This is when my more recent smoothie infatuation began. I tend to go in waves with smoothies and other breakfast meals. I’ve had cooked cereal periods, egg omelette periods and juicing periods. One thing I’ve never had is a “lack of breakfast” period. Besides the fact that I am one of those people that gets migraines and doesn’t function well the rest of the day if I skip it, I really do believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – it gets your metabolism going and refuels your body after all the repair work going on while you are sleeping. So, try to make sure you have something every day. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Note, this does not mean I advocate ordering an Egg McMuffin at the drive-through on your way into the office. A piece of fruit and a handful of almonds is just as easy to grab from your kitchen on the way out the door.
So what did I include in my debut smoothie? It was pretty basic but packed with lots of nutrients. Here’s the breakdown…
Açaí (pronounced ah-sigh-EE) :: These berries originate from the rain forests of South America. Interesting factoid – they come from the same variety of palm tree as hearts of palm (a favorite salad ingredient of mine). Although touted as a superfood that can prevent everything from aging to arthritis, high cholesterol and cancer, the jury is still out. Regardless, these berries are tasty and are full of antioxidants, fiber and heart-healthy fats. If you do get the frozen smoothie packs, make sure to buy the ones without added sugar.
Chia Seed :: If you automatically had a vision in your head of those funny, hairy planters that we had as kids and laughed a little to yourself at the thought of ingesting them, you are spot on. Who knew a novelty item is actually grown from a seed that was a staple food for ancient Mayans and Aztecs? Chia seed comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family that grows abundantly in southern Mexico. The word chia is derived from the Mayan language, meaning “strength,” and Aztec warriors relied on chia to boost energy and increase stamina. Athletes today hail its benefits and use it as an endurance-enhancing superfood. The Aztecs also used chia medicinally to stimulate saliva flow and to relieve joint pain and sore skin.
Chia seeds are rich in fiber and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. They also provide a wealth of minerals in the form of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin and zinc. A cool characteristic of chia seed (due to its fiber) is that it swells when combined with liquid, creating a gel – making great for thickening smoothies or making puddings and jams. Whether you eat the raw seeds or use it as a gel, the hydrophilic (water-absorbing) action of the chia seed will help to keep you full longer – unlike a morning bagel or doughnut.
Spiru-Tein Gold Vanilla :: I go back and forth with the need to use protein powders, because even the “natural” ones are still somewhat processed and most contain at least one ingredient I’m not crazy about, but sometimes I use them as a backup when I need a protein boost. I’ve been a fan of the Nature’s Way Spiru-Tein line of powders for a long time. If you don’t want to take a multivitamin, they serve as a substitute with at least the recommended daily value for most that you would need. Plus, as the name implies, they have spirulina, which is a complete protein also rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
They have some pretty great flavors (Chocolate Peanut Butter , Cherries Jubilee and Cookies and Cream are a couple of my favorites), but since I’ve more finely tuned my diet over the past year-and-a-half I can no longer use those ones since they have whey (dairy), soy and some have gluten. Luckily for me, they came out with a Gold line of 5 flavors for which the protein is derived from peas and chia (more chia, yay!). In addition, they don’t contain added sugar (aka crack) or genetically modified (GMO) ingredients.
Almond Milk :: Since eliminating dairy, almond and almond/coconut milks have become a staple in my kitchen. I don’t do well on soy and just don’t find rice milk appealing. This Pacific Foods Unsweetened Vanilla version has no added sugar (be aware some can contain 10g or more of sugar) and provides vitamin A, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin D and calcium. For those who are concerned about calories, note that almond milk has 1/2 the calories per serving of non-fat milk.
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 Tbs chia seeds
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 1 Sambazon açaí smoothie pack
- Place all ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth.