Healthy Recipes Series
Continuing with our Healthy Recipes Series, we have a highly customizable meal that acts as a perfect vehicle to deliver healthy fats and fiber-rich veggies, as well as different superfoods, and adaptogens.
Can you guess what it is?
Smoothies are very versatile beverages, easy to make at home (all you need is a blender!), and suitable for almost anyone. They are usually thick and creamy and result from blending fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, juices, nut milks, etc.
Smoothies are a great and easy way to deliver nutrition, especially healthy fats while maintaining most of the natural fiber in the foods, which does not happen with juicing. The two essential parts of a smoothie are the base, or solid ingredients, and the liquid. Having that base, the possibilities are almost limitless, and we do recommend you try different combinations and experiment with adding your favorite superfoods and adaptogens to your smoothies!
Ideas of nutrient-dense foods to add to your smoothies:
- Fiber-rich foods, such as chia and flax seeds, avocados, vegetables, fruits, sprouted oats, and quinoa.
- Healthy fats from nuts, seeds, nut and seed butter, nut milk, coconut, and avocados.
- Whole protein sources, including leafy greens, nuts and seeds, hemp seeds, and sprouted oats.
- Low-sugar fruits, such as berries and avocados.
- Super-foods such as sprouts, microgreens, turmeric, ginger, mushrooms, microalgae, or cacao.
- Spices and extracts, like cinnamon or vanilla.
Today we have chosen one of the most popular smoothies to share with you, the Berry Smoothie 😊
Smoothies can be a huge part of your nutrition at home since it is easy to incorporate several healthy ingredients in a delicious drink. Berries are among the fruits lower in sugar that you can enjoy even when considering cancer treatment and prevention, and therefore our Berry Smoothie has become a “go-to” for many of our patients.
In a smoothie, you can get really creative, and add as many ingredients as you wish, however, we will share the health benefits of some of the main ingredients of our smoothie: berries, spinach, and hemp seeds!
Here are some of the health benefits of our smoothie ingredients:
Colorful, delicious, and super healthy! Blueberries, raspberries, cherries, strawberries, goji berries, camu camu, blackberries, mulberries, elderberries, acai, and more, all of these are packed with health-benefiting nutrients and are one of the best dietary sources of bioactive compounds, which can also be used as functional food ingredients.
Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits of Berries1,2,3,4
- Berries have high concentrations of important nutrients, like vitamin C and vitamin A, very high in antioxidants, especially in proanthocyanidins, that have anti-aging and free radical damage-lowering effects.
- Possess high antioxidant capacity and, through their antioxidant activity, may help decrease the incidence of oxidative stress-induced damage and DNA damage.
- This can help prevent chronic inflammation and associated conditions, protecting against cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers.
- Bioactive compounds in berries: antioxidants such as anthocyanins and carotenoids, and diverse phenolic compounds, including phenolic acids, flavonoids (flavonols, flavanols) and anthocyanins, tannins, and ascorbic acid.
- The berries that contain the most bioactive compounds belong to the families Rosaceae (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry) and Ericaceae (blueberry, cranberry).
- The high concentrations of the phytochemical anthocyanins (especially black raspberries), help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation, lowering the risk of cardiovascular disorders.
- Besides these important compounds, berries are rich in phenols, zeaxanthin, lycopene, cryptoxanthin, lutein and polysaccharides, which help protect against disease.
- Berry consumption has been associated with reduction in systolic blood pressure and “bad” LDL cholesterol, body mass index and certain markers of inflammation.
- Berries are low in calories and should ideally be consumed fresh, when the most bioactive compounds are still active and in the greatest amount.
Spinach, Spinacia oleracea, is one of the main ingredients of our Green Juice https://www.anoasisofhealing.com/healthy-green-juice-recipe/, and you can check our recipe for more information on this leafy green, but here are some highlights.
Spinach has a high nutritional value, being rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and anti-cancer compounds. This nutritional value is best maintained when fresh, frozen, or steamed. Other methods of cooking will considerably decrease the nutrients in spinach.
Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits of Spinach5,6
- Excellent source of iron (2.71 mg per 100 g, 34% RDA), essential for hemoglobin synthesis and function, for the formation of red blood cells and oxygen transport, and central to many enzymes involved in cell division, growth, and energy production.
- Great source of antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and the polyphenolic compounds flavonoid, such as β-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Antioxidant compounds help reduce the harmful effects of free radicals and may prevent or delay cell damage and many diseases and help fight infections.
- Excellent source of vitamin-K (482.9 µg per 100 grams of fresh leaves; 402% RDA), essential for blood clotting, but also bone and vascular health.
- Spinach leaves are also an excellent source of vitamin A (377 IU per 100 grams of fresh leaves; 312% RDA), which, like mentioned for kale, can be protective against certain cancers and is also required for maintaining healthy mucosa and skin and for night vision.
- Another antioxidant vitamin that we have written about before and is present in good amounts is vitamin-C (28.1 mg per 100 grams of fresh leaves; 47% RDA).
- Vitamins from the B-complex, such as thiamin (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), niacin (B-3), pyridoxine (B-6), and folate (B-9), are also present in good amounts.
- Good source of certain minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, magnesium and copper.
- In terms of macronutrient constitution, raw spinach contains about 91% water, 4% carbohydrates, 3% protein and negligible fat. The leaves contain only 23 calories per 100 grams and 2.2 grams of fiber.
Oxalates in Spinach
If you are worried about the oxalate content of spinach, here is what a recent study highlighted: “certain segments of the population do seem to be at greater risk of increased oxalate excretion, and consuming oxalate-rich foods may play a possible role in kidney stone formation7,” there are “other factors such as food preparation techniques, calcium intake, endogenous oxalate production, and intestinal health may play a larger role than once thought7.” Soaking, boiling or steaming oxalate-rich foods and consuming adequate amounts of calcium and potassium have demonstrated to be effective in minimizing oxalate from foods. Furthermore, as the same researchers point out, “oxalate-containing foods possess an array of protective, beneficial compounds which may outweigh any possible negative effects of oxalate7.”
Hemp seed (Cannabis sativa)
Hemp seeds are considered botanically a nut and come from the hemp plant. Hemp seeds have a mild, nutty flavor, and are often also referred to as hemp hearts.
Hemp seeds are exceptionally nutritious and rich in healthy fats, especially unsaturated fatty acids, essential amino acids and several minerals.
Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds8,9,10
- Exceptional source of healthy fat, with over 30% of calories coming from fat.
- Excellent source of two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3), in an excellent 3:1 balance, and also contain gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). A balanced fatty-acid profile has been associated with many health benefits, including reducing inflammation.
- These healthy fats contribute to a stronger immune system and have antioxidant and neuroprotective properties.
- Exceptional source of protein, with around 25% of total calories from high-quality protein. Contains all the 20 amino acids, including all of the nine essential amino acids that cannot be produced by the body.
- Whole hemp seeds (not de-hulled or shelled) are a great source of fiber (about 4 grams of fiber per 100 grams of whole hemp seeds), containing about 20% soluble and 80% insoluble fiber, which contributes to a healthy digestive system.
- Good source of certain vitamins, mainly from the B-complex, such as thiamin (B-1), niacin (B-3), and vitamin B6, which play a crucial role in energy metabolism.
- Rich source of several minerals, such as manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and iron.
These are just some ideas of healthy ingredients that you can use in your smoothie, but the flavors and complexity are really up to you! Get your blender ready and enjoy this Berry Smoothie!
Here is the full recipe this Berry Smoothie
- Makes: 16 oz • Prep time: 10 minutes • Total time: 10 minutes
- 1 ½ cup unsweetened nut milk
- ½ cup fresh or frozen berries
- 2 Tbsp hemp seed
- 1 Tbsp flax or chia seed
- 1 handful of spinach
- Pinch of salt
- 1 Tbsp sacha inchi powder
- 1 tsp medicinal mushroom powder
- ½ tsp maca powder
- ½ tsp amla powder
- ¼ tsp ashwagandha powder
- ¼ turmeric powder
Place the ingredients in a blender and blend on medium-high until smooth.
We recommend adding one or two of the “superfood” powders listed above, as they are extremely nutrient dense. Some of them have a bitter flavor, so you may want to add a drop of stevia or a splash of coconut water to sweeten things up.
Taste your creation and make adjustments as necessary. Drink immediately or cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to six hours.
- Zafra-Stone S, Yasmin T, Bagchi M, Chatterjee A, Vinson JA, Bagchi D. Berry anthocyanins as novel antioxidants in human health and disease prevention. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007 Jun;51(6):675-83. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200700002. PMID: 17533652.
- Stull AJ, Cash KC, Champagne CM, Gupta AK, Boston R, Beyl RA, Johnson WD, Cefalu WT. Blueberries improve endothelial function, but not blood pressure, in adults with metabolic syndrome: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Nutrients. 2015 May 27;7(6):4107-23. doi: 10.3390/nu7064107. PMID: 26024297; PMCID: PMC4488775.
- Basu A, Fu DX, Wilkinson M, Simmons B, Wu M, Betts NM, Du M, Lyons TJ. Strawberries decrease atherosclerotic markers in subjects with metabolic syndrome. Nutr Res. 2010 Jul;30(7):462-9. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2010.06.016. PMID: 20797478; PMCID: PMC2929388.
- Huang H, Chen G, Liao D, Zhu Y, Xue X. Effects of Berries Consumption on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Meta-analysis with Trial Sequential Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Sci Rep. 2016 Mar 23;6:23625. doi: 10.1038/srep23625. PMID: 27006201; PMCID: PMC4804301.
- Petroski W, Minich DM. Is There Such a Thing as “Anti-Nutrients”? A Narrative Review of Perceived Problematic Plant Compounds. Nutrients. 2020 Sep 24;12(10):2929. doi: 10.3390/nu12102929. PMID: 32987890; PMCID: PMC7600777.
- United States Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Search Results. Spinach, raw. Published April 1, 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168462/nutrients, accessed Feb 27, 2023.
- Nutrition and You. Spinach Nutrition Facts. https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/spinach.html, accessed Feb 27, 2023.
- Sergeant S, Rahbar E, Chilton FH. Gamma-linolenic acid, Dihommo-gamma linolenic, Eicosanoids and Inflammatory Processes. Eur J Pharmacol. 2016 Aug 15;785:77-86. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2016.04.020. Epub 2016 Apr 12. PMID: 27083549; PMCID: PMC4975646.
- Zhou Y, Wang S, Ji J, Lou H, Fan P. Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) Seed Phenylpropionamides Composition and Effects on Memory Dysfunction and Biomarkers of Neuroinflammation Induced by Lipopolysaccharide in Mice. ACS Omega. 2018 Nov 30;3(11):15988-15995. doi: 10.1021/acsomega.8b02250. Epub 2018 Nov 27. PMID: 30556022; PMCID: PMC6288804.
- United States Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Search Results. Seeds, hemp seed, hulled. Published April 1, 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170148/nutrients, Feb 28, 2023.
Vanessa Pinto graduated with a degree in Biology and Masters in Ecology from Lisbon University. After graduating, she underwent a series of professional and personal growth experiences, including being an officer in the Portuguese Army, working in countries as diverse as Iceland and Costa Rica. Vanessa became certified as a Yoga and Meditation teacher in rural India.
Being a compassionate person by nature, Vanessa is able to bring her connectedness when working with others while enhancing the importance and practicality of a pragmatic evidence-based approach to facilitating lasting and permanent change. Vanessa is a certified health coach whose specialties are nutrition, exercise, and mind/ body connection. She works both in Portugal, Thailand and USA, where she develops her work closely with people diagnosed with cancer, mainly in the areas of nutrition, movement and health education.