The image of a slim, athletic 30 something in workout leotards or running attire, downing a green drink before heading out the door might be what comes to mind when you think of 'smoothie drinks'; but it doesn't begin to convey the variety of uses for liquid nutrition that can give us a leg up on our health goals.
The advantage to using smoothies and other liquid drinks for some of our health needs, is that it bypasses the energy the body has to use to breakdown and digest the foods, while providing readily absorbable nutrition directly to the digestive process for direct access to the bloodstream where nutrients are distributed. If you are someone who has digestive issues, it is one way to diffuse the pain, indigestion, and apprehension of eating meals. If you're a cancer patient that needs to obtain nutrition in order to get well, but the thought of food makes you feel ill, this could be the way to maintain your strength during chemo and radiation. If you have children that are picky eaters, it may be a great tasting way to get them to eat their veggies. If you're work schedule isn't conducive to sitting down and enjoying breakfast or lunch, it could be a way of maintaining great energy throughout your day, or it can be a healthy way to weight loss.
AND, it doesn't have to taste bad!
Often I hear people say they don't like 'green' drinks because they taste like 'dirt'. They don't have to. Often recipes call for the dominant green to be kale which has a strong earthy flavor. There are two ways to deal with kale; if you don't like it you can use another green - arugala, spinach collards, beet greens, cress, romaine or even red or green leaf lettuce. Take note here that a lot of the time, the kale we are used to purchasing is the tougher, curly kale, but the milder kale is Lacinato which is lighter and milder in flavor. If you grow this one in your garden, you will always have it on hand; and it can be frozen for winter use. The other way to balance the flavor of kale is with the 'sweeter' tasting vegetables like cucumber and/or celery, both of which are detoxifying and immune building veggies or carrots. Many people like to add a sweeter taste by adding fruit; but beware. It is always my advice to use ONLY ONE fruit in a nutritional drink; otherwise you are adding too much sugar (though it might be natural), it will counteract all the goodness you are putting into the recipe. Again, unless you are making a dessert drink, 1 fruit is best and the berries - blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, organic strawberries pack the most nutritional punch.
Adding good protein into a nutritional smoothie is a good idea, especially if you are using your drink as your lunchtime replacement. There are a number of organic protein powders that would be good choices for this, but READ THE LABELS. There are a few key ingredients to look for which you can find in an all-inclusive vegetable and protein mix or even a canister of individualized protein (like pea protein) or all-inclusive that you just add a scoop to your base smoothie. The protein-rich ingredients to look for would be pea protein, sprouted brown rice, chia, and any of the beans in sprouted form. Some of the better formulas come with probiotics and digestive enzymes also which are not necessary but will contribute to good gut flora and digestion. Beware of whey protein. Unless it is processed without the use of rennet (a substance from the 4th stomach of ruminant animals - like cows - that causes coagulation and is used to draw the liquid from the milk solids). If you choose to go this route, make sure it's organic.
The last item to be mindful of is to add a small amount of good fat to the drink. This can come in the form of avocado, olive oil, MCT or flaxseed oil. These fats are the good ones that the body needs in small amounts to provide digestible fat for energy reserves.
The other part of smoothies to consider is that supplements can be added to these drinks instead of continually taking them in pill form. Any capsules can be opened and poured into the smoothie as well as liquid minerals. If you are on a supplement program, and are tired of all the pills, this is another way to get them into your system without having to digest the capsules themselves.
Lastly, add some liquid for hydration in the form of coconut or almond milk, or good water or coconut water; not juice. If you want to add fruit, add it in whole form as most bottled juices have sugar that has been added to them. Also, having the pulp of the fruit included is an addition to the good fiber you need to keep your bowels moving smoothly. If you use organic fresh squeezed juice, this should be the only fruit in the drink - per the discussion above.
For cancer patients whose pallets are significantly altered by chemotherapy, there is a drink called 'dragon slayer' that is made up of a combination of choices depending on what flavors you can tolerate at any given time. They are categorized by nutritional value and content so that you can choose from columns of foods that are palletable. This drink was developed by Patrick Quillan, the Nutritionist worked with Cancer Centers of America for their first 10 years developing high nutritional plans for cancer patients with great success. You can find it at https://canceraction.org.gg/project/dr-patrick-quillens-dragon-slayer-shake/
Now for the recipes. They are as varied and available as your taste and needs are. I will list a few below. I would also highly suggest looking at www.liveenergized.com for some of the best alkalizing smoothie recipes that are there free of charge, backed by science. Some of these may challenge your taste buds, but I guarantee that you can find some that will more than satisfy your particular taste pallet & even specific health challenges; and you certainly can tweak them to include other things as mentioned above to make them more personalized.
You can go on the internet and google smoothie recipes till the cows come home. Just bear in mind the principles above when choosing one and look for suppliers with reputable, research based ingredients.
A Simple Green Drink - This high nutritional drink has a more mellow flavor using the 'sweeter' tasting veggies to which you can add any number of options.
Base mix: A large handful of greens of your choice
A 2" piece of cucumber, peeled and chunked
1 large stalk of celery, chunked
1/4 ripe avocado
Options: 1 scoop protein powder of choice
1 fruit of choice
A small piece of ginger or tumeric or both, peeled
1 Cup of liquid (water, almond milk, coconut milk, coconut water)
Other veggies as desired (tomato, peppers, carrot, asparagus)
Any supplements by opening capsules and adding contents
Put all in the blender on high speed until well blended.
The Metabolism Boosting, Liver Healing Evening Juice
This is one of Ross Bridgford's free recipes from www.liveenergized.com It's intended to use in the evening before sleep when your body is in healing mode to balance your blood sugars, reduce oxidation (due to it’s high volume of antioxidants), sooth inflammation, alkalize and nourish. It’s a superb combination for healing and nourishing the liver, providing effective detoxifying nutrients, controlling blood sugar, insulin release, and for boosting your metabolism in the short- and long-term!
This is something you can do on and off, maybe for a week at a time when you’re feeling like you need a kick start. If you can still have your morning juice that is a GREAT combination as you’re going to sleep with your body primed with nutrients to work throughout your rest, and are then breaking your fast in the morning with another nutrient-dense juice or smoothie.
Weight Loss Smoothie - This one is a lovely mix of blended spices for a non-veggie, non-fruity smoothie
When your hormones are unbalanced, losing weight (sustainably) is literally impossible.
It all starts with imbalanced blood sugar levels and the impact this has on our insulin production/response. A standard Western diet of sugar, gluten-containing grains, processed foods, simple carb overload etc leads to a constant spike of blood sugar, which HAS to be accompanied by a constant spike of insulin. Repeated blood sugar spikes, leads to repeated insulin spikes…not good.
But worse? Your body rapidly gets desensitized to this – and each time there is a blood sugar spike you need more and more insulin just to cope. If you need to lose weight – this is a disaster.
Let me introduce the hormone known as leptin. Leptin is the hormone in your body that tells you when you’re hungry. Lots of leptin, and you don’t feel so hungry. No leptin and you ALWAYS feel hungry. Well, not so simple. You see, and I need you to concentrate here – this is important – it is not the AMOUNT of leptin that is IN the body.
IT IS THE AMOUNT OF LEPTIN YOUR BRAIN RECOGNISES
As it turns out, in studies looking at the effects of leptin, researchers found that in overweight and obese subjects there was actually a GREATER amount of leptin circulating in their body compared to others – BUT – their brain was not able to recognize it was there. Having constantly high blood sugar spikes, and thus high levels of insulin actually block the part of the brain that recognizes leptin.
And just like insulin resistance – this situation is called leptin resistance… In order to recognize leptin, we need to control our blood sugar…
Leptin Balancing Smoothie
Ingredients - Serves 2
1 1/3 cups unsweetened almond or coconut milk
2/3 cup filtered water
A handful of almonds, (soaked overnight)
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp cashew butter (almond can be substituted)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger OR 1" fresh ginger, grated
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cardamon
1 Tbsp coconut oil
Pinch of Himalayan pink salt
Optional: 1 scoop plant-based protein powder
Rinse the soaked almonds, add to the blender with the nut milk and water, blend until they’re smooth, and then add the remaining ingredients.
If you’re using protein powder, I recommend a plant-based product – and if you’re on a weight loss journey, adding a little protein to this smoothie is certainly not a bad idea.
Serve as is, or over ice. It’s REALLY delicious!
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Over 40 years of Herbal and nutritional experience.