Four months ago I self-diagnosed myself via Dr. Google with peri-menopause. I’m only 36 years old, so naturally I panick a bit when I read “menopause.”
I broke the news to my sister-in-law (who introduced me to traditional foods, this great book and also happens to be an registered nurse) and she talked me off the ledge.
She reminded me that I was a healthy 36 year old woman who in the past year alone, had moved 3 times (including a cross-country move), grieved the death of a loved one, bought a house, supported my husband through 3 job changes ALL THE WHILE running a full-time business and being the primary caregiver of my kids.
Then she asked me if I have ever taken maca. Her timing was absolutely perfect – I had JUST started making a green maca smoothie each morning for breakfast!
We had a good heart-to-heart, and in the end came to a conclusion: I likely wasn’t suffering through peri-menopause. Instead, the symptoms I was experiencing – poor sleep quality, night sweats, severe mood swings, muscle spasms, poor concentration and forgetfulness – were probably because of stress.
Since it took over a year for my body to get to this high level of stress, I knew it wouldn’t go away overnight. I began including a few small steps though that would help me towards getting myself de-stress:
- Using magnesium lotion on my legs every night to help with restless legs and sleep quality
- Intentionally NOT wear socks or my pull-over long sleeve shirt (my go-to comfy layers when I’m cold) to bed so I wouldn’t overheat when I slept
- Making a green maca smoothie every morning for breakfast
Maca is a root plant belonging to the mustard family. It’s kind of like a beet – you can eat the leaves, but the root is where the good stuff is. There are a few different varieties of maca root – red, yellow and black – and each variety has its own unique benefits.
Maca in general has a very long list of health benefits, but the reason I believe it works so well is because it’s an adaptogen.
According to this article:
Adaptogens are a unique class of healing plants: They help balance, restore and protect the body… an adaptogen doesn’t have a specific action: it helps you respond to any influence or stressor, normalizing your physiological functions.
In plain English, stress causes your hormones to go out of whack. Adaptogens plug the holes where the body isn’t making enough hormones to keep you sane and normal. I look at it like a supplement – something to help my body along as it works through the long and tiring process of overcoming stress.
When I first tried maca, I spit it out. IT TASTED AWFUL.
- I tried it with water – gross.
- In a fruit smoothie – disgusting.
- Mixed with applesauce – nasty.
I even texted my SIL again and asked how in the world she could stomach the taste of maca?! She took it in pills, that’s how… cheater.
After 3 failed attempts at “disguising” the HORRIBLE taste of maca and not really wanting to encapsulate the whole bag, I did some digging and found that the taste of maca is complimented by nuts.
This got my wheels turning.
You may or may not know, but I’m a HUGE fan of smoothies. I’ve been making them regularly for 3+ years and even wrote a book on how to make protein smoothies without using protein powder and all the junk manufacturers put in it.
I personally feel SO MUCH BETTER when I start my day with a smoothie. It helps control my appetite (I’m a big snacker), fuels me with at least 2 servings of fruits/vegetables and thanks to the probiotics yogurt, it helps keep my digestion system regular.
I knew I wanted to keep smoothies in my daily routine, but I thought if I tweaked the recipe a bit to include nuts of some sort, then I might be able to mask the taste of maca root.
And I was right! I’ve got this recipe down to a science and burned into my brain forever.
Every morning for the past three months I have been make one of these and not only do I feel great for starting my day off on a good note, but the maca root has REALLY helped me overcome the fatigue I was experiencing because of stress!
I’m SO sold on the benefits of this smoothie, that I even took my blender with me to our extended family holiday in North Carolina over the Thanksgiving break!
Picking out what type of maca that’s best for you is a bit challenging, so here’s what I did (and recommend doing).
I started with gelatinized yellow maca since it’s gentler on the digestion system than raw maca. Once 8 ounce package lasts about 2 ½ – 3 months and is well worth the price. The Maca Team sells it for just $15, and this is MUCH cheaper than Amazon’s price.
I also have their premium maca root powder, which is raw and a blend of red, yellow and black maca, but the flavor is a bit stronger. If you want to incorporate maca into your daily diet, I recommend starting with the yellow maca first. If you like the benefits, upgrade to the raw maca root powder.
Lastly, everyone wants to know what blender I recommend and I can never sing praises high enough of my Blendtec! I’ve had it for 3+ years now and it makes a 100% perfectly smooth smoothie every time!
- Add ingredients to the blender in the order listed.
- Blend until everything is smooth and well combined, using the "blend" function on a Blendtec or about 1 minute on high for a regular blender.