John D. Ivanko
January 2, 2013

For a healthy meal, mix your favorite garden ingredients into a shake. Photo by John Ivanko (
Photo by John Ivanko
For a healthy meal, mix your favorite garden ingredients into a shake.

Blenders aren’t just for frozen margaritas in the summer. They can turn fresh and frozen garden abundance into a raw and vegan meal that comes in shake form. Before you dismiss a meal in a glass as a purely Californian or New Age culinary fad, remember that freezing fresh berries at their peak of ripeness preserves their nutrient value. Plus, some of other shake ingredients possess confirmed health benefits that you can drink up just in time for cold and flu season. And, truth be told, shakes taste great, too.

When we asked Alex Perlman what he calls his thick, maroon-colored shake, he replied: “Dinner.” Alex was taking a break from spearheading the Brilliant Contact Community planning process, a new community near Middletown, Calif. Like us, Alex came to California to soak in the restorative waters of Harbin Hot Springs. (Sometimes we farmers just need a good soak to melt away the hard work of the season’s harvest.) Alex prefers to make his shakes with fresh fruit whenever possible.

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“Medicine aside, a basic need for health and healing is good nutrition, and good nutrition consists primarily of eating lots and lots of plants,” Martha Beck writes in Finding Your Way in a Wild New World (Free Press, 2011). She makes her version of the shake, which includes lettuce and carrots, every day for lunch. By using three fruit ingredients to every vegetable ingredient, the sweetness and bright colors of the fruits win out.

For the record, a growing body of research suggests that eating a more whole-food, plant-based diet is one way to improve your health. After watching the documentary Forks Over Knives, written and directed by Lee Fulkerson, we naturally nodded along with the research findings that revealed many degenerative diseases could be minimized, if not avoided, by staying clear of processed foods. The film also challenged us to likewise be more mindful of our consumption of animal-based foods, like meats and dairy products. As it turns out, the shake meal is one easy way to do so.

Below is our version of the shake, adapted from notes taken during our meeting with Alex in Harbin’s convivial community kitchen. Our toast for the New Year: Drink up and be well.

Recipe: Shake Meal

Yield: 3 cups

1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup frozen cherries, pitted
1/4 cup frozen strawberries
1/4 cup. frozen raspberries
1/2 cup fresh (or 1/4 cup frozen) spinach
2 bananas
1 cup apple juice
1/3 clove garlic
3 tsp. hemp seed
1 tsp. ginger root, grated
1 tsp. nutritional yeast
1 T. mint (1/2 T. dried)
1 ounces wheatgrass juice (optional)

In blender, thoroughly mix all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Serve in tall glasses, perhaps garnished with mint leaf or blueberry.

Savoring the good life,

John and Lisa's Signatures

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