Breakfast: it's the most important meal of the day! Or at least that's what we were all told as children. I've never been a breakfast person. My first meal of the day is usually a few hours after I wake up, though coffee is essential. My body rejects eating breakfast at its traditional time, causing me to feel ill. For a long time I felt that something must be wrong with me. How could my body not allow me eat the day's most important meal?
As I have been transitioning from a couch-potato lifestyle to a healthier one, I've been doing research on the most effective ways to lose weight. While exercise is crucial, it pales in comparison to the importance of diet. When you think of breakfast which foods come to mind? Pancakes and waffles? Eggs and bacon? Milk and cereal? Seeing a trend? Traditional Canadian breakfast foods are based on the idea that we need to carbo-load to start our day. The Canadian Food Guide, created in 1962, is a dated and inaccurate template for one's diet. The guide breaks nutrition into 4 categories (Vegetables and Fruits, Grain Products, Milk and Alternatives, and Meat and Alternatives), and outlines how many portions of each category are required daily for optimal health. The demonization of fats in favour of carbohydrates is rooted in a set of studies done during the 1950's collectively called the Seven Countries Study. These studies flimsily found a correlation between heart disease and fats based on weak and preliminary results. As more and more studies have come out that refute the claims of the Seven Countries Study we have learned that our bodies don't need lots of empty carbohydrates; we need monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and nutrients, especially at the start of our day. Why? Because good fats jump start your brain.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the 'good fats', trans fats are the 'bad fats', and saturated fats are somewhere in between. The difference between the four types of fats comes down to the amount of hydrogen atoms bonded to the carbon chain, and the length of the chain itself. A quick, easy, and efficient way to start your day on the right foot is to drink a morning smoothie that incorporates monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats instead of eating a traditional carbohydrate heavy breakfast. This realization has been extremely beneficial to me, not just in regards to weight loss but also to the way I feel throughout my day. I feel noticeably happier, my brain functions faster, and I'm more ready to handle whatever life throws at me. Now that I've sang the praises of the morning smoothie...
Let's get into the recipe
You will need:
2/3 cup - Frozen mango cubes
1/3 cup - Plain low fat yogurt
1/4 to 1/2 - 1 Ripe avocado (depends on the size of the avocado)
1 tsp - Ginger paste
1 tsp - Fresh lemon Juice
1/2 tsp or to taste - Cayenne pepper
1 cup - Ice cubes
1/2 cup - Cold water
Add 1 tbsp of coconut oil
Add 1 tbsp of sunflower seed butter
Add 1/2 cup of kale
Add 1/4 cup mint
Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth or desired consistency. Enjoy!
Why these ingredients?
Mango - High in antioxidants, Lowers cholesterol (vitamin C, fibre, and pectin) clears the skin, improves eye health (vitamin A).
Yogurt - Supports health digestion (pro-biotic rich), excellent source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and vitamin B.
Avocado - Source of monounsaturated fat, vitamin K (essential for bone health), and high levels of folate (improves mood, sleep, and appetite).
Ginger - Anti-inflammatory, lowers risk of heart disease, can help fight infection.
Lemon - Vitamin C, detoxifier.
Cayenne Pepper - Headache remedy, prevents blood clots, anti-irritant, vitamin A.
Coconut Oil - Saturated fat containing medium chain triglycerides, brain food.
Sunflower Seed Butter - Magnesium for bone health, protein source, high in vitamin E for skin health.
Kale - High in iron for proper liver function, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, Vitamin A and C, calcium source for healthy bones.
Mint - Helps digestion, antioxidants.
This is a basic outline for a morning smoothie that works for me. Everyone is different so feel free to experiment and improvise. You know what works best for you.
The Free Lion Team