I’m kind of obsessed with smoothies, not going to lie. I’ve been on the smoothie-a-day program for a few months now, and I’m only getting more into it. So what inspired this recent journey to smoothie land?
Back in my early 20s, I used to drink smoothies with protein powder because, ya know, I wanted to get buff. I never got buff, but I did make some alright, Jamba Juice inspired, fruit-filled, chalky protein smoothies back then.
In my late 20s, I tried to take health and nutrition seriously for the first time in my life. I started to eat more dark, leafy greens. Lots of spinach and kale got added into the mix. Then I learned that beets are good for your liver and have awesome detox abilities, and I definitely needed that from all the excessive partying from my early 20s, so I started juicing and blending with those. Overall, I learned that food is medicine, and smoothies are a great way to pack in a ton of raw nutrients from fresh fruits and veggies.
Fueling for Endurance
Fast forward to 2018, and I’m trying to run marathons and ultramarathons. I learned the hard way that I run out of energy when I try to run more than 13-15 miles with no breakfast. I started to realize how important “fueling” is.
I watched a webinar on Endurance Fueling from Fieldwork Nutrition and picked up some of their Primo Smoothie mix, which I’m a big fan of. The smoothie mix checks all the boxes, a super clean and healthy source of easy calories I could eat before or after a training session, plus has electrolytes, curcumin from turmeric for anti-inflammatory, probiotics, healthy fats and omega-3s, and protein of course. Best of all, it actually tastes great, and if I’m in a hurry to get out on a run, I just mix it with water or almond milk and it isn’t chalky or nasty like most protein powders. Smoothies have now become an everyday thing, for fueling and recovery purposes.
And as I get more and more into the endurance world, I’m realizing that nutrition is just as important as the miles and workouts. I read Eat and Run by Scott Jurek, and he swears that his vegan diet is a big part of why he performs better and recovers faster than other runners. Rich Roll is another vegan endurance athlete who swears by the diet. Vegan or not, it seems as most of the runners I’ve met, or follow on social media, pay super close attention to nutrition and how they are fueling the body. I’m not sold on 100% vegan, for a couple reasons, but I’m definitely sold on eating more raw foods, fruits and vegetables and superfoods especially, and a daily smoothie is the best way for me to pack a bunch in at the start of the day.
Last week at nutrition school, the module was all about raw foods and superfoods. David Wolfe was the guest lecturer, and if you google him, you’ll see him talk about superfoods in his high energy, all-over-the-place David Wolfe style. He is definitely one of the most entertaining guest lecturers so far.
We have all heard of superfoods I’m sure. It is one of the most used marketing hype words in the health and nutrition industry for a food that is super dense in good nutrients. We’ve probably all taken a wheatgrass shot from a juice bar, or seen turmeric whatever on the menu at a restaurant.
To be honest, I’ve always been intimidated by superfoods, probably because they have crazy exotic names. And you can’t just browse the normal aisles at the grocery store and pick up some goji berries next to the strawberries, or spirulina next to the spinach. Quinoa is still a stretch for me, and I guarantee most people can’t even pronounce it. And why the hell would I want to eat horsetail, turkey tail, and lion’s mane?
But David Wolfe gave a great definition of a superfood that I haven’t heard before. A superfood is a food that an ancient civilization thought was the best food. The Egyptians had aloe vera, the Eurasians had hemp, the Inkas had maca, the Amazonian shamans had cacao. The Aztec warriors would eat chia seeds for high energy and endurance before going into battle. A superherb is similar, a top medicinal herb used by an ancient people, so in Ayurveda they have ashwaganda and tulsi and amalaki, the Chinese have ginseng and astragalus, and so on.
No wonder superfoods have exotic names, they are the top foods of the Aztecs and Mayans and ancient shaman. That’s pretty freakin cool. And with this perspective, I shouldn’t be intimidated by them, I should explore them.
So I finally went to the store and got some chia seeds, hemp seeds, maca powder, and a super greens mix of chlorella, spirulina, nettle, horsetail, kelp, and much more weird stuff.
Upping the Game
Smoothies are my healthy fast food. I can blend one up in the Magic Bullet and drink it straight from the cup (and clean it!) in under 5 minutes easy. I can throw it in my Yeti mug or a mason jar and take them on the road in the morning. Even if I make an all-out smoothie, it’s still much faster than cooking a full meal.
There is so much freedom, and creativity, and customization with smoothies. With the variety of ingredients and rainbow colors, it’s become like a new art form of mine. The art of the smoothie!
My #1 key to upping my smoothie game is to stock up the fridge and pantry with the best goods! My goal is to mix things up daily and weekly.
I like to think of a smoothie as 4 basic parts:
Fruits – I like to go to the store at the beginning of the and buy a big variety, with a couple things different from the week prior. This week I bought strawberries, mango, kiwis, apples, and oranges. The week prior I bought grapefruits, bananas, blueberries, and strawberries. Next week I want to go for some pineapple, maybe some papaya.
Veggies – Veggies usually make the color. Spinach is my OG go to, and I also love kale for a nice green smoothie. The past 2 weeks I’ve used beets and they make a killer bright pink blend, and I want to get more into beets because I hear they are good for endurance. I got some sweet potato, gold beets and carrots this week, I’m feeling kind of orange-y. Without veggies, I feel like my smoothie is just like a fruity sugary Jamba Juice.
Liquid base – I go with coconut water if I want something more hydrating. I go with coconut milk or almond milk if I want something more creamy. I never use juice since there is already enough sugar from the fruits.
Adders – The great thing with seeds and nuts is that they don’t spoil quickly like fruits and veggies do, so you can stock up on a big variety that lasts a few months. Of course I got the bag of chia seeds and hemp seeds front and center in the pantry. I got some flax meal. Hemp is my favorite, gives it a smooth nutty flavor. I love the gelatinousness of chia! The flax meal is kind of neutral tasting, so why not throw some in from time to time. I like to throw in some brazil nuts, or almonds. I have lots more exploring and experimentation to go with the nuts.
If I want to increase the protein, or I’m running low on real ingredients, I’ll use the Fieldwork Nutrition Primo mix. Right now I’m using glutamine and collagen because I’m nursing some soft tissue knee issues.
I recently just got 2 new superfood products from SunFood, maca powder and a sunshine supergreen mix.
And if I want to make a really filling meal, I’ll throw in some nut butters, some granola, some chia pudding that I let gelatinize, some fresh chopped fruit pieces or berries (toppers, not blended), or all of the above!
So the key for me is to just have all the goods in the kitchen, and to go crazy based on what I’m feeling like.
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