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May 262011

(The following is an excerpt from the new release, The Way of the Happy Woman: Living the Best Year of Your Life, New World Library, 2011, by Sara Avant Stover, a teacher and mentor to women around the world on wellness, spirituality and lifestyle.)

Sara Avant Stover

You can  add some high-energy extras to your smoothies to pack in more nutritional power. Generally you would add one scoop of any or all of the superfoods listed below (read the product label for more specific instructions). But be aware that these can drastically alter the taste and texture of your smoothie, so start sparingly until you get it just right and determine what you like.

Generally, you want to include some greens (either in their natural form or as a powder), some fats (coconut oil, avocado, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, or nut butter), and some protein (hemp seed powder, brown rice powder, or nut milk or nut butter) to make your smoothie as balanced and nutritionally dense as possible. Visit The Way of the Happy Woman for details about where to order the ingredients below.

Here’s a brief overview of some of my favorite superfoods:

•   Hemp seed powder. Hemp seed, a great source of protein, is considered one of the most nutritious food sources on the planet.

•   Brown rice protein powder. Gluten-free and a fantastic alternative to soy, this powder offers a quick, allergy-free way to get extra protein while enjoying the benefits of brown rice.

•   Spirulina. Spirulina is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. This blue-green, single-celled algae offers a concentrated source of complete, balanced protein. Spirulina also displays high levels of the antioxidants beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, plus immune-supportive elements found in no other food. This incredible green protein powerhouse also displays potent blood-purification properties, and it is one of the only sources of the anti-inflammatory, joint-strengthening super omega-6 fatty acid GLA (gamma-linolenic).

•   Cacao powder. Cacao, the pure source of ordinary chocolate, was revered by ancient cultures as the food of the gods. Research now links the antioxidants in cacao to everything from cardiovascular health to improved brain function and longevity! Cacao even provides the same endorphins our brain makes when we’re happy or in love. Cacao powder is also a low-fat way to introduce the health and zing of raw chocolate into your smoothies.

•   Carob powder. The carob tree is a member of the legume family and grows in Mediterranean areas. Carob has rightly been coined the healthy alternative to chocolate, since it is free of the stimulants caffeine and theobromine found in chocolate. It is also naturally sweet, so carob products will generally contain substantially less sugar than their chocolate counterparts. Carob powder can be substituted for cocoa powder in any recipe. Moreover, carob has up to 8 percent protein and contains vitamins A, B, B2, B3, and D. It is also high in calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium and contains iron, manganese, barium, copper, and nickel.

•   Maca powder. Maca has been a traditional health and vitality secret since the days of the ancient Inca — and has been revered as a powerful aphrodisiac. Similar to ginseng and other adaptogenic foods, Maca has a potent nutritional content that enhances your ability to balance hormones and handle stress while boosting energy. Try a scoop in your smoothies, juices, and chocolate recipes, and discover for yourself the powerful effects!

•   Goji berries. With their high antioxidant levels, trace minerals, and eighteen amino acids, goji berries put the super in superfood, providing cholesterol-reducing phytoesterols and eyesight-protecting carotenoids. Blend the powder into smoothies, or in their whole, berry form, put them in your cereal, smoothies, and trail mixes — or just eat them alone as a snack.

•   Mesquite powder. Mesquite powder has a molasses-like flavor with a slight hint of caramel. Its tastes great in teas, coffees, and smoothies, dairy or seed/nut yogurts, energy bars, and fruit/nut butter spreads. Mesquite is also highly effective in balancing blood sugar. Because its sugar is in the form of fructose, which does not require insulin for metabolism, mesquite helps maintain a sustained blood sugar level. It is useful for diabetics and helps maintain a healthy insulin system in others. Because mesquite powder is ground from the entire pod, including the seed, it is high in protein (11 to17 percent). It is also rich in lysine, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and fiber.

Chia seeds. Rich in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, and protein, the chia seed was eaten by the Aztecs for strength and was a staple food, along with corn and beans. It has much in common with flaxseed, with the distinct advantage that its natural antioxidants make it more stable. Soak the seeds in water first, for about ten to twenty minutes (10 parts water to 1 part seed). Then add some to cereals or smoothies — you can even use them to replace the fats in baked goods. I include some of these (either whole and soaked or as a ground powder) in all my meals. They help to create a feeling of fullness, in addition to providing vital nutrition.

  • Coconut oil. Coconut oil or butter consists of 90 percent or more of raw, saturated fat — a rare and important building block of every cell in the human body. It is an antimicrobial, supporting the immune system, thyroid gland, nervous system, and skin. It provides fast energy and helps to increase metabolism.
  • (Steward of her own bliss, Stover says she’s truly happy some days and fakes it ‘til she makes it on others. Visit her online at www.TheWayoftheHappyWoman.com. This excerpt from The Way of the Happy Woman © 2011 by Sara Avant Stover was printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com.)