Hormone-Balancing Strawberry Maca Smoothie
I love a good smoothie, but I love even more when I can drink something so packed full of good-for-me ingredients that I feel fuller and happier for the whole day! This smoothie does just that, friends. Packed with healthy, real food ingredients that pack an extra special, hormone helping punch - maca root! The older I get, the more I feel my hormones dragging me all over the place, and I'm just trying to add some regularity - and this smoothie really helps when you take it regularly.
I first tried a similar smoothie at the Whole Foods juice bar near me - and surprise, surprise - I had to recreate it at home! I knew I could make it cheaper, and whenever I wanted, if I learned to recreate it. I added a few ingredients to make it more than a sweet strawberry banana base and now I am officially obsessed and make it at least 3 mornings a week. Beyond the bunches of greens I've added, the maca root has some real benefits in balancing the body's hormones. Below we'll talk about different types of maca, how much to use, and how it helps your body!
When it comes to maca you can buy at the store, there are two types: gelatinized and raw, non-gelatinized. Raw maca that has been powdered from the dried, uncooked root, can be a little hard on the digestive system and may cause stomach upset in about 5-10% of the population. Gelatinization involves a steam process that makes the maca more digestible and also increases bioavailability of the nutrients. You can buy whatever you prefer, but note the difference in case you have a sensitive stomach. (Maca isn't going to be for everyone, so if you have stomach issues when you take it or you are following a low FODMAP diet, I recommend you avoid it all together.)
I always recommend buying organic when you can, especially since maca is a root and is grown directly in the soil. I have been loving this brand lately and it has added ashwaganda powder as well, but again, use whatever maca you prefer. High quality maca is usually grown in Peru - so look for that confirmation on the packaging. Other things to look for? Ideally, you want your maca sustainably grown and naturally harvested without the use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides, solvents, radiation or high heat. But don't worry babes - this info is usually on the packaging itself and always online! OH, and always keep your maca in the fridge - it can oxidize when exposed to air, heat and moisture.
So how does maca help and why take it? Well ladies (and gents!) there are some pretty great reasons, specifically hormone-balancing ones. Maca is rich in vitamins C and A as well as B2, B6 and Niacin and packed with minerals, including iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, copper, magnesium and potassium. It contains healthy fatty acids that help stabilize blood glucose levels and reduce inflammation in the body. It strengthens your bones and supports healthy liver and enzyme function.
Maca is one of the rare plants that can be classified as an ‘herbal adaptogen’. This means it can directly change the balance of your hormones to help you adapt to stress and illness. Unlike some herbs and phytoestrogens such as soy (which I'm actually super allergic to), maca does not try to mimic estrogen in your body. It is a hormone BALANCER, so it draws your hormones back to where they need to be rather than increase only one type of hormone and cause an imbalance. Many women report improved PMS, menopause, and PCOS symptoms as a result of regular maca usage during their cycle.
Maca is also high in fibers like cellulose and lignins, which improve gut health. Fiber is also an effective tummy filler, which can reduce hunger between meals. Most maca powders also contain between 11% to 18% protein, which is a nice little boost in your morning smoothie, as well. On top of all those great reasons, maca is also a natural energy provider so you can use it to help kick the caffeine and ditch that afternoon slump!
To break it down:
-reduced menopause and PCOS symptoms
So basically, it's a smoothie all of us can enjoy for different - or maybe all of the - reasons listed above! I'd love to hear about your experiences with maca in the comments below. I've only been using it regularly for about a year, but love and plan to keep using it. Let's get blending, babes!
1 1/2 cups coconut water or unsweetened almond milk
1 frozen banana
1-2 cups fresh spinach
1 1/2 cups frozen (or fresh!) strawberries
1-2 teaspoons maca root powder
3-4 drops vanilla stevia (optional)
1 tablespoon flax powder
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon psyllium husk
1 tablespoon coconut or nut butter
maple syrup, honey or agave
Toss it all in a high-speed blender (we use a Vitamix) and blend until it is smoooooooth. Then pour it in a large glass - or two - and enjoy!
Sub in what you need or what you’ve got to suit your preferences!
If you use coconut water, the smoothie will be a bit lighter, whereas using almond milk will result in a thicker, creamier smoothie. I like them both!