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); 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.
Go forth and power up your army!