How to Supercharge your Smoothie

Morning smoothies are all the rage and for good reason. They are a perfect way to get a boost of vegetable goodness into our daily diets. Sales of blenders such as Nutribullets and Vitamixs are at an all time high. It seems the homemade smoothie has become mainstream and is here to stay. Good news for everyone!! What's even better news is that smoothies have evolved over the past few years. A few years back the standard smoothies was made with lots of high sugar fruits and with dairy products such as yogurt and even ice-cream as the base. Yes, you read correctly - ice cream!! More milkshake than glass of nutritious goodness. Now smoothies are all about having a healthy vegetable / fruit ratio and using nut milks, filtered water and coconut water as bases.

Today's post is for those of you who are already adding greens such as spinach and cucumber to your morning smoothie, but are ready for the next step up in terms of nutritional punch. I wanted to share with you my favourite ingredients that I regularly add to my smoothie to really supercharge its nutritional goodness. The fact is that these ingredients are so nutritious, but many people will struggle to eat them, especially in a raw state. Adding them to a smoothie is a really easy of way of including them in our diets with little effort.

I really believe that these ingredients have had so many positive effects on my body, from aiding digestion, to providing me with lots and lots of energy, to helping to keep my skin clear and my weight in check and to generally getting my day started on the right foot.

The great thing about smoothies is that they can taste really good. Everyone's taste preferences are different, but very quickly you can figure out the ratio of vegetables to fruit that work for you. Some of these super charge ingredients have quite a strong taste, especially the turmeric and spirulina. When adding them to your smoothie, start off conservatively until you get used to the taste and then up your portions gradually. Also, alternate between the ingredients instead of adding all five of them to your smoothie in one go. For instance, I only add spirulina to my smoothies every second day.

By the by, these foods are also really good for our appearance, giving us shiny and healthy hair and glowing and clear skin. So as well as being health foods we could also call them beauty foods. Two reasons to start adding them to our smoothies asap!

1. Herbs

I love adding herbs to my smoothie as they are full of nutritional goodness and even have medicinal benefits. They also add great flavour to smoothies. There are hundreds of herbs out there so just add your favourite or the ones that are most readily available. I usually go for a choice of coriander leaf, parsley or mint. These herbs are commonly available, easy to grow and great to have in the kitchen for cooking in general.

These three herbs are said to aid digestion, have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory powers, be a good source of anti-oxidants and contain vitamins such as vitamins A, C, and K as well as minerals such as iron, manganese and calcium. Coriander leaf and parsley are high in the green pigment chlorophyll which helps oxygenate the blood. I think my favourite is mint as I love the taste and also I find it great for digestion or when I have any bloatedness or tummy upset.

2. Seeds

I usually add flaxseeds or hemp seeds to my morning smoothie. Hemp seeds are a great source of plant based protein containing all the essential amino acids. These tiny seeds are about 30 per cent protein. It's really important to get protein at each meal and this requires a little extra thought when you don't eat meat and dairy. Hemp seeds also contain good fats, the essential fatty acids that are critical to our health. By the by, these fatty acids are also really good for healthy hair and glowing skin. You can buy flaxseed ground or in oil form, both of which can be added to smoothies.

Flaxseeds are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids which means they are super important food to eat for those who are not that fond of fish. Flaxseeds are also a good source of fibre which helps clean out waste and is really important for our digestive system. Like hemp seeds, flaxseeds can be bought ground or in oil form.

By adding hemp seeds and flaxseeds to smoothies, the blending action will grind up the seeds allowing maximum availability of the nutrients contained in the seeds.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is so so good for us. It boosts immunity, supports healthy cell repair, reduces inflammation and is full of anti-oxidants which protect our bodies from free radicals. Free radicals can attack healthy cells and cause disease and ill health. Therefore it's really important to eat as much anti-oxidant rich foods as possible. Turmeric is loaded with anti-oxidants and therefore incorporating raw turmeric into our diet is a super way of getting an anti-oxidant boost. Turmeric contains a phytonutrient called curcuminoid that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, aid digestion and even have anti-infection powers. Really importantly for me is that turmeric is said to have anti-cancer properties. What better reason to add it to our diets?!

I add a spoon of turmeric to my morning smoothie. It's quite strong tasting so you may want to start off by adding a small amount and working up to a teaspoon or two over time. It is said that turmeric is best absorbed when taken along with black pepper and some form of fat, so I add black pepper and coconut oil, another one of my super charge ingredients, to my smoothies along with turmeric. You can buy turmeric root (it looks alot like ginger) or you can buy it in powder form.

4. Coconut oil

Where to even start with coconut oil. I use it all the time and for so many different things. Coconut oil has medicinal powers and has been used for centuries for healing. It is a saturated fat and for years we have been told not to eat saturated fats! However, now it is believed that saturated fats are not the enemy, but rather transfats are and that coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils we can eat.

One of the fats that is found in coconut oil is lauric acid which is said to have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. It is also said that coconut oil converts to energy quickly in our body and boosts are metabolism which helps us with weight control. I find when I take coconut oil I have noticably better energy levels.

Putting coconut oil in our smoothies is great as it means we get it in raw form and it helps to add creaminess to our smoothies. Just a word on storing your coconut oil. It is solid at room temperature so therefore don't keep it in the fridge or it will be rock hard.

5. Gingers

Ginger is by one of my favourite things to add to my smoothie for the taste and flavour and for giving my smoothie a little kick. The great thing is that ginger is right up there on the superfood scale. It is really good for digestion and nasea, is anti-inflammatory and provides an immune boost. Ginger is even thought to me a mood enhancer. Many commentators credit ginger with anti-cancer properties. I am not sure on this one but I heard this so much, that adding ginger to my daily diet is a no brainer for me. I add about an inch of ginger to my smoothie and don't bother pealing it beforehand.

6. Spirulina

Spirulina is a blue green algae that is grows in fresh water ponds and lakes. Spirulina is easy to digest, is rich in protein being about 70 per cent protein and is a good source of vitamins (including B vitamins and vitamin K), minerals (including iron and calcium), essential fatty acids, carotenoids and chlorophyll. Spirulina is said to help support our immune system, help increase energy levels, have an alkalining effect on the body and be great for our eyes. It is also helps give us healthy and glowing skin and hair. I take about two teaspoons in my morning smoothie every odd day. It is quite strong tasting and powerful so again you might want to start with smaller amounts and work from there.

Happy smoothie supercharging everyone xx

#superfoods #advice

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DESIGNED BY Frances Walsh 

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