What I'm Loving Wednesday
Happy Wednesday babes! Periodically, Sarah and I will be sharing with you some of our favorite things and giving some insight into what we are currently loving. Welcome to “What I’m Loving Wednesday.” Today, I am giving you the low down on a meal I’m loving right now and, to be honest, have almost daily: Smoothies & Smoothie Bowls.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see my account is sprinkled with photos and recipes of smoothies & smoothie bowls that I eat regularly. Breakfast is my absolute favorite meal and I am a huge believer that it is the most important meal of the day. In the morning, when you wake up, the blood sugar your body needs to help build muscle and keep you moving is usually low. Breakfast helps to replenish it and kick start your metabolism, which in turn helps you burn calories throughout the day. It also gives you the chance to get in some key vitamins and nutrients that your body needs from healthy foods such as, fruits, grains, dairy, protein, healthy carbs and even greens. All of which you can blend into your smoothies, making them the PERFECT go-to morning meal or mid-morning snack to keep your body properly fueled all day long.
One important lesson I have learned while living a healthy lifestyle is that eating healthy doesn’t have to taste bad. What I love most about smoothies and smoothie bowls is that while they are nutrient dense and good for you, they also are super delicious. With unlimited combinations and options to choose from, finding ones that please your palate are a breeze. Smoothies are a great way to “sneak” in all the important healthy foods your body needs, while tricking your mind into thinking you are eating something that is not. This has been huge for me, because as much as I enjoy eating a big ol’ lean, clean and leafy green salad, I also have the BIGGEST sweet tooth. Cookies, brownies, chocolate, cake, ice cream, you name I crave it. Smoothies and, more importantly, smoothie bowls are my favorite way to trick my mind into thinking I am eating all the decadent sweet desserts, ala ice cream, I want for breakfast while getting in all the vitamins and nutrients I need. Below are some of my absolute favorite ingredients that I almost always use to make my daily morning smoothies and the health benefits they have for you and your beautiful body.
The base and key ingredient to all my smoothies and bowls is a plant-based protein powder - I never make one without it. The very origin of the word, from the Greek protos, meaning “first”, reflects its overall importance in our daily nutrition. People need protein, especially women. It is essential in our diets. Not only does it help fuel our bodies by giving us energy, it makes our hair and nails grow stronger; helps our bodies stay slim, lean, and recover better from workouts; plus, it boosts our immune system to help fight off illness. And guess what ladies?!? Most of us do not get a sufficient amount of protein in our diets, so, adding extra protein where you can, like in smoothies, is a must.
When looking for protein powders there are 2 types you will see stocked in your local grocery, department & supplement store: Whey (animal-based) and Plant-based protein. Both contain essential amino acids your body needs to function its best but are very different in composition and their effects on the body. So, what are their difference and how do you know which one is best for you? Let’s take a look. Whey protein is a by-product of cheese and is, quite simply, the liquid that is left behind after milk is curdled and strained. While it does provide a good source of protein and is considered a complete protein on its own, since it is derived from milk, lacks nutrient density. One of the most common side effects of Whey Protein is lactose intolerance and since it’s known to be a common allergen, can have adverse effects on the immune system of those who are allergic to it. Dairy by-products, such as Whey Proteins, are also known to be very difficult for the body to digest, symptoms of digestive issues related to Whey Protein include: abdominal pain, gas, bloating and diarrhea.
Plant-Based proteins, on the other hand, contain fiber and other digestive enzymes that make it a much easier digestible source of protein without the adverse side effects of whey. It is also very nutrient dense - packaged with an abundance of phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Although singular plant-based protein sources alone are not considered a complete protein, many Plant-based Protein Powders combine complimentary sources to provide the body a fuller and more complete spectrum of amino acids. Studies also show that adding more plant-based proteins in your diet help to lower the risk of heart disease, improve obesity, lower the risk of diabetes, and reduce high blood pressure. With that being said, choosing which type of protein you want to incorporate into your life is completely up to you and what works best for your body. I have found that a more plant-based diet has worked the best for me, so I tend to lean towards plant-base protein powders.
If you are looking for a brand of plant-based protein to go with you can find my favorite, Tone It Up Protein, here & here. I am obsessed with the Tone It Up line of protein powders and flavors because they have the cleanest, most delicious ingredients, are gluten and dairy-free, kosher, non-GMO and have a variety USDA Organic options.
Another staple to my smoothies is frozen banana because they make my bowls and smoothies just the right consistency – thick & creamy. Bananas, in my opinion, are a very under-rated Superfood and filled with a variety of vitamins and minerals that are essential for any active body. As a good source of magnesium and potassium, bananas help your body build lean muscle, recover faster from workouts and reduce bloating. Bananas also help you burn fat because they contain a fat blasting b vitamin, choline, that acts directly on the genes that cause fat storage in the abdomen. Other health benefits of bananas include: stabilizing blood sugar, reducing bad cholesterol levels, keeping you full longer, helping with poor digestion, giving you more energy, and serving as a natural detoxifying agent in your body. Added bonus: they also contain vitamin B9 (folate), which is known to help serotonin enter the brain faster. This mood-boosting vitamin is said to help alleviate and combat depression, anxiety and lower stress levels.
If I am not using banana to thicken up my smoothies I am almost always using frozen cauliflower (sometimes I even use both). Another nutrient dense (it contains some of almost every vitamin & mineral you need), high fiber and antioxidant rich addition to smoothies, it too has some amazing benefits. Those include: fighting inflammation, supporting healthy skin with boosted ultraviolet radiation protection, improving heart
health, reducing risk of cancer, improving digestion, natural detoxifier for gut health, supporting healthy weight loss, boosting brain health, keeping hormones in-check, boosting immune system, supporting eye health, and has anti-aging properties.
As I said earlier, smoothies are a great way to sneak in some extra leafy greens that may be missing in your daily diet. Spinach is my absolute favorite to sneak into my smoothies, not only for its nutritional value, but also because it is almost tasteless, so you can’t even tell its there. Spinach has an array of pigments, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, calcium, iron, folate, niacin, and many more that all have benefit the body. Such benefits include: anti-inflammatory properties, improving eye sight, heart health, & bone mineralization, maintaining blood pressure, building strong muscle, boosting metabolism, helping prevent cancer and protecting your skin.
Looking to add more “veggies” to your smoothies?!? Adding a superfood powder, like maca, to your smoothies is a great option. What is maca anyway? Maca is a type of cruciferous vegetable, much like, radish and turnip, that is native to Peru. This root vegetable is typically harvested then ground down to powder form, where we as the consumer typically see it. For thousands of years, maca has been consumed for its health benefits in the region of the Andes Mountains and widely known for its natural healing properties. Maca provides a myriad of important micronutrients, phytonutrients, and is an excellent source of protein (it includes over 20 amino acids – including all 8 essential amino acid), fiber, and several vitamins and minerals - including: iron, vitamin c, and copper. It is naturally antioxidant rich and helps to neutralize harmful free radicals in the body that cause chronic disease and skin damage. Studies have also shown that much like caffeine, maca can increase energy rather quickly, without the jitters or crash. Other benefits include: enhancing mood, improving memory and focus, balancing estrogen level and improving overall sexual health.
This is another great superfood powder to incorporate more into your smoothies and is considered one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Much like kelp and chlorella, spirulina is a fresh water algae grown around the world, from Mexico to Africa to Hawaii, that is renowned for its intense flavor, powerful nutritional profile and deeply rich blue-green color. Its color is the result of a specific pigment known as phycocyanin and it is this pigment that is primarily responsible for spirulina’s numerous health benefits. Containing an array of vitamins, mineral and healthy fats, some of its health benefits include: supporting weight loss, boosting energy, improving muscle strength and endurance, supporting brain health, strengthening the immune system, lowering blood sugar levels, reducing blood pressure, preventing cancer, lowering cholesterol and so much more.
Chia seeds have become very hip in the health/fitness community and are my favorite superfood to top or blend into my smoothies. Originating in Mexico, chia seeds were highly valued for their medicinal properties and at one point even used as currency. Chia, in the Mayan language, means “strength” and chia seeds were known as “runners food” because runners and warriors would eat them to fuel their bodies while running long distances or during battle. It was believed that just one spoonful could sustain them for up to 24 hours. The reason for chia seeds being so beneficial is that they are rich in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, protein, and various other vitamins and minerals. Top benefits for eating them regularly include: skin anti-aging, improved digestive health, treatment of diabetes, heart health, boost energy & metabolism, build stronger bones, weight loss, dental health, fight breast & cervical cancer, and build muscle.
As I said before, there are an unlimited variety and combinations of ingredients you can use in your smoothies! These are just a few ingredients that I find delicious and beneficial in my diet. I hope that this post has inspired you to blend away and if you are looking for some recipe inspo, click any of the photos here, they will take you to some of my favorite recipes. Let me know in the comments what you are blending up this week.
Healthy, Deliciously and Happily Yours,