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Super Smoothies (with a healthy twist)

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Blenders should be out in every kitchen all year…In reality, if you’re like me, a blender may sit in your cupboard collecting dust through the winter (but for making the occasional home-made soup)! Summertime means that many blenders can once again see the light of day, as we find ourselves in the mood for refreshing, healthy smoothies.

As it’s the start of ‘blender season’, I’ve been experimenting with some Rule Free recipes, which pack a nutritional punch and contain some less conventional ingredients! Here’s 2 of my favourite smoothies so far, each serving a different purpose to supplement you’re training…and they don’t require you to go out and buy loads of weird or expensive ingredients. The lesson I have learnt is that there are no rules as to what you can and cannot add into a healthy smoothie!

The Cocoa Recovery
Whether you’re pumping iron down the gym, training for a marathon or coming home from the pool – The Cocoa Recovery is a thick milkshake that will provide you with varied sources of protein, essential amino acids, minerals (calcium, magnesium and zinc), anti-oxidants and flavanoids to kick-start your muscle repair process and help you recover ready for your next training session!

Add the following to 400ml of milk/water:
25g of grated organic dark chocolate (try 70% cocoa content or above)
1 banana (they contain 4 times as much protein as apples!!!)
2 heaped teaspoons of skimmed milk powder
2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter (try a brand like Whole Earth Organic)

Secret Ingredient: 2 portions of frozen spinach (it wont change the flavour but it will add a great dose of iron, calcium, iodine, phosphorus, folic acid and magnesium.

Optional Extra: So Good Soya’s chocolate milk – For a long time, I turned away soya as a protein option, believing it to be an unfavourable option for men. If you don’t mind its unique creamy taste, soya offers some excellent, readily digestible protein – this includes vegetable proteins which have the advantage that they cause less loss of calcium from the body.

The Inflammatory Aid
Heavy training loads on our body can result in ‘inflammation’. This is an undesirable side effect which can be limited through making the right nutritional choices. That’s why cherries feature in The Inflammatory Aid. Cherries are packed with anthocyanins (making them red in colour) – read more about them in my article,‘Why should we eat cherries this Summer?.

4 ice cubes
1 small handful of frozen/fresh tart cherries
1 apple
1 pinch of powdered cinnamon (to help regulate blood sugar levels)
300 ml of natural coconut water (Amazing for hydration and detoxing)

Secret Ingredient: 1 whole cooked beetroot – soft so it blends easily and releases all of those vitamins, minerals and nitrates. It’s earthy flavour is not too overpowering but it’s health benefits certainly are – studies have shown that beetroot can really help endurance athletes to sustain their performance for longer! It’s beta-carotene makes it a super blood-builder by helping clear out free radicals and strengthening your immunity. Read more on beetroot (and blackberries here)

Optional Extra: 1 tea spoon of Blackstrap Molasses – this will add natural sweetness and plenty of vitamins.