3 Ways to Get More Nutrients From Your Smoothies- recipe included!

Morning rituals are important, and for me, making smoothies is my thing.  Not only are smoothies convenient, but they contain tons of nutrients, depending on what ingredients you use.  Moreover, it’s easier for our bodies to digest foods that are in a more broken down form (which is why it’s important to chew your food).  When you blend your food, the cell walls of the food is broken down to a point where you can extract more nutrients and allow the body to absorb more of these nutrients. While juicing your food has become very popular, juices can have high sugar content and do not contain the pulp. With smoothies, the entire fruit or vegetable is blended in, which I like because you get more fiber and antioxidants from the pulp.  Other reasons to blend are that it allows for slower sugar absorption, a blender is easier to clean that a juicer, and overall I feel like you can do so much more with a blender than a juicer.  That being said, you can absolutely switch it up between juices and smoothies; both have their benefits.  Whenever possible, make sure to use organic produce, although you can get away with buying these “Clean 15” non-organic.

Leafy Greens

I put all types of things in my blender.  Spinach, romaine, and kale are a few of my favorite leafy greens to use because they don’t really stand out in the smoothie. Who wants to feel like they’re drinking spinach?  Ick, not even me.  Unfortunately, I’ve found out from my clients that not all blenders can successfully blend leafy greens.  Experiment with your blender at home.  At least with my Vitamix, there does seem to be an order in which you should put ingredients in your blender.  Start with your base liquid (I use purified water, hemp milk, coconut milk, or unsweetened almond milk), then put in the leafy greens, followed by fruit and lastly ice or frozen goods.  If I’m making two servings of smoothie, I generally put in one big handful of each type of leafy green.

Citrus Peels

Lemon has always been a staple of my smoothies, but recently I experimented by including the lemon peel.  The peel actually contains 5-10 times more nutrients than lemon juice and adds an extra punch to the drink. For example, one tablespoon of lemon peel contains double the amount of vitamin C and triple the amount of fiber than one wedge of lemon without the peel, according to the USDA database (Reboot With Joe). Once I experienced a smoothie with lemon peel, I started adding peels from other types of citrus (blood oranges and oranges, to be specific).  I highly recommend!  I don’t use the entire peel, maybe just a quarter from each type of citrus.  Upon further research, I’ve also learned the peels contain an antioxidant called Naringin that’s powerful in fighting cancer.

Brown Bananas

Ripened bananas have higher levels of antioxidants and cancer-fighting properties.  I’ve never been a fan of eating brown bananas since they’re a little softer than a yellow banana, but in a smoothie, the taste and texture are not distinguishable.  If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, you actually should eat your bananas while the peel is still green, but if you aren’t diabetic, then “the more dark patches a banana has, the higher its immunity enhancement quality will be” (One Green Planet).

 

Morning Citrus Smoothie

-1.5 cups purified water, unsweetened almond milk, or hemp milk

-1 handful spinach

-1/2 organic green apple

-1/2 organic blood orange (leave peel on)

-1/2 organic lemon (leave peel on)

*If you don’t have organic citrus, make sure you wash the peel before adding it to your smoothie.

-1 ripened banana

-1 scoop unflavored protein powder (optional)

 

  1.  Add ingredients to your blender in the order listed above, making sure to blend gradually unless you know your blender can handle everything at once.  Add more liquid if the smoothie is too thick.
  2. Pour and drink immediately.  Enjoy!

 

 

Three Health Myths Busted!

Myth #1: The Less You Salt Your Food The Better

209785620_2515_detail-300x225For years we’ve heard about Americans’ high salt intake and the American Heart Association‘s instructions to reduce salt consumption.  The truth is that salt is essential to our diet and offers many health benefits, but many Americans consume too much regular old table salt which is processed and stripped of its minerals, not quality sea salt which retains potassium, magnesium, calcium, and other minerals. These mineral properties found in sea salt lower the stress hormone, cortisol, which leads to a healthy weight and fast metabolism.  Too little salt in the diet, under 2300mg of salt a day, can actually lead to heart disease and early mortality. Salt contributes to improved sleep, because it balances our hormones, supports thyroid function, reduces stress hormones, and increases metabolic rate. If you’re experiencing low energy, try sucking a few sea salt crystals and see how you feel.

For more information on the health benefits of salt, click here.

Myth 2: You Can Eat Whatever You Want As Long As You Exercise

My dad was an athlete. He always used to tell me that as long as I exercised I could eat whatever I wanted. I was an active kid too, so I always ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and as much as I wanted.  Turns out, this is a myth!  Just because you exercise does not mean you should live off of table sugar and processed junk and eat as much of it as you want.  These foods are never good for us, they just aren’t natural.  There are many foods that are healthier and will better fuel the body for exercise anyway. Exercise also isn’t the most effective way to lose weight, researchers say. Exercise has many health benefits and is good for maintaining weight and curbing hunger, but proper nutrition is the quickest way to lose pounds.

Myth #3: Diet Drinks Aid in Weight Loss

diet-soda-weight-loss1-300x300Soda might as well be renamed “death in a can.” The high sugar content and unnatural ingredients have many known health risks, but what about the diet versions?  “Diet” sodas swap out sugar for artificial sweeteners that contain chemicals that cause cancer. These diet products also contribute to weight gain, since the artificial sweeteners cause cravings for calorie-dense foods.  Historically we aren’t used to getting our calories from our beverages, so our bodies aren’t satisfied after drinking sugary drinks and want more.  Stick to water as often as possible, or if you’re looking to ween yourself off soda, try switching to flavored seltzer.

Good Fats vs Bad Fats

Not everyone realizes there’s a distinction between fats that are good for us and fats that are not.  In fact, some fats are essential to our diets and we can’t live without them.  The word “fat” has a negative connotation, especially when well marketed products influence us to buy “diet,” “non-fat,” “light”/”lite,” or “low fat” foods.  The truth is, these “diet” foods aren’t any better for us, and compensate with processed sugar to still taste okay.  Sugar and processed foods, not so much fat, is the real problem with our diets.

To break it down, there are four different types of fat.  Two of these types are “good fats” and the other “bad fats.”

Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are good for us. They benefit the heart, cholesterol, and overall health.

Saturated fats and trans fats are bad for us.  They increase the likelihood of disease and high cholesterol.

Beneficial fats are found in the following foods:

healthy-fatsMonounsaturated Fats:

-avocados

-nuts (almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, peanuts)

-olives

-oils (olive oil, canola, sunflower, peanut, sesame oil)

-Peanut Butter

Polyunsaturated fats:

-walnuts

-soymilk

-tofu

-flaxeed

-oils (soybean, corn, safflower)

-sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds

-fatty fishes (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines, trout)

-flaxeed

Saturated Fat:

-chicken with the skin

-fatty cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork)

-whole fat dairy products (cream, milk)

-butter

-lard

-cheese

-lard

*A note about saturated fat-  there has been controversy surrounding the argument that all saturated fat is bad for our health.  It’s true that substituting saturated fats for polyunsaturated fats is much healthier.  Use olive oil instead of butter, for example, but do not replace your saturated fats with processed food, like a muffin or bagel in the morning instead of bacon. Just don’t eat bacon all the time.

There are also newer studies that argue whole fat dairy products may actually keep us lean and decrease the chances of obesity.  One possibility is that whole fat dairy products keep us fuller longer, thus lessening the amount we consume.  That doesn’t mean go out and eat tons of whole fat dairy, especially for those of us who already have high cholesterol levels. (Source: NPR: The Full Fat Paradox)

fats 

Trans Fat:

-stick margarin

-packaged snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips, cookies)

-commercially baked pastries (doughnuts, cookies, cakes, pizza dough)

-vegetable shortening

-fried foods

-candy bars

(Source: HelpGuide.org)

Bananas Save Lives

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Bananas are the best.  I’ve actually witnessed first-hand the healing powers of bananas in bringing a young boy back to life! Ok, well maybe I saw that in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, but the potassium-packed fruit saved the day and brought the boy back to consciousness.

It turns out that bananas offer much more than potassium.  There are so many health benefits from the nutrient-rich fruit, but also many other uses for everyday life.  Here’s what you’ll find in a banana:

  • Vitamin B6 – .5 mg
  • Manganese – .3 mg
  • Vitamin C – 9 mg
  • Potassium – 450 mg
  • Dietary Fiber – 3g
  • Protein – 1 g
  • Magnesium – 34 mg
  • Folate – 25.0 mcg
  • Riboflavin – .1 mg
  • Niacin – .8 mg
  • Vitamin A – 81 IU
  • Iron – .3 mg

(Source: Medical News)

I personally love bananas for their quick energy fix, mood-boosting qualities, and their ability to help with muscle and PMS cramps.  But there are so many other health benefits of bananas.  Some of these include:

  • Sustains blood sugar and boost energy, making bananas a great pre-workout snack (I recommend eating two bananas before your workout).  This also aids with PMS cramps and stress and makes you more alert.
  • High levels of tryptophan raise serotonin levels and reduce depression.
  • Aids in weight loss, swelling reduction, prevention of type II diabetes, strengthens the nervous system, and increases levels of white blood cells due to high levels of Vitamin B-6.  These high levels of Vitamin B-6, along with magnesium and potassium, also help smokers trying to quit by curbing withdrawal!
  • Helps with anemia and strengthens blood due to iron levels.
  • Low in salt, helping to lower blood pressure and protect against strokes and heart attacks.
  • High in calcium, helping with strong bones.
  • Acts as a prebiotic, aiding in constipation, bloating and diarrhea.
  • Aids in heartburn, ulcer prevention, acid reflux, and GERD.
  • Antioxidant-rich.
  • Helps prevent kidney cancer.
  • Lowers body temperature on a hot day.

(Source: Food Matters)

These are just the health benefits of bananas.  Now it’s time to learn about the fun, everyday uses for bananas:

nananas

  • Use the peel to shine your leather shoes.  It really works!
  • Remove a wart by taping the inside of the banana over your wart.
  • Treat your bug bites with the peel.
  • Press the banana peel over cuts or bruises.
  • Rub a banana peel over your teeth for approximately two minutes to help whiten teeth.

bananas

  • Use a banana to get out splinters.  The banana’s enzymes will naturally help get out the sucker when you press the peel over it.
  • Stop itchy scalp and moisturize hair and skin.
  • Stop oily skin when you make a mask out of the banana.  This mask will also help fight wrinkles.
  • Fight acne.  Wipe the inside of the peel on your blemishes and leave on over night.  Wash off in the morning.
  • Brighten house plants by rubbing the peel on leaves for extra shine.
  • In Asian cultures it’s common to place a ripe banana peel over a cooking piece of chicken to retain moisture while the chicken cooks.
  • Use as fertilizer.
  • Fight off aphids in your garden by burring dried or cut up banana peels a couple inches beneath aphid-prone plants.

(Source: Care2.com, Huffington Post, Readers Digest)

Here are some yummy ways to eat your bananas:

Morning oatmeal with cut up banana (great for weight loss– avoid instant oatmeal which is full of sugar)

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Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

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Pan-Fried Honey Bananas

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Healthy Banana Pancakes

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