The weather in Manchester has changed for the colder in the past few weeks, and whilst I love crisp, cold, sunny days, they also bring with them the coughs and colds of the season. It can also be SO much harder to get out of the house to train in winter! This week I’m running a winter health special on the blog, giving you a few hints and tips on how to stay fit and well over the next couple of months. There’s a saying that summer bodies are made in the winter, so if a hot body is your motivation then remember that – but if overall health is more your thing then it’s just as important in the winter to get your nutrients, and lots of fresh air, too.
First up we have my favourite smoothie to drink whenever I’m feeling run down. Somehow even just drinking green juice immediately makes me feel healthier and more spritely – that must be a placebo effect, but smoothies are a very effective way to get nutrients into your body, especially from sources you wouldn’t think to eat normally. I love this mix of pineapple, spinach, ginger and wheatgrass, as not only does it do good, it tastes good too.
I use about a quarter to a third of a pineapple. Chopping a fresh pineapple can be a pain however they are SO cheap to buy whole (65p from Aldi!), this is but a mild inconvenience. Pineapples are full of vitamins and antioxidants, plus they’re the only known source of bromelain: studies show this enzyme to be a powerful anti-inflammatory. All those “-itis” complaints we have in winter? All down to inflammation.
Ginger is one of my favourite tastes so I stick about an inch of root into my smoothies. It has been known to reduce a fever or reduce symptoms of a cold and is also anti-inflammatory.
Chucking in a load of spinach helps your blood transport oxygen around the body, thanks to its high iron content. This helps to support your immune system, as iron deficiency has been proven to be detrimental to immunity.
And finally, wheatgrass. Yes, it’s horrible tasting on its own, and anything more than a teaspoon overwhelms everything else in my experience, even when mixed with strong tastes like ginger and pineapple. However, it’s a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium (phew!) so if you get the taste balance right it’s really worthwhile including it in your winter wellness arsenal.
I’ve been using the Nutri Ninja blender* to create my smoothies lately. It really whizzes through fibrous fruits and veggies, reducing the mixture down to a liquid, unlike my normal blender which is not quite as refined and tends to leave smaller chunks in the drink. You can see me in action with my Nutri Ninja in the video below: I took part in the #SmoothieWars challenge and I don’t think the other competitors were impressed with my “blow your head off” approach to ginger. Whoops! Perhaps start with a smaller amount of ginger – even a small amount can have a positive effect. The best advice I can give is to experiment with your smoothies! I hit upon the one above just by playing around with different ingredients. That way you can have a tasty drink tailored to your taste, with lots of health benefits too.