Green smoothies: fashionable fad or true health staple?
Just like any other industry, the health & wellbeing sector isn’t immune to fashions and PR. Health crazes are particularly potent, with weird and wonderful eating regimes regularly coming into the mainstream.
Right now we have the smoothie or acai bowls, with endless different ‘superfoods’ to layer as a topping. Eating your blended fruits and veggies is now the new drinking.
Before this? The humble green smoothie. Not as pretty or dramatic to look at, but claimed to be an excellent boost to our overall health and energy.
So is that all the smoothie is good for… a ‘boost’? A limited addition to our health regime that has had its time in the spotlight?
The body’s need for nutritious food never goes out of fashion
Consistently ensuring we get a sufficient intake of green, nutrient-dense plant-based foods means our body will always thank us, no matter if we choose to put them in a bowl or a glass.
For me, green smoothies will always be a staple in my diet. Why? Because they are a simple, fast and effective way to deeply nourish the body.
Here are my top 5 tips for a 5-star blending regime:
1. Blend your smoothie in the morning, at home
A green smoothie is an excellent way to start a busy, working day. Yes, it can be tempting to persuade ourselves we don’t have time, but we always make space to do the things that we see as important. Starting the day prioritising our health is the ultimate long-term investment.
While the numerous smoothie bars that are on the high-street are an alluring pull, when we blend at home we have total control of what goes in our body. Most of the time the smoothie chains make everything on the sweet side, packing them out with fruit not vegetables to get them off the shelves.
2. Create a wellness or spiritual regime
Nourishing our body is an active form of self-love, but we can create an even deeper experience through being fully present.
Use the time while making your smoothie to also boost your emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Play some meditative or relaxing music, recite some positive affirmations, listen to an inspiring podcast or even choose to sing! Do whatever feels right for you in that very moment.
And when you’ve finished blending? Sit down, take slow sips and lightly chew your smoothie. Mindful eating isn’t just a treat for our digestion, but creates a loving and rewarding connection between ourselves, our body and our food. This relationships is the core foundation to our long-term health and wellbeing.
3. Follow a formula, but mix it up and use your intuition
This simple formula will help you balance the flavour and contents of your smoothie.
1 x handful of one key vegetable and 2-3 smaller portions of additional greens and fruits (think two-thirds veggies, one-third fruit).
1-3 tablespoons of supplements or nuts.
1 glass of liquid, either water, coconut water or a plant-based milk.
Some inspiration of vegetables, fruits and supplements (including what they’re good for) can be found at the end of this article. Use this as a starting point, but challenge yourself to listen to your body and give it what you think it needs each and every day.
Not only does using your intuition create a tailor-made nutritional plan, it always ensures you don’t end up repeating the same blends all the time. When it comes to prime health, diversity is really important.
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4. Keep it fresh and local where possible
Superfoods from the Amazon can be an amazing health addition, but never underestimate the power of local, in-season produce. Eating with the seasons in the country that you live in, is a reliable way to consume produce when it’s at its best, while mirroring the natural seasons that happen in your body.
For busy workers, my number one tip is organising a fresh home delivery from a local supplier on a Wednesday morning or evening. This is a great addition to a weekend trip to the grocery store to get fresh produce through the week. For an extra boost try to go organic where you can.
To make your smoothie as fresh as can be, make sure you consume it within 2-3 hours after making. If you have some extra from your morning blend, decant it into a dark container (to prevent oxidisation), and finish it as a 10am boost when you need a kick of energy.
5. See them for what they truly are… an incredible investment
I could never say it too often: investing in your health is never wasted time, money or energy. Following the steps I’ve shared above will help you see your smoothie regime as a joy and not a chore, which in turn will inspire more mindful living and eating choices in other areas of your life.
We’ve covered key investments such as time, presence and produce, but the final thing to cover is an investment in equipment!
Sourcing a high-powered blender will ensure all your greens, nuts and more robust ingredients get fully broken down. This will stop you limiting your options and make the finished product infinitely more enjoyable. Outstanding blenders to look for are anything by Vitamix, the Boss™ by Sage Appliances or The Bianco Puro. Worthwhile options at a lower-range are Magimix and Cuisinart.
Here are some key ingredients and their natural power to get your intuitive blending started...
Kale: A great plant-based source of calcium, carotenoids, and vitamin A, C, K.
Broccoli: This cruciferous vegetable is high in B vitamin folate, essential for cell regeneration and repair. Broccoli also contains glucoraphanin which helps regenerate skin damaged by UV rays. On top of this, it contains beta-carotene, calcium, iron, and vitamin A, B6, C, E.
Spinach: Source of vitamin C, essential for the healthy production of collagen, which helps build new skin. It also contains high levels iron and essential minerals to keep blood cells healthy.
Celery: Provides the essential electrolyte minerals sodium and potassium, which are powerful fluid regulators. It is also exceptionally high in sicilia, which helps to renew connective tissue such as collagen.
Carrot: A great source of beta-carotene, which provides the orange colour. It's an antioxidant which converts to vitamin A in the body, essential for good vision and retina function. Containing potassium, carrots can help to treat dry skin conditions.
Apple: Vitamin C is essential for collagen production in the skin and keeps us regular with the easily digestible fibre. They cool the body after summer because of their anti-inflammatory qualities. The skin of apples contains the pigment quercetin, which acts as a powerful anti-ageing compound; helping to offset the damage caused by UV radiation. The copper in apples helps in the production of melanin in the body – the pigment that colours your skin and protects it from the sun.
Avocado: Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, which helps protect the skin from harmful oxidative damage to the cells, and oleic acid is known for speeding up cell regeneration, healing wounds and reducing inflammation.
Blueberries: Antioxidant-rich and a great source of anthocyanins, blueberries help fight free-radicals damage to cells, which in turn supports the skin to stay firm. Vitamin C helps to produce collagen which is also a great skin nurturer keeping it nice and plump.
Banana: FOS is a prebiotic in bananas which feeds healthy gut bacteria, supporting the uptake of nutrients and bowel health. Bananas also have the antioxidant lutein which boots elasticity and sebum levels; locking in moisture and keeping skin supple.
Lemon: Using lemon is a great way to kick-start our metabolism, stimulate the liver and to help flush out toxins and unwanted waste. Vitamin C is hugely helpful in treating stress, as it addresses adrenal fatigue, which is brought about by high levels of the hormone cortisol.
Spices / herbs / supplements:
Matcha: This finely powdered green tea delivers a natural caffeine in-take full of anti-oxidants. The tea is made solely of the rare and high-class tencha tea leaves. Authentic Matcha always comes from Japan, where it has been THE IT-tea among emperors, monks and samurai for centuries. Matcha contains L-theanine; an amino acid (which develops during shading process of the tea making) makes you feel relaxed and supports concentration in a way that lasts much longer than the effects of coffee. Matcha can doubtlessly be called the superfood of tea.
Cacao: Raw cacao is full of minerals and antioxidants. It's a great plant-based source of iron and calcium and some even argue it's a natural mood enhancer.
Ginger: As part of the classic honey, lemon and ginger combination it helps to chase away cold and flu symptoms. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory nutrients, ginger can do wonders for the complexion and boost blood circulation.