Smooth(ie) move: Keep it fresh by keeping it local

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As summer evaporates into fall, we say goodbye to our favorite warm-loving fruits and vegetables and hello to the more cool varieties. But thanks to a fairly forgiving growing season, our final farewell to summer staples like fresh peaches can be gradual as we incorporate autumn flavors like cinnamon to create delicious transitional options like smoothies made from local ingredients. 

You might be thinking, “Smoothies? Really? Why not something with more oomph, like a decadent pie?” Here’s why: Smoothies are like little nutrient ninjas. They stealthily infiltrate your system with antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals. They have the power to eliminate wellness saboteurs like cravings and inflammation. And, when it comes to satiation and digestion, they work fast.

However, not all smoothies are Bruce Lee-ish. (Yes, I know he’s not a ninja, but you see where we’re going with this.) As a holistic nutritionist, I have heard countless times from people with health challenges, “I’m so healthy. I eat smoothies all the time.” I tell them and I will tell you, choose balanced ingredients that cumulatively do not give you a major sugar spike. Many people will fill their blender with high-glycemic ingredients like bananas, flavored yogurt, honey or sugar, milk, fruit juice, pineapple, mangos or dates. Instead, pick one star — a somewhat sweet ingredient like local peaches — and then add a no-sugar-added, non-dairy fluid like home-brewed and chilled tea, cashew milk or almond milk; a protein; something green like spinach (which also happens to be sweet but not high glycemic); and a super food or three, like chia, flax or blueberries.

Just as a thoughtfully made smoothie supports your overall well-being, buying locally supports our regional growers and entrepreneurs. The Farmers Market at Sea Pines Center, which is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays, features vendors like Spanish Wells Seafood and Produce and Eden’s FARMacy. The Farmers Market of Bluffton, which is held from 2 to 7 p.m. Thursdays in Old Town Bluffton, is a brimming basket of fun finds like 7th Heaven Spices and Bluffton Tea Company (for teas), Lee Bees Honey, and several fruit and veggie vendors.

The following smoothie recipe is a concoction of nutritionally balanced and locally sourced ingredients. The peaches contain beta-carotene, vitamins A and C, and antioxidants that help with cancer prevention and anti-aging. The cashew milk contains only 25 calories, 2 grams of fat, and one carbohydrate. The spinach, blueberries and ground flax are like a health bomb trifecta. Cinnamon is truly a spice of life. It’s known for reducing blood sugar and is anti-diabetic, promotes satiety and weight loss, and is anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial (therefore boosting your immune system). Also, recent studies suggest cinnamon also fights Alzheimer's disease and helps stop the destructive process of multiple sclerosis. The vanilla extract allows you to add flavor without adding calories, and the ceylon cinnamon honey from Eden’s FARMacy provides a power punch of nutrition and tastiness.

Summer to Autumn Smoothie

smoothi1Note: You can substitute pureed pumpkin for the peaches

1 cup no-sugar-added cashew milk
½ to 1 cup peaches
1 to 2 cups spinach (or spinach/kale mix)
1 handful of blueberries
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ceylon cinnamon honey from Eden’s FARMacy (or regular local honey) ½ to 1 cup ice

Optional: Vanilla-flavored protein powder

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Becca Edwards is a wellness professional, freelance writer and owner of b.e.WELL+b.e.CREATIVE (bewellbecreative.com).