Welcome to day 2 of Smoothie Week!
In case you missed Monday’s post, here’s a quick catch up: Yesterday was National Smoothie Day and rather than just spending one day celebrating my favourite blended bevvy, you’re in for an entire week (well, 3 posts) of smoothie recipes, pro tips, and giveaways.
Today I want to talk about 7 of the superfood staples that I throw into my smoothies on a daily basis, many of which you’ll have already seen in many of my recipes. I’ll give you a quick lesson on what you need to know about each of them, and theennnnnnnnnn I’ll share a recipe and another great giveaway. Let’s get to it!
This has become a staple in my smoothies ever since I met the amazing team behind Salome Naturals at CHFA West this year. Moringa leaf powder comes from the leaves of the moringa tree (as you probably expected), and it’s been used worldwide for improving health issues of all kinds, from anemia to asthma, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, digestive issues and many others.
I could write an entire post about why moringa is great, but I’ll keep it to just a few reasons:
- It contains 90+ vitamins and minerals.
- 30% of its weight is protein, and moringa is one of the only plant-based foods that contains all essential amino acids required for it to be considered a complete protein. (These essential amino acids are typically only found in animal-based products, but they’re called essential because our bodies can’t produce them ourselves.)
- Moringa is believed to be an extremely potent anti-inflammatory. It’s also a coagulant which means it can help bind to harmful waste products and carry them out of the body.
- It’s been suggested that it can help stabilize blood glucose, lower blood pressure and boost metabolism.
These are a frequent topper for my smoothie bowls and I love tossing them into salads. They tend to absorb the moisture of other ingredients which plumps them up, making them soft and chewy. (The reason that they normally appear dry in their packaging is because no sweeteners or additives are used to make them moist – this is a good thing!) Here’s why they’re so super:
- You wouldn’t expect it but goji berries are high in protein, containing 18 of the 20 amino acids.
- They’re also rich in antioxidants (making them a great choice for skin health), over 20 vitamins (mainly A, C and E) and minerals.
- By weight, goji berries contain more vitamin C than oranges, more beta-carotene than carrots, and more iron than soybeans and spinach.
Cacao Powder/Cacao Nibs
We all know dark chocolate is good for us, so why the heck aren’t we enjoying more of it!? Cacao powder is the ground form of what’s left once the oily part (cacao butter) is separated from the cacao bean. Aside from being absolutely delish, here are a few more reasons to get your daily dose:
- Cacao contains anandamide and phenethylamine, also known as bliss chemicals that can improve mood, trigger endorphin release and make us feel happy.
- It’s high in fiber which means it’ll help you to feel full.
- Pure cacao powder – especially when eaten raw – is full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. One in particular is magnesium which can help us sleep better and can decrease muscle cramping. That’s especially important for athletes! Others include iron, polyphenols, flavonols, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids.
- Raw cacao powder is one of the richest natural sources of antioxidants found in nature, and it contains even higher levels than your favourite bar of dark chocolate.
Ever felt that sense of panic when you run out of something you eat almost every day? That’s how I feel when my maca supply is running low! Maca is a root native to Peru, and in addition to its mild nutty/butterscotch-y flavour, it offers a lot of benefits – particularly for athletes. Apologies to those who have heard me wax poetic about maca in the past, but here’s why:
- Maca is an adaptogen, which means it helps your adrenal system to respond to stress and energy needs in the moment. The word ‘adapt’ suggests change, and that’s exactly what adaptogens do – they adapt to help your body cope with anxiety, to manage stress, and to regulate energy without crazy crashes and spikes.
- It’s full of vitamins (B1, B2, B, C, D and E) and minerals (iron, magnesium, copper, potassium, selenium and calcium) and fiber. Maca also contains amino acids which help with performance, muscle recovery and growth.
- The positive impact that maca has on the adrenal system would also suggest that it can have a positive impact on hormone balance and thyroid health. It’s also an aphrodisiac. ?
Sprinkle them on smoothie bowls, pour them straight into your smoothies, mix them into salads, blend them into dressings, stir them into the batter of your baked goods… hemp seeds are so versatile! And…
- Hemp is one of the most easily-digestible and absorbable plant-based sources of protein. It contains all of the essential amino acids and composition-wise, it contains more protein by weight than lots of other protein sources – even animal-based ones.
- Hemp is also very rich in fiber, minerals (magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium) and healthy omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids.
If you’re a runner you’ve probably heard of the Tarahumara, an ancient civilization of crazy fast and efficient runners who fuelled themselves for hours on a simple mix of chia seeds, water, lime and sugar. The seeds have yet to give me Tarahumara-like speed, but there’s still plenty of other reasons to love them:
- They’re full of healthy essential fatty acids (even more than salmon), antioxidants, protein and fiber.
- Chia seeds can absorb 9-12 times their volume in water, so they’re perfect when used as smoothie thickeners if you let them sit and absorb the liquid for a few minutes.
- Micronutrients include omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, vitamins, antioxidants, iron and calcium.
- Aside from smoothies, you can work them into pretty much any dish from oatmeal and yogurt parfaits to recipes that call for eggs (since they can be used to make a ‘chia egg’).
Açai (pronounced a-sigh-ee) bowls have become really popular in thanks to companies like Sambazon who sell ready-to-use frozen acai berry puree. Can’t find them? No worries – you can still take advantage of everything açai berries have to offer by adding them in powdered form to your smoothies.
- Acai berries provide antioxidants and fiber.
- Acai also contains essential omega omega fatty acids that our bodies need to create healthy skin and hair.
- Micronutrients include resveratrol (an antioxidant), calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, vitamin E, zinc, polyphenols.
- Acai powder doesn’t dissolve easily in water, so you’ll probably enjoy it much more in a smoothie than if you were to try stirring it into a juice.
Bonus! Sea Buckthorn
I said I’d give you 7 superfoods, but I wanted to throw in one more that I’ve talked about before which is sea buckthorn. These are super resilient berries that grow in the Himalayas and contain omega 3, 6, 7 (yes, 7) and 9 fatty acids. My favourite source is Sibu’s Omega 7 Pure, which is a concentrated sea buckthorn berry puree that adds a lovely tartness to smoothies. I wrote an entire post about these a while back, so be sure to check it out here.
And now for that recipe, a Stress Release Smoothie. This one uses two of the superfoods above and a bunch of ingredients you might already have sitting right in your kitchen. Everything in this smoothie has been added for a reason, from the superfoods explained earlier, right down to oats and cinnamon which help keep blood sugar in check, therefore preventing energy rollercoasters and mood swings.
Stress Release Smoothie Bowl
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 0 mins
Ingredients (1 serving)
- 1 scoop vanilla Vega Essentials or Vega Sport Performance Protein
- 1 big fistful lacinato (dinosaur) kale
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 frozen peeled banana
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1/8 avocado
- 2 tbsp gluten-free oats
- 1 tsp maca root powder (I use Vega and Navitas Naturals maca)
- 1 tsp raw cacao powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 6-8 ice cubes
- optional toppings: almonds, shaved dark chocolate, blueberries, your favourite granola, fresh mint
Toss everything in the blender except for your ice cubes and toppings. Blend until completely smooth.
Add the ice cubes and blend again.
Pour into a bowl and top with additional blueberries, almond, bits of dark chocolate, your favourite granola and a sprig of fresh mint.
And finally… giveaway time!
Navitas Naturals Prize Pack:
One reader will receive a bag of Navitas Naturals Goji Berries, Cacao Powder, Cacao Nibs, Maca Powder, Hemp Seeds, Chia Seeds, and Acai Powder, as well as Superfood Smoothies, a beautiful book by Chef Julie Morris (read more here).
Salome Naturals Moringa:
One reader will receive a full-sized tub of organic moringa leaf powder, perfect for mixing into your favourite smoothie recipes or anything else that you want to give a nutrition boost!
To enter, here’s what you can do:
- Mandatory blog post comment: Tell me which of the above 7 superfoods you’d like to try and why. Already well-acquainted with them all? Tell me which one is your favourite.
- Optional bonus entry: Like Navitas Naturals, Salome Naturals and @eatspinrunrpt on Instagram. Comment back here letting me know you did.
- Optional bonus entry: Tweet about this giveaway. Something like:
For both giveaways, Canadian and US residents are eligible. Both will close at 8pm PT on Monday June 27th and winners will be contacted by email.
Good luck! ?