Hey buddy, how’s your blood doing these days? Is it healthy and flowing? Full of oxygen and freshly-made red blood cells? Have you ever even thought about this?! The answer is, not likely. And that is nothing to be ashamed about. We are never really taught to think about our blood, how to nourish and take care of it, how to tell if something is missing.
When I studied Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) I learned about “blood building”, a term to describe nourishing the body with the nutrients required for ample and healthy blood. For some reason, I took a particular interest in this field, and have been a passionate blood builder of my own ever since. If this sounds dorky (it is) and a little confusing, think of your blood almost like a muscle. We are more familiar with the idea of muscle building, in that our muscles require specific macro and micro nutrients to grow and thrive. Same as blood. Pretty simple, except you can’t do it at the gym – you gotta get in the kitchen.
The role of blood in our body is to transport nutrients, oxygen, immune cells, and hormones, along with removing toxins and waste, and disperse heat. The components that make up our blood are used and disposed of extremely quickly, so there is a high cell turnover, which also means high nutritional requirements.
Iron, folic acid, vitamin B-12, and protein are the major building blocks of blood. All of these things work synergistically to make your blood as potent and healthy as possible. Besides folic acid, you can see from the list that most of these nutrients are found abundantly in animal foods, but not so abundantly in the wonderful plant kingdom. So how do vegetarians build blood anyway?
First and foremost eating a wide variety of fruits, veggies, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and superfoods is a good place to start. Hey wait! That sounds like a balanced diet. So if you’re already there, great. If you’re just starting out, your blood is about to get real strong.
More specifically, the best blood building foods are the darkest of dark leafy greens and their powders, such as spinach, kale, beet greens, wheatgrass, barley grass, spirulina and chlorella, and deeply pigmented red foods such as beets, cherries, raspberries, goji berries, raisins, kidney beans, adzuki beans, and blackstrap molasses. I also find that drinking a cup of nettle tea every day, which contains high amounts of iron, is really effective in helping to tone the blood.
This smoothie bowl is a one tasty blood builder. It’s got a solid dose of greens (think iron, folic acid, and protein) from the spinach and wheatgrass, with beet, raspberry and prunes (lots of deep, dark, iron-rich goody goodies!) plus lemon for a vitamin C boost – since we can’t absorb iron from plants unless we have a little help from vitamin C.
Although you may think that putting raw beetroot in a smoothie is a little odd, I was shocked at how utterly DELICIOUS the combination was with the raspberry. It’s altogether earthy, sweet and tart, with a divine vanilla kiss that makes me swoon. Plus can we talk about the colour?! I can practically feel it feeding my blood with all of those juicy pigments and nutrients. Gosh. Isn’t life grand?
Smoothie bowls are a divine invention because you can eat them with a spoon, and you can top the heck out of them for a real meal situation. Although I’m sure it’s just a psychological thing, I sometimes feel a bit under-fed after a smoothie in a glass. Plus I like chewing a lot, and chewing a beverage can sometimes be boring without some chunks involved. Don’t you agree? I’ve topped mine here with raspberries, pomegranate, sea buckthorn, bee pollen and almond butter, but get creative with this on your own! I’ve listed some other topping ideas in the recipe. And I will also say that taking just one extra minute to decorate your bowl delivers major self-love points and satisfies the creative genius in us all. There are no wrong answers or unattractive smoothie bowls! Go wild, you strong-blooded creature, you!
The Blood Building Beetroot, Raspberry and Vanilla Smoothie Bowl Serves 1
1 small beet, peeled and chopped
1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen (I use frozen)
2 cups packed / 45g spinach
3 prunes, soaked in 1/2 cup / 125ml water
small wedge organic lemon (including the peel!)
1-2 scoops protein powder (I use sprouted brown rice or pumpkin seed protein powders)
1-2 tsp. wheatgrass powder (or spirulina / chlorella)
a generous pinch ground vanilla powder (or 1 tsp. vanilla extract)
1/2 cup water or milk of choice
Other topping ideas: sliced fresh fruit
toasted nuts and / or seeds
Directions: 1. Soak prunes overnight in water, or for a minimum of one hour.
2. Pour the soaked prunes and their liquid into a blender. Add all remaining ingredients and blend on high until completely smooth (if you do not have a high-speed blender, this may take a minute or so). Taste and adjust sweetness / vanilla / lemon as desired.
3. Pour contents into a glass or bowl and garnish with desired toppings. Enjoy!