By Leigh-Anne Wooten, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND
What makes a smoothie ideal for the spa setting? A quick look at recipes online would suggest that it’s all about the ingredients and their proposed health benefits. Perhaps you’ve seen certain foods, like blueberries, flaxseeds or pumpkin seeds, promoted for their presumed calming properties. Or, you’ve read how these ingredients can bring about changes in brain chemistry to reduce anxiety and enhance mood.
Nutrition claims like these are part of a powerful trend around “functional foods,” an (unregulated) term linking certain foods with specific beneficial effects on the body. While many of these ingredients are indeed healthy for the body, there is little research to show that they will physically induce an immediate sense of calm.
That being said, there is an alternative to the functional food approach. I helped create the following guidelines that will allow you to make truly relaxing and deliciously healthy smoothies featuring interesting flavor blends and soothing aromas that are a sure pathway to a state of Zen. These strategies are based partly in nutritional science and partly on the power of suggestion. To come up with the perfect recipes, my culinary team and I asked ourselves:
- What foods actually promote overall health?
- What foods, textures, colors and scents are commonly associated with wellness and relaxation?
- How can we marry these elements to create a truly calming smoothie?
The answers led us to these five “guideposts,” which will help you get started on your own calming culinary journey. And, for a little extra motivation, I’ve included a relaxation-promoting recipe as well!
Recipe: Lavender Lemon Smoothie
Yields 48 oz.
26 fluid oz. of lavender chamomile tea
4 dates, pitted
1 slice of lemon, 3/8" thick
1 small cucumber
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
1 tsp. dried lavender
3½ cups frozen blueberries
Place all ingredients into your Vitamix or other blender in the order listed and secure the lid. Blend until smooth. Portion the completed mixture into 8 oz. cups, and garnish with a slice of cucumber or lemon.