After giving a few demonstrations on smoothies, the topic always comes up, ‘what do you put in your smoothie?’. Since, ‘It’s complicated’ did not seem to satisfy, here’s the whole story:)
Before I show the ingredients, I want to state that I know it may seem fussy. What I put in my drink is what makes my body perform at it’s best. Since everyone’s biology is different, what works for me, may not for you. Some things to consider about my biology is that I eat a plant centered diet, cannot tolerate unfermented soy or milk, athletically train 5 days a week and I am seeking high states of mental clarity, physical energy, rapid recovery, maximal immune system function and a low state of inflammation. I am frequently adding things to test them (this month it is wild maquis powder) and use metrics such as my heart rate variability (HRV), sleep data, workout stats, Luminosity scores and subjective data from my exercise log to determine if an ingredient stays or goes. So, now you know the goals, here is what I drink at least 5 days a week:
Into a high speed blender or (if making ahead) a freezer safe container, place the following:
½ tsp. Moringa powder
½ tsp. wild maqui powder
1 tsp. organic matcha powder
1 tsp. maca powder
1 tsp. L-glutamine powder
1 tablespoon hemp-pro 70
½ tsp. creatine
1 tablespoon ground flax seed (not in picture)
1 tsp. chia seeds (also not in pic)
a few sprigs of either parsley or cilantro
¼ of a peeled organic beet
½ frozen banana
1-2 inch hunk of peeled ginger
½ cup slice of frozen pinapple
¼ frozen organic lemon with peel intact
small handful of wheat grass
1 cup frozen mixed berries
2 cups organic spinach
Enough filtered water or coconut water to come about an inch shy of where the ingredients level out.
Cover and blend for about 30-60 seconds, until no identifiable bits remain. If your blender has a plunger, using it will speed the process.
Put all of the items in the blender with the powders first, the frozen fruit next, the leaves/grass on top then the water or coconut water. Powders first helps to keep the dry ingredients in your drink.
This makes 2 large tumblers for me. I drink 1 tumbler 1-2 hrs. before a workout and the other immediately after.
To make this compatible with a busy schedule, I make the 5 zip-lock bags for the week all at once on Sunday night and freeze them.
Doing them all together takes about 20 mins. When a health shake is needed, just pull out a bag, dump in the blender, fill with water and blend. Whole thing takes less than a 2 minutes including clean up.
Some notes on the ingredients. Paradise Protein & Greens is simply the best protein powder I have found. It is not creamy and sweet like a whey powder but how it makes you feel is amazing. Smooth onset of energy that lasts for hours with 20 grams of plant based protein for a satisfying fullness. Check out the ingredient panel! Fruits, vegetables, mushroom extracts, adaptogens, probiotics, alkalizing green blend, aquatic superfood and fiber. I contacted the company about heavy metals (such an issue with protein powders these days) and received this reply:
“Our proteins and greens does not contain rice so you can feel good about it , on the other hand every single batch is tested for heavy metals , the ppm allowed by the federal government are 10 ppm and California 5 ppm so our product test below 3 or 4 ppm
So we are below of California standards”
I have found my run times, on average, 1-2 mins. per mile faster with the shake than without. I am also more comfortable during intense exercise and warmer in cold weather. To get an answer as to why, I tested both my before and after shake levels of nitric oxide using the Berkeley saliva strips. Here’s what happened:
So you can see, especially below where the strips are shown against the scale, that I register as depleted before and at the upper end of the target zone a little over 2 hrs. post ingestion. Sometimes it’s hard to quantify why something you do makes you feel great but this is some of the answer. My HRV baseline on the Elite HRV app for the morning after I did not have a shake is 7-8 compared to 9 or 10 if I did have one (presuming I am not nursing a cold and slept well). Clearly, the effects last more than a few hours. My delayed onset muscle soreness from resistance work is much better post shake than if I skip a day.
The Maqui powder is there to act as an anti-oxidant, helps regulate blood sugar and turns the drink a lovely berry color. Sometimes you just get tired of people asking you, ‘what’s that green stuff you’re drinking?’ with that face. You know what I mean.
The ginger helps with immunity, the beet boosts nitric oxide levels and assists with circulation, the wheat grass, for lack of a more scientific way to put it, makes me feel alive. That being said, I don’t always put it in since it’s not always available at the store or ready to harvest at home. Moringa stabilizes blood sugar and acts as an anti-inflamatory. Matcha powder is ground green tea giving a slight caffeine boost but without jitters due to the L-theonine calm energy and mood-boosting effect. Parsley and especially cilantro is a detoxifying element as it helps your body rid itself of heavy metals (my old amalgam fillings and I are in the process of parting company). Chia, hemp and flax seeds (once they are ground- store them in the freezer as the oils go rancid quickly) bring in healthy fats and protein while serving to thicken the smoothie. Most athletes are familiar with the muscle promoting properties of creatine and amino acids so I won’t belabor the point except to say that as we age we need to fight sarcoidosis (age related muscle loss) and resistance exercise and sufficient intake of amino acids are key. The fruits are there for taste of course but the banana for potassium and as a thickener, the berries as antioxidants and the pineapple for digestive enzymes. The lemon punches up the taste and acts as an alkalizer in your body which spares bone and may inhibit cancer. Spinach- let’s just say mother was right- it’s really good for you:)
This smoothie is packed with vitamins, protein and fiber and, I think, tastes great. Freezing the ginger, lemon, beets, herbs and even the wheat grass ahead of time makes assembly easy. I just cut the grass off where the green part meets the white near the base and freeze it in a baggie. The grass must be dry or it will not freeze well. My Vitamix blender makes quick work of this but if you are working with a regular blender, frozen items may need to be in smaller pieces and the blending time increased to achieve a good consistency.
You can’t find a smoothie of this quality in a store! Please try it, or at least the Orac-Energy protein and greens and let me know what you think:)