As a food editor (and enthusiast!), I often find myself noshing through my day, whether I'm whipping up recipes to shoot for mbg videos or sampling new products that make their way across my desk. By dinnertime, the idea of cooking the type of meal found in cookbooks can often be nauseating—not to mention time-consuming. Recently, I've been falling back on a super-easy but oft-forgotten solution: the dinner smoothie.
The dinner smoothie is in line with the findings of Dan Buettner, who coined the term Blue Zones to describe the regions of the world where people regularly live to be over 100. While the food differed from place to place, one thing remained consistent, according to Dan—they ate "breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper." At revitalize 2017, Steven Gundry, M.D., spoke about the side effects of eating a big dinner. "Digestion is incredibly energy expensive, and we divert all of our blood flow down to our gut," he explained. "You need a window of four hours between your last meal and going to bed" for optimal brain health.
While having a smoothie isn't the same as fasting, it does give your digestion a huge break—the blender is, essentially, pre-digesting the food for you. I've usually been doing some variation of this as my dinner blend (the lemon makes the taste particularly cleansing), but really, this dinner is all about making do with whatever's in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. There are a couple of rules I follow for a dinner smoothie:
Keep the energizing ingredients out of it.
While energy-boosting superfoods are great in morning blends, in the evening, that can result in you being too wired to actually get the rest you need. I avoid MCT oil, cacao, and maca in dinner smoothies (although I love them at breakfast time).
Load it up with healthy fats and proteins.
Because a smoothie is definitely a light dinner, I like to add a lot of healthy fats and proteins to keep my hunger levels stable throughout the night. Ellen Vora, M.D., a holistic psychiatrist, often recommends healthy fats before bed as a way to ward off insomnia (according to her, the anxiety caused by a 2 a.m. blood sugar crash can make you jolt awake). I love to include almond butter, hulled hemp hearts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and collagen powder (which has actually been shown to increase melatonin levels and help you sleep).