By Jessica Li Phillips
As a wellness consultant, yoga teacher, and integrative chef, when I first meet with new clients — even if they are coming for “just yoga” or “just culinary guidance” — our initial work is the same: to investigate what needs nourishing. I focus predominantly on healing, and often work collaboratively with a client’s selected team. (It really takes a village: doctors, nutritionists, physical therapists, and acupuncturists!)
Occasionally, with so much competing health information, both physical and nutritional, it can be easy to lose sight of our own strength and innate wholeness. It is important to slow down, to listen, to breathe deeply, to move, and to eat in a way that is both health-forward and in support of our dreams.
But often we need a recipe, a simple guide for getting into action. So when I’m asked about the one piece of equipment I can’t do without in my own kitchen — I point to my blender. A high-speed blender is both a financial investment, as well as a great health investment. Why, you ask? Smoothies. Here are some reasons why:
1. Don’t Be SAD
Greens! Fruits! Healthy fats! Added protein! High Fiber! In so many ways, a smoothie’s ingredients can help to offset some of the classic inflammatory health pitfalls that derive from our SAD (Standardized American Diet).
2. Smoothies are Easily Personalized
Health is not a one-size-fits-all experience, and smoothies can include anything you are missing in your daily nutrition. Don’t be afraid to throw in the blender whatever you are lacking! What we eat should reflect how we want to feel, and what is most important to us. Are you training for a marathon, have you just had a baby, are you cold sensitive, are you managing an intolerance? Add whatever you need to that smoothie.
3. Get Playful with your Smoothies
You don’t want to eat the same thing every day for any meal. A basic smoothie recipe, a blender, and well-stocked pantry will get you started — and then, have fun! There are so many wonderful smoothie recipes online.
4. The Relationship With Your Kitchen
If you don’t make your meals at home, you can start to rebuild the relationship of preparing and self-care. Blenders are a quick and easy way to spend some time in the kitchen, and get nourishment at home.
5. Homemade is Health Made
When you make your food at home, you have the ultimate say in quality control: boosts, organics, no additives, whatever you feel good about eating.
As New Yorkers, we are blessed with an abundance of health-forward smoothie and juice options that we can pick up on-the-go, but not all of these are created equal! Many are loaded with strange ingredients and have high glycemic fruits and sweeteners, which won’t provide the stable source of energy that your body needs to function optimally. Be sure to read labels and ask questions: What kind of protein powder are you using? Is the almond milk unsweetened? Are your vegetables organic? Can you make that without agave? Be mindful of additives and shelf stabilizers, and non-organic ingredients.
Keep in mind there is a big health disparity between juice/coffee bars that use pre-made sugary “bases” for their smoothies, versus watching the entire vegetable or fruit blended, in all its nutritious glory, into your drink. So read labels, and if you are buying from a store ask your “blender-ista” questions. You are looking for the same quality of ingredients that you would in your food at home.
As a professional dancer/yogi and lover of action, I come to this healing work honestly and from necessity: How to stay nourished and engaged with what I love in this world. My most challenging questions continue to arise from the art of slowing down and listening first, and then can come skillful action.
So what is your body telling you? As we enter into a colder time of year, the shifting seasons offers us this opportunity, inviting us to listen carefully and notice how we feel. Something that felt nourishing in the summer months may not feel appropriate in the chill of fall. How can I adjust? What new can I throw in my smoothie today? Keep in mind, the possibilities are endless.
The Classic Smoothie
This is a make-your-own playlist. There is a lot of room for differentiation, and for finding out what most tickles your taste buds.
The basic recipe is:
1 part fruit
Organic Berries (blue, straw, rasp, cran)
Banana (especially helpful for mitigating a strong green taste)
1 part green
For the newbie: Spinach/Cucumber are good starter greens
For the practiced green drinker: Finish up your CSA box! Kale, chard, wild arugula, beet greens, etc.
1 part liquid
unsweetened organic almond milk
leftover green tea
1 part super foods (options are endless here!)
hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, fish oils
1 part Protein
hemp protein powder, pea protein powder
Yogurt (goat, sheep, grass-fed cow)
Healthy Fats for longer energy burn
Nuts, nut butters, and seeds
At this time of year you may want to focus on adding additional warming ingredients:
Cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, walnuts, dates, frozen cherries & blackberries, cooked squash & pumpkin!
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup cooked pumpkin
small handful cranberries
big handful spinach or kale
½ cup almond milk
2 T almond butter
1 brazil nut
2 T protein powder
2 T. chia or flax seeds
1 T. pumpkin seeds
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. allspice
(fresh dried dates for added sweetness)
In a high speed blender, blend all ingredients together until smooth. Add water or more almond milk for a thinner consistency.
Jessica Li Phillips has been in the wellness field for the last 14 years as a yoga teacher, integrative chef, and wellness consultant. She holds the E-RYT 500 level accreditation from the Yoga Alliance, and continues her contemplative Buddhist studies at the Ordinary Mind Zendo in NYC. Her background includes a B.A in Psychology and Dance, and she is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute. Her extensive work with chronic illness and disease informs her belief that healing takes place on many levels.
Find Jessica at www.jessicaliphillips.com