While I love most food, my daily diet (read: eating habits) these days is very “clean”. Mostly fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, lean meat, healthy fats like olive oil, and low GI carbs (quinoa, sweet potato, beans). No more wheat or dairy unless it is a special occasion. Junk food? Negative, if hummus qualifies, and the occasional wasabi peas. In early November returning from my wine class tour in the US, I did something to my lower back picking up a case of wine. The damage was sealed on the 15-hour flight back. By the time I arrived, the pain was so bad I could hardly sit or stand. My new back specialist said, “No gym or activity for one month. Only physical therapy”. A death sentence. I was a full-blown gym junkie, cardio addict, exercisaholic. How the hell was I going to mitigate all the calories? I freaked out. And then I decided that this was an opportunity in disguise. My body was hurt, tired, and telling me to back off in a not-so-subtle way.
So I listened to it. I decided to put the old 80-20 rule to the test. Eighty percent of the way your body looks is what you put in your mouth. The other 20 percent is physical activity. I will admit it. I was skeptical. Despite that, I went ahead and tried it anyway. Basically I followed an elimination diet (no sugar, wheat, dairy, alcohol, caffeine). Not bad at all, although I missed the taste of wine during my dry month. Parallel to that, I found some convincing evidence from nutritionist JJ Virgin, nutritionist to the stars, that a morning shake was the cornerstone of people with low body fat. Off I went into the world of breakfast shakes—and I have never looked back.
Today a shake is my surefire breakfast. I LOVE it. It fills me up until lunch time (4-5 hours) at a shot. And I am sure it is one of the reasons I feel great—and am looking my best too.
So what goes in these babies? I want to share my recipe and break down why these are so darn good for you. You can procure any of the ingredients at Whole Foods (or the like). For you expats, I bring a lot of these products back to Chile since the health food here is still expensive, limited, and has a lot of junk in it if you read the labels.
1 cup frozen fruit such as berries or low GI fruit
1-2 scoops high-quality protein powder
1 tablespoon pysllium husks
1-2 packets stevia
1 tablespoon healthy fat: coconut oil, flax, raw almond butter, even avocado!
1 cup cold water
8-12 ice cubes (depending on size)
1 mighty Blender that can handle smoothie concoctions
Fruit: I buy fresh berries (in season right now) in copious amounts and freeze them. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries. I also love kiwis and peaches. Best flavor though is berries. Fruit is full of antioxidants, vitamins, a shot of carbs, a little sugar. If looking at a traditional breakfast these “carbs” would replace your bread basically, but way better quality and alkaline too!
Protein Powder: This is key. You MUST eat protein at every meal or be starved. And don’t think you are fooling your body. It is so smart it will just eat your muscle and tank your metabolism without it. The whole point is to burn fat so you need to become your body’s ally and at least 20g of protein is your friend in this shake. Although I am lactose intolerant to cow’s milk, I can do whey protein. I also like rice protein and there is hemp protein in the US. The best tasting by far is whey. Look for whey that only has micro-filtered or ionized isolates and concentrates and not filled with a bunch of crap: artificial sweeteners, colors, etc. The only sweetener that’s ok is stevia, made from a natural plant. I love the Rainbow Light brand.
Pysllium Husks: Most Americans, and now Chileans following the US trend, eat a pathetic amount of fruits and vegetables and don’t get enough fiber. One way to trick yourself to feeling satisfied is to thicken up your shake with this fiber. You get 8-10 grams per serving (your colon will thank you) and it makes the sensation of satiety stick with you. Be sure to drink a lot of water during the morning since it will expand in your stomach.
Stevia: Cannot live without this. I remember two health food clients on a Culinary Tour several years ago turned me onto this. I am forever grateful to them. If you have Sucralose or Aspartame, toss it. Go natural with Stevia. It is made from a plant in South America so it is not bad for you, fake. I find it sweetens things perfectly.
Healthy Fats: I love Coconut Oil. Although high in fat, it has medium chain fatty acids that actually are vital in promoting fat loss, especially in the abs area (seems to be working, hello six pack!). Raw almond butter is also a favorite (I bring it back or make my own from scratch). You can use flax oil or seed. Also try avocado or even ¼ cup light coconut milk too for a change. It also promotes “fullness”. Do not fear fat. Your metabolism needs the right kind to burn, burn, burn.
Water & Ice: Your shake is going to get creamy and smoothe when you hit the magic button so don’t go adding any milk, yogurt, or juice. Totally unnecessary and your body will just take those simple sugars and whack your blood sugar level, which is not good for your fat-burning metabolism. Trust me. The ice also thickens it up and makes it taste like a milkshake. Healthy milkshake for breakfast. I can deal!
Blend Away: Blend for at least one minute. Stop to jog machine as necessary. Be sure to have tall glasses and straws on hand. You should get two tall glasses, about 3 cups. Drink it all and take your time. Enjoy. It tastes AWESOME.
It is amazing but the shake has about 400 calories and is so nutritionally balanced…for that same expenditure you would probably get half of a plastic Egg McMuffin full of poor quality protein, carbs, and trans fat.
Try it and let me know!