Fig & avocado green smoothie
I'm a bit obsessed with smoothies. In the warmer months they are my ideal breakfast. They're light and cool, and with the right ingredients they're substantial enough to give me the energy I need for the morning ahead. Smoothies are a great option if you're someone who doesn't always feel like eating breakfast. They're a really quick and easy way of packing lots of nutrients into your diet. But a smoothie's not just for breakfast! They can also replace lost nutrients after a workout, or fill you up any other time of the day.
It's all in the balance
The trick with smoothies is to balance the sweetness of any fruit you add with other ingredients that make it more filling and give a sustained release of energy. This is where smoothies have the edge on juices. Because the whole fruit and vegetable is blended, smoothies include fibre, and fibre slows down digestion keeping you fuller for longer. With juicing the fibre is removed, so although fruit and vegetable juices can give a big hit of vitamins and minerals, their sugar content is un-buffered.
So, with that in mind and to mark the end of summer, I proudly present to you the fig and avocado green smoothie.
The addition of avocado in a smoothie may seem a little unusual, but it adds protein and essential fatty acids as well as a creamy, silky texture which I love. Along with the spinach, it also counteracts the sweetness of the banana and figs.
Achey or stressed? Eat a fig
Fresh figs contain fibre, good levels of vitamin B6 and the minerals Magnesium, Calcium and Potassium, which are important for maintaining bone strength and muscle function. Magnesium in particular is a nutrient that the average western diet lacks, but that we all need more of to counteract the effects of our busy lives. Its role in muscle function also relates to the nervous system and the body's ability to relax and de-stress.
Drink your greens
I've previously raved about how avocado helps us absorb nutrients from other foods here. Because it's a low-sugar, high fibre food it also helps to regulate blood sugar and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Spinach deserves a mention for it's antioxidant and immune-boosting Vitamin C content. Spinach is a good source of folate (especially important for pre-conception and pregnancy), Vitamin K for bone health, and carotenoids, which our body converts to Vitamin A. Chlorophyll in spinach gives this smoothie its bright green colour, and also helps to cleanse the blood.
See what I mean about packing in the nutrients?
Bee pollen is flower pollen that is collected from the legs of worker bees. I sprinkle it on smoothies to add an intense flowery flavour alongside energy-boosting vitamins, minerals and amino acids. If you're new to bee pollen, build up your intake slowly to get used to its taste and effects. Try starting with half a teaspoon and work upwards towards a teaspoon or two over time.
If you're interested in finding out more, Sarah Britton at My New Roots wrote a great post on the wonders of bee pollen that first got me hooked.
Note: if you have a severe pollen allergy, bee pollen may cause a reaction. I'd recommend researching the risks more fully before trying it.
Fig & avocado green smoothie
Makes 2 large smoothies
2 ripe figs
1/2 a ripe avocado
1 cup washed spinach leaves
1 cup almond milk
1 cup water
1-2 teaspoons of bee pollen for sprinkling
Add all ingredients (except bee pollen) to a blender and blend until completely smooth. Pour into glasses and sprinkle over the bee pollen.