I work out for multiple reasons: to stay strong, to see physical results, sometimes even for the sheer joy of exercise (yes, really!). Then there are days that, just like Man Repeller Leandra Medine, I’m #initforthesmoothie. Sometimes the promise of blended goodness in a glass is just the motivation I need to lace up my sneaks, even when I’m so not in the mood.
But the usual cycle of banana, strawberry, kale and mango can get rather dull. Stave off smoothie ennui by experimenting with these weird-seeming ingredients that actually taste amazing.
Feel like a lady at high tea while sipping a smoothie infused with lavender’s bold, slightly peppery aroma and flavour. The herb is known for its relaxing properties, and some research suggests its soothing scent may help relieve symptoms of insomnia, anxiety and headaches. Don’t eat the potpourri, though–use culinary-grade lavender for cooking.
Blend with: lemon, blueberries, honey, vanilla
Tip: Blitzing dried buds may give your smoothie a grainy texture. Avoid this by making an infusion: soak lavender in boiling water, strain and stir directly into your smoothie or mix with a bit of honey.
Who can resist that gorgeous deep crimson? It comes from pigments called betacyanins, which research has shown can suppress the growth of some cancer tumours. Betacyanins may also help protect the liver and lower blood pressure. Plus, beets are an excellent source of folic acid, and a good source of fiber and potassium.
Blend with: berries, oranges, apples, yogurt, coconut milk
Tip: Roast your beets to bring out their natural sweetness, or use raw for an earthier flavour.
A standard ingredient in curry (and ballpark mustard), this bright yellow root has a gingery flavour. It’s been used for thousands of years in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine as a remedy for everything from gas and bloating to headaches and depression. Some research has shown that taking turmeric extract may work as well as taking ibuprofen in relieving osteoarthritis pain.
Blend with: mango, ginger, coconut milk
Tip: Turmeric’s gingery flavour can be quite pungent, so use a light hand when seasoning your smoothie, and taste as you go.
4. Sweet potato
The bright orange spud tastes surprisingly decadent in smoothie form—kinda like you’re sipping liquid pie, only healthier. Sweet potatoes are a very good source of vitamin A, which promotes eye health, and vitamin C, an immune-system booster. Plus, they’re a good source of dietary fibre, which helps manage weight and promotes digestive health.
Blend with: Almond milk, nutmeg, bananas, cinnamon, oranges
Tip: To cook your sweet potato, slice in half lengthwise, place face down on a slightly oiled, foil-lined baking sheet and bake at at 400 degrees F (200 C).
5. Bee pollen
This is literally the stuff that falls off bees’ knees, but it’s not as gross as it sounds! Bee pollen is a mix of plant and flower pollens gathered on bees’ legs as they fly around. Bees bring the pollen back to the hive and pack it into little golden nuggets. Celebs like Victoria Beckham love bee pollen, but evidence is scarce to back up trendy claims that bee pollen is a “superfood” cure-all. However, it is a source of vitamins and minerals, and a rich source of essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein that help the body repair tissue (though the composition of bee pollen will differ depending on the plants and flowers the bees visited). Note that if you’ve got bee allergies, bee pollen is off limits.
Blend with: honey, dates, mango, banana
Tip: You can buy bee pollen in pellet form or pre-ground into powder. Mix powder with a bit of water and add gradually to the smoothie, tasting as you go, or sprinkle pellets on top for a crunchy garnish.
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