Happy Monday everyone! As I sat down to write my first blog post, I was reflecting on what the first big dietary change I made was. Then it hit me – images of cardboard tasting, rock hard gluten free bread. I had grown up eating toast most mornings for breakfast, so when told I couldn’t eat gluten anymore, I switched to the gluten free bread you find in the frozen section of the grocery store. Now, I try to always be positive about gluten free food, as there are TONS of amazing and delicious options, but this was just torture. No person should have to eat that.
It’s been over 4 years, and I’m still not sick of them. At first, smoothies were just a random gluten free breakfast option that was better than stale bread; but, as I’ve learned more, the smoothie is an AMAZING option to start your day off right. It’s so important to get a large dose of protein in the morning, and smoothies are a great way to do so.
My favourite concoction is pretty simple. I think healthy eating is easier when you understand why a certain food is good for you, so below I’ll explain why each ingredient is so critical and what the benefits are.
It’s quite commonly known that berries are one of the best sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are critical in protecting cells against cellular damage. Looking at the different types of berries, raspberries have anti-microbial properties that help fight those bad bacteria in the body. Strawberries are incredibly high in Vitamin C, which helps the immune system and aids the body in dealing with stress. They are also anti-inflammatory. Strawberries contain something called phenols that have the capability to weaken the inflammatory enzyme COX, the same way that anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen do. Lastly, blueberries are particularly effective in supporting the collagen matrix, keeping your skin young and wrinkle-free.
You’ll note that I only put 1/2 a cup to keep the overall sugar content low. The protein powder will sweeten it up.
There will be a totally separate post, or twenty, just on the health benefits of dark leafy greens, but to summarize, spinach is an incredible source of nutrients, with very low calories! It is a great antioxidant, it’s a good source of plant based iron (good for energy), high in Vitamin A (good for vision), high in Vitamin C, B6 and Folic Acid (good for heart health), and the list goes on. If you’re not convinced, researchers are even working on creating a ‘Spinach Extract’ to be tested for stomach and skin cancer treatment.
I make my almond milk in my Blendtec, but as long as you buy unsweetened, I would recommend any brand (Almond Breeze, Pacific Organics). I’ve had people ask me how they get their calcium if they stop eating dairy milk and switch to almond milk. Almonds are an excellent source of Calcium, and in 1 cup of almond milk, there is the same amount of Calcium as there would be in Cow’s Milk – you just don’t have to worry about the ill effects of eating dairy (bloating, gas, acne, etc).
With flax, it’s important to consume it ground. Whole flax seeds, while not bad for you, don’t provide nearly as many health benefits as the ground seeds do. I call flax a miracle food, and similar to spinach, there will be various other posts just on flax. Most importantly, for the morning smoothie, flax is an excellent source of fiber to keep things moving. I also find it thickens the smoothie and gives it a bit of a creamier texture. If you have the pre-ground flax seed, store it in the freezer; or for the optimal nutrition, grind a couple of tablespoons fresh each morning (a coffee grinder or even a good Magic Bullet should do the trick).
Protein is also very important for starting the day off right! It helps balance your blood sugar levels for the remainder of the day, which will help kick those nasty cravings you get mid morning. It also fills you up. A smoothie without the protein makes me hungry in an hour. The vanilla is my favourite, but for you choco-holics, they do have chocolate too. Sunwarrior is a favourite protein powder of mine for a few reasons. It has the fewest ingredients I’ve ever seen on a protein powder package (4 to be exact). It’s a rice based protein powder, so is vegan, and contains 16g of protein and only 1g of carbohydrates.
Update: I also LOVE Vega protein powder and highly recommend it. For a full review of protein powders, check out this article.
Cinnamon adds a great flavour and compliments the vanilla nicely, but cinnamon is also good at regulating blood sugar levels, and has strong anti-microbial properties.
So, wipe the dust off your blender, and enjoy my Fave Smoothie recipe!