Kitchen Guides

Smoothies 101

By Kim Manning

Smoothies are a great way to start your day! I enjoy a smoothie at least 4-5 days a week. When I first started out, I bought one of the huge plastic tubs of protein powder to add to my fruits and greens. After further research, I realize that it is much healthier to buy separate Superfoods to add to your smoothie and this way you know exactly what you are adding and you avoid any BPA's from the plastic.

The term "Superfoods" refers to foods that have a dozen or more unique properties, not just one or two. For example, the goji berry is a source of complete protein, immune-stimulating polysaccharides, liver-cleansing betaine, anti-aging sesquiterpenes, antioxidants, over twenty trace minerals, and much, much more. Superfoods are true health foods. They are known to improve the severity and symptoms of nearly every major disease condition known, including: Allergies, Arthritis, Asthma, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Cancer (all types), Chronic fatigue, Depression, Eczema, Insomnia, Nervous system disorders, Skin Disorders, etc.

Here are a few that I add to everyone of my smoothies...

Cacao Nibs:  Cacao nibs are the least processed and most natural form of chocolate. The lack of processing and sugars do give them a bit of an acquired taste as they have a distinctive bitter but somewhat nutty flavor. Some of the great nutritional benefits from eating this great, ancient ingredient is it is full of antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight off free radical damage in the body which can cause DNA damage, premature aging and even cancers. They contain flavonoids, which essentially the antioxidant activity comes from flavonoids. They can help fight cardiovascular disease, they have a huge amount of fiber, which can help lower blood cholesterol as well as helping keep bowel movements regular. They contain high levels of magnesium, which is great for blood pressure regulation, muscle and nerve function, etc. They contain high levels of potassium, and last but not least chocolate and cacao help stimulate the brain into releasing neurotransmitters that can trigger feel good hormones.

Hemp Seeds:  Hemp seeds are the most nutritious seed in the world. Hemp Seeds are a complete protein. They have the most concentrated balance of proteins, essential fats, vitamins and enzymes combined with a relative absence of sugar, starches and saturated fats. Raw hemp provides a broad spectrum of health benefits, including: weight loss, increased and sustained energy, rapid recovery from disease or injury, lowered cholesterol and blood pressure, reduced inflammation, improvement in circulation and immune system as well as natural blood sugar control.

Maca powder:  Maca is a root that belongs to the radish family. Grown in the mountains of Peru, it has been called "Peruvian ginseng." Maca is rich in vitamin B vitamins, C, and E. It provides plenty of calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and amino acids. It serves as a boost to your libido and increases endurance, as well as balances your hormones and increases fertility. It can also relieve menstrual issues and menopause, alleviate cramps, anxiety, etc. It should also increase your energy level within days of use. Many people take Maca for skin issues, such as acne. **Be cautious if you have certain cancer, or liver issues or high blood pressure, you should ask your doctor before taking Maca. If you are pregnant or lactating, you should avoid taking Maca.

Flax Seeds:  Flax seeds are a great benefit to the intestinal tract. It helps keep food in the stomach from emptying too quickly into the small intestine which can increase nutrient absorption.  Also, flax is extremely high in both soluble and insoluble fiber which can support colon detoxification, fat loss and reduce sugar cravings. It helps with healthier skin, hair and nails. Amongst its other incredible nutritional facts, flax seeds are also packed with antioxidants. Flax Seed benefits have been proven time and time again and even including fighting breast, prostate, ovarian and colon cancer.

Chia Seeds: Chia Seeds are tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia Hispanica, which is related to the mint. Despite their tiny size, chia seeds are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. They are loaded with fiber, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids and various micronutrients. They are loaded with antioxidants, almost all the carbs in them are fiber, and they are a high quality protein. Due to the high fiber and protein content, Chia Seeds should be able to help you lose weight.

When making smoothies, it is best to invest in a high quality blender, such as Blendtec or Vitimix, and I find mason jars work great to keep all of the above superfoods handy. The flax seeds and hemp seeds I keep in the refrigerator.

There are many smoothie recipes out there, but here is one of my favorites:

2 Cups Unsweetened Almond or Cashew milk
1 organic banana
1/2 cup (approximate) organic blueberries
slice or two of organic pineapple
1 tablespoon cacao nibs
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
1 tablespoon maca powder
1 tablespoon flax seeds
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon organic shredded coconut
6 cubes of ice

It is suggested to make some of your smoothies "green smoothies," which is easy now with all our wonderful greens. Just add in a handful of kale, spinach, or swiss chard into any fruit combination you prefer. I like to always use three fruits, which always include a banana and most often blueberries, which are very healthy--then I switch up the third as either pineapple, a pear or handful of strawberries--you can't go wrong!

In my opinion, you do not need to necessary follow a specific recipe...just experiment with your favorite fruits and occasionally, or always, put in a favorite green along with your Superfoods and either milk (almond, cashew, or whole milk), or coconut water.

Have fun!