Post Run/Race RECOVERY SMOOTHIE
So what is the deal with smoothies for runners?
Why are we always ranting and raving about them? This post aims to uncover the amazing anti-inflammatory benefits of our “recovery smoothie”.
First lets start with uncovering key ingredients in our smoothie!
Ripe Banans are key
Why ripe? Green bananas often lead to stomach aches & digestive issues. Because the simple carbohydrates have not formed completely banana is mostly starch when green, & needs to be cooked to be digested.
Bananas are always in our smoothies for a few reasons.
- Bananas are a great source of simple and easy to digest and assimilate carbohydrate, very important for runners to replenish glycogen post run and after a long night’s sleep
- Bananas make smoothies taste amazing and sweet, add creaminess and great texture
- Bananas are packed with vitamins, minerals and help boost potassium!
Did you know that our potassium sodium ratio is extremely important for our health? By eating foods rich in potassium and avoiding added salt, we can greatly improve our overall health and even help avoid some major issues like heart disease!
Sweet Potatoes/Yams are overlooked and under-rated!
Runners burn through calories quickly and often complain about not being able to stay full (especially plant-based runners like us,.. which is a good problem to have). This usually occurs because many runners who are interested in eating healthy eat lots of good things like salads, greens, and vegetables… however this is not enough because these healthy plant-foods do not offer the sustaining energy (calories) that we need!
Most runners do not get enough calories from truly healthy sources such as fruit and complex carbohydrate whole-foods like sweet potatoes! It is all about whole-foods when we want to improve our health, so we eat sweet potatoes all the time!!!
Sweet potatoes are a super nutrient packed complex-carbohydrate that is not processed at all, it is completely in its natural state and is therefore our top pick for complex-carbohydrate to keep us full and energetic all day.
Beetroot, ever since we discovered that beets can improve athletic performance by boosting the oxygen carrying capacity of our blood (along with other benefits) , we were all in. Runners can be happy to know that this benefits us largely because the amount of oxygen our muscles and body receives is directly related to performance!
How to eat beets though, well we add cooked (steamed, boiled and baked) to our salads and burritos, but we get the most in these smoothies. We do not bother steaming them due to lack of time, it is much quicker and cheaper to just add some raw beet directly to the blender. Powdered beet is also an option for those who want that option, but we always prefer the real deal.
Eat your Greens!!!! (kale, spinach, etc)
Do we really need to explain this one?
All runners can benefit from more greens, and smoothies are so so so easy to pack with greens!
We freeze big bags of organic Kale from Costco, that way we do not worry about it going off quickly in the fridge. Then we put like 3-4 handfuls of the frozen greens into the smoothies every day!
Did you say Cauliflower?
Cauliflower is the strangest food, being a cruciferous vegetable (like kale, broccoli, cabbage) it has tremendous health benefits like cancer fighting anti-oxidants, phytochmicals, carotenoids, fiber, water.. the list goes on.
The issue is we are not a huge fan of the flavor of it.. but we found that by adding frozen cauliflower to our smoothies, we do not taste it and we get all those amazing benefits.. Running as many miles as we do, we really love the added nutrition in our recovery smoothie!
Flaxseeds for Omega-3's!!!
Ground Flaxseeds, these seeds are packed with omea-3’s and other super nutrients that are extremely healthy and even protective against so many things! They have been shown to work better to reduce blood-pressure than all medications on the market!!! For us runners, any and all things that help regular the function of our heart, arteries and blood is really key.
We choose flaxseeds over chia seeds because studies show more health benefits from flax than chia, and flax are cheaper!
Ginger and Turmeric!
It is widely known in the natural health world that ginger and turmeric are powerhouse foods for reducing inflammation (along with rosemary and cloves) and that athletes can greatly benefit from consuming them daily.
The fresh root is the best way to consume them, to get the most anti-inflammatory properties and to make smoothies taste the best.
Since we discovered the healing benefits of ginger and turmeric root, we have found ways to include it in our diet in such a way that tastes amazing!
The problem with both of these awesome roots is they are both very strong in flavor, and many people are scared away by the taste of them raw. Some people buy powdered versions, but we find that it makes the smoothie taste even worse when we use powder!
They key is to make the smoothie taste so good with other ingredients that it covers the strong flavor of these amazing roots… hence the banana!
Oranges and blueberries!
We eat lots and lots of both of these! What is it in them that is so special? Well everyone knows about berries anti-oxidant content but what about Flavonoids?
Flavonoids are a group of phytochemical found in plant foods and are extremely beneficial to our health and recovery. Recent findings claim that they have potent anti-inflammatory properties and even work better than ibuprofen for athletes!
You can find Flavonoids in: Blueberries, Oranges, Green Tea, Strawberries, Romain Lettuce, Apples, Peaches, Watermelon, Pears, Celery, Tomatoes Almonds and garbanzo beans! We like sticking to tasty smoothie ingredients so we tend to leave the beans and celery out and stick to berries and other fruits!
These smoothies combine the inflammation reduction properties of Ginger, Turmeric and the Flavonoids in the fruit, with the cancer fighting antioxidants of the blueberries, the electrolytes from coconut water all with the potassium and carbohydrates from bananas!
Also to boost iron absorption in the greens, the vitamin C in the orange, allows the iron to be absorbed better during digestion. This is why we always recommend adding citrus to your green smoothies!
(Avoid dairy in recovery smoothies because dairy actually blocks the absorption of iron, many runners suffering from Iron deficiency and anemia solve this battle when they eliminate dairy)
And there you have it, our favorite smoothie ingredients!
This combination of nutrients is just what our bodies need to both recover and refuel from a workout or race that has left you sore and tiered, while also providing the perfect fuel to start the day with a bang!
Gwen and Katie drink this smoothie after races, workouts and for breakfast most every day!
If you don't know what ginger or turmeric even looks like or how to use it, don't worry, your not along... I didnt know what it was not too long ago either.
Ginger and turmeric are best used raw, just buy the root (Organic) in the produce section of a grocery store, bring it home, refrigerate it, and then slice off about 1/8 to 1/4 inch (about thumb nail size) piece each time you want to add a boost to your smoothies! If you cannot find it fresh you can get the powder or dried pieces, however note that the powder is highly concentrated so you will not need to use as much. The fresh root is your healthiest and most affective option though!
Soon you begin to love the taste of this smoothie and you will find yourself adding more and more! (but yes it is... different in the beginning!!!)
OUR RACE-RUN RECOVERY SMOOTHIE RECIPE
- 3-5 Bananas ( half of them peeled and frozen, adds creaminess)
- 1 cup cooked/baked/steamed sweet potatoes / yams
- 1.5 cups frozen blueberries or Strawberries (any berry)
- 1 Orange, peeled
- 1 cup Cauliflower (frozen)
- 1/2 cup beetroot (raw or cooked, raw is easier)
- 1/4 - 1/2 inch slice of fresh organic Ginger root (about 1-2 teaspoons)
- 1/2 - 1 inch slice of fresh organic Turmeric root ( about 4 teaspoons)
- 2-5 handfuls greens (we use kale/spinach and freeze it to keep longer)
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds or chia seeds
- 1 - 2 cups water, coconut water or non-dairy milk (depending on how thick or thin you like it)
Optional ingredients to add variety
- 1-2 tablespoons raw cacao powder or carob powder
- 1/8 tsp matcha green tea powder (powerful antioxidants and caffeine)
Blend all ingredients together in a vitamix or high speed blender until creamy and smooth. If you do not have a high speed blender you will want to use a grater and grate your ginger and turmeric root before adding it to the blender so your blender can handle it. Or you can chop it very finely with a knife!
Make it a meal
Add puffed cereal, granola or sliced fruit, pour your smoothie into a bowl and eat it as a meal. This way it feels like you are eating a meal, but make sure to make a lot of smoothie!!!