We at The Cut are the first people to discourage juice fasts, no matter how many times we're told to try them. So when I was assigned to make vegan smoothies with Russian model and raw food enthusiast Valentina Zelyaeva, I was skeptical and more than a bit worried. What if her special diet was an excuse to eat less, as is often the case? Also, what if her concoctions tasted disgusting, as many green juices do? I was told to come hungry, but I was suspicious and ate a large breakfast instead.
To my great relief, Valentina treats her smoothies and juice blends as supplements to a very normal, healthy diet with square meals and snacks. She tries to eat raw as much as she can, but she doesn't eliminate any foods and eats meat and fish from time to time. What's more, the smoothies she made for us from organic fresh fruit, spinach, and homemade almond milk were good. Not just palatable in that super-health-food way, but really delicious (even the camera crew agreed).
Valentina started eating more raw food a little over a year ago, after she read a few books on the subject. Although she never did it to lose weight, she found that it cleared up her skin, improved her energy level, and helped her sleep better. She has since invested in all kinds of smoothie-making contraptions like a nut milk bag (used to make homemade almond milk) and a snazzy Blendtec appliance, although you can make almost all of her recipes with that normal crappy blender you bought years ago to make frozen margaritas (yes, we've tested this personally). You can find more tips on her personal website; watch her making this smoothie for us in the video.
Green Smoothie (That Doesn't Taste Like Grass)
fresh mango (she used a few slices)
1 frozen banana (she waits until they're ripe and then peels and freezes them)
1 tablespoon flax seeds (pre-soaked overnight in water)
1 cup spinach or more (or kale)
1 cup water or almond milk
Producer: Spencer Mandell