I have been keeping my Vita-Mix busy the last couple of days by stuffing it with leafy greens–primarily kale and red chard–and adding small amounts of fruit to make my concoctions easier to poke down. I have tried to eat just kale or just chard and find that I could gnaw on the leaves for a long time without being able to make them go down my gullet. The texture of the kale is akin to eating a piece of leather. I wonder who was the first person brave enough to chew away on a leaf with the serious intent of making it go down?

The Vita-Mix, unlike a juicer, has blades that spin at 240 mph on a 2.2 horsepower motor. When I turn it on it sounds like a chain saw in the kitchen. I tell friends I could now eat a Douglas Fir 2×4 if I had to. The regular kitchen juicers have blades that go dull, while the pure pulsing power of the Vita-Mix ensures that it will keep on beating up fruits and vegetables whether the blades go dull or not. When the blades go dull on a regular blender, they push the chunks of food around without doing any chopping or blending, until the blender then begins to over heat. The Vita-Mix, on the other hand, is so well built that when I leave it running for any length of time the blended food becomes hot soup.

I bought mine a couple of years ago, and would like to brag that I have used mine every day since day one, but, unfortunately, I did get out of the habit of using it regularly. I find myself settling into eating patterns that just don’t require this heavy-duty blending activity. The seasonal change coming over us makes me want to change how and what I eat.

At the time of the autumnal or spring equinoxes, the daily decrease in the amount of sunlight is greater than at other times of the year, meaning that the length of the night is accelerating. During the solstices, the daily shift in light from one day to the next is hardly noticeable. My body seems to sense the quickening change and wants to naturally counter-effect the slowing of outdoor activity by sending me signals to change my eating habits. The bears in the Sierra Nevadas are probably going through the same experience right about now.

Breakfast today then will be a couple of seriously chewed up apples, several big curly leaves of kale, a few grapes and dates, a spoonful of chia seed, part of a banana, and two cups of water. That should fix me. Then I can just sit down and sip breakfast rather than spooning and forking things into my mouth that are hard to chew and probably have less nutritional value.

I am still working to smooth out my smoothie recipes, however. I learned just yesterday, for example, that baby kale leaves have a much more pleasant taste to them than the large and older curly leaves; this must be true for all of the leafy green plants, which is why they are packaged in plastic tubs, to protect their taste and tenderness.

I made the mistake of eating a big piece of red meat this past week that I could not digest, which turned me back to my vegan ways of looking for healthier ways of getting my nutritional requirements. The latest round of news stories has to do with the passage of the Obamacare health reform package in Washington DC. The politicians cannot seem to agree on the best health insurance policy for Americans, but since I am about to come under the umbrella of Medicare I do not have to be quite as concerned as the younger generations. The underlying message through all this argumentative mess with our leaders is that perhaps all of us should ultimately be responsible for maintaining our own health–as much as each of us can be–to avoid getting caught up in a system that seems to be unraveling.

One of my recent reads, “Green For Life”, by Victoria Boutenko, describes some of these issues with enough clarity and detail to make me want to keep my Vita-Mix stoked up with leafy greens and running smoothly.

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