When healthy tastes good…..It is much easier to eat a healthy breakfast when it also tastes good. I brought out the Ninja Smoothie maker again this summer to make coffee frappés and began experimenting with smoothies, too. I “invented” a wonderful oatmeal and banana smoothie. It is filling and tasty and and very nutritious. I enjoy sitting in the sun in the morning sipping my smoothie for some added health benefits — read on. Best of all, made with almond milk, this smoothie is lactose-free.
The Importance of Circadian RhythmI am truly enjoying my summer smoothie invention for breakfast and sitting outside in the sun in the morning in my backyard enjoying the breeze, reading the paper and sipping my “breakfast.” Exposure to sunlight early in the day is so important, especially for those of us with a mutant gene in the sleep cycle. Sunlight helps set the our circadian rhythm, or body clock, — awake/sleep cycle — which lasts about 24 hours. Our biological clock regulates every physiological function in our body as well as for almost every plant and animal on this planet. When it gets out of rhythm — you can feel the mood dysfunction — and feel “out of sorts.” Jet lag and shift work maladies are good examples.
I’ve always been a “night owl” and have enjoyed staying up late at night. The downside is that I’d wake up tired in the morning. Yes, I always felt guilty sleeping through my 7:30 am statistics class in graduate school especially when I knew the professor was glaring at me. But, I couldn’t help it.Lately, I’m not feeling so guilty as researchers have discovered a mutant gene called the CRY! gene. Folks with this genetic mutation have a condition known as “Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder” (DSPD). It is single-point mutation in the CRY1 gene, meaning just one “letter” in its genetic instructions is off. Ouch, just one small mutation makes so much difference! People with this condition have a circadian clock that runs one hour longer than normal. They go to bed later than normal and wake up later and basically spend their time playing “catch up.” Which, of course, they can’t do and thus feel tired alot of the day. (Incidentally, smart phones and cell phones with bright screens, etc, used late at night might worsen normal awake-sleep cycles.)
What’s a person with this disorder to do? My helpful pulmonary doctor (and sleep doctor) gave me some suggestions. The first suggestion, especially, really works.
- The first tip is to wake up (yes, you must do this) get up at a reasonable hour and go out in the sunlight every morning for about half an hour. The sunlight helps “set” your circadian rhythm for the day. Then it is much easier to go to sleep at night.
- Take a melatonin supplement early in the evening (about 5:00 pm) — not when you are getting ready to sleep. Melatonin is hormone made by the pineal gland in your brain. The levels of melatonin rise in the evenings and help your body know when it’s time to sleep. So you need to take it earlier enough so that it helps levels rise by bedtime.
- Keep away from the bright lights of a computer, cell phone and television late in the evening as these can disrupt the sleep cycle. Although this seems obvious, it is easier said than done. However, it is important.
And so I sit outside in the sunlight for awhile in the morning sipping my oatmeal smoothie. No pills to take, just natural sunlight. How great is that! And it works.
This is a healthy smoothie with oatmeal, almond milk, a banana and honey. What more could you want? I love the flavor of oatmeal in recipes but I’ve never been a fan of cooked oatmeal. With this recipe, the oatmeal isn’t cooked. Rather, it is soaked in almond milk. After half an hour or so, the whole rolled oats expand and soften and don’t need cooking. I used almond milk, making the recipe lactose-free. And ripe bananas work will in this recipe. Add a little sweetner (honey or brown sugar) and optional yogurt (however, now the recipe isn’t lactose-free). Blend up in Ninja or other blender. Pour into a glass and serve! Enjoy.
Breakfast Oatmeal Smoothie
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 cup dry old fashioned oatmeal
- 1/2 ripe banana
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar or honey
Method and Steps:
- Pour almond milk into small bowl or 2 cup measuring cup.
- Add dry old fashioned oatmeal and let set on counter for 1/2 hour or longer. (May set in refrigerator overnight.)
- Combine ingredients — oatmeal/almond milk mix along with banana and sweetener (brown sugar or honey) and plain non-fat yogurt (optional) — in Ninja or other blender. Process a few seconds until ingredients are blended.
- Pour into serving glass and enjoy!