The Ultimate Travel Recovery Shake
Staying healthy while on the move is not easy.
When you are traveling across multiple time zones, bouncing from plane to plane, eating unfamiliar foods and spending your nights clinking cocktail glasses — your body, immune system and digestive track will be the first to show battle damage. It took a few serious hospital visits, but in the end I knew something had to change. So — in search of rebalance, I started digging through various health books and nutrition courses. What I discovered surprised me. And everyone else I shared it with.
A balanced diet is great if you can manage it. But sometimes, what you really need to get right back on track, is a nutritionally packed super shake.
For travellers returning home — nutrition is essential in promoting optimal recovery; reducing fatigue and dehydration as well as protecting your skin, and mental state. Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, healthy fats nourish your cells and provide a general sense of wellbeing. That said, adding them in your diet is not easy. So, as an impatient cook who struggles to spend more than fifteen minutes in the kitchen, I ended up creating my own health elixirs using a blender and an extensive shopping list of ingredients.
Don’t worry if you can’t find all the elements in my recipe. Not everyone can be lucky enough to live in places familiar with superfoods and health emporiums. In truth, once you begin to understand the different properties of commonly available fruits and seeds, you will be able to concoct your own magic shake and sip your way to a brighter you.
I’ve divided up my super shake into few key elements — the base, the protein, healthy fats, probiotics, fiber, antioxidants, and a little joy.
BASE: Almond Milk, Coconut Milk or Coconut Water
Dairy is not evil but it can act as an inflammatory and also be hard for many people to digest. Lactose is common and lactose intolerance is even more common. Industrialized cow’s milk is foreign to our bodies, and is also one of the only food that is specifically linked to acne. Soy milk is not much better. It has been linked to problems such as preventing the body from absorbing essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and even protein. For my base, I prefer unsweetened almond milk since it delivers a healthy dose of nutrients including fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, manganese, zinc, potassium, tryptophan, iron, phosphorus, copper, and calcium. If you feel dehydrated and need a fresher treat try coconut water which provides you with fat-free hydration and electrolytes.
PROTEIN: Pea Protein Isolate, Hemp Protein
The importance of protein in our diet cannot be overstated. Protein is essential for the support of lean muscle mass, blood sugar stabilization, weight control, energy levels, as well as supporting body maintenance and detoxification. Having protein within the first hour of waking is essential for optimal health.
There are many types, brands and flavours of protein powders on the market. My golden rule when picking one is to start by eliminating the highly processed options that have ingredients that are synthetic, chemical, toxic or harmful to the body and go for the brands made from natural, organic, plant-based ingredients. Be careful of soy protein. Although it is plant based, it has an active ingredient called isoflavones that can interact with oestrogen and skew hormone levels when taken in excess.
I prefer pea protein isolate since it contains all the essential amino acids needed to repair and support a healthy body. It is naturally fat, cholesterol, lactose, gluten-free but still taste like heaven especially if you chose one with Vanilla flavour. I love Vital Vanilla Pea Protein since it makes me feel like I am sipping Vanilla bean ice cream!
If you don’t wake up craving something sweet tasting, nutty hemp protein is another great option. It is also 100 percent plant-based and highly-digestible, meaning less heartburn, indigestion and bloating for sensitive tummies. Hemp seeds have more to offer than just protein content. They are often thought of as a superfood due to their high content of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which is essential for quelling inflammation and boosting brain function.
HEALTHY FATS: Flaxseed oil, coconut oil, chia seeds
Not all fats are bad for you. In fact, some are truly essential. Good fats support countless bodily functions including nutrient absorption, nerve transmission, cellular function and the prevention of inflammation. Omega 3, for example, nourishes the brain, helps with fat loss and protects the heart. You can get a good amount of Omega 3 by adding one tablespoon of flaxseeds or chia seeds into your daily smoothie. (Walnut is another great option)
I also love adding coconut oil as well for extra creaminess and super-nutrition benefits. It strengthens immune system, especially when you feel rundown after exhausting trips. Coconut oil increases metabolism, improves digestion, boosts key mineral absorption and is great for skin and hair. It is a great way to compensate for excessive dehydration after flying.
PROBIOTICS: Coconut kefir, probiotic powder
Known as “good bacteria” for our tummies, probiotics aid in digestion, help boost immunity, and are great for detoxifying the body by controlling the bad bacteria in our gut. You can bump up the health of your tummy by simply adding some kefir or probiotic powder to your smoothie. I usually use coconut kefir.
FIBER: Frozen bananas
Frozen bananas are a good fibre source that have the added benefit of creating wonderful, creamy smoothies. Of course they also have many heath benefits since they are an excellent source of potassium, vitamin B6, C and antioxidants. They have a natural antacid effect — so adding banana to your smoothie is just the thing to ease heartburn.
ANTIOXIDANTS & ANTINFLAMATORIES: Acai Berry, Maqui Berry Powder, Goji Berry, Bee Pollen
Here is a simple tip. Colour is good. To combat the aging effects of travelling, go for maximum color in your smoothies. I like using Amazonian acai berries, which are known for their high levels of antioxidants that target free radicals. Grown in Chile, Maqui berries are also great option since they also contain high levels of fatty acids, Vitamin C and Potassium. But if those are hard to find, you can also use blueberries, blackberries and strawberries. Get in season, and freeze to use year-round.
Goji berries, which are packed with medicinal phytochemicals, beta-carotene, amino acids, and twenty-one minerals, are also great antioxidants and a useful addition to your smoothie.
Bee pollen is also another wonderfully nutritious superfood that goes well in just about with every smoothie. They are rich in proteins, free amino acids, vitamins, including B-complex, and folic acid. They contain a high quantity of antioxidants. Even better; the amino acids and vitamins in Bee pollen protect the skin and aid the regeneration of new cells.
SOME JOY: Cacao Nibs, Carob Powder, Cinnamon, Manuka Honey
Every smoothie needs a little sweetness and joy to be truly delicious.
Cacao raises the level of serotonin in the brain and acts as a natural anti-depressant, promoting an overall sense of well-being. Chocolate at its purest, raw cacao beans are packed with antioxidants, magnesium and bliss nutrients keeping you young, bright, healthy and smiling. Add two tablespoons of cacao nibs to make your smoothie rich, crunchy and chocolaty! If you don’t have cacao beans, you can try adding some cacao powder.
Carob powder naturally taste sweet, with an aromatic caramel and malt flavor. It can also be used as a substitute for cacao nibs for people who are allergic to cacao. Sometimes you might want to add a little cinnamon, since it helps to increase blood oxygen levels and smell delicious! If you think cinnamon rolls are one of your weaknesses try adding cinnamon to your protein shakes.
Manuka honey is a distinctively flavoured, dark and rich honey from New Zealand. It is great since it has an antibacterial component that sets it apart from other honeys and is antimicrobial, antiviral and also a great antioxidant that can help to increase vitality and immunity. Add a teaspoon to your shake especially if you feel rundown. If you cannot find any Manuka honey where you are, try a high quality honeycomb.
What do you like to add into your super shakes?