I need things to be easy in the morning. Thankfully, a morning shake can be both easy and an ideal meal – a great balance of protein, healthy fat, and carbs. It can set you up for the day so your blood sugar levels stay even, you are energized, able to burn fat, and (many hours later) help you sleep more easily. If you are new to shakes for breakfast, or if your morning shake could use a makeover, here are a few ideas.
Try non-dairy milk – coconut, almond, flaxseed, or cashew. Dairy is one of the most inflammatory foods in our diet and quite often leads to gut irritation. Read more about the “Dangers of Dairy” here.Since all disease begins in the gut, it’s best to choose anti-inflammatory foods and milks. I love coconut milk because I love its vacation-like flavor. Almond milk seems to be everywhere with its creamy, delicious nuttiness, and it blends well into just about anything. Flaxseed or cashew milk are good options too. 3/4 of a cup.
L Glutamine. Kate is crazy about this amino acid. L Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid in the body, and amino acids are the building blocks of protein. It helps to rebuild gut tissue and boost immune system function. It is important for providing “fuel” (nitrogen and carbon) to many different cells in the body. One teaspoon gets the job done.
latin. Gelatin is a great source of protein and a natural way to help curb your appetite. It is the purified protein derived by the selective hydrolysis of collagen from the skin, the connective tissue and/or bones of animals. It helps with wrinkles. Yes, please. One tablespoon.
Collagen.The body’s natural ability to repair supporting connective tissue (bone, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, skin, hair, and nails) diminishes after the age of 25. Collagen provides the sources of amino acids which are specifically needed by the body to build connective tissue and to regulate the functions of the cells. Oh and it helps with wrinkles. One tablespoon.
Coconut oil, a healthy fat. It sounds counterintuitive, but you have to eat healthy fat to burn fat. Coconut oil is known as the most usable form of fat and the least likely to be stored because it is a MCFA, a medium-chain fatty acid. Also, consuming saturated fats improves heart health, the immune system, calcium absorption, brain health, and nerve communication. Quoting Kate, “Fat is energy. Your body does not want to give up this valuable fuel source. We may think that fat is something we want to rid ourselves of, but your body thinks otherwise. It loves fat. Fat provides 9 calories per gram. This is very dense source of energy for your body.” Well said, Kate. It is also easy to digest and it is known to increase metabolism, so it can aid with weight loss. One tablespoon.
Soaked chia seeds. Chia seeds< pack a nutritional punch that far exceeds their novelty gift appeal! Filled with more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon, more calcium per fluid ounce than milk, and significant amounts of fiber, iron, calcium, potassium, B-vitamins and antioxidants, chia seeds help the body stabilize blood sugar levels. Chia seeds are one of the most naturally balanced sources of healthy fats, containing the ideal ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids. They were an important food for the Aztecs, Mayans and Olmecs back in the day – legendary Azetc messengers turned to the simple seed to fuel their hundred-mile trek through the highlands. In fact “chia” is the ancient Mayan word for “strength.” But....patience, grasshopper - don't just throw them in your shake. You MUST soak chia seeds to get the nutritional benefit. Put 1/4 cup chia seeds and 3/4 cup water in a container and keep the mixture in the fridge, that way it is gelatinous and ready-to-go anytime. One tablespoon. Ground flax seed. Rich in fiber, phytochemicals, and omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed is super nutritious. With anti-inflammatory benefits, it protects against something called atherosclerosis, also heart disease and stroke. To make flaxseed’s health benefits more available to your body, grind flaxseed before using it. If you grind a few tablespoons at a time, use it immediately and refrigerate any extra. As long as you’re using a high-speed blender like a NutriBullet or VitaMix grind whole flaxseeds first, then simply add the rest of the ingredients to your shake. One tablespoon.
Berries for flavor. All berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries – offer disease-fighting antioxidants that help reduce inflammation. They have a low glycemic value and add a nice tanginess to your shake. Each berry’s color stems from a different collection of flavonoids, so it’s best to eat a variety. (Hear this: Do NOT add a banana to your shake for flavor- one banana has 17 grams of sugar and 40 grams of carbs!) One half cup of berries.
Leafy greens.Since your goal is 7 veggies a day, throw in 2 handfuls of kale in your morning shake and you’ve only got 5 to go! Substitute whatever green veggie you’ve got in the fridge: romaine, spinach, Swiss chard, cucumber, celery, or broccoli. About a cup.
Cinnamon. Cinnamon is great for regulating blood sugar and fighting inflammation. It also helps round out the flavor of kale or whatever leafy greens you use, and it warms up your shake to a nice degree of yumminess. Substitute basil, rosemary, or whatever flavor you like here if you need to. A half-teaspoon of cinnamon will do it.
Summary: It’s got 24 grams of protein, 27 grams of fat, and 22 grams of carbs – perfect. With a bit of liquid stevia, it tastes like a vacation.