Healthy Fruit Smoothie - Vegan, Dairy-Free & Easy to Make
Smoothies have grown hugely popular in the last few years. Living a life on the go,smoothies offer an easy way to get a couple of servings of fruits and vegetables in before lunch. Many of our patients love homemade smoothies (and often put their powdered Chinese herbs in them!) One patient asked me what I put in my smoothie and that’s how this post came to fruition.
Although the word smoothie invokes the idea of a healthy beverage, depending on what you put in it, it may or may not be. The challenge with most smoothie recipes is that they are laden with sugar, ice, and dairy. According to Chinese Medicine, these properties make hard the smoothies to process and fully digest.
The recipe below is designed to be easier on the stomach and not cause bloating, upset stomach, or a sugar spike. Also, it’s designed to hit your recommended daily allowance of Calcium (1000 mg) without any dairy. Let’s see how this is possible.
Getting Calcium Without Dairy
Calcium is a important mineral for bone health, muscle contraction, blood clotting, and nervous system health. Our bodies cannot make calcium so it is vital that we take in calcium in the form of supplementation, food or drink. Women over the age of 50 need a little more calcium each day: 1200 mg/day.
The best way to get calcium is through combining supplementation and food/drink. When supplementing calcium always remember to take it with Vitamin D3 to maximize absorption. When eating calcium-rich foods/drinks, make sure you avoid foods that inhibit calcium absorption, like spinach and strawberries.
Although dairy contains a lot of calcium, many people have trouble digesting dairy (as well as the calcium in it). It’s estimated that about 1/3 of the U.S. adult population is lactose intolerant. From my clinical experience, I’ve found most of our patients to be lactose intolerant or sensitive. Humans are the only species on earth that drink another species’ milk. When you think about it, cow’s milk is really designed for baby cows, not humans.
Many dairy-free food/drinks are excellent sources of calcium and much easier for your body to digest and absorb. To name a few: green leafy vegetables (for example, kale, swiss chard, collard greens, arugula), salmon, sardines, and molasses.
Calcium-Rich Smoothie Recipe
Makes 1-2 servings
Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Mixing time: 2-3 minutes
1/2 c berries (blue or black), fresh or frozen (room temperature)
1/3 c arugula, raw or cooked
1 c almond or coconut milk
1 c ginger tea (warm or room temperature)
1/2 t cinnamon
1 scoop of calcium-rich protein powder (Vega Vanilla Protein mix used here)
1 t cocao powder
1/2 t molasses
Pinch of nutmeg
Heat 1 cup of water and diffuse raw ginger root (about 1/4″ thick) or ginger tea bag for 5-10 minutes. Let it cool to warm or room temperature. Mix all ingredients in blender until smooth. Enjoy immediately.
Benefits of Each Ingredient
Banana: Excellent source of potassium which may help prevent muscle cramps and spasms. Adds smooth texture to this drink.
Berries: Chocked full of antioxidants. Superfoods and great for memory and focus. Help boost energy and combat fatigue, according to Chinese Medicine.
Arugula: Good source of calcium and antioxidants. Its bitter property helps balance the sweetness of the fruits in this recipe.
Protein mix: Look for one with calcium. I like Vega’s vanilla flavor because it contains 2 servings of greens in every serving and provides 20% of your daily calcium needs (200 mg). Bonus: it’s vegan. Turns a smoothie into a meal and provides a whopping 20 grams of plant protein to fuel your day and curb your cravings.
Almond milk: Adds to smooth texture. Good source of calcium.
Ginger tea: Chinese herbal tea that helps you digest raw foods. Warms your stomach and spleen to help you absorb more nutrients. Lessens your chances of upset stomach, nausea and bloating.
Cinnamon: Chinese herb that helps regulate blood sugar. Acts like ginger as a Chinese herb to help “cook” food down in your stomach.
Cocao powder: Tons of antioxidants. Gives you energy, helps regulate your mood, and increases sense of wellbeing. .
Nutmeg: Chinese herb. Similiar to ginger and cinnamon that it helps you process your food and drink.
Molasses: Good source of calcium. Adds a little sweet to satisfy a sugar craving.
Note: There is no ice in this smoothie recipe. All for good reason: according to Chinese Medicine, ice and very cold foods and drinks can upset your stomach and spleen and cause indigestion. For instance, you may feel distention in your belly or even worse experience loose stool or diarrhea if you’re body is not processing cold foods/drinks well.
The best way to build a better smoothie is to hold the ice and use warming Chinese herbs like cinnamon, clove, ginger, cardamon, and/or nutmeg.
Here’s to healthy smoothies. Cheers!
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Lynn Palmgren helps people get rid of pain and balance hormones so they can feel good again. She specializes in acupuncture and cupping for pain management, insomnia, hormone imbalance, and stress relief. She is a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist and co-owns Palmgren Acupuncture in Oak Park, Illinois.