Who here wants to reduce fatigue and inflammation, optimize blood flow, and stay healthy this season? Yes, please. And, who wants a delicious wake-me-up lemon basil smoothie? Yes, pretty please. Well, it must be our lucky day, because here at Loving the Bike, we’re about to make it all happen.
Recipe of the Week: Oh-So-Fresh Lemon Basil Smoothie
- 1 cup plain yogurt (preferably organic Greek or homemade) or 1 cup chia pudding
- 1 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1 lemon, zested & juiced
- 1 cup berries (any kind)
- organic, raw, and/or local honey
- water/ice as needed
Place yogurt, fresh basil leaves, lemon zest and juice (~2-3 Tbsp total), berries, ½ cup water, and 1-2 tsp organic honey in a blender. Process until smooth. Add ice and process until at desired consistency. Enjoy & Energize!
As one of my favorite flavors, basil is in high demand in my kitchen. In fact, I’m dreaming of my basil garden right now (I’m a few months out). But, it’s more than just great taste. Fresh basil provides:
Reduced inflammation and oxidative stress: Basil’s flavonoids, especially orientin and vicenin, are phytonutrients that protect cell structures from radiation and oxygen-based damage (free radicals/oxidative stress). And eugenol, one of basil’s volatile oils, works to block the inflammatory activity of an enzyme (cyclooxygenase) in the body. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS), such as aspirin and ibuprofen, also work to block this enzyme. Remember, this not only has implications for inflammatory conditions like arthritis, but also fatigue in endurance athletes.
Blood flow: Want good blood flow while you pedal your bike up that next climb? Get some vitamin A and magnesium from basil. Like other dark leafy greens such as spinach, basil offers a good source of beta-carotene (vitamin A precursor). Beta-carotene is a strong antioxidant that protects arteries and many cells from free radical damage while reducing the oxidation of cholesterol (oxidation allow cholesterol to form plagues in artery walls). By eating your leafy greens, you can keep your artery walls strong and clear of plagues. Then, the magnesium in basil prompts muscles and blood vessels to relax, which improves blood flow out of the heart and throughout the body.
Bacteria Protection:If you’d rather be riding your bike than in bed with food poisoning, try basil as an antibacterial tool. Basil’s specific volatile oils have anti-bacterial properties that can restrict the growth of Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli O:157:H7, Yersinia enterocolitica, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. What’s more, these oils from basil leaves may have a role against bacteria that’s become resistant to antibiotics. In fact, a 2004 study showed that washing produce in solution containing either basil or thyme essential oil, even at just a 1% solution, resulted in dropping the number of Shigella below the point at which it could be detected. Two applications possible are to 1) add a basil essential oil solution to your produce-washing regimen and 2) add fresh basil to foods that may potentially pose a risk such as fresh salads, fresh fruits and meats (such as pesto on top of chicken).
Even More Options!
And of course, you can make delicious basil pesto, basil tomato soup, basil cauliflower soup, basil green goddess dressing, and basil zucchini lasagna (just to name a few). More basil options than you can shake a stick at. For a healthy, high-energy, low-inflammation athlete, it’s exactly what the season ordered.
Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.
If you’d like to work with Kelli one-on-one with a Custom Nutrition Plan & Coaching, or download one of her acclaimed Instant Download Plans like Fuel Right Race Light, click here: Apex Nutrition Plans for Endurance Athletes. Be sure to use coupon code lovingthebike for a 15% discount!