Before my daughter was born, I remember leaving for work or college early in the morning. By the time I got showered, dressed, hair and makeup done, I just barely had a few minutes to spare before I had to run out the door. There were many mornings I would leave the house without breakfast and wouldn’t have a break until midday at the earliest. By then, I felt so depleted of energy that I wished I could take a long nap. Coffee and the granola bars I had laying around in my purse just didn’t cut it. Call me irresponsible or self-neglectful, but I truly did not consider at the time that I desperately needed more nutrients in my on-the-go diet to give me longer lasting energy.
I decided to try making a smoothie every morning whenever I had a couple minutes to spare. I say “try” because I can be forgetful and go back to old habits if I am not careful. I noticed my energy was higher and my mood brighter on the days that I started off with a smoothie. I also seemed to be less prone to frequent allergies and colds. And, did I mention, I was less grumpy?! Who would think that something so quick and simple could truly change someone’s entire day?
Smoothies provide a myriad of health benefits. Not only are they quick and easy, but they allow you to receive your daily allowance of fruits and vegetables to ensure you meet your body’s nutritional needs. It is easy to sneak detoxifying ingredients into your daily smoothie such as a handful of baby spinach, kale, flax or chia seeds. Smoothies contain dietary fiber to aid in improved digestion. The powerful vitamins and minerals in smoothies can also give your skin, nails and hair a radiant glow while at the same time improving your immune system and amping up your energy.
I used to make my smoothies with cow’s milk or sometimes orange juice. Now, I prefer using organic almond milk because I have noticed that too much dairy can wreak havoc on my digestive system. I’m just a more pleasant person to be around without the constant belly ache. I usually steer clear of orange juice because even if you are not diabetic, most bottled juices contain more sugars than the body needs, especially when combined with the natural sugars from fruit. When I do desire a little more sweetness to my smoothies, I am a fan of adding raw honey, especially around cold & flu season. One of the major reasons I am such a fan of raw honey is because it is not heated and processed like pasteurized honey, therefore it keeps its incredible health powers. Local raw honey also boosts immunity to sickness, certain diseases and seasonal allergies; it is an excellent source of antioxidants; it soothes a sore throat; and, unlike sugar, it can be beneficial to healthy blood sugar management. Bringing up the topic of almond milk, there is controversy about bottled almond milk because most almond milks contain some form of preservative or thickener, such as carrageenan or xanthan gum. If you are wary of the store-bought kind, you can quickly make your own at home (I intend to try it one of these days but still have yet to do so).
During this cold and snowy season, tropical-inspired smoothies are my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I love cuddling inside on a cold, snowy day with lots of layers and warm blankets. But, to be outside on a warm tropical beach would be my ideal destination. Sometimes I find that the energizing scents of citrus and tropical fruits jolt me awake in the morning (especially when my husband and I are sleep-deprived because the baby has been up several times throughout the night). A mixed berry smoothie tends to be my favorite in the summer. As a sufferer of daily body pain, I find that a smoothie containing cherries helps alleviate some of my pain throughout the day. Finally, banana was not only one of my favorite flavors during pregnancy, but it provides enormous benefits to mind and body health. Bananas are high in vitamin B6, which can help you get a more restful sleep. This nutrient-dense fruit is high in magnesium as well, a key mineral that most of us are lacking that helps relax the muscles and keep the body functioning properly. Bananas also contain high levels of tryptophan, which converts to the mood-boosting brain neurotransmitter seratonin in the body.
My favorite part of making smoothies is that once you get a knack for the ratio of each ingredient to reach your desired smoothie consistency, you really don’t have to measure the ingredients out next time to end up with a drink that is super easy, delicious and filling. I prefer to use frozen organic fruit in my smoothies because it tends to be more simple for me, quick and inexpensive, but you are welcome to use fresh fruit and ice cubes if you so desire.
These smoothies are not overly sweet, so you can add honey, agave, stevia, etc. to taste until reaching your desired sweetness. Ever since I cut most sugars out of my diet for health reasons, the sweetness from natural fruit is normally enough for me. Also, you may have noticed I am a HUGE vanilla fan. Feel free to opt for vanilla-free ingredients (such as vanilla-free protein powder, almond milk, and yogurt) if you prefer little to no vanilla flavoring. Be Creative. Have fun with it!
Add frozen fruit to blender. Top with just enough almond milk that it covers the top of the fruit, and add protein powder last (to prevent powdery chunks). Blend until smooth, and enjoy.
Add frozen mixed berries, handful of baby spinach, and honey to blender. Top with just enough almond milk that it covers the top of fruit & spinach mixture, and add protein powder last. Blend until smooth and evenly mixed. Enjoy!
Add frozen cherries, greek yogurt, and honey to blender. Top with just enough almond milk that it covers the top of fruit, and add protein powder. Blend until smooth, and enjoy.
Add frozen sliced bananas, greek yogurt, raw honey, and cinnamon to blender. Top with just enough almond milk that it covers the top of fruit, then add protein powder. Blend until smooth, and enjoy.
Well, those are my 4 super easy go-to smoothie blends. Have any easy smoothie recipes you’d like to share? I’d love to hear!