• 2

    Smoothies

  • Easy

  • No refined sugar

  • Prep Time 5'

  • Total Time 5'

Aronia, pumpkin and chocolate smoothie recipe

  • 2

    Smoothies

  • Easy

  • No refined sugar

  • Prep Time 5'

  • Total Time 5'

Wanting something sweet every once in a while is totally natural, there are definitely times when I have a sweet tooth! I believe it is important to indulge in moderation, and there is a time and place to do so. There are also a lot of ways to satisfy your cravings without consuming candy or highly processed foods.

I find smoothies to be the perfect combination of sweet and satisfying. You can adjust the ingredients to meet your desired sweetness and pack in protein, healthy fats and fibre to keep you energized and full. I switch of between drinking my smoothie or making it into a bowl with toppings. You can do either, you may just need to adjust the amount of liquid to achieve the right consistency.

I am currently hooked on this smoothie with chocolate, pumpkin and Erbology Organic Aronia and Sea Buckthorn Juice. It tastes like a dessert but actually has all the elements of a balanced meal or snack. This is perfect for a busy morning, before or after workout or even as an afternoon pick-me-up. This blend is so creamy and is packed with ingredients that will nourish your body.

I always use bananas in my smoothies, fresh or frozen, they make a great base and are good for digestion due to high fibre content. They are also a good source of potassium. I always go for a banana before I hit the gym. I also added raspberries and pumpkin this time. They worked really well with the cacao, star anise, cardamom and cinnamon. This really is one of my favourites!

The importance of a balanced diet

A balanced diet is one that gives your body the nutrients that it needs to function correctly. While this may look different for everyone, you need to make sure you are getting carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibre, water, vitamins and minerals.

Digestion begins with the foods we eat being combined with the acids and enzymes in our stomach. During this process, the carbohydrates from our food are broken down into another type of sugar called glucose. The stomach and small intestines absorb the glucose and then release it into the bloodstream to be used immediately for energy or stored for later. As we may remember from science, energy cannot be created, only transferred and converted. The same is true for the energy in the human body. We run on chemical energy and use it for all our body’s vital functions such as breathing, eating, sleeping, walking, working and even resting. In order to use the stored glucose for energy, our bodies must have insulin. Without insulin, glucose stays in the bloodstream and these high blood sugar levels cause cravings. The rise and fall in insulin and blood sugar happens many times throughout the day and depends on when and what we eat (1,2,3).

Proteins are known as the building blocks for growth, as well as for maintenance and repair of body tissues. Proteins are broken down by the digestive system into amino acids. A balanced diet ensures that you are getting all the essential amino acids, those that our bodies cannot synthesize on its own. It is important to think quality over quantity here. You want proteins that contain one or more form of protein and the type that your body is best able to digest (4).

A lot of us are weary when it comes to fats, but healthy fats are essential for a balanced diet. Fats are broken down into fatty acids and glycerol and then used in the cell membranes to form steroid hormones. Fats, also known as lipids, are highly reduced organic compounds that can be oxidized to release energy. There are two broad categories of fats; saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are derived from animal products while unsaturated fats are usually found in plant sources. When we talk about “good” fats, its typically monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The fats to avoid are trans fats. Saturated fats are ok when consumed in moderation (5).

Dietary fibre is important for many reasons. Some of the most common benefits include gut health, regular bowel movements and feeling fuller longer. Fibre consists mainly of cellulose from plant cell walls and is part of many plant-based food sources. You can find generous amounts of fibre in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Water is an essential part of the human diet. We can live a lot longer without food than we can without water. Our body uses water as a solvent, a transport medium, a substrate in hydrolytic reactions and for lubrication. We can get water from foods as well, for example soups, sauces, and dressings.

Vitamins are organic compounds without a common functionality or chemical structure. Our body needs vitamins in relatively small amounts. There are two important groups of vitamins; water-soluble and fat-soluble. B and C vitamins are water-soluble and can be found in fruits and vegetables. A, D and E vitamins are fat-soluble and are found in fatty foods such as dairy products. Together, vitamins fulfil a wide range of functions including enabling the body to make efficient use of other parts of a balanced diet. For example, vitamin D facilitates absorption of calcium and phosphorous (6).

Unlike vitamins, minerals are chemical elements. Minerals are grouped into two categories depending on how much we need and how many we store in our bodies. Macrominerals are found in typical adult human bodies in quantities greater than 5g with at least 100mg needed daily. Micro minerals are found in lower quantities, with typical human bodies having less than 5 grams and needing under 100mg each day. Each mineral has a specific function that it plays such as calcium and its support of bone and tooth health. Overall, minerals help to maintain ideal concentrations of tiny amounts of chemicals (solutes). These get dissolved in the water present in the tissues of our body and move around to be of the most benefit to our overall health (6).

If we are eating balanced meals containing complex carbs, our bodies are able to slowly digest them without spiking blood sugar levels. Whole grains and starchy vegetables are great complex carbs. It is the simple carbs, contained in processed foods, sugary fruits, and dairy, that our bodies are not able to efficiently digest. These high glycemic index foods throw off our ability to keep blood sugar at a normal level.

Aronia and sea buckthorn benefits

The juice adds a mildly sharp taste, the perfect way to balance the sweet pumpkin. This is a powerful berry duo, great for healthy skin, heart and brain activity.

The aronia, or chokeberry, is a deep purple berry. It is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and phytonutrients. Phenolic compounds are responsible for a lot of the amazing qualities of the aronia berry. Simple phenols, such as those found in aronia, blueberry and raspberry, have been studied for their ability to disinfect the bloodstream and the body. The presence of phenols in aronia therefore has been shown to promote the healing of wounds, remove toxic substances, reduce inflammation and improve the elasticity of blood vessels (7,8,9).

Antioxidants protect the body’s cells from the damaging effects of oxidation. The oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) is a measure of an antioxidant capability to neutralise free radicals. The ORAC for aronia is more than double that of blueberries or raspberries, other fruits believed to be high in antioxidants (10).

Anthocyanins are the pigments that give red, purple, and blue plants their rich colouring. Aronia’s rich purple colour can be attributed to its high levels of anthocyanins. In addition to acting as antioxidants, anthocyanins may reduce oxidative stress and fight viral activity (11).

The sea buckthorn berries are also a real superstar. They are packed with omega-7 fatty acids, vitamin C and E, folic acid, flavonoids and beta-carotene (12).

Omega-7 fatty acids are rarely found in the plant world but happen to be highly concentrated in the pulp of sea buckthorn berries. Omega-7 is known to support cardiovascular health and fight the harmful effects of the metabolic syndrome. Additionally, it has been shown to help regulate the work of the mucous membranes in our bodies. When our mucous membranes are unhealthy, meaning they are either dry or irritated, it can cause a host of digestive health problems. The composition of sea buckthorn berry and sea buckthorn oil has been shown to improve the health of mucous membranes and allow for effective response to bodily inflammation (13,14).

Beta-carotene is the carotenoid responsible for giving sea buckthorn berries their vibrant orange colour. Our body converts this into vitamin A (retinol) and uses it to support healthy skin and mucous membranes, our immune system, and good eye health. Beta-carotene and other carotenoids also have antioxidant properties which protect us from the damaging free radicals (6).

Vitamin C is widely known for its ability to strengthen our immunity. One of its most impressive capabilities is that it helps to form collagen. This is what holds our bodies together, it is the component of growth and repair. So, when you hear that sea buckthorn improves skin health, bone strength and the resilience of our gums and teeth, we can thank vitamin C among other nutrients (6,15).

The vitamin E found in sea buckthorn acts similarly to an antioxidant. It neutralizes free radicals and prevents against future damage such as cholesterol oxidation and heart disease. We also love vitamin E because it strengthens the capillary walls in our skin, improving its moisture and elasticity (6).

Why raspberries are good tasting and good for you

Raspberries are low in calories and rich in fibre and heart-healthy anthocyanins. They are said to have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants amongst all fruits. Raspberries are one of the best low-sugar fruits, meaning they contribute to a good, balanced meal.

Raspberries contain filling, heart-healthy fibre. A half-cup serving of raspberries provides 16% of one’s daily fibre recommendation (4). Fibre is the indigestible part of carbohydrate that helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, keep you feeling full, regulate bowels and slow the absorption of sugar. Carbohydrates that are not fibre will be quickly metabolised into sugar. We cannot convert and store all the sugar as energy. This is when we experience crashes or cravings.

Raspberries’ vibrant red colour comes from the anthocyanins. In addition to acting as antioxidants and fighting free radicals, flavonoids such as anthocyanins have been shown to lower one’s risk of cardiovascular disease (16). One specific study, conducted by nutrition professor Aedin Cassidy of Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, UK, tracked 93,600 women aged 25-42 years over 18 years. The findings confirmed that sustained intake of anthocyanins from berries can reduce the risk of a heart attack by 32% in young and middle-aged women (17).

Healthy benefits from pumpkin

Pumpkin is a highly nutrient-dense food. It is rich in vitamins and minerals but low in calories (18). Although it is often reserved for Halloween and autumn dishes, there are many ways pumpkin can be incorporated into your favourite meals year-round. In addition to being a good source of potassium, pumpkins are one of the best-known sources of beta-carotene. Potassium is the third most abundant mineral found in our body. It acts like an electrolyte, meaning that it dissolves into either positive or negative ions. When potassium dissolves in water, it carries a positive charge and this electricity is used for a variety of processes. Most notably, we use potassium for fluid balance, nerve signalling and muscle contractions. According to the American Heart Association, potassium is a heart-friendly electrolyte. Eating foods that are rich in potassium help to manage high blood pressure. This is because potassium lessens the effects of sodium since the more of it we eat, the more we lose through urine. Additionally, potassium helps ease tension in our blood vessel walls, further lowering blood pressure (19).

Written By: Danielle Bear

 

(1) McCulloch, David. “How Our Bodies Turn Food Into Energy.” How Our Bodies Turn Food Into Energy, wa.kaiserpermanente.org/healthAndWellness?item=%2Fcommon%2FhealthAndWellness%2Fconditions%2Fdiabetes%2FfoodProcess.html.

(2) Adeva-Andany, María M., et al. “Glycogen Metabolism in Humans.” BBA Clinical, Elsevier, June 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4802397/.

(3) “How the Body Uses Energy.” Ironman: Sports Science, Memorial Hermann, 30 Sept. 2013, ironman.memorialhermann.org/performance-improvement/sports-science/nutrition/how-the-body-uses-energy/.

(4) “Amino Acids: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002222.htm.

(5) Harvard Health Publishing. “The Truth about Fats: the Good, the Bad, and the in-Between.”Harvard Health, Feb. 2015, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good.

(6) “Vitamins and Minerals.” United States Department of Agriculture, www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/vitamins-and-minerals.

(7) Naruszewicz, M, et al. “Combination Therapy of Statin with Flavonoids Rich Extract from Chokeberry Fruits Enhanced Reduction in Cardiovascular Risk Markers in Patients after Myocardial Infraction (MI).”, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2007, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17320090.

(8) “Phenols.” Phenols – an Overview | ScienceDirect Topics, www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/phenols.

(9) “Called Nature’s Healer.” Benefits, usaaronia.com/benefits.html.

(10) Reinagel, Monica. “What Are ORAC Values?” Scientific American, 14 Aug. 2013, scientificamerican.com/article/what-are-orac-values/.

(11) Kumar, et al. “Chemistry and Biological Activities of Flavonoids: An Overview.” The Scientific World Journal, Hindawi, 29 Dec. 2013, hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2013/162750/abs/.

(12) “Daily Value Reference of the Dietary Supplement Label Database (DSLD).” S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, www.dsld.nlm.nih.gov/dsld/dailyvalue.jsp

(13) Zielińska, Aleksandra, and Izabela Nowak. “Abundance of Active Ingredients in Sea-Buckthorn Oil.” Lipids in Health and Disease, BioMed Central, 2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5438513/.

(14) “Omega-7 An Overlooked Fatty Acid.” LifeExtension.com, www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2016/5/Omega-7-An-Overlooked-Fatty-Acid/Page-01.

(15) Chambial, Shailja, et al. “Vitamin C in Disease Prevention and Cure: An Overview.” Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry, Springer India, Oct. 2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3783921/.

(16) McCullough, Marjorie L, et al. “Flavonoid Intake and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of US Adults.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, American Society for Nutrition, Feb. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3260072/).

(17) Ware , Megan. “Raspberries: Health Benefits, Nutrition, Dietary Tips, and Risks.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 5 Jan. 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/283018.php.

(18) Nordqvist, Christian. “Vitamins: What Are They and What Do They Do?” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 26 Sept. 2017, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/195878.php.

(19) “How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure.” How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure, www.heart.org/HEARTORG.

(20) “Benefits of a Balanced Diet.” World Health Organization, 2018, www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/disease-prevention/nutrition/a-healthy-lifestyle/benefits-of-a-balanced-diet.

Ingredients

  • ¾ bottle Erbology Organic Aronia and Sea Buckthorn Juice
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberry
  • 1 cup cooked pumpkin
  • ½ cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp raw cacao powder
  • Pinch of star anise powder
  • Pinch of cardamom powder
  • Pinch of cinnamon powder

Here's how you do it

  1. Wash, peel and cut your pumpkin into small pieces.
  2. Bring some water to a boil and add in the pumpkin, reducing heat until the pieces become soft.
  3. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until silky.
Note: If you want to make is as a custard, add another banana + 1 cup pumpkin and reduce the coconut milk to ¼ cup.

Tags

  • Anthocyanin
  • Aronia
  • Beta-carotene
  • Breakfast
  • Potassium
  • Sea buckthorn berries
  • Skin food
  • Smoothie
  • Spring recipes
  • Vitamin C

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