Monday, December 24, 2012

The Possibilities of Parsley


 An old Chinese proverb has it, "To eat well requires an adventurous spirit." -John Thorne (foreword to An Omelette and a Glass of Wine)

Sometimes you come across recipes that you really believe in. For me, oddly enough, this recipe for parsley juice is one of those recipes. I don't know why I'm so taken with it; I'm not really a juice person, nor do I go out of my way to order smoothies (my logic being that if I'm going to drink a calorie-stuffed beverage, it might as well be a milkshake or a cocktail). Perhaps I've simply gone a little crazy at the end of the year; if so, I blame both my dissertation and the disappointing course evaluations I received from my students. But I'm also willing to bet that that this juice just might be my it's-never-too-late-to-fix-it response to all the sugary pies, crumbly cakes and pieces of bacon that I managed to consume on a regular basis this past year. Whatever the cause, you can consider this recipe my Christmas gift to you.


 And, truly, nothing could be simpler or more satisfyingly green. Flat-leaf (Italian) parsley meets an apple, a frozen banana, a handful of strawberries, lemon juice and honey. It's a no-nonsense kind of recipe that doesn't require you to pull each and every leaf from the parsley stems. Instead, after a quick trim, the stems can be thrown into the blender with everything else. In a matter of minutes, you have a tall glass of a pulpy green juice, flecked with red bits from the skin of the apple. Although interesting is hardly the most exciting or adequately descriptive word on the planet, this juice can be described in no better way. Truth be told, the flavor may take some getting used to, especially if you aren't accustomed to drinking kale or spinach smoothies (thanks to our CSA box, the Greek and I have begun having these for breakfast on a regular basis). But what I like most about this drink is that, unlike a lot of healthy drinks, this one doesn't attempt to hide the magic ingredient that gives it both its flavor and health benefits. The parsley, part grassy, part lemony sweet, is the star of the show.


My inspiration for this recipe came from Seamus Mullen's Hero Food, which I first read about in goop back in the spring. I was immediately taken with Mullen's philosophy--what we eat plays a role in how we feel--although, in a way, given today's food and health obsessed culture, this message was nothing new. What I liked about his approach, however, was that he was both using food and identifying certain ingredients to combat rheumatoid arthritis. While I myself am not currently a sufferer of this illness, my grandmother, grandfather and mother all are and, since Mother's Day was fast approaching, I decided to send both the book and a nice bottle of Spanish olive oil their way. As these things disappointingly tend to go, the book largely remained unused until my arrival. Now that I'm here, however, I'm happily forcing parsley juice down everybody's throats, making sure that we're all getting a dose of this natural medicine. And you know what? I think it's working! My mother, after drinking a big glass of this, even said that she felt less pain the next day. 

Health benefits aside--Vitamin A, C, antioxidants, potassium, the herb's status as a natural diuretic--I also felt that this is the kind of recipe you all might want to have in your arsenal after a few solid days of cookie-consuming, stuffing-yourself-with-comfort-and-joy fun. Consider it the follow-up post to my post-Thanksgiving arugula and pea soup. On my end, I first made this after a few days of carelessly eating Grandma's fudge and rolling/sampling meatballs with my mother...I again made it after baking cookies and preparing crepes with leeks simmered in cream with ham...To put it mildly, we all need a little detox at this time of year: even those of us without joint pain could use a glass of 100% good stuff. If for nothing else, at least to balance out our eggnog consumption.


 Parsley Juice

yields about 2-3 servings, depending on the size of the glasses
inspired by Seamus Mullen's Hero Food 

The first time I made this juice, I followed the recipe to the letter, adding only an apple, lemon juice, honey, water, ice and fresh grated ginger to the parsley. Although I really liked the tartness of the juice (my main problem with most juices is that they can be sickly sweet), both the Greek and my mother were mutinous, drinking it with pained looks on their faces and calling for more honey and, in general, more sweet things. I decided to be accommodating the second time around and revamped the recipe, adding more natural sweeteners and holding the ginger (mainly because I forgot to add it). As with most recipes, this one can be endlessly played with. I've wondered what a half-parsley, half-kale smoothie would taste like, what the addition of frozen/fresh raspberries or blueberries would do to it. Even different types of apples would affect the flavor; I used a Gala, but a Pink Lady or a Granny Smith might bring back the tartness in a really pleasurable way.

1 bunch fresh Italian parsley, stems trimmed ever so slightly
1 apple, cored and cut into quarters
1 frozen banana
a handful of fresh (or frozen) strawberries
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup water + a few ice cubes (plus a few extra cubes for serving)

-Clean the parsley, rinsing it under cold water, and then shake the excess water off. Trim the stems (I would suggest cutting off only an inch or two of the stems).
-Add the parsley, apple, banana, strawberries, lemon juice, honey, water and ice to a blender.
-Process until all the ingredients are mixed well and relatively smooth (as I mentioned, the juice may be quite pulpy, having more the texture of a smoothie than juice).
-Pour into serving glasses and, if desired, add a few extra ice cubes.


10 comments:

  1. That's a very California looking drink! :P (which I actually mean as a compliment, as I like all those earthy things). Merry C mas!

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    1. Hi Boy C! I guess it is very California looking; you can call this the product of my California nostalgia while here in snowy PA. :) In any case, I think you should try it; in hindsight, it does sound like a you kind of recipe. :) Happy New Year!!

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  2. Beautiful photos, and a temptingly refreshing looking drink! I tend to stay away from smoothies, too -- but this one does seem perfect for this rich-food-laden season. Thanks for sharing -- just reading/seeing it was uplifting.

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    1. Hi, Moriah and thank you! Yes, these days, especially after huge food feasts, I'm all about the green things...although, honestly, I don't know who I'm kidding: I've easily eaten almost a dozen of the world's best salty peanut butter chocolate cookies.

      Hope you're having a good holiday!! Crazy to think we'll all be back before we know it!

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  3. This sounds marvelously refreshing and like a perfect solution to using up the extra parsley that always seems to linger in my fridge. Happ new year!

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    1. Thanks, Ann! I do think it's the perfect solution to leftover parsley and, in fact, I imagine it would be a healthy and welcome addition to many juice/smoothie flavors.

      Happy New Year to you, too! Enjoy Paris!

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  4. Every time I think of parsley, I think of my Grandmother Hritz. She put parsley in everything and put great stock in natural cures. She firmly believed that onions could cure sickness. She kept an onion cut in half in her bedroom to ward off the flu. I think she would have loved a drink that made parsley the star of the health show. Hope you enjoyed PA:). I'm sure it enjoyed you.

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    1. Thanks, Jess! Between your grandma's bread baking and love of parsley, I think she and I might just be kindred spirits. I may have to try this onion trick (I got the flu shot, but I still worry); at the very least, it might stop the dog from going in my bedroom to steal my socks!

      And, yes, PA was fun, although my time there went by much too quickly!

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  5. My brother cleared out the clogged arteries in his heart with a parsley blender drink every day. It took aboout six months and the Dr didn't have to put in the stents they planed to use. It also cleans out kidney stones. Your recipe would work for both conditons. Much health to you.

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment; I'm now a huge proponent of parsley--as both a garnish and as a drink--and am glad to know of such a wonderful success story. This has also convinced me to keep nagging my mother and grandparents to drink their parsley!

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