Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Superfood Lassi....

You all know by now - I’m sure - how much I love my morning smoothie, but the past few months I’ve been lazy. I’ve been relying on protein powders like Vega and now Hemp Protein to make a quick and easy meal in a glass each morning. It’s delicious, it’s convenient, I don’t have to think about what to put in it - almond milk, banana, almond butter, flax seeds and protein powder, done! The added bonus is that those powders make the smoothie filling, filling enough that it usually keeps me satisfied until lunch when I’m at work. The drawback to it is that over time it gets boring to drink the same smoothie each day, plus drinking a protein powder smoothie is significantly decreasing the amount of nutrition I’m getting from whole fresh organic fruits and vegetables.

The other drawback is that I don’t feel very energized. Not like you think I would considering the claims of a lot of these protein powders. The past few months I’ve felt lazy, lethargic, and tired. I’ve been going to bed early - for me - waking up late - for me - sleeping poorly, napping every afternoon for longer then I should be, and I seem to generally get less done each day. For a while I didn’t even notice this was going on. It was just one of those things that got lost in the shuffle of the day. A few weeks ago something finally clicked and I realized that there was no logical or reasonable explanation for why I was feeling so tired and lazy when I was getting far more sleep then is typical for me.

Now, I can’t solely blame the protein powder smoothies. If you buy organic brands with no or low sugar content and good vitamin and mineral content they’re fantastic in a pinch. However for me at least they were becoming part of a bigger problem, an overall lack of adequate nutritional intake.  I was still eat reasonably healthfully, - it's not as if i'd been gorging on vegan mac and cheese, vegan pizza, and vegan cupcakes - I was still taking my vitamins and eating plenty of veggies, but the kinds of foods I was eating on a day to day basis were different. I was eating a lot of cooked foods, a lot of one pot meals - and other meals - that were high in starch, grains and carbohydrates. There was a lot of tofu, seitan and tempeh, too much sugar, and not enough fresh fruits and vegetables. I wasn't eating enough dark leafy greens, I was eating virtually no salads, and hardly any pure raw food at all. For breakfast i'd I have the protein smoothie, for lunch it would typically be leftovers from the night before, then dinner would be a new dish of one of the above mentioned items i'd been relying to heavily on. How did this happen? I have no idea, it probably started when I got back from vacation, and grew gradually worse as late summer turned into autumn and heavy, hearty winter fare began making it's way into my kitchen again. As i'm sure everyone knows, once you get into a slump you kind of just stick there for a while until something finally snaps you out of it.

For me, this revelation that I was in a food slump began to enter my conscious when I joined the CSA last month, which coincided with my Husband and I's efforts to begin eating only organic foods - at least as much as possible, i'd say we're doing this about 90-95% at the moment. Joining the CSA basically forces you to use what you have on hand unless you want to go shopping which kind of defeats the purpose of the CSA. It also forces you to eat what's in season, which is something I really like. Buying only organic food sort of forces you to do the same thing. The CSA doesn't provide us with everything we need and so I have to pick up a produce item here or there, and if one wants to eat all organic it is far cheaper to buy those foods that are in season. Both the CSA and buying only Organic also sort of force you to do more with less, they force you to be creative and find new ways of cooking foods. I've really enjoyed this little experiment over the past few weeks, and I've noticed the change it's brought about in me. However the final break in the slump came with my undertaking of a knew culinary challenge.

During the month of October there was a big movement for people to commit to a diet free of processed foods, for just the month of October. The goal was to eat only whole, fresh fruits and vegetables, and simple seeds, nuts, legumes, beans and grains. You weren't suppose to use any processed ingredients  and if you did buy something processed it had to fall within two specific rules. 1) The item has to be something you could conceivably make at home with common pantry ingredients  and 2) It had to have minimal ingredients and be as minimally processed as possible. I really wanted to embark on this challenge but since October was also Vegan Mofo and I'd already committed to my sandwich project I couldn't. Well, there's nothing to stop me from taking the challenge now is there? So I've been trying to eat this way for the past couple of weeks, slowly weaning myself off of sugar and processed foods, buying only processed foods that fall under those two guidelines. Buying things like Soy Sauce, Miso, Non-dairy milk, vegetable broth, a few non-dairy yogurts here and there, a little tofu and tempeh, and canned beans. All things I could make at home but don't for convenience sake, because really, who's going to sit around and spend several weeks fermenting soybeans to make miso? Even i'm not that hard-core - not yet anyway. Although I have slowly been phasing out canned beans in favor of dried, and I actually really like it. Canned beans are fantastic for quick and easy meals but making beans from scratch isn't as hard as I initially thought it was.

Anyway, I've really been enjoying this little adventure, and I've been doing great with it, but it wasn't until Friday that I finally kicked the protein powder smoothies in favor of that delicious almond banana oatmeal I made, then Monday I began a new smoothie regiment. I also started a new exercise routine Monday, as well as starting a new holistic body care regiment. These past three days I’ve felt better then ever. I’ve had way more energy, I’ve been staying up later, waking up earlier, and not taking naps in the day. I’ve been getting more done, I’ve been less tired overall, and most importantly I just feel really, really good. I feel fantastic really, and so I wanted to share one of the new smoothie creations I’ve been enjoying this week.

Now I apologize for the less then exciting picture, it is winter here after all so there isn’t much in the way of scenery, and the smoothie itself is a less then brilliant color. It’s a bit of a mauve-brown color thanks to the combination of yellow, green and purple foods but oh well. It’s the taste that matters and this smoothie is fantastic. It tastes like an Indian Lassi, but magical, and full of superfood nutrition. Seriously this smoothie has six superfoods in it, SIX! Goji and Acai berry, Hemp and Flax seeds, Spirulina, and wheatgrass, what more could you ask for? It's the perfect way to amp you up and start the day!

Superfood Lassi

6oz Plain Unsweetened Almond Milk Yogurt
1 Banana
1 Cup Chopped Frozen Mango Chunks
2 Tbsp Goji Berries
1 Pack Frozen Acai Berry Puree (3.5oz)
1 tsp Spirulina
2 tsp Flax Seeds
2 tsp Hemp Seeds
1 Cube Frozen Wheatgrass or 1 Tbsp Powder
½ C Purified Water

- Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend on high until completely smooth. 1-2 minutes. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Note: While you can make your own almond milk yogurt at home, I chose to buy a store bought brand with an extremely low sugar content, and minimal ingredients. If you prefer you could also replace the almond milk yogurt with a soy, or coconut yogurt.

PS: Stay tuned because I have a lot more healthful recipes, and information to share!

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