Friday, January 6, 2012

Probiotic Smoothy

Smoothy Recipe can be printed as a 4x6 photo
Being surrounded by the crazy germs of school age children has garnered a renewed love for probiotics, especially in the winter.  Probiotics are (seriously this time) linked to all sorts of health benefits (lowers BP, improves digestion, clears up skin problems*), but most importantly, it keeps internal bacteria in check. 
Our society uses a ton of antibiotics to cure bacterial infections but in doing so, they wipe out all of the bacteria, both good and bad, in the body and create antibiotic resistant infections; a nuclear bomb on the body. Technically speaking, the problem is that since the good guys are gone, the bad guys can rule the city really fast.  Probiotics are like the X-men.

By regularly taking probiotics, it gives the good guys a little edge, and hopefully in the long run, keeps our bodies healthy (and off antibiotics).  Our family still gets sick (mostly viruses), but it isn't terribly often, and I'd love to take a moment to brag about how my 10 year old DS has never been on antibiotics and my 8 year old DD has only been on them once.  That said, I would be remiss if I failed to inform that, I personally, have been on antibiotics nearly every year since having kids.  Sometimes more than once.  I catch strep throat by just walking near elementary school aged children.

How does one get these helpful little probiotics (affectionately called "Probies" by a DF)?  Well, I'm glad you asked.  There are a couple of ways:

1) Buy Them at the store in a tasty little chewable option.  They are sold all over, Whole Foods, GNC, and most natural grocery stores.  Usually they are in a refrigerated section.  Look for "Full Strain Probiotics".  This is the route I recommend to really boost the system if it is wiped out or if everyone around is sick.  The downside is that they are kind of expensive; my kids learned to swallow meds really early as a frugal measure.

2) Eat Them!  Almost everyday, we have a yogurt smoothy with/for breakfast (or after-school snack or dessert).  I make it with Mountain High Lowfat All Natural Plain Yogurt because it is naturally loaded with probiotics (there are other brands like Activia, but most are filled with BGH, sugar, corn syrup, things I can't pronounce, and have less probiotics, if any).  It is also really reasonably priced when purchased at Costco.  Word on the street is that most of the healthy happy little Probies live in the clear liquid so DO NOT drain that off, just ration it into the smoothies.

Probiotic Fruit Smoothy Recipe
1 cup of Plain Lowfat Yogurt with Live, Active Cultures
Healthy Squeeze (about 1 T.) Agave Sweetener**
1 t. Vanilla (optional but tasty)
1 Banana - mushy ripe
Whatever fruit is in the house or freezer (or just banana)

Blend with an immersion blender until smooth 
(make sure to rinse the immersion blender promptly in hot water or it is a real b**** to clean)
It takes less time to make this smoothy AND clean up than it takes for the whole grain bagels to toast. 

No Fruit in the House?!  Not even a banana?! Use unsweetened jelly or jam (strawberry or peach is good).  It isn't quite as fresh but it kind of tastes like those Dannon fruit on the bottom cups. With mango pulp, it is a little taste of heaven.

Sickness Brewing?!  Exchange agave for Honey and add Cinnamonhoney and cinnamon have been used in oriental medicine for the longest time.  They are so good for you and I honestly believe that drinking this smoothy (which tastes surprisingly good) helps ward off all sorts of illness.

*My DD had the worst bleeding painful eczema that you have ever seen on a sweet pretty little girl (for her sake, I'm not posting a picture).  It covered her adorable  face and all of her joints.  Her hair would fall out in scabbed clumps. (I know, TMI, but it was just awful).  I was so afraid that this was something she would battle for the rest of her life.  I used all sorts of creams, soaps, shampoos, and eventually prescription steroid cream.  It worked moderately while the cream was on but would flare up again by morning, and it was gross to put on her head where the problem was worst.  When she was old enough, I started filling her with probiotics (chewable AND yogurt).  The rash slowly got better, and by 4, the rash was ENTIRELY gone.  If anyone saw her today (at 8) they would NEVER know that she was covered in eczema at one point.  I'm sure it wasn't entirely probiotics but I really think they played a heavy role, especially since eczema runs in our family.

** Agave is also a really good deal at Costco.  It has a lower glycemic index than sugar or corn syrup so it tends to be easier on the body (less sugar peaks but still sweet).  Use white sugar at the beginning if your family is used to sweet gogurt sort of things and then start to wean off the sugar.  Using real sugar is still way better for the body than all of the processing and corn syrup added to yogurt on the shelf in cute trix packaging.  At this point, as a calorie saving measure, I barely use any sweetener in my smoothy at all and don't really miss it.

** I love my  immersion blender!  I would honestly get rid of my regular blender before this.  I often use it multiple times a day.  It was $30 and has been working for 3 years.  I am only hoping it will break now because it comes in all of these cute new colors!!!

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