We knew we wanted to be registered dietitians and personal trainers back when we were in high school because we had started to notice that if we didn’t eat the healthy meals our mom made for us, we’d feel heavy and our athletic ability tanked. And since we always wanted to know what we could eat to run faster and be better soccer players, realizing that there was such a connection between what we ate and how we felt caused a “light bulb” to go on—and we realized that we could help other people to feel light, fit and amazing with changes in their diet. Since then, we’ve been whipping up new recipes for this very reason, and one of our top requests amongst our clients is for pre and post-workout smoothies—everyone seems to want to get in shape, or get stronger, fitter or be able to workout longer—and to crush their flat-belly workouts.
Concocting delicious, easy-to-make, healthy smoothies that pack in antioxidants, protein, fiber and anti-inflammatory compounds that help fuel the body before exercise, as well as recover more quickly after a tough workout, is what gets us hot and cookin’—or shall we say blending? Our newest creation? Our Blueberry Chai Pea Protein Powder Smoothie – it fits the bill on all fronts, thanks to its’ superstar ingredient- an amazing pre- and post-workout food, the pea protein powder, a nutrient-packed plant protein that works in tandem with blueberries, cinnamon and ginger to give this smoothie the edge over many other workout smoothies. Plus, with just under 200 calories and with 17 grams of protein, this smoothie is perfect for keeping you satisfied while also not weighing you down.
Here’s the scoop (a generous, pea protein powder one 😉 ) on the power player ingredients in this smoothie and how they help to fuel your body for even the toughest workout, as well as help your body recover faster:
Pulses/ Pea Protein Powder.
If you’re not familiar with pulses, they are delicious, protein-packed, sustainable foods known as chickpeas, lentils, dry peas and beans that contain the magical combination of both protein (and it’s plant-based and perfect for vegetarians too!) and fiber (we talk about this a lot!), to keep you satisfied so you won’t get a grumbling belly in the middle of your workout. The protein and fiber from the pea protein powder in this smoothie help to keep your energy on an even keel and keep your blood sugar level stable, so you won’t run out of steam in the middle of your workout. The pea protein helps after your workout too, because it helps your muscles to rebuild, repair and recover after exercise. And if you’re like many of our clients who are mindful about their weight, the protein/fiber combination is also helpful on that front since keeping hunger at bay and energy and blood sugar levels on even keel means the thwarting of cravings and the overeating that comes with them that lead to weight gain.
Another reason your waistline will appreciate pea protein powder?
Pea protein is an unexpected power player in the weight loss arena, as like all pulses, it can aid in weight loss even when calories aren’t restricted and it was also found to be more effective than whey protein at fighting against hunger! Yup, pea protein powder helps to minimize the pooch!
Psst… looking for more recipes with pulses? Feel free to search our blog and here are a few to try…
These yummy, little blue bites are antioxidant and fiber-packed, wholesome carbohydrates, which are an ideal fuel for working muscles to help to refuel glycogen stores (muscle energy) after a workout so you’re ready to take on your next workout. Being packed with antioxidants, and particularly rich in anthocyanins, means they have the power to help mop up free radicals after exercise, protecting cells from damage and assisting with cell and muscle repair. Research suggests they actually may assist in weight loss (yippee!) since they contain the phytochemical C3G that may increase production of both adiponectin (which enhances fat metabolism) and leptin (which suppresses appetite). Oh yeah!
Ginger fights inflammation and calms your body, which is especially important after exercise so your body can repair more quickly, so you’ll be ready for your next exercise session! Ginger also fights against chronic inflammation which causes damage to tissues in the body and it speeds the aging process. Preventing this inflammation means you’ll be healthier in the long haul!
Cinnamon, like ginger fights inflammation, helping the body to repair itself after exercise– and cinnamon also may lower blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides and research shows it takes as little as ½ teaspoon a day. And if one of your goals or exercise is to burn off some fat, cinnamon may help here too! According to this recent study, cinnamaldehyde, which is the oil in cinnamon that gives it it’s flavor, activates fat burning by acting on fat cells through a process known as thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is the process in which our bodies create heat when we digest food, or to keep us warm.
For meal ideas, recipes, more facts on pulses, cooking tips and more, please head over to Pulses.org/NAP!
Blueberry Chai Protein Smoothie
Yield: 1 serving
2/3 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 small banana
1 scoop (20 g) plain pea protein powder (or a flavor like vanilla)
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of ground cardamom
3 ice cubes
optional add-ins: water (to thin smoothie to your desired thickness), 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric (for extra antioxidant/anti-inflammatory powers), 1-2 drops liquid stevia (for extra sweetness if your banana isn’t very ripe or if you want some extra sweetness when using unflavored protein powder)
Blend all ingredients together until smooth, adding water as needed to reach desired thickness.
Substitute: To substitute canned chickpeas, omit protein powder and substitute 1/2 cup unsalted canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
Nutrition info with protein powder: 192 calories, 3.5 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 17 grams protein, 26 grams carbs, 5 grams fiber, 15 grams sugar, 87 mg sodium
Nutrition info with canned chickpea substitution: 220 calories 4 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 7.5 grams protein, 45 grams carbs, 10 grams fiber, 15 grams sugar, 97 mg sodium
A study published in Nutrition Journal found that pea protein was more effective at starving off hunger than whey protein; improved satiety can potentially lead to weight loss. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3295702/
1 Kim SJ, de Souza RJ, Choo VL et al. Effects of dietary pulse consumption on body weight: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27030531
This blog is sponsored by USA Pulses, but all opinions, as always, are our own.