These days, it seems like you can fit the entire food pyramid into one tasty smoothie. What a time to be alive! In a city where you can find a refreshing smoothie in almost any cafe, grocery store, or restaurant, it’s easy to get lost on what you’re actually consuming. Bananas and almond milk sound great, but what is that spirulina doing for you? Are you under the misconception that bee pollen is just a trendier version of honey? If you normally smile and nod at the nice barista’s suggestions, you’re not alone. It’s time to take a moment to finally figure out exactly what’s going into our smoothies. We’ll drink to that.
What is It? Spirulina is a powder that is sourced from algae. Yep, that green slimy stuff in the bottom of the pond, algae. Despite it’s less than appetizing look, that algae is incredibly high in protein, a good source of antioxidants, B-vitamins and a highly bioavailable source of iron!
Tastes Like: A bit pond-like if we’re going to be honest.
Favorite way to use it: In capsule form or add a teaspoon into your morning smoothie.
What is It? Honeybees collect millions of pollen grains from a single flower. In order to transport this pollen, the bees will pack it into granules using their hind legs and a sticky substance secreted by their stomachs. This ends up becoming their food source and ultimately, the chewy little granules we call bee pollen. Like many other bee byproducts, bee pollen is a rich source of B-complex, high in amino acids and loaded with vitamins. On top of that, it is richer in protein than any other animal source, half of which is in the form of amino acids which means they are ready to be used by the body.
Tastes Like: Chewy texture with a really unique, slightly sweet but slightly bitter taste
Favorite Way to Use It: Smoothies or by the spoonful! My favorite way to get midday energy? Spoonful of coconut oil, topped with one tablespoon of bee pollen and a drizzle of honey.
What is It? Maca is a root typically found growing in the Andean region and Peru. Its use has dated back as far as Incan civilization where it was believed to enhance energy and stamina. To this day, maca is used to increase energy, mental clarity, reduce anxiety, and improve circulation. Bonus points for this ancient root—it is said to increase libido as well.
Tastes Like: Earthy, bitter
Favorite way to use it: Bake into muffins or add a teaspoon to your morning smoothie.
What is It? This Brazilian superfruit has been making waves in the wellness world as of late. Growing in the flooded areas of the Amazon, camu camu is packed with Vitamin C—about 60 times more than that of an orange! Loaded with amino acids and flavonoids camu camu is a cold-fighting, anti-viral, inflammation busting super fruit that’s easy to incorporate in your day to day.
Tastes Like: A bit tart and sour.
Favorite Way to Use it: Camu camu Lemonade, made with one teaspoon camu camu, sparkling water, one tablespoon lemon juice, and one tablespoon honey (or few drops of stevia!)
What is It? Moringa is a small tree originating in India, Pakistan and Nepal. Used for generations in eastern medicine, Moringa has long been the go-to for fighting and preventing disease. Due to its high level of polyphenols, Moringa can be used to reduce liver damage and restore liver enzymes. It also has blood clotting properties which make it a powerful aid in speeding up healing time on wounds.
Tastes Like: Super green and leaf-like.
Favorite way to take it: Due to its taste, adding moringa into a green smoothie is the easiest way to get your daily dose.
What is It? Reishi is a mushroom that has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. This medicinal mushroom is used primarily for boosting the immune system and is quite the fighter when it comes to viral infections. If that isn’t convincing enough for you to add this little guy into your routine, it is also wonderful at reducing stress and fighting off fatigue.
Tastes Like: Bitter, woody taste
Favorite Way to take it: In droplet form, straight under the tongue!
What is It? While often confused with cocoa, cacao is the actual tree in which our beloved chocolate originates. Unlike its processed counterparts, raw cacao contains over 300 different, beneficial compounds and packs roughly four times the amount of antioxidant power of your chocolate bar. With protein, calcium, magnesium, sulfur and fatty acids (to name a few), cacao is your go to for improving heart function, lowering LDL, relieving stress and staying focused.
Tastes Like: unsweetened, bitter chocolate
Favorite way to take it: Blended with coffee, a tablespoon of coconut oil and cinnamon! Also makes a wonderful addition to banana smoothies and desserts!
What is It? Derived from flaxseeds, flax oil is a potent source of omega 3’s fatty acids. Omega 3s have been linked to healthier brains, improving skin and hair, decreased inflammation and even overall mood enhancement! With more ALA (alpha linolenic acid) than fish oil, flax oil is the perfect way to get essential omega’s without the risk of mercury.
Tastes Like: mild in flavor, a bit nutty
Use It In: Mix it in with some olive oil and lemon for the perfect salad dressing.
What is It? Hundred of millions of years ago sea salt beds in the Himalayas were once covered with lava. Thought to have protected it through all these years, this salt is now considered one of the purest forms of salt in the world. Unlike your typical table salt, himalayan pink salt is lower in sodium, high in iodine and has over 80 other minerals to help mineralize your system. HSS can also increase electrolytes, increase hydration, prevent muscle cramps and help improve circulation.
Tastes Like: salt
Use It In: Everything! Add a dash to water to increase your hydration.