Saturday, May 30, 2009

Think Smoothie!

Lemon Berry Smoothie RemixImage by terriseesthings via Flickr

Smoothies are a delicious, nutritious, quick, and easy addition to a healthy diet. I use coconut milk because I try to avoid dairy and I like the taste (it's very mild). Besides being dairy-free, coconut milk also has medium-chain fatty acids which speed up the body's ability to burn fat. The berries are just full of healthy goodness, including Vitamin C, fiber, and tons of antioxidants, which help repair our cells that become damaged from the stressors of everyday life. Ground flax seeds also contain fiber as well as omega-3 fatty acids. It is important to grind the seeds in a coffee grinder prior to adding to the smoothie and always store the seeds in the fridge or freezer to prevent the oils from going rancid. Only grind what you need for the day.

I add fish oil*, another great source of omega-3s which have antiinflammatory effects that are beneficial to the heart, skin, brain, musculoskeletal system...the whole body, in fact. My favorite is Carlson's Lemon Cod Liver Oil which is very high quality, available in many grocery and health food stores, and I don't find it fishy tasting at all. It has a good ratio of Vitamin A to D (which should be less than 10:1 to prevent liver damage, Carlson’s is), but if you have any concerns or don’t need the extra Vitamin D, you can use regular old fish oil. It is far more cost effective to buy liquid fish oil, and a product like Carlson's is versatile enough to add to salad dressings, yogurt, even popcorn. Again, keep it in your refrigerator or freezer to keep it fresh (and not fishy).

Some smoothie recipes use sugar to add extra sweetness, but fruit is naturally sweet! If your favorite fruit is not in season, try the frozen version (without the added sugar, please).

1/2 can light coconut milk
1 cup frozen berries (if you use fresh, add a few ice cubes to make the smoothie slushy)

2 TBSP ground flax seeds

1 TBSP flavored fish oil

OPTIONAL: one serving of your favorite green or protein powder

Blend ingredients, serve cold.

Toss in slices of peach, nectarines, melon, mango, half a banana or avocado. Be daring and experiment with whatever fruit is in season!

*Vegans can use Udo's Choice instead of fish oil, also found at health food stores.

More on berries and Omega 3s from Oregon State University
Carlson Laboratories, makers of fine fish oils
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