First of all, a word or two about breakfast smoothies and smoothies in general . . . they have been the rage for years now, as they make a very convenient on-the-go meal or snack. However, they never worked for me until this year. My body does better with real food, and most protein powders didn’t agree with my digestive system. Plus, a smoothie wouldn’t hold me until my next meal. Until now . . .
This year I finally landed on a smoothie template that works for me, and I am addicted to having one per day as a meal replacement – typically breakfast.
But but but . . .
Let me get the “buts” out of the way right now.
But smoothies are cold and raw
Cold and/or raw can be hard for people with digestive weakness (most of us). In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) this is called “spleen qi deficiency.” With this, you’re supposed to only have cooked foods that are warm or room temperature.
The reality is that a certain amount of raw food in one’s diet is super healthy, as raw plant foods contain loads of enzymes and phytonutrients that aren’t destroyed by heating. Most people can handle some raw food, and if not, it means there is something to work on! TCM may have the “avoid raw” philosophy because of food contamination in ancient times. As far as cold . . it’s true that your digestive system does extra work when you eat really cold things, because it requires more energy to warm cold food to body temperature in order to digest it. With a robust digestive system, or in hot weather, this may not be a problem at all. However, you don’t need to make ice cold smoothies. Leave the ice out of it and make them room temperature.
But the ingredients in smoothies are processed
Processed food may not hold up to ancestral whole food or Paleo guidelines. We didn’t have high-powered blenders in ancient days after all.
While this is a good point, every person I know who follows ancestral or Paleo guidelines uses processed foods – even olive oil for example, is a processed food. A smoothie can be made with real food ingredients. The most “unnatural” ingredient in a smoothie tends to be the protein powders – and now there are far more natural and less processed protein powder selections.
But don’t you need to chew your food instead of drink it?
There is a saying that you should chew your liquids and drink your food. This means when you eat solid food, chew it to the point of liquefaction before swallowing. (By the way who actually does that?)
This is a great point. When you drink your food as in the case of a smoothie, actually chew it a bit. The point of this is to get some salivary action into the food. Saliva is rich with amylase which break down carbohydrates. Digestive signaling – meaning giving the right messages to all the parts and organs of your digestive tract – starts in your mouth with taste. So chew your smoothie a bit, and taste it. Making it a little chunky will help.
My smoothie recipe that meets most criteria
This smoothie can give you the right amount of calories and macronutrient balance. It can score well for Weight Watchers, Paleo people, and low-carbers. It’s a good smoothie for hormone balance. And made right, it can hold you for hours, until your next meal.
- Poor 1 cup milk of your choice (almond, coconut, cashew, hemp, cow) into a high-powered blender.
- Add 1 cup fresh or frozen fruit (mixed berries, blueberries, cherries, mango, one half banana).
- Toss in a couple scoops of collagen peptides for protein. Primal Kitchen, Vital Proteins, and Thrive are good brands. Or you can use fancy brands with additional things in them like Designs for Health Pure Paleo, or Apex Clearvite. Vital proteins has a marine collagen version for pescatarians, or for variety.
- Add food for your microbiome. This means a boost of polyphenols and some fiber. The fiber is a big part of what makes this smoothie sustain you until your next meal.
- Add a couple servings of fat. Half avocado, a tablespoon of nut or seed butter, a tablespoon of coconut butter or coconut oil, ⅛ cup coconut cream.
- Optional: add a bit of green produce: a few romaine or spinach leaves, celery, fresh green herbs like cilantro, parsley, or mint . . . or anything you like! Go low at first to not ruin the taste.
Blend well and enjoy! It takes me under 5 minutes to make this breakfast and it keeps me for 4-6 hours. The more fiber, the longer it holds.