Tuesday, October 1, 2013

"Comfort" Smoothie and Product Recommendations

I am without a doubt an emotional eater. Always have been. Given the fact that I have a vagina, there's a good chance I always will be. With increased awareness around my tendency to bury emotions I can't handle in a pint of ice cream I can't digest, I've spent some time seeking out healthier "comfort foods."

Once in a while I create something that seems to yield an equal amount of instant gratification/comfort/release to Peanut M&Ms or Suzie Cake's Celebration Cake. I perfected this smoothie recipe over a particularly stressful 2 weeks this past summer, and the result was without a doubt, comfort on the tip of my tongue. (It also happens to have vegan protein, fiber, healthy fats and a super food!)

4 Oz Coconut water*
4 Oz Unsweetened plain almond milk*
1/2 Very ripe banana (peeled - I let a few bananas get really ripe then peel, half, individually wrap and freeze to make smoothie making as fast as possible!)
1Tbsp Jem Maca Almond Butter * (This stuff is like crack. It's worth finding or ordering online.)
1 Tbsp Frontier Naturals Alcohol Free Vanilla*
Dash Cinnamon
1 Tbsp Hemp protein*
1 Tbsp Pea protein*
1 Tbsp Chia seeds
Optional: 4 Drops alcohol free stevia* (this makes it pretty sweet)
Optional: Toss in a handful or 2 of spinach. You can't really taste spinach in smoothies, so why not!?

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Add more vanilla or stevia to taste, although you shouldn't need either if your banana is nice and ripe.

*PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS: Through a great deal of trial and error, sticker shock and nutrition label lament, I've found the healthiest, cleanest versions of the below ingredients. Keep in mind, home made or "whole" is always best, but let's be honest, we've got to do the best we can with the time we have!
  • Where to Source: I've become obsessed with Vitacost.com. They ALWAYS undercut Whole Foods (not that hard,) Real Foods (San Francisco chain, so not that hard either) and often Amazon (I find that impressive!) on dried herbs and spices, prepared foods, supplements, extracts, teas and pretty much all non-perishable crunchy specialty goods.
  • Almond Milk: I highly recommend finding a no-sugar-added almond milk with as short an ingredient list as possible. Engine 2 is my favorite brand, and 365 Organics is a close second. There's a terrifying amount of added sugar and funky fillers in a lot of the other brands out there so read your labels to avoid excess sugar and additives.
  • Vanilla Extract: Laugh if you will, but I believe a good vanilla extract makes or breaks a lot of smoothies. Without high temperatures to cook off alcohol, using a regular extract can make your smoothies taste bitter, or worse, boozey. Go for an alcohol-free version for raw foods and smoothies, in my opinion Frontier Naturals is by far the best. Snag the 16 Oz. size on Vitacost.com - trust me, you'll need all 16 ounces once you discover how yummy it is.
  • Stevia: There are a lot of stevia products on the market now and they are not all created equal. You want to be sure you purchase pure stevia root extract that isn't cut with other sweeteners. Again, I prefer alcohol free in raw foods and smoothies to avoid the bitter/boozey taste of the alcohol-based extracts. NuNaturals is my favorite brand for stevia.
  • Vegan Proteins (when you aren't cleansing): My favorite "pure protein" powders are Navitas Naturals Hemp Protein (I find this is the least "chalky" of the plant based proteins out there) and Pea Protein (a little chalky, but relatively mild). They are both very low calorie and have few/no additives. 
  • Vegan Proteins: (with added supplements for cleansing periods or to use in meal replacement shakes): Plant Fusion (Original) or Vega Chocolate Sport (I don't like Vega Vanilla - too artificial tasting)
  • Coconut Water: This really is based on personal preference, (I prefer Zico,) but whatever you select, make sure there's no sugar or other fruit juice added)
  • Almond Butter: For most of my smoothies, I love Once Again Crunchy or I'll settle for 365 Brand as a back-up. For "comfort smoothies" or sometimes as a treat on brown rice bread, I go for the Jem Maca Almond Butter. I can't begin to tell you how amazing this stuff is, you've got to try it yourself. Try to ignore the price in anticipation of raw food bliss. Even if its just one time ;)

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