Happy February, my friends!
Those of you who read my blog regularly might be thinking “Wait, it’s the beginning of the month and this post is supposed to be about Angela’s 3 goals for February. WHAT is she doing for February?!”
Well I’m sorry to disappoint (although I’m about 99.999% sure none of you were actually thinking that.) 😉
It’s true that this is normally the time when I announce new focuses for the month ahead, but I’m going to hold on that until next week. The truth is, last week was a crazy ridiculous, absolute monstrosity of a week. Between really long hours at work, trying to get ahead on projects before being out of office for 2 days, not enough sleep, preparing for my trip and a few other things, I honestly didn’t have the time I wanted to dedicate to this month’s goal setting.
This weekend has been lovely. My cousin’s wedding on Saturday was great, it was really nice to see my relatives and visit with my mum, and I slept like a B-O-S-S last night. I also got to see a few of my besties yesterday and it was pretty much the best thing ever.
But let’s rewind to last week. I usually deal well with busy and stressful situations, and do the best I can to plan ahead so they don’t have to be encountered in the first place. But sometimes even the best proactive planning doesn’t cut it because unexpected events come up. Last week was definitely an example of one of those times!
Without getting into the nitty gritty, let’s just say that longer than usual work hours had me burning the candle at both ends, not sleeping well and feeling far from my normal self. My workouts felt tougher than they should have so I scaled them back, but the most noticeable change – as is always the case when I get stressed – was poor digestion.
There has been a lot of talk about digestion on this blog in the past, including the time I found out my gut couldn’t tolerate spinach, my n=1 better digestion experiment, and changes I’ve made to reduce bloating. (Spoiler alert: get rid of the artificial sweeteners!) All along, I’ve learned that the gut truly is a second brain, and when we’re stressed, it’s one of the first places that feels the effects.
I noticed the stress coming on early last week, and right away resorted to my favourite stress-busting digestion-boosting smoothie. After making it 3 mornings in a row, I realized that it had yet to be shared on the blog and perhaps some of you might want to give it a shot as well! But first, here’s WHY it’s effective:
- Greens are high in magnesium which helps to relax the nervous system (allowing us to get better sleep) and lower cortisol. Magnesium also boosts the release of brain chemicals like serotonin, which improves mood.
- Oats are not only high in fibre, but like greens, also promote increased production of serotonin. Fun fact: 80-90% of the body’s serotonin hangs out in the GI tract!
- Pineapple is a source of bromelain, a powerful source of digestive enzymes. These enzymes help to break down our food. Another ingredient that contains bromelain is Vega Essentials, which I’ve added in order to round out the macros in this recipe and boost the protein content.
- Chia seeds are super rich in antioxidants, but that’s not the thing that makes them great for digestion. They’re also high in fibre (needed to sweep the digestive tract clean), and essential omega-3 fatty acids, which help keep everything nicely lubed up and moving along!
- Maca root powder has adaptogenic properties, which means that it helps to restore the body back to a state of homeostasis. This means that if you’re super stressed, maca can support the adrenals in order to bring stress hormones back into balance.
- Ginger helps to improve digestion, reduce nausea, stomach upset and cramping, and is a great all-around natural anti-inflammatory. If you ask me, ginger is the answer for ALL the ailments!
So without further delay, here is the smoothie recipe I’ve been pounding back on the regular for the past week (and it worked!)
My Favourite Stress-Busting Digestion-Boosting Smoothie
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 0 mins
Ingredients (1 serving)
- 1 big handful of mixed dark leafy greens
- 3/4 cup chopped pineapple
- 1 scoop vanilla Vega Performance Protein or Vega Essentials – optional, to boost protein content
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 frozen banana
- 2 tbsp gluten-free rolled oats
- 1 heaping tsp chia seeds
- 1 heaping tsp maca root powder
- 1″ knob peeled fresh ginger
Toss all ingredients except ice into the Vitamix or other high-powered blender and blend until completely smooth.
Add a few ice cubes and continue blending again until smooth.
Note: To make this smoothie thicker without diluting taste, you can use frozen greens and/or pineapple, or add an additional teaspoon of chia seeds. The chia seeds will create a gel as they absorb water, but you’ll need to wait a few minutes for this to happen.
So tell me…
- When was the last time you had a crazy busy week? What are some of the healthy things you did to get through it?
- What was the best bit of your weekend?