Superfood Breakfast Smoothie

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Game on, breakfast! We’ve been working to perfect our morning smoothies to enhance their nutrition density and help us fuel up for our long runs. By George, I think we’ve got it! This smoothie has the taste and texture of ice cream with just a few healthy ingredients, plus the added benefits of maca powder and chia seeds–two superfoods that help with hydration, stamina and hormonal balance. Did I mention it tastes like ice cream? Yep. For breakfast. Seriously, we eat our smoothies with a spoon, they are so thick and ice cream-y.

These smoothies feature two superfoods–maca powder and chia seeds. Here’s a bit of information on each:

Maca Powder

This is our first attempt at using maca powder as a nutritional supplement. Maca powder is an Incan superfood sourced from a root grown in the Andes mountains of Peru. It is known to be high in calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin C and vitamins B1, B2, B6 and B12. Maca also contains two essential fatty acids and is very high in fiber. Apparently, maca powder stimulates the endocrine system, which controls hormones, and it is thought to be a good hormone regulator for both men and women. Initial studies indicate that taking regular, small doses of maca powder can help significantly with hot flashes and hormonal fluctuations experienced in early menopause. There are also legendary stories about maca’s effect on the virility of men, but these have not been found to be true in scientific studies.

To be eaten, maca powder really needs to be mixed with something. I tried tasting it by itself and…well…it tastes like a dried root would taste. In the smoothies, though, you can’t taste it at all, so that’s an easy solution!

I can say that for me, I noticed a substantial increase in energy after my first smoothie with the maca powder. Rather than inheriting some Incan super power, I think I may be low in my B vitamins, but whatever works! I notice that I definitely have more energy in the morning and have cut back my caffeine consumption considerably. Maca is a keeper!

Chia Seeds

I’ve posted about chia seeds before with our chia pudding experiments this summer. Chia seeds are pretty incredible. They have tons of fiber, protein and omega-3s. As a matter of fact, they have the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids of any known plant source. And they absorb up to 10 times their weight in liquid, making them wonderful for folks trying to stay hydrated. I’ve never noticed any immediate improvement in my health or well-being when taking chia seeds, but I definitely feel fuller for longer after eating anything with chia in it.

We’re adding chia seeds to our smoothies to add some protein and help us stay hydrated as we add miles to our runs. If you are exercising a great deal, hydration begins before your workout. Like, days before. I’m pretty terrible about remembering to drink water, but I am trying to be more mindful (an alert on my phone helps). And staying hydrated helps keep your skin healthy looking and clear as well!

Here is our recipe for Superfood Smoothies. You could easily add spinach, kale or other greens and change it up the way you like! The goal is to use frozen fruit to get that thick, ice cream like texture. The yogurt adds protein and some thickness, which I like, but you could leave it out with no problem.

Superfood Breakfast Smoothies (makes 2 smoothies)

  • 3 cups frozen fruit (we use a combination of mango and berries)
  • 4-6 ounces yogurt
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of organic, raw, maca powder
  • 1 tablespoon of organic chia seeds
  • 2 cups organic, unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  1. Put all ingredients in a high powered blender (Vitamix or Nutribullet work well).
  2. Blend on low, then switch to high until all fruit is pulverized and incorporated and the mixture is thick, like ice cream.
  3. Serve immediately.

Banana Pudding Refrigerator Oatmeal

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During our long, hot summers, I typically have sprouted grain bread/toast with homemade jam and a frozen fruit smoothie for breakfast. While I absolutely love steel cut oatmeal, the thought of making or eating hot oats before heading out into the humidity is just not appealing.

So I was intrigued by the experiments of a fellow blogger, Melissa at My Whole Food Life. She has been blogging all summer about no-cook refrigerator oatmeal recipes. I posted a list of links below! Like the whole chia seed thing, it took me a while to work myself up to eating cold oatmeal (yes, you can heat it in the microwave, but follow along with me here). Wouldn’t cold oatmeal be gross? Could the overnight process really soften the steel-cut oats? What would cold oatmeal taste like?

There was only one way to find out, and since I ran out of food a day short of grocery shopping day, this was the week for brave new discoveries! Armed with a very ripe banana, some steel-cut oats and some almond milk, I decided to put a southern recipe to the test with this Banana Pudding Refrigerator Oatmeal. In keeping with Melissa’s recipe proportions, I added chia seeds, vanilla bean and one chopped medjool date for sweetness. The date pieces dissolve a bit and taste like caramel. YUM!

How was it? Chock full of cold banana and creamy oats, this banana oatmeal won’t fool you into thinking it’s banana pudding, but it is clean tasting, filling and a little sweet. More like rice pudding? I am enjoying taking my jar of oatmeal from the staff refrigerator, to the great outdoors for some al fresco lunches. These late summer days are still pretty warm, so the cold oatmeal is appreciated. It is refreshing and not at all gross, like I feared. When winter comes, you can pop your jar of oats into the microwave and have a warm lunch in no time.

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Banana Pudding Refrigerator Oatmeal (makes one pint-sized serving)

  • 1/2 cup steel-cut oats (you can use rolled oats for a softer texture)
  • 1 teaspoon organic chia seeds
  • 1 large banana (or two small), peeled and slightly mashed
  • Seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 organic medjool date, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups almond milk

Combine all ingredients in a bowl or in a pint sized jar. Shake well. Refrigerate overnight or up to three days.

Want some more ideas? Check out these recipes from My Whole Food Life!

Almond Butter Chocolate Overnight Oats

Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats

Coconut Vanilla Overnight Oats

Raspberry Vanilla Chia Pudding

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I am “of a generation” that grew up realizing Christmas was just around the corner when that magical info-mercial took to the television airwaves. Cha-cha-cha-Chia! Yes, Chia-pets, those crazy terra cotta animal head shapes that, once planted with chia seeds, sprouted hair-like grass. Available only during the holidays, so that you could be “that guy” who brought a grassy head to the office Secret Santa party. The 70s were a strange and bewildering time. Maybe it was the drugs. Or the fringe. It never occurred to us to eat those seeds, but now those same ancient seeds are the hottest superfood around.

I have to be honest with you. I was pretty skeptical about chia seeds. Not their nutritional value–they are definitely in the Super Food category, with tons of fiber, protein and omega-3s. As a matter of fact, they have the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids of any known plant source. These little seeds are nutritional powerhouses, I tell you.

So it wasn’t their content that bothered me. I just couldn’t get past their…well…texture. Chia seeds have the ability to soak up 10 times their weight in liquid, forming a bulky gel. This makes them a terrific natural thickener and their high fiber content keeps you full a long time. But, like tapioca, they also have a definite texture, and I wasn’t sure I could get beyond that. But this journey is all about learning, right? So we got ourselves some pesticide-free chia seeds and dove into the realm of all things chia, starting with what looked like the slimiest of all recipes–chia puddings.

Our first attempt at a chia pudding was okay, but not great–we made a mocha pudding with soy milk, raw cacao, some powdered coffee and a bit of maple syrup. Tom’s reaction? It didn’t have enough chocolate flavor, but he thought he might be able to get used to it after having it a few more times. Hmmmm. Not the enthusiastic endorsement I like to have! If I’m going to post a recipe, it has to be great, not so-so.

So I tried again with some fresh raspberries from the farmers market and some vanilla flavored yogurt and soy milk. The result? A hit! This no-cook pudding was creamy, rich with vanilla flavor and studded with lovely, tart raspberries. A keeper, for sure! Yes, the texture has a tapioca pudding-like thing going on, but it isn’t bad, and the seeds are actually smaller than blackberry seeds, so they aren’t SO noticeable.

One of the beauties of this recipe is that you mix everything together the night before and can take it to work for lunch. Or have it for a quick breakfast on the run! This lovely pudding was my lunch for the day and I was surprisingly full all afternoon. While it is genuinely no-cook, it does take time (several hours) for the chia seeds to do their thing, so you do need to plan a bit ahead.

I used a vanilla-flavored yogurt for our pudding because that is what we had on hand, but you could use plain Greek yogurt and add vanilla bean paste. Or you could go vegan and just use a vegan milk, leaving the yogurt out altogether. The yogurt did have some sugar in it, so our version was not sugar-free, but you can adjust that as you like.

What about you? Do you make chia recipes? What works best for you?

Raspberry Vanilla Chia Pudding (makes 2 half-cup dessert servings or one meal-sized serving)

  • 2 ounces vanilla flavored Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup soy milk (any milk will work here)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon pesticide-free chia seeds
  • 6-8 fresh raspberries, washed
  1. Combine all ingredients except berries in a small bowl and blend with a whisk until smooth.
  2. Carefully stir in berries.
  3. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
  4. Stir well before eating.
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