What’s the first thing you do each morning once you’ve rolled out of bed and made your way into the kitchen? If you’re anything like the majority of people today, you head straight to your coffee machine and brew up your first cup of the day.
The addictive qualities of caffeine are well-known. In fact, I can attest to this personally after previous trying (and failing) several times to give it up! Even more than the physiological addiction, I know how hard it is to give up the burst of energy that coffee gives you each morning, just when you need it the most.
The thing is, the energy that you get from coffee is not the healthy, long-lasting kind that you get from a healthy, balanced meal. What caffeine does is lift you up fast, and then drop you just as quickly. That often leads to a mid-morning crash in energy levels and, inevitably, another cup of coffee! In the long term, this puts stress on your endocrine system and can actually lead to adrenal fatigue and lower energy levels.
After years on what I like to call the “caffeine treadmill”, I decided enough was enough. I found myself drinking large cups of this addictive substance, several times each day, and it wasn’t helping my energy levels at all. So I decided to try a nutrition-based approach instead, and design a breakfast smoothie that would give me all the energy that I need.
There are probably a few smoothie options in your local supermarket, but they tend to be very imbalanced from a nutritional point of view. Most are berry-based (often with added sugars), have a high glycemic index and contain very little fat or protein. On the other hand, protein shakes are (obviously) high in protein but lacking the fiber, fat and healthy carbohydrates that our bodies need. That’s why making your own smoothie each morning is a much healthier option.
This smoothie is a breakfast replacement that gives me energy all through the morning. It has a balanced nutritional profile, is packed full of both macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients, and contains lots of whole, raw, natural foods. When I drink this smoothie, I get sustained energy that lasts through my morning workout and gives me the mental focus I need to work until lunch. Its an important part of the diet I follow to combat stress and avoid adrenal fatigue. Best of all, I no longer need that energy kick that caffeine provides, and I have given up my morning cup of coffee for good!
Here are the ingredients that I use each morning to make my breakfast smoothie. At first glance, you might think that it needs a lot of preparation time, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Most of the ingredients are just sitting in my kitchen, ready to go. And once a month, I prepare a large batch of all the fruits I need and put them in my freezer. It takes around 5 minutes each morning to prepare this smoothie.
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 1 scoop green powder
- Half an avocado, frozen
- Half a banana, frozen
- 1/2 cup of blueberries, frozen
- 1 Tbsp. of coconut oil
- 1/4 cup of plain, probiotic yogurt
- 1/4 Tbsp. Himalayan pink salt
- 1 cup of raw milk
- Filtered water
There are lots of healthy ingredients here, but the real energy boosters are the coconut oil, avocado, banana and blueberries. And of course the healthy combination of fats, proteins and carbohydrates will give your body just the fuel it needs for sustained performance.
What about directions? This smoothie is incredibly easy to make. Just throw all the ingredients into your blender and whizz it until you get the texture you want. There should be no need to add extra ice cubes to thicken the smoothie, as some of the ingredients are already frozen.
I’m going to go through those ingredients one by one, together with the brands that I use and the way that I store them. Note that I am not affiliated in any way with the brands mentioned. Feel free to use alternative products, but make sure that you do your research and choose high quality, reputable brands!
I like to use a whey protein concentrate from organic, grass-fed cows. Whey isolates are usually exposed to various nasty chemicals during processing, and have also lost many of the nutritional benefits that concentrate possesses. However, if you are looking for a pure protein powder then isolate does tend to contain much more protein. Another option is a good quality gelatin powder (Great Lakes is a fantastic brand to try).
If you don’t want to use a dairy-based protein powder, there are a few options. Personally, I would avoid rice-based powders (due to possible heavy metal contamination) or any powders that use soy protein isolate. Find a good non-GMO pea protein powder instead.
We know that eating lots of vegetables and leafy greens is extremely beneficial for your long-term health, but it can sometimes be difficult to eat your daily requirement. That’s where a good green powder can help out. Just one scoop of a high quality green powder contains many different types of trace nutrients, antioxidants and more. I like to use Green Vibrance, a powder created by Vibrant Health that also contains probiotics.
If you prefer not to use powders like this, here’s a great alternative. Take around 2 cups each of kale and spinach, and put them in your blender with half a cup of water. Whizz them up for a couple of minutes, then pour the resulting mixture into your ice cube tray and freeze. The next time you make a smoothie, simply throw in one of these spinach-kale cubes for some extra green goodness!
Avocados contain lots of healthy nutrients like carotenoids and fiber. They also contain lots of fat, but most of this is in the form of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that lowers the risk of heart disease. Just as importantly, they give a rich, creamy texture to your breakfast shake!
Once a month, I buy around 15 organic avocados and slice them into halves. Remove the seed and take off the skin by peeling (not scooping) as much of the nutritional value is in the dark meat that lies just beneath the skin. Freezing them is a two step process because they can stick together easily in the freezer. First, lay them out separately in a large container and freeze overnight. The next morning, they will be fully frozen and you can cram them into a much smaller container.
As well as being high in fiber, bananas contain lots of potassium for healthy nerve, muscle and brain function. They also add a delicious, natural sweetness to the smoothie.
Bananas can go bad pretty fast (and I prefer not to go shopping too often!) so I like to freeze my bananas. Once a month, I buy around 15 organic bananas, peel them and slice them in half. Just like the avocados, you might want to freeze them separately overnight, then once they are fully frozen you can squeeze them into a smaller container.
Its important to note that both bananas and avocado contain lots of potassium. This is usually a really good thing, but for those individuals who have been suffering from severe and chronic stress, it might not be so helpful. When we experience severe adrenal depletion, one of the results is that our sodium/potassium balance gets thrown off-kilter. If you suspect this might apply to you, try leaving out the banana, and make sure that you add some salt to the smoothie to balance out the sodium/potassium ratio.
The last of the three fruits that I include in this smoothie (yes, avocado is a fruit!), blueberries have lots of important health benefits. They can help to stabilize blood sugar, contain lots of antioxidants, and can improve your memory, among other things.
It should be relatively easy to find frozen blueberries in your local supermarket, but there is one important caveat. Because we eat them whole and they often have high levels of pesticide residue, I would strongly recommend buying organic. This can be expensive, but Costco sells large bags of wild, organic blueberries that are very reasonably priced.
Right now it seems like everyone is talking about the health benefits of coconut oil. It contains lots of ‘good fats’, the kind that promote healthy cholesterol levels. And there is evidence to suggest that the medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil can boost our energy levels too.
When you buy coconut oil (see this guide), make sure to get a ‘virgin’ or ‘extra virgin’ brand. If you prefer a sweet, aromatic coconut oil then you should buy an cold-pressed brand. If you like it flavorless, buy a cold-pressed brand. I usually purchase Carrington Farms’ virgin, cold-pressed, organic coconut oil, which is sold at Costco. Depending on the ambient temperature, coconut oil can be either liquid or solid, and there is no need to refrigerate it.
Plain, probiotic yogurt
Adding probiotic yogurt to the smoothie gives us another healthy dose of protein, as well as lots of nutrients like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins B2 and B12. And the probiotic bacteria have been shown to improve digestion, boost immunity and reduce the risk of digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease. Just make sure you buy plain, no-sugar added yogurt that says something like ‘Live & Active Cultures’ on the label.
If you make your own kefir (highly recommended!), you can also use that in place of the yogurt in this recipe. Depending on how long you let your kefir ferment, it will give it a slightly tangy taste as well as seriously boosting the amount of probiotic bacteria.
Depending on where you live, you might find it very easy or very difficult to obtain raw milk. For example, it is legal to sell raw milk in only just over half of US states, whereas in some countries (like Canada and Scotland) it is still banned from sale entirely. Why the concern? These regulations generally date from a time when pasteurization was the best way to make the milk supply safe from bugs like E coli.
If you have ever tried raw milk, you will know that it tastes much better than regular, pasteurized milk. It also retains more of the nutrients that are destroyed during the heating process, and has been linked to lower rates of allergies and asthma in children. For me, the benefits far outweigh the relatively tiny risks. After all, dairy farmers and their families have been happily drinking raw milk for centuries, and pasteurization didn’t even exist until the 19th century.
Himalayan pink salt
If you eat lots of whole, unprocessed foods like me, you might want to consider adding a little Himalayan sea salt to your smoothie. It contains lots of minerals and trace elements that you won’t find in regular table salt. This will also help to balance out the potassium in the avocados and banana. However, if you already have lots of salt in your diet, you might want to pass on this one.
Using a water filter can eliminate contaminants like chlorine, lead, arsenic and pathogenic bacteria from your drinking water. Depending on where you live, you might find that filtered water tastes much better than your tap water too. I use a simple Brita filter, but you can also buy whole-house filters that will filter your water before it even enters your house.
A Great Start To Your Day
If you are struggling to get through the first few hours of your day without hitting the coffee machine, its time to make a change. From my experience, being addicted to caffeine consumes both time and money with no real benefit. You can use a breakfast smoothie like this to break your dependency on coffee, and instead keep caffeine as a treat to be enjoyed every now and then.
I would love to hear some comments from readers about my smoothie! If you’ve never made a healthy breakfast smoothie like this before, try it for a a few weeks and see how you feel. If you have any feedback on the recipe, or any suggestions as to how it can be made more nutritious or tasty, please let me know in the comments section below!