In case you haven’t heard, I’m happy-dancing-around-the-kitchen excited about the launch of Dr. Sarah Ballantyne’s Collagen Veggie Blend from Vital Proteins! I am so grateful to Vital Proteins for the opportunity to collaborate with them on creating a fully AIP-compliant, perfectly clean, convenient whole-foods supplement that makes it perfectly simple to both up our veggie intake plus get the healing benefits of collagen. See Announcing My NEW Vital Proteins Product! for more information on how this amazing co-branded product came about!
Today, I want to share with you how to make your own Collagen Veggie Blend. That’s right, I’m sharing the recipe so that if you’d prefer to buy the fresh vegetables and fruits plus a less expensive tub of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides to make your own at home, you totally can! I’m sharing this because, while it clearly benefits me if you purchase Collagen Veggie Blend, what I care about most is giving you practical tools for optimal nutrition.
Why ALL The Veggies?
Why do I care so much about making eating more veggies easy? When we look at the statistical relationships between vegetable consumption and mortality or disease risk, it becomes clear that the more vegetables we eat, the more protected we are. For every serving of vegetables or fruit we consume, we reduce the risk of all-cause mortality (a measurement of overall health and longevity) by 5 percent, with the greatest risk reduction seen with 8 servings per day and more. That means that eating eight servings of vegetables and fruits per day needs to be seen as a bare minimum for supporting health. It also means that the more we’re able to increase our vegetable intake, the more benefits we’ll see reflected in our health. And one serving of Collagen Veggie Blend gets us half way to our daily minimum!
Even more exciting, those benefits extend to virtually every chronic disease afflicting modern society. For example, vegetables can be protective against all the following conditions:
Diabetes: Vegetables help reduce diabetes risk through a number of mechanisms, including supplying micronutrients necessary for blood sugar regulation, helping reduce the glycemic load of a meal, and containing fiber to slow down glucose absorption. Vegetables can also reduce risk factors for diabetes by decreasing the energy density of the diet and encouraging weight loss (abdominal fat, especially around the organs, is a major contributor to diabetes in people who are genetically susceptible). Not surprisingly, vegetable intake has frequently been associated with lower diabetes risk, with one meta-analysis finding that each 0.2 serving per day increase of green leafy vegetable intake was associated with a 13% lower risk of type 2 diabetes (yes, even one-fifth of a serving was able to lower diabetes risk that profoundly!).
Cardiovascular disease: Vegetables can have an extremely protective effect on the cardiovascular system by promoting healthy blood pressure (due to their abundance of potassium, calcium, and magnesium), reducing oxidative stress (due to their antioxidants), encouraging healthy body fat levels (by reducing the energy density of the diet and supporting weight loss), reducing LDL levels (through the actions of fiber binding to cholesterol in the intestines), and containing many micronutrients needed for vascular health. One study found that among a cohort of over 13,000 women, those consuming the most vegetables had a 38% reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to women eating the fewest vegetables.
Autoimmune disease: Vegetables supply key nutrients for immune function, while also providing multiple forms of fiber to boost gut health (and consequently protecting against leaky gut, a precursor for autoimmunity). (The one caveat here is nightshade vegetables, which, despite being nutrient-dense, also contain compounds that can aggravate autoimmunity, see The WHYs behind the Autoimmune Protocol: Nightshades)
Osteoporosis: Vegetables supply an assortment of nutrients needed for bone health, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, chromium, and vitamin K (berries have also been linked to higher bone density, potentially due to some of their phytochemicals and antioxidants). Among postmenopausal women, one study found that every 100g increase in vegetable and fruit intake was associated with a 0.0062 g/cm2 increase in bone mineral density at the whole body, 0.0098 g/cm2 increase at the lumbar spine, and 0.0060 increase at the total hip. In fact, additional studies show that high vegetable consumption is far better correlated with bone health than dairy consumption.
Cancer: The anti-cancer properties of many plant phytochemicals have been well documented. In addition, the chlorophyll found in plant foods can help mitigate the potentially carcinogenic properties of heme iron (the form of iron abundant in red meat), and certain fibers in vegetables and other plant foods appear protective against colorectal cancer. See The Link Between Meat and Cancer.
Obesity: Along with helping avoid micronutrient deficiencies associated with obesity, vegetables are the lowest energy-density foods in existence, adding bulk (fiber and water) to any meal and reducing the overall energy density of the meals we eat. This helps us naturally lower our caloric intake and makes it easier to reach a healthy body weight (especially because vegetables can also displace more obesogenic foods that combine concentrated fats, carbohydrates/sugar, and salt in ways that encourage overeating). See Healthy Weight Loss with Paleo, Part 1: Modifying Dietary Choices to Support Fat Metabolism.
Clearly, there are many, many important roles vegetables and fruit play in supporting our health. Vitamins, minerals, fiber, and an astounding spectrum of phytonutrients are packed into these fabulous plant foods! Hence why they’re a major component of the Paleo diet, and should take up a large visual portion of each meal we eat. In fact, with two-thirds to three-quarters of every plate covered in vegetables and fruit, the Paleo template could be considered a plant-based diet. (See The Diet We’re Meant to Eat, Part 3: How Much Meat versus Veggies?, The Fiber Manifesto;Part 1 of 5: What Is Fiber and Why Is it Good? , The Amazing World of Plant Phytochemicals: Why a diet rich in veggies is so important!, The Importance of Vegetables).
I’ve also written extensively about the health benefits of consuming collagen, the amazing protein that makes bone broth such a healing superfood. We quite simply don’t consume enough collagen in our modern society, which means we don’t get enough of a very important amino acid called glycine. Glycine is essential for immune health, gut health, connective tissue health, bone health, and skin health and consuming glycine-rich foods is a feature of the Autoimmune Protocol (see Why Broth is Awesome, The Health Benefits of Bone Broth and Broth: Hidden Dangers in a Healing Food?). What makes Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides so special is how easy it is to get this important protein; it’s nearly flavorless and dissolves instantly in hot or cold liquid making it extremely versatile (I like to put it in my tea and coffee).
Who is Collagen Veggie Blend For?
Collagen Veggie Blend is a whole foods-based supplement. My goal in working with Vital Proteins was to create a high-quality product for anyone who struggles to eat enough veggies or who periodically faces challenges to a veggie-rich diet like traveling, occasional long work days, or the first few sleep-deprived months of motherhood. And, I was absolutely adamant that this product needed to comply with the elimination phase of the Autoimmune Protocol, since there is definitely still only very limited choices for portable nutrition for my fellow AIPers. And I wanted it to be very low sugar with no added flavors, sweeteners, emulsifiers or colors so that it could be as versatile as possible.
If you’re someone who happily chows down on mounds of veggies and gets broth and other glycine-rich foods (like fish and organ meat) into your diet regularly, there’s no compelling reason for you to invest in this product. If your day-to-day diet is dialed in, but you have struggle to find healthy portable foods for travel, rushed mornings, or post-workout, having a tub of Collagen Veggie Blend on hand for that occasional need might be super convenient for you. You could also use one scoop instead of two to add to your favorite homemade smoothie recipe to give it a boost but stretch out how long a tub of Collagen Veggie Blend lasts you.
What’s In a Tub of Collagen Veggie Blend?
What’s in a tub of Dr. Sarah Ballantyne’s Collagen Veggie Blend from Vital Proteins? Besides 30 scoops of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides (about the same as a 10 oz container), the fresh equivalent of the vegetables and fruits is:
- 22.5 cups organic spinach
- 5.25 cups organic kale
- 7.5 medium organic carrots
- 1 cup organic broccoli florets
- 3 cups organic blueberries
- 3 cups organic blackberries
- 3 cups organic strawberries
- 2 1/2 Tbsp organic lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
- 1 cup organic raspberries
- 2/3 cup organic acerola cherries
- 1/3 cup organic cranberries
Yes, you would save money to go out and buy all of these vegetables and fruits and make your own Collagen Veggie Blend. But, I was still surprised when I started comparing the prices of buying all of these ingredients individually because I expected the difference in cost to be much higher. I sent one of my team members to her local grocery stores (Central Market and Safeway in Seattle, WA) to price out the ingredients, fresh or frozen (since most of the fresh berries are expensive or impossible to find organic this time of year). Here’s the prices she found:
- Organic Loose Leaf Baby Spinach (not in bag) – 7.98 per lb
- Organic Kale – 2.50 per bunch
- Organic Carrots – 2.49 per bunch (5-6 carrots)
- Organic Broccoli – 2.49 per pound
- Organic Blueberry -5.98 per 6 oz
- Organic Blackberry – 4.99 per 10 oz (frozen)
- Organic Strawberry – 5.98 per pound
- Organic Lemon – $1 per lemon
- Organic Raspberry – 5.98 per 6 oz
- Organic Cherry – 5.29 per 8 oz (frozen, regular cherries, not acerola)
- Organic Cranberry – 6.00 per pound (fresh/frozen, not dried)
- 10 oz tub Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides – $25.00
So, doing some math (ooh, my fave!), I came up $49.59 for the fresh vegetables and fruits, assuming you can buy only exactly what you need to make a tub’s equivalent of Collagen Veggie Blend, plus buying a small tub of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. The total cost would be $74.59!!! Of course, prices vary by location and season, so you may be able to save more than the mere $4.41 to make fifteen servings of Collagen Veggie Blend yourself! I was anticipating having to emphasize the value of the time-savings from purchasing a tub of Collagen Veggie Blend, but given how similar the cost is of making your own, I think waxing on about the convenience of a shelf-stable product that simply stirs into a glass of water would make me sound like a broken record.
DIY Collagen Veggie Blend Recipe
If you do want to make your own Collagen Veggie Blend, you’ll need a high-powered blender like a Blendtec or a Vitamix. I also made the assumption that you’d prefer to use regular cherries as opposed to purchasing freeze-dried acerola cherries, although if you do choose to purchase this superfood ingredient (one of the top food sources of vitamin C and very high in phytochemicals!), you’ll need about 3/4 teaspoon.
Prep Time: 5 to 10 minutes
Cook Time: None
- 1 1/2 cups organic spinach
- 1/3 cups organic kale
- 1/2 medium organic carrots
- 1 Tbsp organic broccoli florets
- 3 Tbsp organic blueberries
- 3 Tbsp organic blackberries
- 3 Tbsp organic strawberries
- 1/2 tsp organic lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp organic raspberries
- 2 tsp organic [acerola] cherries
- 1 tsp organic cranberries
- 2 scoops Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
- 8 ounces water
- Combine all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until completely pureed.
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