When Dorcas Barry agreed to contribute to our blog I couldn't believe my luck. I met Dorcas at the G.I.Y. (Grow It Yourself) gathering in Waterford last year where she was talking about fresh and healthy food while treating us all to kale smoothies. You might think a smoothie made from kale tastes revolting and is only for the most hardcore raw food evangelists, you'd be wrong by the way, but that's where the magic comes in. Dorcas is a cookery writer, lecturer and all round healthy eating genius but she also seems to have the sorcerers touch of knowing exactly which unlikely ingredients can be mixed to produce a fantastic flavour. I saw people hold their noses when sampling the bright green kale smoothie only to look completely stunned when this tropical tasting elixir reached their taste buds. I have to say I was pretty surprised myself and half expected Dorcas to whip a white rabbit out of the juicer to complete the performance. The demonstration got more interesting when Dorcas explained the mix isn't just for taste, it's also about some ingredients helping you absorb nutrients from the others. It's a beautiful balancing act and as someone who grows their own fresh food I find it fascinating. I'll be including a piece on how to grow some of the main ingredients Dorcas is covering in her recipes to try to complement her articles and look forward to trying some more of her creations. You can find out about courses and demonstrations by Dorcas by visiting her website at dorcasbarry.com. I urge you to read her contributions, she is the perfect fit for anyone interested in healthy eating but particularly for the home vegetable gardener. Her recipes contain the freshest produce blended with an experts touch, she'll have you pushing your boundries and encouraging you to sow interesting new ingredients every year which is pretty much what growing your own is all about. So, enough from me and huge thanks to Dorcas, I include her first (hopefully of many!) article covering the famous Green Smoothie. Green Smoothies We are all so familiar with the old adage 'eat your greens', and we know it makes great sense! But how do we make sure we are getting enough greens and which is the best way to eat them to make the most of the nutrients they contain. Greens provide a powerhouse of valuable nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin C, E & K, enzymes, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, phytonutrients and have a cleansing and alkalinizing effect on the body. They are by far the most beneficial foods to include every day in your diet. Eating greens in their raw state maximises the nutrient content, as enzymes and vitamins are lost with the heat of cooking. The easiest way of doing this is to drink green smoothies, but there are a couple of tricks! Blending greens with fruit make them really easy and delicious to drink, even for children. Using a mix of frozen fruit and sweeter denser texture fruits will give a lovely smooth texture and naturally sweet smoothie. I love using either mango or banana, or both as in the smoothie here, as the denser texture of these fruits make sure that the finished smoothie is smooth and doesn't separate. Avocado can also be used in the same way, and provides healthy fatty acids which help your body absorb the minerals in the greens. You can also add a teaspoon of flax oil which is also a great source of omega 3 fats. Green smoothies are a great place to start if you want to make changes in your diet. They are quick and easy to make, and can also be a really useful food to include if you want to lose weight. They are so packed with nutrition that you can replace breakfast or lunch with a green smoothie, and still be confident that your body is getting all the nutrients it needs. When you start to drink green smoothies, you can start with a smaller amount of greens in the beginning and then gradually increase over a few weeks. This works really well as a way of introducing green smoothies for children also. You can send your child to school with a delicious fruity smoothie for lunch using a stainless steel drinks bottle and they won't even know it contains greens! In my experience, greens are addictive and once you start to include them daily, your body will begin to crave them all the time. You can use any greens in season. Kale, spinach, beet greens and chard are all mild flavoured and great for smoothies and if you live close to the sea, sea beet can be found all year around and is delicious and free! Some more great free options everyone probably has in their gardens are chickweed and dandelion leaves. Chickweed is loaded with minerals and dandelion leaves are a great liver tonic, although it's probably best to use the younger leaves, as the leaves have a stronger taste as they get bigger. And don't throw out the carrot tops, radish tops and strawberry tops, these are all gorgeous greens bursting with nutrition also and great in green smoothies. Tropical green smoothie ½ mango, peeled and chopped roughly 1 banana, chopped Handful of frozen raspberries 1 lime, peeled and quartered A couple of large handfuls of seasonal green leaves 1 tbsp flax seed oil A couple of ice cubes (optional) 150-200 ml coconut water (you can also use filtered water) This smoothie is a great breakfast or snack to enjoy after exercising. Place all the ingredients into a liquidiser and blend until completely smooth. Drink immediately to benefit from the full range of enzymes, vitamins and minerals in this smoothie. Coconut water is a great addition for extra hydration and a boost of potassium, magnesium and calcium. Flax seed oil gives adds essential omega 3 fatty acids and helps the body to absorb the minerals in the greens.