Whoa, summer is here and I am so enjoying it. I love to wake up early, take a cool shower, slip into a nice summer dress and sandals and hit the sunny streets running. So on days like this I want to be in and out of the kitchen within a blink of the eye without having to bank on taste in any way. This smoothest of smoothies is one of those breakfasty things that delivers on all fronts plus has the X factor. I’ll get back to that later….
I know what you’re thinking. Do we really really need another smoothie recipe? Nope, we don’t. Turn on your computer and the thing nearly explodes in your face with smoothie recipes jumping at you. True, I agree. But you know what? There’s a reason for that. Smoothies, when done right, bring that irresistible blend of convenience, health, deliciousness and indulgence. So far I haven’t met a person alive who doesn’t like smoothies.
However I think some people take this whole smoothie craze a bit too far. Smoothie for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dunch and dinner? No, thank you. Although I love myself a smooth drink every now and again as much as the next gal, I need solid foods everyday. And, unless I am on a fast of some sort, make sure to have them everyday. Ayurveda is very clear about giving our bodies solid foods on a regular basis in order for our colon to remain healthy and active. If it has nothing to “chew” for longer periods of time it becomes lazy which can be the start of many different health issues.
I assume that the sages whose meditations lie at the basis of what we call Ayurveda (the knowledge of life) today did not have direct access to a Vitamix or food processor 5000 years ago. So there is no specific mention of smoothies in the ancient texts. However I did have some pressing questions about them that I needed answered so I decided to pretend I had the opportunity to sit with a modern day sage and just ask away. Here follows my very interesting conversation with my imaginary friend “Mister Sage”.
Me: So Mister Sage, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today.
Mister Sage: I am happy to be of service. Just keep it brief. I have a conference call with Buddha in 15. And am meeting Jezus for lunch after.
Me: Oke, will do. Let me cut to the chase than. What is your opinion about smoothies?
Mister Sage: Like everything in Ayurveda the first thing to take into consideration is the qualities that any food has. In this case a smoothie is first and foremost smooth. It is usually thick, heavy, moist and unclear. All qualities pertaining to the earth and water elements. So this already tells us something about which dosha’s will be balanced by taking this drink and which will be unbalanced. Would you like to tell me?
Me (being the eager student that I am): I would love to mister Sage. This drink will especially balance Vata as they are governed by air and ether and can use plenty of smoothness and moisture to compensate for their natural dryness. It is okay on occasion for Pitta since the fire element dominates their constitution but they also have a bit of water element present. In general it will be unbalancing for Kapha who has a lot of water and earth qualities by nature. Kapha’s do better with clearer fruit or vegetable juices.
Mister Sage: Kuddo’s my smart Ayurvedic student. Shiva has blessed you with much wisdom and kindness. (Note from self: Okay, now your imagination is really going wild!) But back to the issue on hand. Next thing to consider is the taste of food. What tastes are predominantly present in smoothies?
Me (smiling from ear to ear): Sweet and a little bit of sour. I haven’t had a salty, spicy, bitter or astringent smoothie to date. And wouldn’t care much for one either.
Mister Sage: Do not be so quick to judge my little coconut flower (Said in the most lovingly way of course). In India it is very common to serve salty, spicy, astringent and slightly bitter “smoothies” made from buttermilk, honey, lots of spices and sometimes herbs. They are called lassis and as luck would have it they are balancing to all three dosha’s. Taken in moderation even for the Kapha dosha. Ayurveda does not combine fruit in its lassis as is sometimes the practice in non Ayurvedic Indian homes.
Me (more humble this time): I forgot about those. How infinitely wise you are.
Mister Sage: My wisdom is only yours to remember. So let’s move on. Another important point is that Ayurveda considers every fruit to have its own unique combination of tastes. Some more sweet, others more sour and some more bitter or astringent. Tropical fruits like mango and papaya are usually sweet. Pineapple, depending on its variety and ripeness, can be sweet or sour. Citrus fruits are more sour in taste. And cranberries and pomegranate have more of the astringent taste. Meaning that when you make a smoothie it is best to pick fruits that suit the constitution you are making the smoothie for. Banana is a bit of a special fruit because the first taste (rasa) is sweet when ripe but the long term affect after digestion (the vipaka) is sour. You have written about this in an earlier post. For this reason Pitta’s should be especially weary of this fruit and not eat it too often. If the banana is not ripe it will be very astringent in nature making it a bad choice for Vata because it will than cause constipation. It is a heavy fruit so Kapha should not use it too often.
Me: What do you think about using frozen bananas in your smoothies?
Mister Sage (Now very strict!): Do not ask me questions you already know the answer to! However for the sake of your readers I will digress on the subject. As you know your agni or digestive fire is extremely important in Ayurveda. It is the fire that helps digest your food and transform it into nutrition that lies at the basis of your health. This fire needs to be kept working in optimum conditions at all times. Cold substances of any kind dampen this flame slowing down the digestive process and on the long term creating ama or toxins of undigested, rotting food in your system. So I do not recommend you add frozen or very cold anything to your smoothies. Not frozen bananas, not berries, not coconut ice or any other fancy frozen item you may think of. Drink your smoothies at room temperature or just slightly chilled. Also for all constitutions smoothies work best in warmer weather than in cooler. And don’t get into the habit of drinking a smoothie every day. Vary your foods and also eat a more solid breakfast from time to time, even in the summer. You can make a big fruit salad for yourself every now and again for example.
Me: Okay, I know my next question is another Ayurvedic no brainer but I have to ask it cause so many people do it all the time. What is your opinion about mixing fruits and veggies in one smoothie?
Mister Sage: Ayurveda is very clear about this. Fruits are best eaten seperately from other foods. And melons even seperate from other fruits. They digest more quickly than other foods and will start to ferment and rot when they stay longer in the digestive tract than necessary. However as a modern day sage I can be lenient when it comes to combining them with (homemade) nut milks. But only if your digestion is in tip top condition. I do not recommend combining them with greens under any circumstance. Avocado would be the only exception, but officially this is also a fruit and not a vegetable. The combination with dairy of any sort is equally unadvisable because it wil curdle in your stomach in combination with fruit.
Me: I seem to do well using freshly juiced apple juice in combination with veggies. Is this an exception?
Mister Sage: You know your own body best. So do as you please. Often times what causes bloating and gas are the fibers that are present in fruit that need different digestive enzymes to be broken down than vegetables. So this may be the reason why you seem to encounter less disturbance when only using the juice of the fruit. However the texts are very clear about not combining fruits with vegetables.
Me: Okay, I heard you. Finally what do you think about adding superfoods to your smoothies?
Mister Sage (Big sigh, followed by a long pause. And finally an endearing smile): My darling lotus leaf, all natural foods that are free of pesticides and manipulation can be superfoods. Let me make that point more strongly. ALL NATURAL FOODS CAN BE SUPERFOODS!! It all depends on who is using it and how. Some foods may have a higher concentration of this or the other modern day isolated vitamin or mineral but if your agni is not strong it will not be able to digest and thus assimilate it. Furthermore in terms of super duper foods Ayurveda has been working with healing spices for thousands of years and has a deep knowledge of their healing, vitality boosting and rejuvenating properties. I strongly suggest you adding ginger, turmeric, fennel, black pepper or cinnamon to your smoothies and experience their affects on the long term. If you insist on indulging yourself in the current superfoods hype I advise you use the so called superfoods in as natural a state as possible. So goiji berries, acai puree or chia seeds are more desirable than all sorts of powdered foods. Finally consider the taste of the superfood in question. In Ayurveda specific herbs and spices are considered best for the three different dosha’s based on their individual tastes.
Me: I’ve been using maca powder in my smoothies recently and felt very energized after. And also I’ve read it increases your libido by 180% !
Mister Sage: I don’t believe there is anything wrong with your libido. But as long as your agni is strong feel free to experiment. The spices used in Ayurveda have been tested over more than 5000 years. Come back in 5000 years and let’s discuss the benefits of maca than okay?
Me (now blushing): I won’t be here in 5000 years, Mister Sage.
Mister Sage: Oh yes you will. I’m not sure maca will be as well. But you my dear, definitely will. Jezus!
Mister Sage: No, he just walked in and I haven’t booked our table in Nirvana yet. I keep forgetting he’s so punctual. Always right on time, just when you need him. Buddha however prefers a more laid back time table as you may have noticed. Of course he is way older than Jezus so he has plenty of time to spare.
Me: Well I’m sure Jezus can make due with a loaf of bread and some fish… Thank you so much for your time, Mister Sage.
Mister Sage: No problem, hit me on my blackberry if any more questions come up. And now have a great day, my little bundle of sunshine. Namasté.
Pear, apricot, grapes and banana smoothie with the X factor
- 1/2 very ripe pear, leave the skin on
- 10 peeled and deseeded grapes (I know, I’m crazy like that sometimes….)
- 4 small apricots, stone removed
- 1/4 piece of banana
- 250 ml (homemade) almond milk ( a bit more if you like your smoothie a bit thinner)
- a small piece of ginger coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon maca powder (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder and a sprinkle more for garnish
- 1 or 2 teaspoon coconut palm sugar
- a drop or two of organic vanille essence (optional)
Blend in a blender for 3 to 4 minutes on full speed untill you are left with a velvety smooth textured drink. Pour into a tall glass, sprinkle some cinnamon powder on top and sip slowly rather than gulp down in one go. If using the maca powder make sure to have a well rested partner on hand. Just in case…..