(These smoothies were featured in Thrillist on Feb. 8, 2019)
Don't Eat Breakfast?
I'm a big proponent of breakfast because of its many benefits. First of all, after sleeping and fasting for 8 hours or more, our bodies can go into 'survival' mode and start storing fat. This can lead to weight gain. However, when we eat breakfast, we remind our metabolism to keep going and prevent that 'starvation' mode. Essentially, breakfast jump-starts our metabolism for the day.
Skipping breakfast can cause weight gain another way, too. Often times when people skip breakfast, they are so hungry by lunch, they tend to overeat. So now, while in survival mode and storing fat, we're adding more calories than would be appropriate at a meal. It's a double whammy!
Not only does eating a lot at lunch cause weight gain, it can also lead to our blood sugars getting out of control. When we're hungry, our blood sugars are low. In response, we eat. But eating too many carbs and fat at a meal can cause those blood sugars to go from nil to peak in a short time.
This is hard on our liver that tries to release enough insulin to catch up to that sugar spike. A continuous pattern of blood sugar spikes is what ultimately leads to insulin resistance and diabetes. The point is that eating breakfast can help manage blood sugars from the start of the day and prevent weight gain.
Finally, breakfast gives us a shot at getting in all or most of the recommended nutrients we need in a day. Besides just our macros, we also need micronutrients such as vitamins & minerals. These are tough enough to get if we don't consciously balance our meals, but nearly impossible if we eat less than 3 meals per day. Breakfast can be a great source of the nutrients we need to keep our bodies functioning normally, heal & repair from wounds, sickness, and workouts, and even prevent disease.
I know that some people don't feel hungry in the morning and would rather not eat breakfast. Know that to start feeling hungry in the morning, we need to train our bodies. By slowly introducing small amounts of food in the morning, our appetites grow, and breakfast becomes natural and enjoyable.
For my breakfast haters out there, I'm recommending baby steps. Rather than "eating" breakfast for the next week or two, try drinking breakfast. I'm offering fruit & veggie combos for smoothies that can kick start your day with nutrients you need for general health and disease prevention.
After reading my ideas, I'd love to hear yours. Please leave a comment with smoothie combos you love or would like to try!
My first fruit & veggie combination for a smoothie is:
This first smoothie combines spinach, hemp seeds, and orange juice. Between the spinach and hemp seeds, they provide plant-based protein and iron, which is great for vegetarians and vegans.
However, humans don’t absorb iron well from plant sources, but Vitamin C helps. One cup of OJ provides our daily recommended needs of Vitamin C, as well as 1/3 of our daily calcium (if fortified) and 2 grams of its own protein.
Other fruits I would consider adding to this combo are:
Apples - They have a natural “pick me up” property stronger than a cup of coffee! They also contribute calcium, Vitamin A, and fiber.
Cucumbers- The water content in cucumbers also helps wake us up, but cukes are surprisingly packed with calcium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A, as well.
Blueberries- Their blue color comes from anthocyanins which are antioxidants that appear to have cardiovascular benefits and aid in memory improvement.
I encourage you to begin with 1 cup of fresh spinach, 1 cup of fortified orange juice, and 3 Tbsp of hemp seeds for a morning energy booster. From there, add in any other ingredients that sound appealing to you! Let me know how it goes. I promise- you don't taste the spinach!
Here's my second smoothie idea:
Peanut Butter/Banana/Cocoa Smoothie
Why is this a great combo for breakfast?
This Peanut Butter/Banana/Cocoa smoothie provides enough calories to act as a complete meal, along with all of the macronutrients- protein, carbs, and fat.
Research recommends we get 30g of protein at breakfast, about half our needs for the day. This shake comes just under at 28g of protein. High protein breakfasts jumpstart our metabolism in the morning while helping to manage blood sugar spikes that can occur when we only eat carbohydrates in a sitting. High protein meals also require more energy to digest, so you're burning calories to metabolize the protein.
High in Fiber
For those watching their carb portions, such as people with diabetes, this smoothie counts as 2 carb servings- perfect for breakfast.
Additionally, it’s balanced with a lot of fiber- 11g. This is 44% of our recommended fiber for the day! Fiber helps not only control our blood sugars, but is also a heart healthy nutrient and aids in digestion.
This delicious smoothie provides healthy fats (monounsaturated) from the peanut butter, almond milk, and yogurt.
Meanwhile, the peanut butter also contains niacin, a B vitamin that helps us metabolize our protein, carbs, and fat.
Vitamins & Minerals
Finally, this smoothie is packed full of vitamins and minerals like potassium, Vitamin E, calcium, and magnesium. These contribute towards bone, muscle, nerve, and heart health.
Almost dessert-like, this healthy drink can be a welcoming way to ease into the day. Here’s the recipe:
2 Tbsp peanut butter (or any nut butter)
2/3 cup Greek, low-fat plain yogurt
1 cup almond (or any) milk or fill until reach desired thickness
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
1. Blend all ingredients and enjoy!
(*Note: If you're used to sweeter tastes, you may want to use sweetened vanilla almond milk or a sweetened chocolate or vanilla yogurt)
Nutrition: 475 kcals, 28g protein, 24g fat (5g saturated), 49g carbohydrates, 11 g fiber
*Note: This nutritional analysis is based on using sugarless peanut butter. I recommend a brand like Adams 100% Peanut Butter.
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