You've heard it before - breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If that's the case, then why not start your morning right with a big dose of nutrition?! If you want to make one simple, healthy change to your diet - do this. Ditch your starchy, carbed-out, milk and/or sugar-coated usual for a super healthy smoothie every morning. That's what I've been doing and it gives me loads and loads of energy! Sometimes I'll make a second one in the afternoon if a need a big pick-me-up or for dessert; I'll freeze it to make healthy "ice cream". Its how I can get in a lot of nutrients at one time and stay full, with energy for hours. The recipe is from The Fat Flush Plan(which apparently Halle Berry has done to drop weight for movie roles) but it doesn't matter if you're trying to drop pounds or not - everyone can benefit from making this simple change to their daily routine:
Daily Smoothie Recipe
1 cup pure water
5 Tablespoons 100% pure cranberry juice
1 cup frozen berries (preferably organic)
1 Tablespoon flax seed oil
1 scoop brown rice protein powder or whey protein powder
1 small handful of ice cubes
SweetLeaf SteviaPlus- add to taste, if you want to make it sweeter. I don't need it as there's already Stevia in the Body Protein powder I use. You will likely need just a couple shakes.
1 Tablespoon Dr. Schulze SuperFood Plus powder
2-3 huge handfuls of fresh spinach (you won't even taste it!) - got this tip from a new friend who does this every morning, she's 45 but I swore she was 35 when I met her - perhaps this is one of her youthful secrets :)
1/4 to 1/2 fresh avocado (ditch the flaxseed oil, if you do this - because this serves as your "fat")
Organic Coconut Oil - also has a lot of great health benefits, though I haven't tried it in my smoothies yet - but I plan to soon! I have had it on toast and it is delicious!
What + Where To Buy
Pure Cranberry Juice: Not just for those with UTI or bladder infections - this juice is a huge preventative and great for flushing toxins out of the body; its loaded with antioxidants! There are sooo many health benefits to this nutritious nectar that nature provides. Be sure to find the brands that are actually pure cranberry juice with no added sugar. OceanWave and other brands at the grocery store are loaded with sugar which will counteract the benefits and they aren't as concentrated. Look for Knudsen's, Mountain Sun (both retail for around $8) or Trader Joe's brand (retails for $3.99). Note: If you have a Kroger near you, last week I found Knudsen's "Just Cranberry" in their natural food/nutrition section at a great deal - Buy 1, Get 1 Free! (I ordered 4 cases). I believe the sale ends today! Click here, here and here to read more about the amazing benefits of the cranberry.
Frozen Organic Berries:
Loaded with nutrients and high on fiber! I usually buy Cascadian Farms brand - I find it at my local Kroger Grocery store in the Natural Food section freezer (not the regular freezer section). Note: My uncle is one of the nicest people on the planet. He manages a conventional produce farm in California that grows strawberries and says that insects loooove strawberries (who wouldn't really) probably more than anything else they grow and that its very difficult to keep bugs away. So it comes as no surprise to me why strawberries are one of the most heavily sprayed fruits (with pesticides and insecticides); because of this, I opt for organic whenever possible. Though he believes organic farming to be a much more complex subject than many believe it to be, and that food safety is a big concern for him, he did write to me recently:
"If it were possible to grow quality produce economically, that we expect and demand as the consuming public, without the use of chemical fertilizers and crop care chemicals then ... growers would stop growing conventionally."
Flax Seed Oil:
There are two brands that I really like. I've tried many more, but these are my favorites and I prefer mine to be organic. Barlean's Highest Lignan Flaxseed Oil is my absolute fave, but Jarrow Formulas flaxseed oil is such a great deal at Vitacost.com, that I use it as well. Other brands will work, like Health From The Sun's USDA Certified Organic Flaxseed Oil (I personally don't like the taste as much as Barlean's but I suppose it only matters if you are going to use it on something like toast or on a salad - the taste will disappear in a smoothie).
You've got to have protein to keep up your energy levels, burn fat and gain lean muscle. I ate a strictly vegetarian diet (12 years ago) for one year and getting enough protein in my diet was a big challenge for me way back when. Have you ever wondered why there are overweight vegetarians? Because they are carbing it up more than they are veggin' it up! Without healthy protein, you are much more likely to crave carbs - I know I did. I personally get very shaky and weak when I don't have enough protein. Now it seems there are a lot more options and information available for vegetarian protein sources.
Not all protein powders are created equal - many contain artificial sweeteners and added junk. I really like the Brown Rice Body Protein Powder (vegan) from Uni Key Health because its whey, soy, egg - free and it doesn't upset my stomach. For those who's stomach can handle whey - that is a good option as well (if you're not a vegetarian or vegan), but unfortunately I experienced a lot of stomach issues while consuming whey protein powder in my smoothies (even though most tell you that people who can't handle dairy, can usually tolerate whey - not the case for me). As soon as Uni Key Health came out with the Brown Rice Protein version - I switched and my stomach issues disappeared! Jay Robb (offers Brown Rice, Egg and Whey protein powders) and Designer Whey looks like they have pretty good ingredients as well (not exactly sure what their "flavor" is though). Be sure to opt for "plain" or "vanilla" flavors in whatever brand you choose.
While my dream kitchen tool right now is the ultra-pricey Vita-Mix 4500 Countertop Blender, for now my Oster Beehive Blender works great for my simple smoothie-making needs. I'm also seriously eyeing The Magic Bullet Blender so that I can make my smoothies when I travel.
Glass Smoothie Straw:
This is one of my new favorite things! I absolutely love my new glass smoothie straw - yes, that's all I use it for. I mentioned it in my 10 Holiday Stocking Stuffers post, but its worth mentioning again - I LOVE THIS THING. Okay, you get the point. Plastic straws suck. In more ways than one. I made a smoothie every day for a year last year and I used a new plastic straw for every smoothie - totally wasteful I know I just can't seem to chug down a thick smoothie without one. Not to mention that sucking a thick beverage through a tiny straw is way too much effort and sometimes the straw breaks or already has a crack in it and I'd have to get another. Blah. When I found out that such a thing existed, thanks to Sarma Melngailis' tweet (Founder + CEO of One Lucky Duck) about one she was using - I rushed to buy one. I've been a fan every since and even went back for more and ordered two for my In-Laws and one for my husband.
I bought mine from Straws By Carli. Ask her to make you a "Bent Smoothie Straw" and specify the height you'd like. Mine were $6 each (plus $2.95 shipping) and will likely last forever and if not, they're guaranteed for LIFE! They're made from strong Pyrex-type glass and very easy for me to clean.
The Cost: Consider This
"But that's expensive" - I once told myself with regards to the flax seed oil and protein powder ingredients. Well, not when I added up all the ingredients I'd need for a month and then divided them by 30 (days). I was actually saving way more money make smoothies at home for breakfast with super healthy ingredients then going out to eat for breakfast (even just once a week) or the daily run to the local coffee shop for coffee or green tea and likely a empty-calorie, sugary baked good. I've never felt better in the morning eating anything else - so for me, its worth it and its easier on my budget.
Do you already make smoothies at home? If so, what are your favorite ingredients or tools to use? If not, does this sound like something you would like to do? Do you have questions?? Ask away...!
Photo credit: flickr
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