Sunday, June 2, 2013

Superfood Smoothie

Smoothies are one of my go-to breakfast options in the summer, especially on the weekends when my days are filled with all sorts of outdoor activities and I don't have the time to throw together a proper breakfast. Making a smoothie couldn't be easier.. throw a bunch of stuff in a blender, mix it all up, pour into a lidded glass jar and you've got breakfast on the go in five minutes.
Although I usually prefer a green smoothie first thing in the morning, sometimes I want something a little more high in fat and protein...something that will sustain me through an intense hike or bike ride. One of the easiest ways to boost the nutrient content is through the use of superfoods. Some of my favorites include maca, raw cacao, goji berries, bee pollen, flax oil, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and spirulina.  The great thing about superfoods is that they are quite nutritionally dense so adding as little as a couple teaspoons can provide your body with a whole array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Here's a little rundown what I use to make one of the most nutrient dense smoothies out there. Drink it down first thing in the morning to sustain you through an intense workout or enjoy it as a "liquid lunch" as I like to call it.. something that will keep hunger pangs at bay until dinner time.

I like to start out by using bananas as the base for my smoothies.  Not only do they make beverages creamy and delicious but they also provide lots of potassium which helps to prevent muscle cramps when you're pushing through an intense workout. 
Next I add some almond milk for a boost of protein. It's also high in fiber, manganese, copper and riboflavin which play an important role in energy production. Adding a scoop of almond butter (or any other nut butter) just boosts the protein and nutritional content even more.
Adding dates sweetens things up a bit providing easily digestible sugars that your body can use instantly. Dates are also high in potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron and fiber.  Not bad for something that tastes like candy.
Chia seeds.... You've probably heard how important it is to get enough essential fatty acids in your diet since our bodies cannot synthesize them on their own.  Chia seeds are one of the best plant based sources of EFA's which helps to support our immune, cardiovascular, nervous and reproductive systems.  Chia comes from the Mayan language, and translates as strength. These seeds are a perfect balance of protein, carbohydrates, fat, and fiber. It is said that one tablespoon of chia seeds can sustain a person for 24 hours.
Maca is a root in the radish family grown in the mountains in Peru. It is sold in powdered form and is known for balancing hormones and increasing stamina (as well as sexual function.. wink, wink). It is rich in vitamin B12, calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium and amino acids.
Raw Cacao.. I've mentioned the health benefits in so many posts.  If you want to know more about it (and taste some delicious edibles) check out this banana cacao ice cream, or oatmeal chia chocolate balls for some info.

..Now you can see why this smoothie will kick your ass into second gear.

Superfood Smoothie
(Makes 1-16 oz. smoothie)

2 medium bananas, frozen*
1-1/2 T. almond butter
3/4 c. almond milk
1 medjool date, pitted
2 t. chia seeds
1 T. maca
2 T. raw cacao nibs, divided

Place all the ingredients except the cacao nibs in a blender. Blend until thick and creamy, then add 1 1/2 T. cacao nibs and blend briefly to combine. Pour into a glass and top with the remaining 1/2 T. cacao nibs.

*To freeze bananas, peel and cut into 2" pieces and portion into freezer bags (I like to place two bananas in each bag to make the smoothie experience easy). Freeze for at least six hours and then go to town!