The spiny monster sized pre-historic looking Aloe Vera leaf looks pretty intimidating, like a desert plant on steroids. Most of us know it as the small succulent version on the windowsill that Mom would cut open and apply as a home remedy for sunburns. This common home remedy is just the tip of the iceberg...
Aloe Vera is a straight up nutrient dense superfood. At some point, someone figured out it has a laundry list of health benefits not just topically but more importantly as a smoothie.
Blend the gel of a whole leaf into a smoothie and you have a nutrient rich food, strong and powerful enough to save you some trips to the doctor's office down the line. It's a little bitter on its own so I like to add things like coconut water, frozen mango, or pineapple. Most grocery stores (especially Mexican & Whole Foods) carry aloe leaves. I usually get enough for two weeks and keep them in my fridge. I also like to buy fresh mango and pineapple, roughly chop them up, seal in tupperware, pop in the freezer, and keep frozen until ready to use. I like to blend it all into 1 batch in the morning (enough for two servings). I'll have my first glass 1 hour before my first meal and my second glass again 1 hour before dinner.
BENEFIT RUNDOWN OF ALOE
Adaptogen | Aloe's an adaptogen. Adapta-whatsits? Aloe belongs in a special small group of herbs called adaptogens that, because of it's unique ability, 'adapts' its functions according to your body's specific needs when it comes to handling stress, anxiety and resisting fatigue in particular. Like a thermometer, it reads both what is lacking and what it has too much of and stabilizes your cells and hormones accordingly. It responds to each person in a completely unique and individual way. Pretty cool, right?!
Digestion | Aloe aids digestion and breaks down everything you put in your body. In my new favorite book 'Clean', author Dr. Alejandro Junger states 'The root of all chronic disease starts in the gut...your intestines.' Aloe soothes and cleanses your intestines, your digestive tract, and helps regulate digestion getting rid of bad bacteria and keeping your healthy intestinal flora in balance.
Campesterol, which is found in aloe, decreases inflammation of the gut (from bad diets) by generating new healthy cells in the body and helps things like constipation, acid reflux, lowers cholesterol, fights acne and skin related infections like psoriasis, and increases blood flow.
And to round it off, aloe is a potent antioxidant, stabilizes blood sugar in diabetics, and it's got 12 vitamins and minerals, 18 amino acids, and 200 active plant compounds. That's a quite impressive list. Maybe even enough to cut back on the pharmaceuticals.
Aloe Smoothie Recipe
1 aloe leaf: the inner gel
1 1/2 cups coconut water or almond milk
1 cup frozen mango or pineapple or both
Optional: honey or maple syrup to taste
Optional: a handful of your favorite greens. Spinach and mint are some of my personal favorites.
Add everything to a blender. If the coconut water doesn't cover all the solids, feel free to add extra spring water. Blend until frothy and smooth. Drink fast and enjoy.
For an extra kick don't toss the green leaves just yet. My Rastafarian friend Cephus from Cephus' Hot Shop in Tampa, Florida who introduced me to this wonderful plant, told me to take the leaves, tear off a chunk the size of your shoe and put it inside, like an insole. Your feet are like sponges and absorb everything so keep them in and feel the squish of healthy feet. With any remaining leaves, rub it all over your body. Everything will tighten up as it dries so eventually you'll want to shower it off but, for the adventurous, give it a try. It's like natural botox.
Try it a few times a week and kick the Starbucks. Take notice of how much your energy changes. Watch! You wont get the typical midday coffee crash. Your skin will feel tighter and brighter.