I recently ran my first marathon in Toronto. I enjoyed almost every step of it, save for the brief period between kilometres 41 and 42.2 when my anticipated finishing kick didn’t exactly materialize, and every step required a vast amount of effort. The only thing propelling me towards the finish line at that point was my Endurance Tap gel and the promise of a veritable FEAST at Fresh Restaurant afterwards. I didn’t hear the drummers. I didn’t hear my family cheering me on, telling me that I was almost there. I didn’t hear the announcer as I crossed the finish line. All I remember thinking after pressing stop on my watch was, Did I really just do that? And then, I turned and said to somebody beside me, “That was the hardest thing I have ever done!!” By the time I had made my way into the recovery area, though, I had (almost) forgotten the pain and the endorphins had set in big time. I was already planning for my next marathon, to be perfectly honest. I didn’t expect to fall in love with the marathon, but miracles happen when you cover 42.2 km on foot. For the first time in a very long time, I have full confidence in my ability to accomplish whatever I set my mind to. Now I understand why so many people are hooked on the distance!
Perhaps the most memorable thing that I consumed during the weekend was a protein smoothie from Fresh. It was the first thing I ate after the marathon, and it tasted unreal. I felt like I was floating on a cloud of coconut whipped cream while
sipping guzzling it, and I knew that re-creating it for the blog would be the first order of business when I arrived home. The original contains tart cherry, pitaya (pink dragonfruit), banana, coconut milk, protein powder, and coconut whipped cream. My version is very similar to the original, with the substitution of a small raw beet for the pitaya, as it can be difficult to locate. I also left out the coconut whipped cream, but I know how good that addition is and will definitely include it when I make this again (and oh boy, do I intend to make this again!).
Flavour aside, the magic of this smoothie comes from the two ingredients that give it its vibrant pink hue! Beets are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, and have the added benefit of enhancing endurance and stamina by increasing nitric oxide levels in the body. Research shows that nitric oxide can increase blood flow, improve lung function, and strengthen muscle contraction. As you may have guessed by their vibrant dark red hue, tart cherries are also bursting with antioxidants. They are also a good source of the precursor to melatonin, which can result in deeper, higher quality sleep. And, if that wasn’t enough, they fight inflammation, reduce muscle pain, and boost immunity!
Throw in some frozen banana for a boost of potassium and creaminess, some protein powder to aid in muscle recovery and building, and almond milk for blending, and voila! You have yourself one super delicious, superfood-packed shake that will both energize you and fill you up! And that, my friends, is hard to beet. Ha. Ha. Ha.
Cherry Beet Protein Smoothie
Cuisine: Raw, Vegan
Time: 5 minutes
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 small beet, peeled and finely chopped*
- 1 cup frozen tart cherries (organic if possible)
- 1 large frozen banana, chopped
- 1 scoop vanilla-flavoured plant protein powder of choice (I used Genuine Health organic fermented vegan protein)
- 2 ice cubes
- Place all ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
*If you do not have a high-speed blender, you may wish to steam the beet before proceeding.