Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Spicy Smoothies: Getting Healthy from the Inside Out

I eat a smoothie for breakfast about 4-5 times a week, and I love them. LOVE THEM. I've fine tuned my ingredients after doing a fair amount of reading and now include several spices and "super foods" in the mix, aiming for high impact health and skincare benefits.
Healthy greens such as baby spinach and/or kale (vitamins K, A, and C) make up at least half of the smoothie, and if I have celery (vitamin K and molybdenum) on hand that will get tossed in as well.  I hate the taste of uncooked celery, but I'm finding I can tolerate things in smoothies that I won't touch otherwise (beets, anyone?).
I'll also add bell peppers (vitamin C and carotenoids). A quarter of an avocado adds healthy fat, which is important for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins and carotenoids. I also like adding fresh ginger root for both it's flavor and anti-inflammatory benefits.
I'll vary the types of fruits I add each day, although half a banana (potassium) is a staple. I'll typically buy a bunch of 5-6 bananas and be able to use 2 before they start getting too ripe. I'll then cut up and freeze the rest, which works just fine for smoothies.
I buy large bags of frozen fruit from either Walmart or Costco, with my favorites being mixed blueberries/blackberries/raspberries, cherries, and mixed peaches/pineapple/strawberies. So, my fruit blend would be bananas with one of the mixes or the cherries. The fruit provides a great balance to the greens and vegetables, rounding out both the flavor and nutritional aspects.
Next come spices and protein powder. Yes, spices like turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Turmeric and ginger are known for their anti-inflammatory powers (although their benefits extend far beyond that), and the less inflammation in our bodies, the better. I can tell a major difference in the level of joint/muscle pain that is an almost constant for me (due to scoliosis) since I started eating them regularly. While I still need to do yoga to keep my muscles stretched out, the level of pain is much less on a day to day basis.
Cinnamon helps with blood sugar control, cayenne with revving up your metabolism, and black pepper helps with the absorption of turmeric.  I actually like my smoothies better with the added kick from the spices, so don't be afraid to try them. I buy my spices in bulk for much cheaper prices than I find in grocery stores, and I suspect they are fresher as well.
I use 1 teaspoon of turmeric, half a tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of cayenne, and throw in 1-2 whole black pepper buds. I've been using a soy-based protein powder and usually put about 1/3 of a day's serving in, as I do better with some protein first thing in the morning.
I'll sometimes add "boosters" like Maca powder (vitamins B, C, E, increased energy levels) or cacao powder (flavanoids, oleic acid) as well, and purchase mine from Amazon. I then fill up the container about half way with water (green tea and almond milks are my other two liquid go to's).
After mixing everything I'll typically add 4-5 ice cubes and mix some more. The result is 2 servings of smoothie and I can honestly say I look forward to these. Oatmeal is my other breakfast staple (see my recipe here) for my non-smoothie mornings, but I've yet to tire of either making or drinking these.
If you've got a favorite smoothie recipe or ingredients, please share!

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