"Pura vida" translates to "pure life" or "simple life". Costa Ricans believe pura vida is more than a phrase, it's a way of life. Pura vida is used to say hello, goodbye and let people know all is well. Culturally, pura vida means living a life full of gratitude and appreciation for the simple things. They limit unwarranted stress and strive to get back to the basics. In our opinion, it's a beautiful, peaceful way of life. Though Costa Rica remains miles away, we hope our Pura Vida brings a glimmer of gratitude for all you have and temporarily takes away unnecessary stress.
Pura Vida: Acai, strawberries, banana, dates, kale, coconut-hemp mylk,
coconut water, full spectrum antioxidant superfood powder
Acai, pronounced (ah-sigh-ee), comes from the acai palm tree, commonly grown in South America. The tiny berry is one of the few fruits that is naturally low in sugar yet loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients. Acai has been a staple ingredient in native Brazilian diets.
We aren’t kidding when we say acai packs a powerful punch. This berry contains vitamins A, B, C and K, fiber, fatty acids, protein, minerals, antioxidants, polyphenols and flavonoids. While the nutrient composition is essential, these compounds must be bioavailable in order for efficient use within our bodies. Turns out researchers at Texas A&M found both the pulp and juice are readily absorbed, deeming it a good source of antioxidants.
Much of the research involving acai examines the health benefits of its antioxidants, including polyphenols and anthocyanins. Antioxidants are the warriors in our body’s internal defense against cellular damage. They slow down the process of oxidation by neutralizing harmful by products, such as free radicals. Oxidative damage can result in cardiovascular damage and disease; thus, its reduction is important. Polyphenols have also been found to improve endothelial function, decrease blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, and decrease “bad” cholesterol level. Research continues to be performed on the effects of acai consumption on cardiovascular disease. See one of many studies here.
In our smoothie spotlight on the Funky Monkey, we introduced the benefits of strawberries. Strawberries are full of vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, antioxidants and fiber. In fact, one cup of strawberries (which in the summer time is far too easy to consume) contains 160% of the RDA for vitamin C. If you’re fresh out of oranges, grab a handful of strawberries for an immune boost!
During pregnancy, women are encouraged to consume ample folic acid, to prevent against neural tube defects. Strawberries can be one supplemental food to achieve the RDA for pregnant women. Of course, we all know about the benefits of fiber – healthy bowel movement! The fiber rich content of strawberries can provide relief from constipation. Last but not least, the high potassium content of strawberries has also been examined for its aid in blood pressure regulation.
To prevent ourselves from sounding like a broken record with bananas, we’re sharing some fun facts about the ‘nana.
Bananas grow upside down, giving way to their curved feature.
Bananas ripen faster when attached to a bunch. (we were surprised by this one!)
A bunch of bananas is known as a hand, while a singular banana is called a finger.
Banana fibers have been used in the production of ropes and tea bags. And banana flour is now on the market for baked goods.
Bananas float in water.
On average, Americans consume about 27 pounds of bananas per person per year.
While kale was once reserved as décor for seafood counters, it’s now receiving the proper limelight. This dark, leafy cruciferous vegetable is found in many varieties, from dino kale to purple kale to green curly leaf. One cup of cooked kale contains approximately 1000% more vitamin C than a cup of cooked spinach.
As a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, kale contains glucosinolate compounds. When ingested, these compounds are converted into isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates display preventative characteristics against risk factors for various cancers, such as breast, colon, bladder and prostate. Fiber within kale can aid in digestive health, along with reducing cholesterol. The high levels of vitamin K and B can enhance heart health, aid in DNA repair, protect bones and decrease inflammation. Bottom line: eat your greens!
Grown on the date palm tree, production thrives in dry, sandy conditions, typically in the Middle East. The two most common varieties are Deglet and Medjool. Though native to the Middle East, date production soars in the United States. In 2012, California produced 90% of the nation’s date crop, specifically the Deglet Noor. One serving of four dates provides 14% of the RDA for potassium, 12% of RDA for niacin, 11% of the RDA for iron and 20-30% of the RDA for fiber. We could just leave it at the numbers but let’s take a look at what these nutrients can do for your body. Potassium plays a role in building muscle, maintaining fluid balance, regulating blood pressure and preventing heart disease. Niacin, one of the B vitamins, serves as a coenzyme for over 200 enzymatic reactions in the body. These reactions include energy production and nutrient metabolism. Iron is essential for carrying oxygen within the body and participates in red blood cell production. In addition to health bowel function, fiber aids in keeping us fuller, longer. It does this by delaying the emptying of the stomach as it takes longer to digest.
Full Spectrum Anti-Oxidant Powder
When curating our smoothie recipes, we sought out the most nutrient dense ingredients. Often times you’ll see a smoothie with a protein powder or superfood powder added. These powders elevate the nutrient density of the smoothie, hence the term superfood smoothies. Though the Pura Vida would have been nourishing on its own, the Full Spectrum Antioxidant Powder was a perfect addition to this recipe.
Produced by Optimally Organic, Full Spectrum is a raw, organic, whole food, freeze dried superfood powder. It blends acai berry, acerola cherry, noni, camu camu, maqui berry and hemp seeds. While the hemp seeds provide ample protein and fatty acids, the remaining ingredients offer B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, beta-carotene, amino acids and antioxidants. Optimally Organics chose raw, whole food forms to increase bioavailability.
During long periods of intense exercise or sickness that causes dehydration, our bodies utilize mineral stores that require repletion. These minerals include sodium, potassium and calcium, all of which are critical for homeostasis. Coconut water offers electrolyte balancing by providing these minerals in every ounce. We love coconut water for the subtle sweetness and refreshing quality it brings to smoothies.