Health & Flavor Enhancers
Crocker has a long list of spices, herbs and other health promoters that you can add to smoothies, but the following are among those she particularly advises. Many of these are in your supermarket and if not, health-food stores will have them. Note: Always put these in with the other ingredients before you blend to be sure that they are well mixed.
Here are some suggestions to help improve general healing...
Cinnamon promotes digestion and insulin sensitivity and relieves nausea. Add one-quarter teaspoon per smoothie serving -- especially delicious with apples and blueberries.
Ginger calms nausea, aids digestion, relieves diarrhea and flatulence and may soothe pain of arthritis. Try one-quarter teaspoon of powdered ginger per serving or one-half inch of crystallized or peeled fresh ginger, coarsely chopped. (Ginger is not recommended for anyone with a bleeding disorder, gallstones, or who is taking a blood thinner, and it is not recommended for children under age two.) Ginger is a good complement to pears and peaches.
Dandelion supports liver, gallbladder and kidney health, helps with high blood pressure and is a mild laxative. Add one teaspoon of crushed, dried roots to vegetable smoothies.
To boost the immune system...
Astragalus boosts the immune system and alleviates adverse effects of chemotherapy. Use one teaspoon of dried, powdered astragalus per serving. It has little or no taste. Note: If you are using steroids, you should discuss with your doctor whether it's okay to consume astragalus.
Burdock, a mild laxative (it contains the fiber inulin), has prebiotic properties and is a diuretic. Crush dried roots into a fine powder, and use one to two teaspoons per serving. It has a crisp, slightly sweet taste. Burdock often is used in sushi, so it goes well with sweet or savory smoothies.
Cayenne stimulates blood circulation and digestion, is a diuretic, and has a beneficial effect on the nervous system. Start by adding just one-eighth teaspoon of powdered cayenne per smoothie serving and increase to one-quarter teaspoon if the spicy flavor doesn't bother you. Cayenne can be used in fruit or vegetable smoothies.
Cloves have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, and help relieve nausea, flatulence and diarrhea. If you don't mind the strong taste, add one-eighth teaspoon of ground cloves per serving. Cloves mix well with apples and peaches.
Other healthful candidates...
Flaxseed is a good vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids, plus it contributes to regularity. Add one tablespoon of ground flaxseeds per serving. Note: Flaxseed will thicken your smoothie -- especially if you leave the smoothie standing awhile before you drink it.
Lecithin is an excellent source of choline, which improves memory. Add the contents of two capsules or one tablespoon of granules to one to two cups of smoothie.
Sea vegetables provide a high concentration of vitamin A, protein, calcium, iron and other minerals. These work as a diuretic and may be an immune enhancer and also reduce risk for cancer. Add one to two tablespoons of powder or crumbled leaves to vegetable smoothies -- their salty taste isn't good with fruit. You may want to start with a smaller amount and increase as you get used to the taste.
Wheat germ is a good source of vitamin E and thiamin. Use two tablespoons per smoothie.
Blue-green algae, a type of sea vegetable, is rich in carotenoids and chlorophyll. Add two tablespoons per serving to vegetable smoothies.
Coconut oil improves cholesterol ratio by raising HDL (good cholesterol). (See Daily Health News, "Coconut Oil Helps Keep Weight Off," November 25, 2010.)
Protein is helpful for satiety and stabilizing blood sugar. Good choices include one tablespoon of powdered whey or two tablespoons of nuts, such as almonds or cashews.
Easy Smoothie Instructions
Always make smoothies in a blender, not a juicer, to retain fiber and those important cell wall constituents. Cocker recommends using a blender with numerous speeds, including one for crushing ice.
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