Many people use the start of a new year as a well-defined starting point for personal improvement projects. Contrary to popular belief, many are successful in achieving their goals. Sometimes, a significant or traumatic life event, such as the birth of a child or a health crisis, will inspire a person to make changes in his or her life.
Jason Bauserman, of Bartow, is a perfect example of someone who overcame adversity and improved his health and quality of life. Three years ago, Bauserman was working on a ceiling project when he fell off of a ladder and suffered serious injuries, including a broken neck, broken ribs, a concussion and other internal injuries. Following a hospital stay, he came home determined to overcome his injuries and continue an active life.
Bauserman resolved to give his body everything it needed to heal his injuries and become stronger. He recalled a healthy food he had learned about as a young man – fruit and vegetable smoothies.
“I learned about fruit smoothies from a woman in Pennsylvania, Grace LeFevre, who turned 90 on December 12, 2012,” he said. “She had an organic farm outside of Hanover, Pennsylvania. They were among the first people who started talking about organic gardening and growing your own. I was 23 when I went there and stayed for a month and worked on her farm. She was big into what she called a ‘green drink.’ She was growing a lot of herbs. She made it with not so much fruit but with more greens.”
Bauserman and his wife Julia incorporated the vitamin-packed ‘green drink’ into their diets for years, until other life events intervened.
“We carried that on for quite a few years,” he said. “We got a $400 juice maker, which was the top thing at the time. We changed our diets after staying on Grace’s farm and started getting into things that she had shown us. But we kind of got into the cycle of life and got away from it.”
“After we had our kids, we didn’t stay with it,” said Julia.
“We had the kids and a lot of work piled up and we got away from that,” added Jason. “We were taking care of the kids and not taking care of ourselves, as well.”
Following his accident in April 2012, Bauserman returned home from the hospital and had trouble sleeping.
“I could only sleep about two hours a night because I was in pain,” he said.
An involuntary insomniac, he saw something on TV that refreshed his memory of the fruit smoothies.
“He was up in the middle of the night watching an infomercial,” said Julia.
“They came on with this new blender and said, ‘hey, throw fruit in and then add vegetables in it,’” said Jason. “I didn’t even know if I could work anymore with my injuries. And I thought, ‘wow – it sounds like it’s really worth it. I’m going to get one and make fruit smoothies again.’”
Jason ordered one of the powerful blenders and started making fruit smoothies for breakfast.
“It’s a good, powerful food,” he said. “It’s not a processed food, like we see in today’s society. You get your fruit for the day. You get all your vegetables for the day if you load it down with greens. I’ve been adding the protein through the sunflower seeds and the bulk through the flax seed. It really sticks with you right up until lunch time. In the summertime, when it’s hot, I can just about live on them, morning, noon and evening, because it’s a nice cool drink. We’ve just about forgotten about cooking around the house now.”
There is no single recipe for a good fruit smoothie. Jason uses 100% fruit juice as a base and adds apples, bananas, raisins, garden spinach, flax seed and sunflower seeds. He also uses other fruit and greens that are available, including strawberries, blueberries, peaches, raspberries, kale, Swiss chard and dandelion. He leaves the skin on the fruit and vegetables because those portions are vitamin-rich.
Other popular smoothie recipes call for yogurt, tofu, green tea and other organic ingredients. No matter what combination of ingredients is used, a smoothie has a delicious flavor.
“It just has a good, pleasant taste,” said Jason. “When our mint is growing, we just throw in some mint leaves and that is so refreshing.”
“It tastes like licorice to me,” added Julia.
Ingredients for healthy smoothies are affordable for working families.
The Bausermans gather local apples – so abundant that most go to waste – and store large quantities in basement coolers. The family picks strawberries at a pick-your-own farm near Charlottesville, Virginia. Blueberries can be picked at farms in Pocahontas and Greenbrier counties. Farmer’s markets are a good source for organic fruits and herbs. A Mennonite-owned bulk food store in Harrisonburg, Virginia, sells protein-packed sunflower seeds for less than $2 a pound, and Omega-3 and fiber-rich flax seed for less than that. A small backyard garden can provide plentiful greens. An inexpensive blender, generally about $30, will suffice to make a good smoothie.
Jason attested to the benefits of eating well through fruit smoothies.
“I have a lot more energy,” he said. “When I get up in the morning, I am ready to go and do what I can. I never thought I’d be able to work again, after I had broken my neck and ribs and had a concussion. It took me two years to get back. But just six weeks ago, I built a block chimney flue, 24-feet high with 35 blocks. I grabbed a 70-pound flue block, walked up a ladder and put it out on the scaffold. I laid the whole thing up – pretty much by myself. I was pretty proud of myself.”
Jason said fruit smoothies helped him lose 50 pounds in two-and-a-half years, but that he planned to lose an additional 35 pounds. The healthy diet also resulted in lower cholesterol for the Bartow semi-retiree.
“The smoothies are filling, so I don’t feel like eating the pasta or the junk food,” he said.
Several good smoothie recipes can be found at eatingwell.com and many other websites.