August 03, 2012

Morning Rituals and a Mango Berry Smoothie

There are two morning essentials that I can't do without; lemon water and greens. After my body has spent the night restoring its cells, I want to give it something back: a good dose of highly absorbable nourishment and hydration. I also find that it's easier to eat healthy throughout the day if I start off that way.

I always begin my day with a liter of lemon water. If it's a hot day or I feel dehydrated, I might drink more water before moving on to anything else. Adrenal fatigue can cause dehydration. On my bad days, I drink tons of water. Eating a diet of water-filled fruits and veggies helps immensely as well.

Despite the acidic taste, lemons are alkaline in the body. This is helpful because the average American eats way too many acidic foods, and the body has to work extra hard to stay in balance (this is referred to as maintaining homeostasis). Lemons have vitamin c which gives your immunity a boost, and they stimulate peristalsis (coaxing the muscles that keep your pipes clean). A glass of lemon water 20 minutes or so before a meal can be useful because it aids in bile production in the liver which is very important for proper digestion. When someone comes to me asking for nutritional advice, lemon water is always part of my recommendation. I've always gotten good feedback from those who have incorporated this into their daily routine. I thought I'd mention that while I feel best with a liter of water in the morning, everyone is different. That is what works for me. Just remember to listen to your body. If you're thirsty, drink up. If not, don't force it.

As far as greens go, I need to have them in the mornings in some form. It's the best habit that I've picked up since my sickness started. Late last year, a dear friend visited me. Those few days were treated as a special occasion, and I loosened up on my regimen a bit. While making waffles for breakfast one morning, she asked if I could tell a difference in my energy and mood if I didn't start the day with greens. I paused for a moment and was a bit sad that I couldn't feel a change. I did, however, weigh the option that my happiness from seeing her more than made up for the surge of greens to the system. 

Well, the waffle maker was being finicky and we were having too much fun to rush things. I was beginning to get hungry and the scraps from the mess-ups weren't satisfying my growing hunger. I threw together a quick salad and was instantly energized. Sometimes it takes breaking a habit to realize what it is doing for me. People with sub-standard diets often think they are healthy enough despite lack in energy or the ever-expanding pill collection in their medicine cabinets, and they attribute their “normal” health problems to aging or genetics. They eat junk that makes them feel like junk and don't realize how good they can feel with certain foods. Here I was eating relatively healthy waffles and forgetting how bad I could feel without my greens!

I generally consume my morning greens in liquid form. I go through phases of making a 3-4 cups of green juice that I sip on throughout the morning, and other times I get hooked on making green smoothies. During my smoothie phases, I'll sometimes make smaller juices during the day. In rushed situations or times that are not conducive to making either, my go-to is a couple tablespoons of Healthforce Nutritionals Vitamineral Greens.

Because of my SIBO issues, I try to keep the spotlight on the greens and low-glycemic fruits in my smoothies. Higher glycemic fruits seldom make an appearance. I don't use fruit in my juices. Instead, I like to throw in a lemon and a big knob of ginger in to tame the bitter greens.

People can get caught up in the smoothie vs juice debate, but don't think it should be a “one or the other” thing. They are both great in their own ways. Green juices give you concentrated liquid nutrition without the energy expenditure of digestion and at a much higher volume than would be possible with the intact fiber-rich food. Green smoothies provide fiber and the blender “chews” your food, breaking open cell walls and increasing the availability of nutrients to your body. If you want a gigantic flood of nutrition immediately, you want to juice. If you want to tack on extra greens to an already substantial meal, go for the juice. If you want a meal in a glass that's full of fiber, fats, carbs, superfood boosters, etc, choose to make a smoothie. A well-balanced smoothie can be a meal while juices are usually a healthy snack consumed at the beginning of the day or in between meals.

For the past couple months, I have been in smoothie mode. My juicer does get lonely sometimes, but I can never part from it for very long! I had ½ a mango and some coconut water leftover from a couple of recipes I made yesterday. Since I've been strawberry crazy lately, I could think of no better food to pair the mango with. 


Mango Berry Green Smoothie 
serves 1

1 cup mangoes
1 cup strawberries
1 cup coconut water
1 heaping handful of spinach
1'' piece of ginger, chopped
1 scoop protein powder
squeeze of lime juice

*Blend all ingredients until smooth. Serve.


  1. greens, lemon and ginger sound great, and i really like the idea of starting out the day with greens. i need to get back to getting more of these. i can also attest the energizing nature of salads - i've been making them in the evening sometimes if i need an extra boost.

  2. just thought i would share my experience trying out a variation on the above. i blended some chard, lemon and ginger, along with a little bit of parsley and mint in the food processor to see what might happen. since the processor didn't get this quite as fine as a juicer or a good blender, it came out more like a chutney. i put this inside a wrap and it really was like flipping on a switch.

    1. That sounds interesting. Glad you got some good results with it! If you ever want to make a juice but don't have a juicer, you can blend everything and then strain it through cheesecloth or a nut milk bag.