Monday, March 24, 2014

Maca, Maca, Maca! ♥ [Bonus: Green Smoothie Tips!]

So, my smoothie game has been on point lately, as the kids say. Every week day, I make a green smoothie. I recently started working more [more on that later] and I was worried that it would throw off my rhythm, but it has really worked out so far! Even if I don't get my hair all the way done, or my lipstick on, I make sure I whip up the smoothie to bring with me on the way out the door.

I am not a super health nut, as you know. Most of my food recipes are classic, in that they are not augmented toward lowering calories, but I am working on getting a little more balance in my intake. When I was pregnant, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and I had to attend a day-long class on changing your diet to manage diabetes without having to take insulin or any other kinds of medicine. I remember the women in the class admitting that they'd rather just take the medicine. I, however, did NOT want to inject myself every time I wanted to pig out, so I adhered to the strict, though totally doable diet with great results. So, I'm hoping when I stop breastfeeding, I'll be able to get back to that diet. I don't like to deprive myself of certain things, which is why the diabetes diet is great ... there is very little you can't have; it is all about moderation and balance. 

I think the green smoothies are going to help me transition into balancing my intake, but the real reason I am so happy with this rhythm is ... MACA! I'm quite obsessed with this "superfood." I was doing some research on aiding hormone imbalance during breastfeeding when I came across this South American food. It is touted as a male hormone enhancer as well as an energy booster, but the other benefits seemed worth a try. I put a heaping tablespoon in my smoothies and within a week, I noticed that I had more energy past noon, which is a big deal for me as a first time mom. But more importantly ... I'm 78% sure that this stuff is curing my IBS. As several of you may know, I have suffered from IBS [irritable bowel syndrome] for about 8 years. It is stress related, so I have to be careful of what I eat or I will get a very upset stomach! It is debilitating. A lot of people suffer from it in different capacities. It almost completely went away while I was pregnant, which is crazy, and another on the long list of reasons why I loved being pregnant! Anyway, I've noticed that my stomach and bowels seem downright normal lately and I think it has something to do with the maca, since that is the only thing that has changed, diet-wise. 

I'm going to keep an eye on it and see if this is just a fluke month where my insides are normal, or if the maca truly is helping as much as I think it is. And in baby-related news, the maca does seem to be helping me regulate my hormone levels!

Here are some of my smoothie tips. I am by no means an expert, but I enjoy learning from other people's experiences, so these are some thing I've learned ...

* you don't need no stinkin' fancy blender! My friend gave me a Magic Bullet years ago and I've only ever used it for frozen margaritas until last year, when I found that it works perfectly for blending fruit and veggie smoothies. I'm pretty sure any decent blender will work. 
* think in terms of the whole week. It can get overwhelming when you're trying to plan your food week, so just go shopping for one smoothie recipe to make all week that way all your fruits/veggies will be fresh and won't go bad because you're trying to have a different smoothie every day. 
* the main part of your smoothie needs to be green. Don't make a sugary smoothie, add two leaves of spinach and call it green. Totally cheating. I start with at least two cups of spinach or whatever green I am feeling that week. The other stuff is secondary. The smoothie should be ... green.
* throw your vitamins and herbs in there! Some people like chia seeds, but they kind of mess with me sometimes, so I only use them occasionally. Others like hemp, but I haven't noticed any benefits with that.  I add fenugreek, biotin, apple cider vinegar, maca, dandelion when my skin issues flare up, red raspberry leaf when I'm on my period, etc. There are so many things you can add and it is so much easier than having to remember to take pill. Just open up the capsules and add it in! Fair warning, depending on the size of your smoothie, it can't always mask the dry taste of the herbs. 
* drink it cold. I blend my smoothie, and add it to a blender bottle sans blender ball, plus ice; just makes it tastier, I think. Just to be clear, I don't blend the ice IN the smoothie. I pour the smoothie over ice and drink it with a straw from my blender bottle.
* don't be annoying! To be fair, this is more like life advice, but anyway ... besides this blog, I don't try and push people onto the smoothie train. It is pretty trendy right now, so they're seeing enough of it on Pinterest and Facebook, trust me. Just DO YOU and if someone asks about it, you can spread the gospel. I have done smoothies here and there for awhile, but I have just in the last year or so made an effort to do it on a schedule and I've only been doing it 5 days in a row for a few months, so everyone has their own style of doing things. I'm glad this trend stuck with me, but it isn't for everyone and there is nothing worse than a person trying to convince you to do something that they are still experimenting with. That is why it has taken this long for me to blog about it! I want to be sure it is something I'd like to promote and not just something I'm flirting with. 

Here is an easy way to "build" a smoothie: 

Pick a green [about 2 cups]:
spinach [my go-to]
kale [meh]
romaine heart
bib lettuce

Pick some fruit [I usually do 2 different, about 1/2 cup of each]:
strawberries [my go-to]
pineapple [acidic, be careful]
banana [makes everything smooth and sweet]
avocado [so good!]

Pick a liquid to blend [I have never measured this]:
almond milk
coconut water
greek yogurt
*some people use plain milk, but I don't because it doesn't go well with the ice
*I also see where some people add juice, but I think that is adding way too much sugar ... you already have the fruit and yogurt, so adding fruit juice might just use up all your sweets for the day in one drink ... plus a lot of fruit juice is acidic and doesn't blend well with everything else.

Add your herbs/vitamins & smooth it up!

Hope this helps any of you looking to try the smoothie craze. It is a great way to get a good breakfast, lunch, or snack on the go and it is super versatile, so you can make it to fulfill your specific needs. 

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