By Michael DeCiantis – Registered Massage Therapist (& Smoothie Expert)
During massage treatments, patient conversation ranges widely. Often, patients will ask questions about healthy lifestyle choices. As luck would have it, I’ve committed my life to healthy living. This is one of the main reasons I decided to become a Massage Therapist (transitioning out of the corporate world). As an RMT, I’m better positioned to help others live healthier lives. I’m passionate about helping people experience less pain through work on the table and extending to self-care practices they can enact in their everyday lives. My transition to a healthy lifestyle was one of necessity. For years, I experienced chronic pain, poor sleep quality, lethargy and the depression and sedentary lifestyle that comes with low energy levels.
One of the cornerstones of a healthy diet, in my opinion, is a nutrient-packed smoothie to start your day. Many people juice their fruits and vegetables. I’m not opposed to juicing, per se, but my understanding is that it strips the end product of the fiber that most North Americans are already deficient in. That brings me to tip 1:
Invest in a good blender:
I believe that one reason people prefer juicing is because they’ve never experienced a smoothie made in a Vitamix or Blendtec (I’m sure there are many other good brands, but these are two I have experience with). The strength of these machines is unparalleled. I once saw a Vitamix infomercial where they pulverized an avocado pit. You can liquefy most things which makes them ideal for sneaking your daily intake of greens, for example, in the form of a tasty drink.
Note: I am fully aware that these appliances are very expensive. With that said, they last forever. I’ve had my Vitamix for 7 years, and I’ve used it daily. Because of their durability, they are a fine tool to purchase used. I saw one on Kijiji earlier for $100. Look at it as an investment in your long-term health and well-being.
Get your Green on:
As I mentioned earlier, the beauty of investing in a good blender is that it will save you time as well as make it enjoyable to consume those pesky greens that are so important but no one ever wants to eat. In my opinion, every smoothie should have vegetables in it. If you balance the ratio of fruit to vegetable correctly, you shouldn’t really taste the vegetables very much. Every smoothie I make has either Spinach or Kale in it. After that, I may try to sneak in other mild flavour veggies like celery, carrots, avocado or sweet peppers.
Pre-cut Fruits and Veggies:
When I started making daily smoothies, I bought a ton of produce and cut it all and put it in the blender. It was time consuming. Now, most grocery stores have pre-cut frozen fruits and vegetables. This has simplified things immensely. For a slight surcharge over buying fresh produce, you save all the unnecessary work and mess. Additionally, it is my understanding that freezing produce right after it’s picked preserves much of the nutrient density better than other preservation methods.
Some of my go-to fruits are Pineapple, Mango and Strawberry.
As for the question of organic versus non-organic? Organic, in my opinion, is better, that is, if the pesticide load required to grow the produce is concerning. This is above my pay grade, so I rely on the Environmental Working Group to provide me with this info. Links below outline the “Clean 15” and “Dirty Dozen.” The dirty dozen are the foods you should seriously consider buying organic, and the clean 15 are the safer bets to buy non-organic.
Environmental Working Group is just a great resource in general for consumers – ewg.org
Packing even more Nutrition
Some other favourites that might not be for everyone, but will definitely take the nutrition to another level:
- Beets – several health benefits (plus red pigment is so strong that it makes any smoothie combo bright red). PC sells frozen pre-cut beets.
- Turmeric and Ginger – great natural anti-inflammatories (for best absorption of turmeric, consume with black pepper – pepper isn’t great in smoothies, but I’ll make a ginger turmeric latte in the Vitamix with pepper and honey)
- Spirulina & Chlorella – (come in powder form) these are packed with a million vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants, etc.
- Pomegranate – PC sells frozen Pomegranate. Tastes great and adds anti-inflammatory, heart-healthy and lowers blood pressure
- Mint – brings a level of freshness to every smoothie combo and is nutrient-dense. It can also potentially assist with symptoms of IBS and indigestion.