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This recipe is for my city-riding, bike messenger, fixie friends (you know who you are); my marathon running friends (that would be you, Jack);Β my ultra-paddling friends (Fly Fish Chick and Banning); and my Livestrong friends who are an inspiration to all.

I’m a big fan of smoothies. You can pack vegetables, fruit, seeds and all kinds of healthy ingredients into a breakfast drink. Just imagine how much your body will love you if you start your day with several servings of high-end antioxidants and building blocks. I won’t go overboard with the geeky details, but Dr. Glyn Howatson, exercise physiologist and lab director at the School of Psychology and Sports Sciences at England’s Northumbria University (I also adore my UK friends), found that marathon runners who drank cherry juice twice a day for 5 days before and 2 days after the London marathon, recovered much faster than those who didn’t. Howatson and his research team (talk about geeky*) also found that cherry juice reduced oxidative stress and inflammation. To make a long and biochemically complicated story short, the substances in cherries help reduce physiological stress, diminish inflammation, boost immune function and speed up recovery time. All good things.

Here’s how I see this and how I apply it to my life and to everyone I mention above. We’re all under physiological stress, whether you’re a bike messenger in NYC (check here to see what that’s like), running the Boston marathon (run Forrest run – uh, I mean Jack), “sprint” paddling 262 miles from central Texas to the Gulf coast (check here for details about my friend Christine and Team Paddlefish’s attempt at this grueling race), or fighting cancer (which puts everything else into perspective).

Whatever we’re doing we’re experiencing oxidative stress.

Okay, so what is oxidative stress?

My Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition, & Human Performance book defines oxidative stress as cellular damage caused by an accumulation of free radicals, which ultimately increases the likelihood of cellular deterioration associated with many diseases, a general decline in central nervous system and immune function and advanced aging. I’m paraphrasing; that’s the abridged version. The detailed version is much scarier. Oxidative stress is to us like kryptonite is to superman.

Yikes! Please pass the cherries.

Here’s what’s so amazing about the human body. We have an elaborate natural defense system that fights against free radicals and other icky things, but we need to equip our army with the right battle tools.

A donut doesn’t have the fire power of a broken squirt gun.

I want a battleship, a rocket launcher and some grenades. That’s what you get when you supply your troops with high-powered, nutrient-dense foods.

Does that make sense?

If so, then let’s support the troops! This smoothie is full of ingredients that help fight cancer, boost the immune system, combat oxidative stress, speed recovery time, restore tissue damage and blah, blah, blah.

power-packed cherry cabbage chia recovery smoothie
what you need

1 cup coconut water (wonderfully healthy electrolyte drink)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen organic cherries, about 10-12 (see health information above)
1/2 cup Redwood Hill Farms vanilla goat yogurt (I love this stuff)
3 or 4 large Napa cabbage leaves, washed and chopped (contain anti-cancer substances)
1 tablespoon ground chia seeds (high-quality protein)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (helps balance blood sugar)

what you do
Add ingredients to a blender or VitaMix and blend well.

* Bananas and pears also taste great in this smoothie. Be creative.

I prefer using all organic ingredients, but if nothing else, make sure your cherries are organic. They’re on the Environmental Working Group’s dirty dozen list. Check here for a downloadable shopper’s guide to pesticides in foods.

* I’m very fond of nerdy guys and am not knocking these cute UK science geeks.

You might also like these geeky posts
Performance enhancing beets
Does my butt look big

Go forth and power up your army!

13 Responses to “cherry cabbage chia recovery smoothie”

  1. Alta says:

    Your second and third photos didn’t come through for me, not sure why.

    Anyway, I love this smoothie! I love cherries anyway, and always good to remember that they’re so good for me. I fell out of my smoothie habit (a detox diet back in Jan, where I was drinking 2 smoothies a day, kinda wore me out on them), and I think I should get back on board. The extra veggie/fruit/antioxidant punch really helps my energy levels, even though I’m not an amazing athlete like these people you describe!

  2. I only see one photo, too, but gosh, what a great smoothie recipe! I can’t wait to try this one, Melissa. Well, I won’t make it until I return from a girlfriends’ trip, but then I’m on board. Coconut water is great in smoothies and I actually miss cabbage when I leave it out of smoothies. Who would have thought? I recently got some chia seeds and have been using them a lot. I don’t think I can get that goat’s yogurt here, but I can get some from a friend for sure. And, I love cherries in drinks. This will be like a super woman cherry milkshake kind of drink. πŸ˜‰


  3. Melissa says:


    I don’t know what happened with the nutritional profiles that I added to the post. Weird, they show up fine on my computer, but not on PCs. Thanks for the “head’s up” about that. I removed them as it’s a little weird with missing files and those little question marks floating around. I totally agree that high-powered smoothies up your energy levels.

    Thanks, Alta. As always, I appreciate your input!

  4. This sounds great. I’ve been having smoothies every day and I feel amazing. I’m wondering as you talk about the qualities of the cherries if that would apply to someone recovering from the damage gluten has caused their bodies and not just from exercise?

    Every day I have a different smoothie and it’s so much fun. Do you have one list showing all of your smoothie recipes and ideas? If you don’t I’d love to see you pull one together and even sell it as an e-book. I’d buy that!

  5. Cid says:


    What were the chances that I’d tune in to your blog today while munching on some homemade organic cherry preserve? πŸ™‚ There’s some kind of spooky connection going on Melissa, haven’t we always said that. As for my preserve or jam as we say, well it’s full of sugar so not overly good for either the teeth or the waist-line but then a little now and again probably won’t hurt. I’ve just got to try the fresh smoothie version when the season swans around again.

    Any sign of spring yet?


  6. Melissa says:


    I don’t know what happened to my mystery files. I see them on my Mac, but people have mentioned they aren’t visible, so I’m taking them off. I’ll email you the details if you’re interested.

    It’s funny how you can have beet root and cabbage smoothies and just by adding some cherries and goat yogurt, you’d never even guess you had those veggies in there. Perfect way to start the day!

    Hope you have fun on your girl trip!

  7. Melissa says:


    It’s amazing how good you can feel when you start your day with high-end energy food. By providing your body with the necessary “tools” to recover and maintain energy, you don’t have those slumps during the day. I agree, you feel amazing!

  8. Melissa says:


    Well, I have to admit, your homemade organic cherry preserves on a piece of toasted teff bread sounds better to me right now than a smoothie. I’m doing a moderate cleanse right now and (to be honest) am craving sweets and baked goods. I got a little carried away from the holidays on and was in need of an “intervention.”

    And yes, spooky connections are good when they are as positive as this one. The “universe” decided long ago that we would be friends, so now, it’s just slowly playing out. Soon we will be famous as the quirky soup girls.


    Even without the fame, fortune, and pretend boyfriends, I’m thrilled our paths have crossed. In fact, one of my next posts (whenever I get to it) will be requesting input from you and your gang from the other channel.

    Spring is here. It’s 9 AM, 60 degrees and sunny skies. Who knows what next week will hold (there are still fading snow remnants in my yard), but right now I’m hearing the birds chirping and enjoying the warmth. Although, poor Fairbanks isn’t as happy with this weather. He likes the temperature to hover around freezing.

  9. um, yum? πŸ™‚

    This looks GREAT Melissa! I forgot how wonderful cherries are for post work-out recovery. We still have loads in our freezer from last year’s harvest. Organic of course, from a friend’s over-abundant tree! We love coconut water too. I just had not thought about combining all of these great ingredients into a smoothie. Will give it a try. Though I’d probably switch out the goat yogurt for bananas. Hope al is well! -Ali πŸ™‚

  10. Melissa says:

    Ali, I’m anxiously awaiting my cherry load in early summer. My local CSA fruit share was overly abundant last summer. I miss them, but still have a few frozen ones left as well.

  11. laura says:

    New reader, via Grant Farms CSA. Beautiful bike! πŸ™‚

  12. Guess who finally just got a Blendtec?!!? ME!!!! (I’m very excited.)

    I’m planning on making an iteration of this tomorrow morning after my ride. I picked up some organic cabbage very inexpensively yesterday (lots of leftovers after St. Paddy’s day, I guess!)

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Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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