Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Jugo Verde

I like to tell people that Jugo Verde saved my life.  This is absolutely true, although you should know
I am prone to hyperbole!  In all seriousness, I am not a breakfast person even though I know it's the most important meal of the day.  I absolutely must have my coffee, but little appeals to me to eat before 10am.  However, by the time I get back to the house after dropping the kids off at school or by the time I get to my first activity of the day, I'm about to bite someone's head off from hunger and low blood sugar.  There had to be a solution, and jugo verde was it.  It's a really simple blended drink that I can throw together in literally a couple of minutes, and it fuels me for a couple of hours until I'm able to stomach more food.  Not to mention the additional health benefits and the freshness of the ingredients that I can find here in Mexico City!

I write a lot about the mercados in Mexico City.  One of my absolute favorite things to make after a trip to the market is jugo verde.  You actually can get it pre-made at all supermarkets and restaurants, but every version is different.  There are so many different recipes (just do a search on the internet!) that essentially there is no standard and any juice that's green qualifies as jugo verde.  This is generally considered a health drink, but as with everything you can't know that you're eating healthy unless you know exactly what's in it.  That's why making it on your own with fresh ingredients from the mercado is probably your best bet, to ensure there's no added sugar and that you're packing as much punch as possible.

Here's what I like to include and a quick overview of the ingredients' major health benefits:
  • Fresh-squeezed orange juice - contains only natural sugars (which still should be eaten in moderation), calcium, thiamin, folate, flavonoids and antioxidants
  • Nopal - low calorie vegetable that provides dietary/soluble fiber and calcium, along with mucilage (that sticky lowers your LDL cholesterol and aids in digestion and absorption of nutrients), Vitamin A and ß-carotene
  • Raw Spinach - fiber, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, carotenoids/antioxidants and folate
  • Parsley - folic acid, antioxidants, Vitamins K and C, volatile oils and flavonoids
  • Celery - magnesium, insoluble fiber (to aid in digestion), butylphthalide (to lower LDL cholesterol) and flavonoids
  • Chia - Omega-3s, fiber and protein, mucilage
  • Flax Seed - fiber, antioxidants and Omega-3s, mucilage

Jugo Verde
2 Servings

  • 2 Cups Orange Juice (preferably fresh-squeezed)
  • 1/4 C nopal, small dice (about 35g or one small pad/nopalito)
  • 1/2 C spinach, packed (about 22g)
  • 2 sprigs parsley, leaves and thin stems
  • 1 rib celery, coarsly chopped with leaves
  • 1/2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground flaxseed
Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until completely smooth, about a minute (which helps to completely incorporate the chia and flax seeds).  Enjoy!

Alternative Ingredients:
Grapefruit or Pineapple Juice, Apple, Pineapple, Chard, Kale, Cucumber, Lime, Ginger, Spirulina, Protein Powder, etc.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Mercados across Mexico City - A Map!

As a board member of the Newcomer's Club of Mexico City, I was lucky enough recently to be asked to do a short presentation on eating healthy in Mexico City.  What an honor!  I don't, however, consider myself any sort of expert on healthy eating...I was, after all, trained in restaurants where butter and salt are the dirty little secrets! But when I think about eating healthy, I think about one of my favorite authors, Michael Pollen, and his mantra on food: 

"Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants."

In preparing, I thought about this guideline, along with Michael's assertion that "food" is WHOLE foods (i.e., fruits, vegetables, meats, etc. that aren't processed or are minimally processed...what your great grandma would recognize as food).  I realized one thing I do know about eating healthy in Mexico City is where to get the freshest, most nutritious whole foods.  We are so lucky to have "mercados" (traditional markets, many outdoors) all over the city and on every day of the week.  Interestingly, mercados here are very different than the farmers' markets we're used to in the States.  The produce is generally the same as what's available in the supermarkets (with some exceptions, like specialty markets), except that is fresher and cheaper.  What a deal!  And we all know that fresher food tastes better, and is also more nutritious.

So that's what I focused on for my presentation to club members, along with some of my favorite recipes to make from what I buy at the mercado (stay tuned for my next post on Jugo Verde!).  I created a map using GoogleMaps, mapping the sites of 21 different mercados throughout the city (by zone), held on various days of the week, along with a little information about each.  I hope that all of you can use this to find a mercado that is closest or most convenient for you, and take advantage of this wonderful aspect of life in D.F.