THE DIRTY DEETS & SMOOTHIE HACKS
THE HACK: BLENDING LIKE A BOSS
I fell in love with smoothies the first time I did a cleanse called "The Clean Program" about 5 years ago. I've been lovin' up on them pretty much every day since and often use them as a way to get back on track when I start sliding down an unhealthy slope (holidays anyone?). Proof that nourishing, well-rounded breakfasts don't have to be boring and underwhelming, smoothies can be the perfect way to mainline boatloads of nutrients early in the day in a way that's gentle on your digestive system AND powers you through to lunch. It's important to get the formula right though, otherwise you might as well hit up that box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch you've been saving for a rainy day. Some tips to blend like a boss every time:
- Start with a clean base such as water, unsweetened coconut water, coconut milk or unsweetened nut milk. Avoid juices or any liquid loaded with sugar and additives.
- Add a protein. Protein helps stabilize blood sugar, is important for cognitive function and cell growth/repair and keeps you fuller longer. Some excellent sources:
- Clean, plant-based protein powder like my fave Nuzest (look for ones with a small handful of ingredients and avoid highly processed ones with long ingredient lists.) I also like Nutribiotic unflavored brown rice protein.
- Collagen Peptides (I'm loving Further Food right now. Use my code MISFITWELLNESS10 to get a discount on their website.)
- Raw or dry-roasted unsalted nuts such as almonds, cashews, pecans, hazelnuts or brazil nuts which are also great for thyroid function!
- Add a healthy fat. If you're using nuts as your protein, no need to add an additional healthy fat. If you're using protein powder or collagen, be sure to add a healthy fat to keep you full longer and give you the brain-boosting power and other benefits of fats found in these great choices: nuts, nut butter, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, or coconut meat or shreds.
- Add a fiber source. Chia seeds, flax seeds, psyllium husks are all great choices. I recommend adding these as toppers on your smoothie or smoothie bowl, or gently mixing in at the end of blending so you can keep the form in tact. This way you get all that blood sugar stabilizing power!
- Add a green. If you're new to the smoothie game, I highly recommend starting with a handful of organic spinach. You won't be able to taste it, I promise! When you're ready to get a lil earthy, try a single stem of kale. Work your way up to things like Swiss chard, beat greens and watercress because they have pretty powerful flavors that are sure to turn you off of smoothies if you try this too soon !
- Incorporate seasonal fruit, organic canned pumpkin puree, steamed butternut squash, frozen berries, steamed then frozen beets, or 1/2 a banana to add carbohydrates AND flavor!
- Swap fruit/squash for steamed then frozen cauliflower, zucchini or peas for a lower glycemic way to create a smooth, creamy filling shake. This is a great option for those of us keeping an eye on blood sugar to balance hormones. I'll talk more about this in a blog coming soon!
- Have fun with superfoods and toppers! Visual appeal and texture is important in satiety, unless you're a robot. Make it pretty and interesting and you're FAR more likely to fall in love with this healthy approach to breakfast. Try topping your creation with a small handful of fresh blueberries, a teaspoon of chia seeds and cacao nibs or hemp hearts, a drizzle of nut butter, a spoon of coconut shreds...so many options!
- REMEMBER: food is fuel. Before you make your smoothie, or any meal for that matter, take a moment to consider the energy you'll expend during the day ahead. If you're doing a 5 mile run in the morning, running errands all day and cleaning the house then you're going to need to fill your gas tank up a lot more than if you're going to be sitting at a desk for 10 hours with minimal movement. Also consider how long you'll go before eating again. If you need a something to power you through an active morning until lunch, you want your smoothie to be more calorie dense. If you're driving to work and eating breakfast at your desk, where you'll remain for 2 hours before eating a mid-morning snack, go lighter on the calories and lighter on the fruit/carbohydrates.
- Common mistake to avoid: using more than 1/2 cup fruit (if you're low activity) or a full cup of fruit (if you're medium - high activity). Putting 3 cups of fruit in your smoothies is a surefire way to spike your blood sugar. Oh and if you fill that blender up with an armful of fruit every morning, you might start asking why your pants are a little tighter when that MFW girl told you smoothies were so healthy! Oh and watch the dates too! Yes they have health benefits and are far better than white sugar (ew,) but they are (delightful) lil' sugar bombs. Try to only use 1 or 2 in your smoothies and not in conjunction with other fruits and always make sure you're balancing that sugar content with the other components above.
- Tips to help you make your creations faster:
- Empty out an ice tray. Fill a couple slots with your favorite nut butter, a couple with ripe avocado, a couple with coconut milk and any other healthy fats you enjoy. Freeze then pop out into a stasher bag (non-toxic alternative to ziplocs,) or other storage container for easy retrieval
- Store all your nuts, chia seeds and flax in one place - in individual jars on the counter or glass storage containers in the fridge
- Keep your superfoods and protein powder together in a basket
- Pre-wash greens early in the week and store them wrapped in paper towel in an airtight container, or buy them already washed.
- Once you decide smoothies are your jam, I highly recommend investing in a high-speed blender. There is a place reserved in heaven for my Vitamix, BUT they aren't cheap, I know. There are certainly more affordable options on the market - chat up the sales people at your local department store, Williams Sonoma, etc to find what is right for your budget and needs. It helps to mention you want something that can blend powerfully enough to pulverize seeds and dates completely. Before you invest, also consider how often you'll use it!
- You do NOT need to shop at Whole Foods or pricey health food stores to make beautiful, clean, nourishing smoothies OR meals. Trader Joe's, plenty of local grocery stores, even national chains now feature bulk bins full of nuts, seeds, superfoods, etc and aisles with specialty diet and/or organic selections. If you can't find what you need in a nearby brick & mortar store, there's always Amazon or my preferred online source for much of the above: Vitacost.com. I continue to do periodic price comparisons and am shocked by how much cheaper my superfoods, clean beauty products, even household products are on this site!
- Check out the Misfit Wellness Superfood Glossary if you're stumped by any of the ingredients I've mentioned. (Its a work in progress but will grow with each recipe post!)
I’ve been passionate about wellness ever since I moved to California a hot mess party girl 12 years ago and discovered the transformative power of healthier lifestyle choices. Up to that point I was basically living a holistic health nightmare: my diet consisted of white foods including sugar cereals, the doughy inside of bread bowls and vanilla ice cream; my coping mechanisms included an ironic combination of disordered eating, compulsive exercise and excessive amounts of alcohol; and the only thing I did harder than party was sleep.
Being surrounded by San Francisco’s impossibly fit and gorgeous 20 somethings (they’re EVERYWHERE,) AND meeting the love of my life were the wake-up calls I needed to start cleaning up my act. My back giving out during a SUPA awkward execution of a high-kick in a (very public) workout class helped too. Unfortunately, because balance has never come naturally for me, the pendulum swung hard and fast in the other direction.
I spent the next decade hyper-focused on building the picture perfect California life and becoming the woman I thought I was supposed to be - the one people always told me I was capable of being. I went balls to the wall with healthy eating and low-impact exercise and lost 35 pounds, crushed a career in male dominated commercial real estate, and traveled all over the world with my loving husband, friends and family. I was on top of the world - until I wasn’t.
In the span of about 2 years, around the time my sister and I both got married, I was faced with a number of personal and health challenges that I was utterly unprepared for. 2 years. 3 weddings. 1 divorce (my parents). Back surgery. PCOS. Infertility. Leaky gut. And those are just the highlights. It felt like I was trapped on some twisted rollercoaster for 24 months. A big fan of diversion, I took a promotion I never wanted just to add to the stress cocktail. The work and personal stress took a tremendous toll on my mental and physical health. Fresh off back surgery, and with little time to care for myself due to a crazy job, all my healthy coping mechanisms went out the window. Cue the depression, anxiety and disordered eating I had been privately battling since the age of 11.
To say I went from feeling like a powerful change-agent in my 20’s to a powerless passenger on a crazy carnival ride is an understatement. By the time my 2 year personal shit-show began, I had lived two very different lives: an indulgent, wild, party-like-there’s-no-tomorrow life and one that was all about doing the right things, making the right choices, being the right kind of girl (a good one). By the time it was over, I had seen the top of the world and rock bottom. And you know what I learned from it all? Whether you live your life like a devil or an angel, whether you fly to great heights or slip into a freefall, one thing remains the same: nothing is more important than our mental and physical health. Nothing.
As cliche as it sounds, I'm not sure I would change much of the past decade. Sure, I got a little bruised and battered on that rollercoaster, but I learned the value of mental and physical health while still young enough to make a difference in my own life and the lives of others. AND without that crazy couple of years, I'd probably still be hangry AF and banging my head against a wall somewhere in Corporate America. Instead, I've found my way back to who I really am: a little bit angel, a little bit devil, and a whole lot of misfit.