I love green smoothie. I’m not going to go so far as to say I moved all the way across the country to California so that I could have green smoothies for breakfast every day without any consequences — but that isn’t as far from the truth as you would think. I really LOVE my morning green smoothies. They are my absolute favorite breakfast, and I find them to be the most wonderful vehicle for getting insane amounts of nutrients and superfoods into my body in a very efficient fashion.
But as great as green smoothies are, drinking them in the colder months actually messes with your health, digestion, energy, and immunity. Eating and drinking cold foods, especially during periods of cold weather, forces your body to work harder to warm it up and digest it. Cold foods can throw off the delicate balance of your stomach lining, can increase phlegm, decrease immunity and cause or exacerbate digestive issues like constipation and diarrhea. No fun.
In both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, eating and drinking warm foods is a big part of keeping one’s body running smoothly and optimizing digestion. I get chastised about my smoothie habit by my acupuncturist every time I see her, and I am in a constant heated back and forth with the Ayurvedic practitioner inside me every time I opt for a smoothie or salad in the middle of December.
So what’s a smoothie and salad loving girl to do?
For those who are serious about adhering to TCM or Ayurveda 100% of the time, those who have a predominantly vata body type (find out your Ayurvedic type here!), or are struggling with a serious digestive disorder, there is unfortunately not much you can do during the winter months. You’ve got to stick to hot, warming, cooked foods pretty much all winter long, or else risk an onslaught of symptoms brought on by the imbalance cold foods can cause in your body.
But for the rest of us, there are some ways to winterize your smoothies to counteract some of the coldness and therefore minimize the negative impact on your body during the winter months.
Here are my 5 best ways to winterize your smoothies!
1. Skip the frozen fruit
This one is kind of a no-brainer. To make your smoothie less cold, use less cold stuff! Greens and fruit straight out of the fridge will still be cold, no doubt, but at least they won’t be frozen, which means your body will have to work that much less hard to bring everything to the ideal temperature. Paired with the rest of the recommendations below, you’ll be in good shape!
2. Opt for seasonal produce
I break this rule occasionally, since I live in California, and pretty much everything is always in season. But generally sticking to the fruit and greens that are in season where you live will help your body digest the smoothie more easily, and assimilate the nutrients better. Additionally, eating seasonally has the added benefit of providing your body with exactly the nutrients it needs most at that time of the year!
Bananas, apples, pears, kiwi, and all citrus fruits are your best bet no matter where you live. Combine those with winter seasonal greens like kale and watercress and you’re in business! Check out this great Ayurvedic guide to winter seasonal foods! Note that in Ayurveda, we eat balancing foods that are seasonal to their native parts of the world, which give you a bit more leeway in terms of eating foods that may not be completely in season where you live.
3. Spice up your smoothie
Adding warming spices to your smoothies is another must for easing the strain on your body and digestion. Come November, I start adding cayenne pepper, ginger, and cinnamon (or a pumpkin spice blend) to all my morning smoothies. Not only do these spices add a fun wintery kick, but they are also amazing for bringing balance to your whole body during the winter months, boosting immunity, improving digestion, decreasing congestion and inflammation, and keeping you warm from the inside out!
4. Pair your smoothie with a hot beverage
This rule also applies to eating salads or any other raw/cold foods in the winter months. Sipping a hot beverage, preferably one with actual heating qualities to it (like ginger tea), along with your raw or cold meal helps do some of the work for your body in terms of heating things up, and offsets the negative effects of the cold food. Ginger tea is best (for it’s insanely heating properties), hot water with lemon is great, black tea is good too. Green tea is more of a cooling beverage, so it’s not going to do as much good, even if the temperature is hot. Coffee is ok too, just add some coconut oil to offset some of it’s negative effects (more on that here).
5. Think outside the box in terms of ingredients
There is so much yummy, awesome seasonal produce to choose from this time of year, that we don’t need to be limited to fruit in our smoothies! Steamed or roasted sweet potatoes, squash, carrots or pumpkin are amazing in smoothies. Try baked apples or pears to make a yummy “apple pie” type smoothie. Cranberries and orange are a delicious non-berry combo. Add pomegranates or beets to your smoothie to up the antioxidant punch. My point is, there are so many delicious smoothie combos out there that step outside the berry box.. They taste oh so good, are warming for the body, and take better advantage of delicious seasonal foods! Try this yummy Pumpkin Pie Green Smoothie recipe — but remember not to use anything frozen!
When I’m not feeling particularly creative, here’s how I winterize my basic green smoothie, using the tips above: