Sweet and slightly tangy, this smoothie is low in carbs but loaded with flavor.
By Amanda Burrill, MS
Meal preppers, listen up: If you eat the same thing day in and day out for an extended period of time, in the long run something will be lacking. Trying new foods and having variation in your diet is the best way to increase the overall number of nutrients you give your hot body. If you live and die by your prepared lunches and dinners, then your a.m. protein smoothie is the perfect place to “play around.”
Pitahaya cactus (yes, this comes from a cactus) is known in English as “dragon fruit.” They are native to Mexico but are now cultivated in Southeast Asia, the US, and Israel. They have spread for good reason—they’re tasty, healthy, and once you open them up, surprisingly pretty. Yes, that counts for something. Pretty food tastes better.
Dragon fruit, which tastes like a cross between a pear and a kiwi, is low in calories yet offers many nutrients, including vitamin C, B vitamins, phosphorus, calcium, and antioxidants. These nutrients are proven to do things like lower blood sugar levels, strengthen bones and teeth, promote healthy blood and tissue formation, and strengthen the immune system.
The fruit comes in three colors: Two have pink skin, but with different colored flesh (one white, the other red), while another type is yellow with white flesh. Most commonly in the US you’ll find the pink-skinned ones with the white flesh.
It’s an improbable-looking thing, but the fruit is easy to get to. Slay the dragon by slicing lengthwise and scoop out the flesh with a large spoon. Only eat the white seedy part, as the pink skin is quite bitter.
½ dragon fruit, skin removed
2 teaspoons flax seeds
1 lemon, juiced
6 oz. favorite milk (I like unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
1 scoop favorite vanilla protein powder
Handful of ice
Total (per serving): 229 calories, 19 g carbs, 21 g protein, 7 g fat, 5 g fiber
Combine all ingredients in a blender, beginning with the liquid to avoid sticky clumps. Blend until smooth.
STRAWBERRIES: Oh, the power of vitamin C! It’s vital to the production of collagen, which helps improve skin’s elasticity and resilience. Remember, we also care how we look, and collagen is one of those things we lose as we age. Strawberries have another ingredient, ellagic acid, that’s proven to prevent collagen destruction and inflammatory response in the skin, both of which can lead to wrinkles. Not on my watch!
GROUND FLAX SEEDS: It’s hard to find any food higher in fiber—both soluble and insoluble—than flax seeds. All this fibrous goodness promotes proper digestion and function of the intestines and also helps stabilize blood sugar. Flax seeds are also high in phytochemicals, including many antioxidants, which protect cells in your body from free radical damage. Note: Flax seed oil contains neither the fiber nor phytochemicals I just mentioned, so stick to ground flax seeds.
LEMON JUICE: History lesson: In the 1700s, the Royal Navy used lemons to fight scurvy (vitamin C deficiency). They must have been short on strawberries. Chemistry lesson: It’s vital for the body to maintain a slightly positive alkaline state to fight off illness. Even though lemon juice is acidic to taste, it’s one of the most alkaline foods out there and helps get our bodies to the required pH alkaline state of around 7.4. It enhances this smoothie by adding a slightly tangy dimension.