Is a smoothie Ayurvedic – that is a frequent question from clients and workshop attendees.
To which, the emphatically Ayurvedic answer ALWAYS is, it’s not the food, it is your digestion!
What does that mean? It all depends on what one’s digestion is able to handle. Ayurvedic Vaidyas tend to stay away from recommending this convenient food because most impaired digestions cannot handle combination foods like a smoothie. It is always a good idea to observe how a particular food affects one’s body and mind. Some checkpoints are –
- Do you feel any digestive distress after consuming the food – the 3 B’s…burn, bloat, or burp? Gas, abdominal unease?
- What about satiety – does it keep you satiated (not full which implies a certain sense of discomfort) and then allow for a natural hunger at the next meal, which optimally should be about 3-4 hours later
- Do you have any signs of Ama – the post-digestive gunk that didn’t quite get assimilated or discarded via the elimination channels? How can you tell if there is Ama, you ask? In the short term, it shows up as a bad odor (breath, elimination), and a coating on the tongue. In the medium to long-term, it can show up in diagnostic blood-work as dysfunctional lipids, and potentially inflammatory conditions with auto-immunity involved.
To keep things simple and optimize digestion –
- more is not always better! Start with a simple recipe with not more than two or three ingredients (and protein powders with complex compositions do not count as one ingredient – they count as 50 or whatever the label says!). Blend with water; if you use a milk then do take into account all the ingredients it is made of, especially if it is store-bought.
- don’t be afraid to use spices like fresh turmeric and ginger in your smoothie – they will allow for better digestion; cardamom and vanilla add sweet notes without adding the sugar; use seasonal herbs like basil, mint, and thyme in spring and summer for their naturally clearing and immune-boosting properties.
- consume foods at room temperature or warmer. So if the smoothie ingredients are cold blend with hot water.
- ‘eat’ the smoothie in a bowl as opposed to gulping it in a glass. This allows for chewing and digestion in the mouth; also sit and eat slowly, consuming the whole meal in one sitting. Sipping over several hours disturbs digestion by continually adding undigested food over partially digested food, thereby creating more Ama.
I enjoy a smoothie for breakfast during the spring and summer. Here is my personal favorite that likes me back as much as I like it:
I like to add good fats to my breakfast smoothie because they keep me satiated, without any cravings, and provide steady energy all morning long.
- 1/4 ripe avocado
- 1/2-1 very ripe banana (much more gut friendly than firm, semi-ripe fruit)
- handful of seasonal berries
- handful of seasonal greens – often, that is baby kale
- a small piece of peeled ginger
- 2 tablespoons of coconut cream
- Another good way to add good fats is to soak a spoonful each of flax seeds and chia seeds, and separately, some almonds and walnuts in hot water overnight. In the morning, add these soaked seeds and nuts to the smoothie.
Blend with just enough room temp water and enjoy as a bowl – it allows me to chew my breakfast thoroughly (allowing for digestion in the mouth even though the food is pureed).
One can also garnish as desired – flax and sesame seeds add an interesting crunch and more good fats!
Alternately, the ingredients can be diced and put into a bowl and eaten as well!!