Hello MRG fans! I am so excited to be a part of Michigan Runner Girl and to help you find delicious and nutritious ways to fuel not just your running, but your life! As a runner, a health coach and a chef I wear a lot of different hats, but I am all about quick, delicious, nutrient-packed meals and real food for fueling your running. I would love to use this space to answer any questions you might have on running and eating, as well as give you ideas how to bring more wonderful flavors into your meals.

I thought for the first post I would talk about smoothies. A smoothie can be a great source of nutrition or it can be a calorie laden sugar bomb! After a long or hard run, the last thing I feel like doing is eating a big meal. But it is important to refuel, preferably within 30-60 minutes, when your muscles are “hungry for nutrients” to help recover quicker. But that doesn’t mean you have to cook up a big meal. A quick, tasty smoothie is a great way to kick-start recovery.

Reducing inflammation is really important for good health and longevity. And for those of us who want to run forever, it’s even more important. Smoothies are a fantastic way to pack in a lot of nutrients and are also easy to digest. And remember, smoothies are not just for recovery — they are also a great way to pack in extra nutrients for breakfast or as pre-run fuel.

There are certain fruits, vegetables and spices that help reduce inflammation even more than others. Here are some that are particularly powerful:

Berries – blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or strawberries all make a smoothie sweet and tart. They are high in antioxidants and the flavonoids in the berries are the compound responsible for reducing inflammation as well as being awesome for the brain and energy.

Pineapple – pineapple contains a natural enzyme called bromelain. When it enters the bloodstream it helps break down proteins involved in the inflammation pathways.

Dark Leafy Greens – these are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (anti-oxidants), including calcium, iron, Vitamin C, as well as magnesium, which is known to help reduce inflammation. They deliver more nutrients than just about any other food on the planet. They even contain protein!

Ginger – a root that not only helps fight inflammation but also is great for digestion and can help soothe a sensitive stomach.

Ground Flax, Chia or Hemp Seeds – are rich in omega – 3 fatty acids, healthy fats that the body needs. They also contain protein.

Try adding any of these 5 ingredients to your usual smoothie to help keep you feeling great or try my basic recipe to turn these powerhouse foods into a nutrient dense smoothie. The ingredients will help support digestion, reduce muscle and joint inflammation, and leave you feeling energized for the day. Plus it tastes really awesome!

Feel Good Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie

2 cups kale or spinach (you can experiment with other greens as well)

1 cup diced pineapple*

1/2 cup blueberries*

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger

2 tsp ground flax, chia seeds or hemp seeds

1 cup non dairy or dairy milk (or yogurt)

1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (if you like it sweeter)

Ice (optional)*

Add all ingredients to a powerful blender, except for ice and blend until smooth. Once combined, add in an optional 1/2 – 1 cup of ice (if using) depending on how cold you want your shake to be.

*I prefer using frozen fruit instead of ice.

**If you would like to boost the protein in your smoothie you can add nut butter or oats.

Have a fueling question for Ali? Post it below in the comments section or email MRG with your healthy eating questions at michiganrunnergirl [at] gmail [dot] com 

Ali will answer your questions in upcoming columns here on MRG.


Ali Lopez is a northern Michigan runner, chef and health coach. You can learn more about her at her web site Healthy Chef Ali. She’s also on Facebook here »

You can listen to a conversation about running and eating between Ali and Heather on a recent MRG podcast episode here »

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