I call this a Winter Green Smoothie because it’s the perfect combo of ingredients to nurture your body’s energy this winter. Also, it comes out a gorgeous “winter green” color!
In Chinese medicine, nourishing your kidneys is where you want to put your focus during the winter months, and I’ve carefully selected all of the ingredients in this smoothie to do just that.
But first, why kidney health?
In Chinese medicine, the kidneys are revered for the role they play in managing and storing a person’s “qi,” (pronounced “CHI”) which is the vital life force energy flowing throughout the body. This original qi, or primordial qi, is the energy we are born with, and using this energy the kidneys work hard to ensure all other elements of the body are working efficiently. So kidney qi is seen as extra important.
Also in Chinese medicine, health is achieved through living in balance with nature and the seasons. Winter is the season of the Water element, associated with our kidneys, bladder, and adrenal glands.
That’s why winter is the time to nourish, rest, and replenish this vital energy. It’s contrary to popular belief, I know. After all, it’s January! New Year’s resolutions, go hard! But our body actually wants the opposite.
And this makes sense, right? Our kidneys are workhorses, filtering waste and other toxins from the blood. And our adrenals, which sit right on top of our kidneys, are constantly getting depleted from things like chronic stress, poor food choices (hellooooo, too much coffee and alcohol), burnout – even the emotion of fear taxes these systems.
So getting our bodies into a “rest and digest” state and allowing it time to replenish while nourishing it with particular foods during the winter months is one of the best things you can do for your overall health.
The ingredients I chose for this smoothie are excellent for building up kidney qi. Leafy green vegetables are great for supporting the kidneys (with the exception of kale; it’s high in oxalates and can be tough on the thyroid, but that’s info for another post). I personally like baby Bok Choy. Bok Choy is mild, easy on your system, and loaded with nutrients. It doesn’t alter the flavor of smoothies the way that spinach does (which makes my kids happy), and I find I digest it better than spinach, too. But if you prefer spinach that is just as good.
Avocado is a nourishing yin tonic, as are bananas*, and dark colored berries are also good for kidney energy. Nuts and seeds, many of which are powerhouses in their own right, are also great for nourishing your kidneys and replenishing your adrenals.
I used cashew milk in this recipe which I made in my Almond Cow, but you can use your own non-dairy milk, or plain water. I added the chia seeds for extra nourishment and fiber. I always soak them first in water for a few minutes, which is easier on the digestive system and also makes their vitamins more bioavailable to the body.
Coconut oil is an excellent food for the kidneys, and cardamom is one of my go-to winter spices because it is detoxifying. The spirulina is a powerhouse add-on because it is rich in minerals and helps build the blood, which promotes Yin, so don’t skip it!
The Manuka honey is added for a touch of sweetness at the end. You could omit this ingredient, but know that honey can be good for the kidneys, and Manuka honey in particular has antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant benefits. It can improve digestion, and it’s good for oral health, too.
I added collagen and hemp seeds, which are optional, but add a nice little boost to the smoothie. You could also boost this smoothie or swap out ingredients with things like bee pollen, pumpkin seeds, turmeric, flax seed, or walnuts. So go ahead and enjoy this yin-building smoothie!