Here's a simple recipe to add something different to your repeated plates of food. I'm not a big smoothie person, but there's something about a refreshing glass of fruits and spices that you just can't create on a plate. This smoothie combines natural sources of sugars, fibre, vitamins, minerals and probiotics. It's a moderate source of carbohydrates equivalent to a cup of rice or a side of potatoes, but it also boosts your intake of some essential nutrients that can be tricky to come by in large doses, such as calcium, magnesium and potassium (keep reading for a detailed nutrient round up!).
Remember, a smoothie isn't a free pass to consume more calories, so think of it as a substitute for your usual rice, potatoes or fruit, rather than doubling up. That said, drinking food doesn't tend to be as satiating as eating it. Smoothies are great for variety, but most of the time prioritise eating your fruit rather than just defaulting to drinking it. If I'm feeling like I need a little more fuel, I might add this to my meal after training, or as a side to a plate of animal meats or eggs and vegetables later that day. If you're keen to bump up your carbohydrates, this smoothie is an excellent, easily digestible source of nutrient dense sugars to lead into a training session, back up a post training meal or start to replenish your depleted energy stores while you are en route to a proper meal that features adequate quality proteins.
What is kefir?
Kefir is a form of fermented milk. It's attracted it's fair share of popularity among the health scene, but it's not just a trendy health product. Kefir has some fantastic health-promoting properties that make it an excellent addition to your meals.
It contains friendly bacteria called 'probiotics'
Probiotics are bacteria that keep your gut healthy. Your large intestine is home to a unique community of bacteria that lend a helping hand to your digestion and immune function. The members of your microbial community are dramatically influenced by the foods that you eat. Michael Mosley, Doctor and Author of 'The Clever Guts Diet', describes probiotics as living bacteria that parachute into your large intestine, in the hope that they land alive and set up a colony. (In contrast, prebiotics are things that your bacteria eat, like fertiliser for the bacterial colony.) Sources of probiotics include fermented foods, like yoghurt, cheese, kefir, sauerkraut and kim chi. If a food is fermented, it tells you that bacteria have busily consumed the sugars in that food (like glucose or lactose) and transformed it into other compounds (like lactic acid). If you eat fermented foods, you're also inviting the microbes in the foods to sail into your GI tract, land in the colon and bolster the troops of 'good' bacteria to out number the 'bad' bacteria.
It's not magic, though. You can't simply defer to an influx of probiotics to alleviate a furious belly. If you're in a state of GI dysfunction, it's probably not the best thing to load up on fermented foods. First, look at your broader diet and circumstances. If you have chronic bloating, gas or inflammation, and you just introduce probiotics before addressing the reasons for your poor digestion, the microbial parachutes are going to have to battle the storm before they can land and settle in you colon. If you don't repair things first, that kefir might just add another variable that amplifies and chaos and misses its chance to benefit your body.
It contains all the benefits of dairy (and more), minus the sluggish digestion
Can't tolerate dairy? The lactose in a cow's milk kefir is easier on your GI tract than the lactose in milk. Although there's 10 g of lactose in a cup of kefir (around the same as the 12 g in a cup of milk), the kefir also contains a combination of strains of beneficial live cultures. These bacteria help your body to digest the lactose, so you don't need to rely on your body's production of the enzyme, lactase, to process this milk based sugar. This is a great thing, because it's going to bump up your calcium from dairy while mitigating the problem of poor digestion that often accompanies dairy consumption. You'll find that after you consume kefir, it doesn't tend to sit in your stomach like you might notice after drinking milk.
Banana berry kefir smoothie
A refreshing and nutrient dense blend of fruits, gut-friendly kefir, honey and spices
Prep time: < 5 minutes
Cook time: < 1 minute in blender
Difficulty: Fail proof
Portions: 1 - 2 based on individual
1 whole banana
1/2 cup berries, frozen (I used a mix of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries)
1 tsp honey
1 cup quality, plain kefir (I like the Blue Bay kefir brand)
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1/2 cup ice blocks
It's a smoothie, the method is ridiculously simple. Combine, blend until smooth, enjoy!
Nutrient round up
This recipe contains:
45 g C (net) | 10 g P | 10 g F
7.7 g fibre
12.5 g fructose | 12 g sucrose | 10 g lactose
340 g calcium (34 % RDI) * From the kefir.
75 g magnesium (25 % RDI)
880 g potassium (34 % RDI) * 14 % from the kefir.
1.2 g manganese (67 % RDI)
290 g phosphorus (41 % RDI) * From the kefir.
1.3 g zinc (16 % RDI)
7 g selenium (12 % RDI)
To change the consistency or reduce the tang of the kefir, try 1/2 cup of yoghurt and 1/2 cup kefir.
Add dried coconut flakes and a dash of cinnamon on top for additional flavour and a little crunch!