I graduated as a Nutrition & Health Coach with IINH in 2013. I’ve always had an interest in the healing benefits of food which led me to sign up with IINH. During my studies, I absolutely loved every lecture and hung on every word we were taught about nutrition and how it affects our overall wellness. I found the content so real, so practical, and empowering. Rolling on the years, I am, like many others juggling the work, life, family balance. I always strive to include nutritious meals in the mix and healthy lunchbox snacks during school term for my three primary school kids. It can be a tricky gig!
Family life is busy! Sometimes nutrition takes a backseat in between school and after-school runs, our own full-time work commitments and carving out that important space to allow ourselves to relax and breathe for a moment. However, one thing for certain is I always feel more energised and ready for the day ahead when I am mindful of my food choices.
Keep It Simple!
I believe wellness begins from within. Choosing real, wholefoods as close to their natural state as possible will nourish our bodies while promoting a healthier, happier, and more energised lifestyle. Of course, we need to be realistic in what we can achieve to avoid making healthy meals a stressful task. Keeping it simple and as close to nature as possible is a good way to start.
Smoothies are the go-to in our house and our blender gets a lot of love. Using real wholefoods, smoothies are quite literally a powerhouse of nutrients and a super source of valuable and balanced nutrition for busy family life. They are practical, easy, delicious and so easy to customise. The beauty of smoothie making is the array of ingredients that can be used, making every smoothie different and nutritious by mixing it up each time. This will keep taste buds happy, tummies full and energy levels stable. They are also a great option for families like mine who have one or more fully-fledged picky eaters in the house!
For me, it is the best portable breakfast option on those busy work mornings and a great lunchbox addition for my kids on school days. Everyone has time to make a smoothie in the morning with a simple whirl in the blender. If the remainder of the day doesn’t include the most nutrient dense food choices, at least I know the day started off on the right foot with a nutritious smoothie.
5 To Thrive
‘5 to Thrive’ smoothie ingredients list below is a combo of my favourite wholefoods to add to our smoothies to ensure it has a good nutritional base. It is a good guide to avoid hunger pangs by including fibre rich ingredients along with a good source of protein and fats. Sometimes smoothie making can fall into the sugar laden trap if we add too much fruit and sweeteners causing a spike in sugar levels. It is important to include healthy fats and fibre to create a more balanced and holistic approach for our bodies to manage.
The benefits of smoothies go way beyond convenience. Healthy fats such as omega 3’s are vital for heart health as well as supporting brain function. Protein is essential for growth and maintenance of body tissue and it is also the main component of our muscles, hair, skin and nails. Adding protein and healthy fats to your smoothie will balance blood sugar levels and reduce cravings by keeping you full for longer.
Fibre is essential for a healthy digestive system. Adding fibre to your smoothie will aid the healthy passage of food through the digestive system and enable healthy bowel movements. This can sometimes be a problem for kids as fruit and vegetables are not top of their list. When it comes to food choices and so including sources of fibre to their smoothies is a great alternative.
Vitamins and minerals are essential for growth and vitality by assisting the body in energy production. Supplementary energy is always welcome!
‘5 to Thrive’
Choose 1-2 ingredients from each group
Healthy Fats – Avocado, almonds/almond butter, cashews/cashew butter, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, milk kefir, whole milk natural/Greek yogurt. **Omega 3 Supplement.
Protein – Chia seeds, hemp seeds. Almonds, brazil and cashew nuts are also a great source of protein. **Pea protein powder.
Fibre – Fruit and vegetables: berries, banana, dates (also used as a natural sweetener), kale and spinach.
Vitamins & Minerals – Fruit and vegetables: cucumber/celery/kale/spinach/berries/pineapple/mango/banana. **Multivitamin.
Liquid – Choice of milk, filtered water or coconut water with or without ice.
**I sometimes add supplements to our smoothies for times when our diet is missing the essential nutrients. Also during the winter months to keep our immune systems boosted or after illness to help the body recuperate.
Here is one of our favourite combos.
Mixed berry boost
Cup of mixed berries
Handful of chopped cucumber
2 dessert spoons of milled flax seed
1 ½ cup rice milk
Whizz, share and enjoy!
Guest written by IINH graduate Aisling Harrington, Post-primary school teacher and Health & Nutrition Coach