Anyone feeling sluggish or perhaps a bit lethargic after the holidays? At this time of year, an energy boost might be the key, and I looked to Kendall Scott of Kendall Scott Wellness of Durham to show us how to increase our get-up-and-go.

Instead of grasping for a candy bar or yet another cup of coffee when you run out of oomph, you might try one of her energy smoothies instead. She offers us three levels of smoothie recipes — from beginner to advanced, so to speak — and tips on how to re-energize yourself using what she calls “super foods.”

Scott typically first recommends a few basic strategies when it comes to healthful eating habits: Try to increase plant-based foods in your diet, reduce animal-based proteins and stay away from processed and refined foods. Other simple steps you can take “to boost your health for life,” she said, include:

— Drink more water

— Learn to cook (“It will be healthier for you. Try to make it a habit.”)

— Increase whole grain consumption (“brown rice, quinoa, oats or millet give you more-lasting energy.”)

— Increase the amount of sweet vegetables in your diet (i.e.: carrots, beets, parsnips, squash or pumpkin. She said they will help reduce your less-healthy sweet cravings and are good for your digestive system.)

— Eat less refined sugar, and increase leafy greens

Which leads us to her energy smoothies. “A real easy way to increase the leafy greens in your diet is to add them to your smoothies.” She takes full advantage of her blender, adding baby spinach, dark lettuces, collard greens or kale into her smoothies on a regular basis. They are slightly camouflaged and offset by the sweetness of fruit, brown rice syrup or honey. She laughed and said, “Go ahead — nourish your inner rain forest! Adding greens to your diet cleans out your system.”

She notes that when it comes to smoothies, “I encourage people to experiment and see what you like.”

Since she attempts to use more plant-based food, she prefers to use almond, nut or rice milk as the base of a smoothie. She added that it’s OK to use water, if you’d rather, or cow’s milk. She said smoothies are really easy to make ahead (even the night before). Refrigerate, throw into a thermal travel mug and take with you when you’re on the run.

For the first-time smoothie maker, you might start with a simple concoction of milk, fruit and honey. As your taste buds become more adventurous, you can add shredded coconut or a nut butter of your choice. She said you could also throw in the whole nut or seeds, “but they don’t blend as smooth.” It’s actually OK if you have to chew your smoothie to some degree, she added — it triggers your digestive process.

Your fruit smoothie will turn green and become more nutritious once you launch into Step 2 — adding in those dark, leafy greens and perhaps half an avocado. Some individuals toss in some sweet potato, carrots or beets.

Experimenting with what Scott refers to as “super foods” kicks your energy smoothies into the realm of “super-charged.” These nutrient-dense foods give you the “most bang for your buck,” she pointed out, “and are very energizing.”

Included in her suggestions are raw maca powder (a powdered root vegetable with a distinctive flavor), raw cacao (raw chocolate) powder (an anti-oxidant with a rich source of magnesium; don’t be surprised by its bitterness), hemp powder (rich in both iron and omega fatty acids, with a nutty flavor) or goji powder (made from a nutritionally rich fruit, often referred to as a complete source of protein). Along with wheatgrass, these flavors might take some getting used to, she cautions, calling the wheatgrass an acquired taste. She recommends you ease in with small amounts and increase them as your taste buds relax and become comfortable with the new flavors. Her other advice is to mix and match, and try new combinations.

One of Scott’s best pieces of advice when it comes to eating more nutritiously: So as not to be overwhelmed, select just one item you want to add more of into your diet, and begin by increasing the frequency of how many times per week you eat that food. Focus on a new food after you’ve incorporated the first one into a regular habit.

As a health coach, Scott takes a holistic approach to both food and wellness. Along with the importance of food and diet choices, she stresses the importance of self-care (“how you take care of yourself is just as important as what you eat”) and healthy relationships. If you’re eating well and have made healthful changes to your diet, but you still feel poorly, she said you might need to look at your relationships. “You want to surround yourself with people that give you energy and not drain you.” These can directly affect your food choices and eating habits — either good or bad.

Suggested shopping list:

Coconut oil

Almond milk or other milk (rice or nut)

Cacao power

Hemp powder

Raw maca powder

Shredded raw coconut

Almond butter (macadamia, pecan, cashew, peanut or sunflower butters can also be used, or a combination of more than one)

Step 1: Simple Berry Smoothie

1 1/2 cups almond, nut or rice milk

1 cup berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries)

1 banana

Nut butter or shredded coconut, if desired

1 teaspoon honey

Water for desired consistency

Blend until smooth and serve.

Step 2: Green Berry Smoothie

Want to add in more nutrient-rich foods? To the Simple Berry Smoothie, try adding:

1/2 ripe avocado

A handful of raw baby spinach (about 1/2 cup, packed)

Coconut oil, if desired

Wheatgrass

Add water for desired consistency.

Step 3: Super Green Berry Smoothie

When you’re ready to kick your energy up a notch, try adding some or all of these “super foods,” found in most health food stores:

1 tablespoon raw cacao powder

2 tablespoons hemp powder

1 teaspoon maca powder

1 teaspoon goji powder

Add water for desired consistency.

For more information: www.kendallscottwellness.com or [email protected]


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