutrition.
Thanks for listening to Nutrition Facts. I’m Dr. Michael Greger.
This is just an approximation of the audio content, contributed by Allyson Burnett.