Smoothies and juices aren’t really my thing, so I haven’t had the opportunity to try wheatgrass, the base of those hard-core “wheatgrass shots” from Jamba Juice that I had heard about. However, I was in an exploratory mood when I ventured into the homeopathic aisle of my local Whole Foods. Perched next to bottles of vitamins promising everything from ache-relief to extra zzzzs were little packs of wheatgrass, the perfect size for sampling.
Wheatgrass is, believe it or not, a kind of young grass that sprouts from common wheat. It was used in the ancient Mesoamerican and Egyptian civilizations, touting Nebuchadnezzar as a proponent. In more recent history, scientists like Dr. Anne Wigmore and Dr. Charles Schnabel, the “father of wheatgrass,” began using it for its health benefits.
Now available in many forms, you can find it in tablets, capsules, extracts, or ground and ready to be added to smoothies. For the DIY-ers who want to avoid any possible contamination, there are wheatgrass seeds and kits to grow it at home.
Any way you eat it, though, wheatgrass promises a concentration of nutrients like iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamins, and chlorophyll. Folic acid, beta carotene, dietary fiber, phytonutrients, you name it. Supposedly, the sprouted grass helps remove toxins and metals like lead, mercury, and aluminum from the body. Some promote it to treat colds, coughs, fevers, and inflammation; however, there have been very few scientific studies that prove that wheatgrass can cure or prevent ailments.
It can, however, make you feel like you’re doing something incredibly healthy whenever you tell people you’re drinking wheatgrass juice. And trust me, if you drink this stuff in public, people very well might ask. I poured a packet of the green powder into a tall glass of water, to focus on the taste with no distractions. Wheatgrass emits a very distinct aroma of green; there’s no other word I can think of to describe it. My powder dissolved into the water quickly, turning it a murky hunter green that made me a little nervous to take a sip. Tastewise, I would liken wheatgrass juice to a very watery broccoli smoothie. It’s hardly my favorite superfood so far, but I did feel thoroughly wholesome as I sipped away on my greens.
For those less interested in drinking lawn clippings, try out this simple recipe for green banana soft serve, based on the abundant recipes circulating in the blogosphere, for a frosty way to get your greens:
Mint Chocolate Superfood “Sundae”
1 large, ripe banana
1/4 tsp peppermint extract, or fresh mint to taste
4 tsp. wheatgrass powder
1 tbsp. dark chocolate chips
Plant-based milk, as needed
Dark chocolate for garnish
Roughly chop banana and freeze for several hours. Once thoroughly frozen, place in food processor and process until very smooth. Blend in mint, chocolate chips and wheatgrass, adding milk as needed. Serve garnished with dark chocolate shavings.