I have some very GREAT news! On Thursday I passed my board exam and am now officially a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist! No longer am I a graduate student or a dietetic intern. I am a nutrition professional ready to help the world! Pretty cool, huh? With that being said, I am sorry I haven't been posting much recently because my head was in the books every spare second I had. And although I so much wanted to create and write about nutrition, I knew it would not have been the best way to spend my time leading up to the exam. But now its done and I am BACK!
Now, who wants an ENERGIZING AND PURIFYING smoothie bowl?? I do! Especially, since as of late my stress has overcome my ability to fully take care of myself. So today I have created a blackberry and spirulina smoothie bowl which is rich in nutrients and fiber that can support detoxification, help reduce inflammation due to loads of antioxidants, support thyroid health, promote a healthy gut flora, and can give you long lasting energy from a balanced carbohydrate, fat and protein content.
This blue-green algae is a cyanobacterium (a bacteria that creates its energy through photosynthesis) that has a long history of culinary use going as far back as to the Aztec civilization. And there is a good reason why! Spirulina is extremely nutrient dense as it is rich in protein, B vitamins (especially B12) minerals such as iron and calcium, carotenoids (powerful antioxidants), and iodine (1, 2). It is also a good source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects much like omega-3’s and is a good source of the fat-soluble pigment called cholorphyll, which has been found to play a chemopreventive role by significantly reducing the growth of cancer cells (3, 4). Also, interestingly chlorophyll and chlorophyllin (a synthetic version) have been found to reduce body odor and promote wound healing (5). Overall spirulina has many therapeutic effects and can be a great addition to any diet. However due to its very distinct flavor and aroma, it can be hard to get this superfood down unless it is hidden amongst other flavors—like this smoothie bowl.
One to two Brazil nuts a day can keep the doctor away! Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, a trace mineral that plays critical roles in reproductive health, thyroid health, aides in reducing inflammation, helps eliminate toxins, and supports proper DNA synthesis. Large amounts of selenium is most commonly found in animal meats. However, vegan and vegetarian diets can be adequate in selenium as well. Interestingly, Brazil nuts are one of the most concentrated sources of selenium due to the selenium rich soil that the trees grow in. Since Brazil nuts are so selenium dense, you only need 1 per day to meet your needs, as on average 1 Brazil nut contains about 50 micrograms of selenium (6). Based on the recommended dietary allowances healthy adults should consume at least 55 micrograms per day and no more than 400 micrograms per day. Chronic high intake of selenium could cause selenotoxicity so it is important to get enough but not too much (7).
Whether you follow this recipe to a T, or use it as a guideline, adding in those superfoods like spirulina and Brazil nuts can be a great start to the day. This recipe is easily adaptable, and honestly I created it from what I happened to have on hand. So I encourage you to do the same! If you don't have blackberries, use blueberries. If you don't have a nectarine, use a peach, melons, or anything that is ripe, sweet and juicy! Also, if you are not a fan of basil, try mint, or just simply add spinach. Its fun to get creative so I urge you to come up with your favorite version of a nutrient dense smoothie bowl!
Also, if you are new to spirulina, try adding ½ a teaspoon first, taste test, and then add more as desired.
Blackberry & Spirulina Smoothie Bowl
Serves 1 (or two as a snack)
1 cup fresh blackberries
1 ripe nectarine, pit removed
½ cup plain kefir or Nancy’s plain yogurt
¼ cup packed fresh basil leaves
2 Brazil nuts, chopped
2 tablespoons flaxseeds
½ - 1 tsp spirulina
½ tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
3 ice cubes
Toppings: blackberries, coconut flakes, and granola
Add all the ingredients to a high-speed blender like a Vitamix or Blend Tec, and blend until smooth. Then add the ice cubes, blend until smooth, and pour into your favorite bowl. Top with coconut flakes and a little granola for some added crunch.
Note: if you don't like the seeds from blackberries I recommend swapping with blueberries.
1. Hoseni SM, Khosravi-Darani K, Mozafari MR. Nutritional and Medical Applications of Spirulina Microalgae. Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry. 2013(13):1231-1237.
2. Karkos PD, Leong SC, Karkos N, et al. Spirulina in Clinical Practice:
Evidence-Based Human Applications. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.2008(2011):1-4.
3. University of Maryland Medical Center. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/gammalinolenic-acid. Accessed August, 2, 2015.
4. Konickova R, Vankova K, Vanikova J, et al. Anti-cancer effects of blue-green alga Spirulina platensis, a natural source of bilirubin-like tetrapyrrolic compounds Ann Hepatol. 2014.13(2):273-83.
5. Linus Pauling Institute. Chlorophyll. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/chlorophyll-chlorophyllin#metabolism-bioavailability. Accessed August 2, 2015.
6. Thomson CD, Chisholm A, McLachlan SK, et al. Brazil nuts: an effective way to improve selenium status. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Feb;87(2):379-84.
7. Linus Pauling Institute. Selenium. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/selenium. Accessed August 2, 2015.