Dieting is not the easiest thing to do. Even the word diet makes me kinda cringe. We all have busy schedules and excuses stacking up everywhere. Plus, the temptations of deliciousness are constantly flanking us around every turn. For me, traveling is the biggest thing that stands in my way of staying on track with a diet. When I am home, however, I can get back on schedule and stick to a healthier regiment. This begins with my Healthy Morning Start. You see diets take a lot of focus and like I mentioned before, they are hard to stick to with a busy schedule, but one thing I have found relatively easy is to get on a smoothie regiment every morning.
For some time now I have been uploading videos to my Instagram story as well as snapchats to social media of me cutting up veggies and smashing them into a blender. I have been asked on several occasions; what exactly is in there? Well, I figured it was about time to share some of my very amateur and not so tasty recipes with the world. Now, don’t let the taste nor the amount of odd looking veggies discourage you from getting on this type of regiment. The ingredients that I have listed here are just some of what I use and they all have special super powers that I find incredibly useful in my day to day. Why do I blend them and not juice you may ask? Only because you tend to get a lot more nutrients and, especially, fiber from blending rather than just weezing the juice. Again, this may not be your run of the mill jamba Juice or sugar filled berry smoothie delight that you’re used to, but I promise this is a healthy kick in the ass every day!
All of the ingredients listed below are what I put (jam) into a medium sized, 16oz blending cup. Fill with desired amount of veggies and then fill remaining empty space with water, about to the top. Water is absolutely necessary in creating a non viscous, drinkable smoothie, otherwise everything just sticks and you end up chewing your drink, making it way more difficult and less pleasant to consume. Also, refer to the above, main image to get an idea as to what quantities of each veggie I put in there.
- Kale: This is the ultimate leafy green. You have all probably been subject of the Kale craze of the past several years. It doesn’t taste great at all so that is why we are mixing it up with all sorts of other stuff, but if you can include it in your day to day then you’re on the right track. Just a few of the laundry list of benefits that you can find from Kale include: Vitamins A, B, C and K which are associated with bone health, digestion and healthy skin and hair as well as immunity support. Among other things, it is high in magnesium, potassium and sodium which can help with cramping when working out or playing paintball.
- Spinach: Very similar to our friend above, however much more palatable thus easier to mix into things. To be honest, a couple ofleaves mixed into your smoothie won’t do a whole lot. BUT, I find that having a big bag of spinach at the house forces me/you into consuming it on the day to day in other ways. You can’t let it all go to waste. If you are reluctant to have another dark green in the house, here are some of the many benefits of including Spinach in your diet: lots of fiber for you know what. Helps with bone health. Includes beta-carotene is said to help in the prevention of Asthma. Also, as with many of the dark leafy green vegetables, it contains helpful minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron.
- Turmeric: This is my absolute go to spice on almost everything. I try to get as much of this stuff as I possibly can in my diet. I try to have it in the house in both the dry powder form and its raw root form so I can utilize it in as many meals as possible. Basically, this is a super root that may be one of the most effective nutritional supplements in the world! To keep it simple, and why I use it so often, Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory, so think of it as your natural aspirin or Ibuprofen. The key compound in turmeric is actual something called curcumin, that is what we are actually after and that has all the benefits to our body. This is also supposedly helpful with higher brain function and is a very strong antioxidant. Basically Turmeric makes you smarter and decreases inflammation in your body at the same time. There are several other benefits to this wonder root so do some googling to find out more. **A note on the Black Pepper in the mix. This is a key ingredient in activating your body’s ability to absorb the curcumin and really kick in the effects. Another thing that helps blend and mix this up to really boost the effects and to increase bio-availabilty as well are saturated fats. This is why I always keep it on deck in all forms so that I can easily toss it into whatever meal I am cooking.
- Cucumber: I really enjoy the taste of cucumbers. However, they also happen to be good for you too! Cucumbers are high in all sorts of vitamins and minerals, similar to our other green friends in this cocktail we are creating. They help crush out toxins, they help lower blood pressure as well as cholesterol and they’re great for kidney function. Cucumbers, who would have thought…
- Ginger: This spicy, but powerful, little root has a few great properties. I utilize it for one thing in particular, my throat. With all the yelling and shouting we do on the field, ginger works great for soothing my hoarse throat after practices. On top of this, like Turmeric, Ginger also helps reduce inflammation. It has been said to help with soreness and muscle pain. Ginger reduces blood sugars and cholesterol which is great if you have a risk of heart disease. Then it is also linked to brain health. Even reading this little blurb about Ginger is making you smarter already!
- Celery: Not only great with peanut butter and raisins sprinkled on top, but also packed with vitamins and another tasty filler to are new Healthy Morning Start. Yet another very snackable component that when not used in a smoothie has a myriad of different uses as an easy on the go snack. I am starting to sound like a broken record with the vitamins and minerals talk, but Celery is very high in Vitamin K, which is great in helping blood flow, therefore helping with injury recovery and overall bone health! On top of that, Celery helps with liver function, lowering cholesterol annnnnnnnd my favorite, decreasing inflammation!!
- Carrot: Everyone likes carrots, everyone! With that aid, not much is needed to be said about how amazing this root is for you! From balancing blood sugar, improving blood health, relieving congestion, fighting inflammation and cleansing the kidneys! Wait wait, we’re not done yet. Carrots help to protect eyesight, increase brain function and the key component, beta carotene has been shown to help fight Leukemia! Suffice it to say, carrot juice benefits can help nearly every part of your body!
- Lemon: Ok, these last two I mainly use for a bit of flavor in a mix of bitterness and spice. However, Lemons are AMAZING for you! Where do I start..? Well, for one, did you know it helps treat cholera and malaria? Ya, neither did I and that is not really a benefit that I am really searching for when planning out my Healthy Morning Start. But, I have digressed a bit, let me get back on track and pump you up on how exciting lemons are again. On top of the vitamins; A, B2,3,5 and 6, vitamins C and E, they contain a myriad of different minerals that aid in recovery, energy production (B vitamins), and overall health and wellness. Now I don’t think you can live on lemons, even though they do contain some protein, but they are pretty solid little golden fruits!
- Apple: If you don’t like apples then I am not too sure if we live on the same planet. With that said, EAT MORE APPLES! Now that is out of the way, this is the slice of heaven in my Healthy Morning Start that makes this whole mess of mush come together and actually become palatable. Most of the ingredients listed above are sour, bitter, spicy or a combination. The Apple, like the lemon, is more for a flavor boost than anything else, but at the end of the day there are so many benefits that you can get from consuming apples regularly. Just like everything else we have noted in this concoction, apples are seemingly a cure all to everything that could potentially ail you or take you down. So, without boring you with all the nutritional facts of eating apples, like they help prevent cancer, heart disease, alzheimer’s, diabetes, as well as promoting weight loss, improving vision and making your teeth and skin much healthier… Oh wait, I forgot I wasn’t going to say all of that. End of story, these are another great stackable fruit to keep on deck at all times when you’re feeling, well, snacky.
Some notable additions that I add when I can get them.
–Dandelion Leaves: Pretty much already said in every other ingredient that I have listed above but this is one of those dark super greens that just packs more power per punch than most of the others. Some of the notable benefits are help with digestion and has positive effects on your liver, kidney and bladder health.
–Chia Seeds: I have been sprinkling these little superfood seeds on almost everything for a while now, but I just recently started mixing them into my smoothies to get an extra little boost. They actually fill me up quite a bit as well so with these added your new Healthy Morning Start smoothie can pretty much be a meal replacement. Chia Seeds are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. As a matter of fact, they contain one of the highest concentrations of these essential fatty acids than almost any other plant based source. Fatty acids, without getting into a lot of (any) detail, are incredibly important for your body and you can only get them from consuming foods with these fatty acids in them. With all of that, Chia Seeds also contain a good amount of protein.
–Blueberries: Yum!! Why not really? They taste great and they’re a great healthy source of antioxidants. The downsides are that they’re a bit pricey and fresh Blueberries aren’t always available in all areas.
–On the Road: This is the tough part. The time when I am traveling or too busy to make one of these concoctions. I usually find one of the premixed dried powder veggie supplements that you can get at almost any grocery store these days or online. I don’t have a favorite, although they are getting more and more tasty each time I buy a new jar. Back a few years ago, these type of dried veggie mixes tasted like lawn clippings and dirt, so hurray for healthy living taking a positive step!