While I’ve been traveling the past month, my Vitamix has been collecting dust in a box in the car. Now that I’m settled here in Bozeman, Montana, it’s time to put that baby back to work and return to my beloved green smoothies. When I first made the switch to whole foods nearly a decade ago, green smoothies were my daily go-to for a quick and easy way to energize, and to get a lot of those high-quality nutrients that I wasn’t eating in my daily diet. I learned a lot during this time, you put it mildly, and I’d like to share those learnings with you. Here, the ten best superfoods for smoothies.
Chia Seeds: They have quickly become one of the most popular superfoods, and for good reason. Originally grown in Mexico, Chia (meaning “strength” in the Mayan language) was revered for its ability to provide energy and endurance for prolonged periods of time. This seed is most notably recognized for its composition of fiber, protein and omega-3 fats for brain fuel. It’s a perfect addition to your morning or mid-day smoothie to assist the digestive tract in moving everything along, and supporting healthy elimination.
How to use: Add ½ tablespoon to an 8- or 16-ounce smoothie. Or try making Chia seed pudding for a dessert-y alternative.
Flax seeds: Recently referred to as “one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet”, flax seeds are praised for their ability to help fight heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer, for starters. Like chia seeds, they are often eaten for the high level of omega-3 fats. Omega-3s are often found in oily fish and fish oil, but if you are 100% plant-based, this is the place to get a healthy dose of essential fatty acids. They positively affect the function of cell receptors throughout your body, nourish the brain, reduce inflammation, and promote heart health.
How to use: Add 1 tablespoon (ground is better for texture) to an 8- or 16-ounce smoothie.
Blueberries: Praised for more than their vibrant blue hue and satisfyingly sweet taste, blueberries are an antioxidant-rich superfood that offer huge benefits to the nervous system and brain health. Antioxidants help stop or prevent damage to cells caused by oxidants, which are found naturally in your body and throughout the environment from things like chemicals, pollution, processed food, alcohol, cigarette smoke, candles, stress, etc.
I like to think of antioxidant-rich foods as a broom that sweeps through my body and clears out all the accumulated dirt, dust and muck that enters naturally through modern day living. Instead of relying on supplements, you will receive all the antioxidants you need by eating a wide variety of colors in fruits and veggies.
How to use: Add ¼ cup – ½ cup to an 8- or 16-ounce smoothie.
Spinach: Kale has been getting a lot of love these days, but spinach is just as high on the list of health-supportive leafy green vegetables. One of the most respected benefits of spinach is its anti-inflammatory properties: Everything from the harmful thoughts you think, the city air you breathe, the stress from work, and the sugary food you eat can cause inflammation in the body, to the point where inflammation is now documented for being at the root of a huge majority of lifestyle diseases. Spinach can slow down cancer cell division, promote bone health (through a healthy dose of Vitamin K), and support improved arthritic conditions (due to the active phytonutrients in this leafy green).
How to use: Add 1 cup for an 8 oz. smoothie and 2 – 3 cups for a 16-ounce smoothie
Hemp Seeds: Containing eight essential amino acids, hemp seeds are a complete plant protein and are much easier to digest than animal protein, allowing inflammation in the body to remain at a minimum. Just four tablespoons of this superfood seed provides 14 grams of protein. As a clean-burning protein fuel, hemp seeds are great for beautiful, glowing skin and the reduction of inflammation.
What should you look for when selecting a brand of hemp seeds?*
– Shelled, USDA-certified organic
– Cold-pressed from raw, live hemp seeds
*If you ensure you select a high quality brand of hemp seed, you will enjoy a crunchy, light, nutty flavor that is rich in iron, vitamin E, and GLA (gamma-linolenic acid).
How to use: Add 1 – 2 tablespoons to an 8- or 16-ounce smoothie.
Raw Cacao: Not all chocolate is bad, some is even good for you! (How is that for exciting news?) However, take note that the cocoa powder found in, say, many kids’ chocolate drinks is a very different product than raw cacao. Cocoa powder has been processed, heated, treated with pesticides and chemicals, sugar added, thus removing up to 90% of the health benefits of the real cacao bean.
Raw organic cacao is simply ground cacao beans that were picked in a tropical destination like Costa Rica or the Amazon. These beans are an incredible source of plant-based iron, magnesium (great for energy, focus, and headache relief), a natural mood enhancer, and, like blueberries, provide a healthy dose of antioxidants.
How to use: Add 1 tablespoon to an 8- or 16-ounce smoothie. A raw cacao and banana smoothie is the way to go. You can even make a delicious cup of cold or hot chocolate with a little raw honey for yourself or the kids.
Coconut oil: Coconut oil is a unique saturated fat because it is chock full of medium-chained fatty acids, which are easy for the body to convert into fuel. (Remember “saturated” just means the oil is typically solid at room temperature. Saturated oils are the ONLY oils safe to cook with.) Coconut oil is a heart-healthy food made from the meat of tropical coconuts. It is so important to stress the health benefits of high quality, organic fats in the diet and this oil specifically helps to:
- Build resistance to viruses and bacteria, fight off yeast, fungus and candida.
- Benefit hormones for our thyroid which assists metabolic function and energy levels. (No mid-afternoon slump.)
- Improve insulin use in the body and reduce sugar cravings, which positively affects the regulation of blood sugar levels (and means you won’t be binge eating cookies and ice cream before bed anymore).
How to use: Add 1 tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil to any smoothie. You won’t taste it, but you will feel the effects.
Avocado: Avocados are a great source of healthy vegetable fat. It is rare to find fatty vegetables and fruits in nature, which makes avocados a real delicacy! They are chock full of oleic acid, lutein, folate, vitamin E, monounsaturated fats and glutathione, known to support heart disease, cancer, eye and brain health. Plus, the fat is avocado helps keep you fuller for longer, meaning less sugar cravings and 3pm energy crashes.
How to use: Add ½ an avocado to an 8- or 16-ounce smoothie for a super creamy consistency.
Green Vibrance: One of the absolute best green superfood powders that delivers barley, wheat grass, spirulina, kale sprouts, chlorella, amla, apricot, and tomato fruit powders and adaptogenic herbs all in ONE place. Short on time? Not a whiz in the kitchen? Can’t fit in a mid-day smoothie? This product is your go-to source for vibrant health. You can simply mix it in a glass of water with a little lemon or organic essential oil to help with the taste, or blend it into a smoothie. (You will find it in the supplement aisle of your local health food store.)
How to use: Add ½ tablespoon to an 8- or 16-ounce smoothie.
NingXia Red: This drink is a blend of antioxidant rich wolfberries, blueberry, plum, cherry and aronia juice, mixed with a proprietary essential blend from Young Living — the producer of the highest quality therapeutic grade essential oils.
A daily dose supports overall energy, improved cell function, eye health, and overall body wellness, along with a healthy boost of inflammation-reducing antioxidants. It goes perfectly in a smoothie, but if you can’t make a smoothie happen, it tastes delicious on its own and will still give you the nutrients needed to thrive throughout your daily schedule and demands.
How to use: Add 2 oz. to an 8- or 16-ounce smoothie, or drink on its own (it tastes really good!).
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