Soul Nourishing: Smoothies, Self-Care, and Friends

Last week, when I was feeling buried alive under work obligations and just days before I succumbed to a quick bout of the flu, I indicated in an Instagram post that I might share my smoothie recipe with all of you. Then the flu hit and that was that.

Here, as promised, is the recipe. It’s nothing Earth-shattering or paradigm-shifting, but each ingredient is included with purpose that goes beyond the pleasures of flavor. Perhaps even more importantly, my smoothie recipe is a derivative of one made for me by a dear friend. Every time I make my smoothie, I think of her and the circle of women who sustain me and nourish my soul.

Soul Nourishing Smoothie

(Nb: all measurements are approximate.)

1/2 ripe avocado

1/2-whole banana (depending on size)

1/2 c. frozen pineapple pieces

1/4 c. frozen mixed berries

1/2 t turmeric

1/2 t ginger

1/4-1/2 t nutmeg

1/2-1 t cinnamon

bit of honey

tinctures of echinacea or blue vervain as needed

Put all of the ingredients in the blender’s cup. Cover with water. Blend. Enjoy!

I told you it was simple! But as I said, each ingredient has been chosen for a purpose. Also, my measurements are approximate. I add the ingredients as feels right that day. Sometimes I load up on the turmeric, sometimes I add hardly any berries, sometimes I use the whole avocado. If I have fresh turmeric and/or ginger root on hand, I use those. Again, the quantity depends on my mood and my physical state. The result is that each smoothie is different. Each smoothie is created — perhaps I might even say concocted — to meet the needs of the day. This requires self-awareness and a belief that the right mix of ingredients will make a difference. As I think more about this intention-setting, I recognize the elements of kitchen-witchery at play. I remember when I told a Heathen friend that I was going to take an herbalism course, she asked if I was learning about herbs “for medicine or for magic.” My response: “what’s the difference?” This smoothie is the perfect example of that. While my intention is certainly medicinal, there’s definitely a bit of magic mixed in as well.

A typical scene from our weekend.

So why have I chosen these ingredients? Well, as I said, it all started with a smoothie that a friend made for me. I have been friends with a group of five other women for twenty years now. We all met long ago when some of us were working on graduate degrees at Ohio University; others of us were married to someone working on such a degree. Over nachos and margs at Casa Nueva, our friendship grew. Since then, we have managed to see each other in some combination on a sort of regular basis. This past June, we all met up at a family member’s condo on Amelia Island for a long weekend. It was the first time that all six of us were together since my wedding in 2001. Needless to say, we had a blast.

We also had very healthy meals. Because my friends are super-organized and savvy, they planned the meals in advance. During the planning, the topic of breakfast smoothies came up. I was not particularly enthusiastic. But then my friend Alex promised that if I had her breakfast smoothie, I could eat whatever else I wanted for the rest of the day. I’m still not really sure how that works in terms of nutrition and caloric consumption, but I agreed. And she held me to it.

Much to my surprise, I liked her smoothie. I carefully wrote down the ingredients, asked lots of questions, and had a Magic Bullet waiting for me when I returned home (thank you, Amazon Prime). I soon realized, however, that I just cannot like spinach in my smoothie. So, since I am a grown up and can decide for myself, I eliminated it. For simplicity, I also eliminated other ingredients, such as chia seeds and hemp seed hearts (although I think I’m about to add at least one of them back in). As I started learning about the medicinal uses of herbs, I added other ingredients, such as nutmeg and cinnamon. Eventually, the smoothie became my own. It was based on the one my friend had crafted for her own needs, but it had been adapted to suit mine.

Here is why I chose my ingredients:

Avocados are a good source of all sorts of nutritional benefits, including protein, vitamins, and unsaturated fats.

Bananas also offer flavor, texture, and all sorts of vitamins and minerals. Like avocados, they may help lower blood pressure, and some research suggests they might be helpful in preventing migraines or depression.

Pineapples are an excellent source of bromelain, which aids in reducing inflammation and pain.

Blueberries improve circulation and have both antiseptic and antioxidant effects that help heal damaged tissues. Raspberries reduce inflammation.

Turmeric is a wonderful anti-inflammatory herb that might also help prevent Alzheimer’s.

Fresh ginger targets pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. Ginger also gives the immune system a boost to help fight viruses.

Cinnamon helps keep blood and energy flowing throughout the body, and its antibacterial effects help ward off infections.

Nutmeg helps with depression. Applied externally it can relieve muscle spasms. There are other health benefits, but, frankly, I don’t think the sprinkle I add from my spice rack is potent enough. I mostly use nutmeg for the flavor.

I add honey and tincture of echinacea or blue vervain as needed. Local honey helps with allergies. Echinacea boost the immune system, and blue vervain settles anxiety and relieves muscle tension.

All of this combines into one amazingly delicious start to the day. But as I’ve indicated, it’s not just the ingredients. There is something about the process of creating this smoothie for myself that makes me feel reconnected with my friends. I can imagine Alex teasing me about the lack of greens, and Renee providing a saucy comeback about avocado being green. I can feel Jamie roll her eyes at all of us for being “so damn healthy” and hear Carrie laughing. Preble will then make a statement about the importance of self-care that is so eloquent and affirming that for just a moment we all nod in absolute certainty that we will continue to prioritize our selves even after the vacation is long over.

I usually have my morning smoothie in a margarita glass. Just because I can. 

The kitchen-witchery that happens when I make my smoothie brings the love, trust, and acceptance that I feel with and for my friends into my feelings for my own self. My friends love and nourish me, therefore I love and nourish me. The few minutes it takes me to prepare and blend the ingredients are moments dedicated to my self-care. They are moments in which I do not attempt to weigh my own needs against all the other demands of my day. They are moments in which I do not try to do multiple tasks at once. They are moments that I have claimed for my self. No matter how busy the rest of the day becomes, I will have started with this intentional claiming of space and energy for my own well-being. This is a gift my friends have given me. Whether it is magic or medicine I cannot say.

2 thoughts on “Soul Nourishing: Smoothies, Self-Care, and Friends

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