Transitions, in nature and in humans, are vital for continued growth I believe. One of the hardest lifestyle transitions I’ve made in the past 4 years has been my reversing aversion to eating anything but cereal or bread for breakfast…the magical land of SMOOTHIES changed everything for me.
Growing up, I used to wake for school JUSTBEFORE the bus arrived at the bus stop; I literally had only enough time to throw my clothes on, grab my portable CD player (yes, you read that right), my flute, and head out the door. I rarely woke up hungry so food wasn’t an issue until lunch time (10.30am in High School) and I became accustomed to my routine, albeit unhealthy as it was.
Flashforward to post college life and my habits had not improved. In fact, they were much worse: last night’s leftovers, chocolate cake, Oreos, and ice cream were all acceptable breakfast foods. On a good day, I’d choose a super sugary cereal to try to be a bit “normal” (like that exists!) or a loaded bagel (extra cream cheese or bacon/egg/cheese style). The problems lied herein:
1) I worked a desk job and didn’t exercise AT ALL. The excess calories I ingested turned into fat deposits in my body and the sludge in my stomach created gastrointestinal problems the likes of which no one should suffer. I had little to no fiber (or ruffage in the form of plants) in my system to help escort the waste through my digestive tract, so I ended up either never pooping or always pooping (usually the latter) and
2) My blood sugar severely dipped and spiked all day as a result of the highly sugary and carbohydrate dense foods I chose to eat, especially at breakfast. Usually, I would wake up feeling full from the previous day (a sign, too, that I was eating too late into the previous evening) and tired. I would stop for my large, sugared coffee and a loaded bagel at Dunkin Donuts, eat at my desk, and become a jittery (un)focused mess for about 2 hours. As soon as 11am rolled around, I would crash hard: headaches and jitters, the whole 9 yards. I would eat a carb heavy lunch at noon and feel fine again….until about 3pm when the crash would begin and I would reach for sugar to sustain me until dinner (also carb heavy, usually)…..do you see a pattern here? If you don’t, thats ok; I didn’t see one either until I broke the cycle.
In 2012, I needed a change…a transition, if you will…to create a lifestyle that would improve my health, help me lose weight, and break me of my bad habits. ENTER: THE SMOOTHIE.
The smoothie, with all its glamour and glory, options and optionals, proteins and possibilities, became my savior in the beginning of my Whole Life Change. As I weened myself off of a refined sugar dependency I found that my body LOVED fruit in the morning. Berries, bananas, mangoes, and apples replaced sugary cereal and adding yogurt or kefir created substance that stopped my need for a bagel in it’s tracks. I started with all the fruits I could handle and slowly transitioned my way into adding more greens and vegetables, nut milks, and protein rich seeds. All of a sudden (about 2 weeks of continuous healthy eating), the headaches and the jitters stopped. I started to feel fuller longer and my concentration improved exponentially (THANK YOU FIBER, FAT, AND PROTEIN!).
I made a decision in 2012 that I would never, EVER eat a whole day’s worth of refined sugar for breakfast again…and to this day, I haven’t. Here is one of my favorite transitional smoothie recipes, fantastic for those who are beginning a path to a healthier, plant based life…starting with breakfast.
Greensitional Spring Smoothie
by Joanna Wilson Phillips, CNE
Serves 2 I Prep Time: 2 minutes I Blend Time: 60-90 seconds
You Will Need:
1 cup mixed frozen peaches and mangoes
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 of a frozen banana
1/2 cup fresh spinach, packed
1/3 cup plain or peach kefir (coconut or cow’s milk)
6-8oz of cold water or ice
1 tbsp hemp hearts
Put It All Together:
Put all ingredients into a high speed blender and blend on high for 60-90 seconds or until there are no spinach flecks. Add water or ice to adjust the thickness of the smoothie if you desire, sip through a glass straw, and enjoy some fresh air while you drink your breakfast!
Why These Foods Are Great for Transitions, From a Culinary Nutrition Expert:
Almond Milk: Almonds are high in manganese which helps to control blood sugar and regulates the synthesis of hormones. This is great for those who are transitioning from high chemical and high sugar diets into plant based ones.
Spinach: High in vitamins K, B9, and B6 spinach is excellent for bone and teeth health as well as detoxification of the body. When taking the plunge into an organic, plant based world the kidneys and liver work overtime to rid the body of toxins and chemicals left behind by processed foods; spinach helps these organs do their jobs. Spinach’s rich vitamin and fiberous makeup help the digestive tract to reengage and, in turn, help to destress a body by making bowel movements easier and more regular.
Cow’s Milk Kefir: Preformed vitamin A is valuable for skin and vision health as well as an immune system booster (if you aren’t allergic). During a health transition, you may be put in a variety of new situations (a gym, a public pool, hiking, fitness class) with new people…and new germs. Boosting your immune system through fermented, whole milk dairy can alleviate small annoyances like a cold that can knock you for a loop…and off course.
Hemp Hearts: Hemp hearts provide a complete source of proteins, amino acids, and essential fats in one seed, found in nature. Fats are absolutely necessary for brain function and when in a transition consuming plant based sources is preferable to meat based sources when aiming for a healthy lifestyle.
Banana: Bananas are rich in glycine which works to relax your muscles. As you transition, your body goes through an innumerable among of changes daily, from cell replication to skin health to hair growth and beyond. Start your day by working to relax your muscles, allowing you to focus on the transitions ahead.
→Be Well, Eat Well→