Getting the Gut Back on Track
I’ve been working on rebalancing my gut for the past several months, because chemo and six months of antibiotics will do a serious number on gut flora. I’d already been planning on a New Year’s cleanse in January, them BAM!, gut issues hit. For the first time in my life. Maybe it was just the cumulative effects of months of drugs. Maybe I overdid it a bit over the holidays – too much too soon before my gut was rebalanced. It was probably both.
The first order of business was getting back on a serious probiotics regimen, then doing another diet revamp. I conferred with my nutritionist and went on a very strict, very specific no sugar protocol: no added sugars of any kind, not even natural sources like honey or maple syrup, and little to no fruit or foods that convert easily into sugars in the body. Meaning no gluten, no grains, no starches, and maybe just a teeny amount of blueberries at best. My morning warm lemon water was about it most days when it came to fruit. No dried fruit, no beans or legumes, and of course no dairy. No coffee or alcohol either. My gut needed to heal.
The Gut Healing Reality
So basically I was left with coconut products, a few nut products, avocados, all the green leafy and cruciferous vegetables I wanted plus green and yellow squash, organic pasture-raised eggs, and organic pasture-raised/ grass-fed/ wild-caught animals. Raw cacao was fine, and a little green leaf stevia to sweeten. Also, warm foods, no cold foods – meaning smoothies were out.
Ok, I thought, I can do this. I’ve cleansed and restricted my diet before in order to heal. Then I asked her how long: two to three months at least! I was beyond frustrated to confront this new reality – I just wanted to get back to normal!!! But now I’m three months out, and I can honestly say it wasn’t all that bad, and it gave me the opportunity to get pretty creative in the kitchen and come up with some pretty tasty recipes that I’ll continue to share!
Smoothies are a GO again
After nearly three months on this super restricted protocol, I have begun to ease up a tad and have added back sweet potatoes, root vegetables, squash, berries, and a little apple, and if an organic product has some added dates, honey or maple syrup but very low sugar I’ll allow it.
Most excitingly, smoothies are finally back on my ok list, but I’m sticking with warm versions…. YEP you read that right: warm smoothies! Like a warm minty hot chocolate smoothie and the warm apple pie smoothie I’m sharing today.
What’s the trick to a warm smoothie?
Heating up the added liquid is an obvious way to warm up a smoothie. But most people throw ice and frozen fruit into a smoothie to give it bulk and substance and create an end result that is thick, creamy, and satisfying, and ice and frozen fruit clearly won’t do in a warm smoothie.
So what to do if we want a warm smoothie? Enter the most magical vegetable of all: cauliflower. As I discussed in my post on cauliflower soup, cauliflower truly is the most versatile vegetable on the planet, and it came to the rescue so many times over the past few months to create vegan creamy, satisfying dishes. Even cashews were out, so cauliflower was IN – literally in everything, even my smoothies. Cauliflower might be the answer to everything.
Frozen cauliflower in smoothies has made some serious waves in the wellness community recently, but just steam it up and throw it in the blender and you’ve got a warm smoothie in the making.
Making the Apple Pie Smoothie
Once I decided to try the warm smoothie thing, I began brainstorming potential options, and a warm apple pie smoothie seemed like an obvious choice. To make sure it really had the essence of apple pie, I stewed the apples using coconut and stevia to keep it added-sugar free and vegan, and added all the warming spices like ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Next I added the steamed cauliflower which gives it bulk, threw in some warm almond milk and flax seed to get in those healthy fats and omegas and give it a nutty, pie-like taste, and voila warm apple pie smoothie. I also added maca powder, which has an earthy butterscotch, caramel or malt-like flavor that works well with this recipe, and a scoop of protein powder – vanilla works best.
Making the stewed apples – delicious in their own right – is a little more involved than just throwing fruit and veg in a blender, so you can make a big batch of the stewed apples ahead of time and quickly heat them up before throwing it all in the blender. As for the cauliflower, I just steam it while I’m making my lemon water and getting out the other ingredients so it doesn’t take too much time!
I also think this makes a great healthy option for a weekend breakfast – I love taking time in the morning to prepare my breakfast, and especially in the cooler months or on cooler mornings I love having a hearty warm breakfast to get my day going. This tastes satisfying and delicious and is full of the good stuff.
Gut-Healing Warm Apple Pie Smoothie: Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Recipe
What you need:
- 1 cup vegan sugar-free stewed apples
- 1 cup steamed cauliflower
- 2 cups warm unsweetened almond or coconut milk
- 2 tbsp ground flax seed
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp maca powder
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
How to make your smoothie:
- Steam the cauliflower until tender. Drain.
- Make the stewed apples.
- Warm the milk just enough; remove from the heat before it comes to a boil.
- Add all the ingredients to your blender.
- Blend! Makes 2 servings.