In relationships, it’s often the small things that go a long way. Your relationship with your employees is the same. It’s the special touches in the workplace that can convey you truly care about your employees and their health. One way you can do this is by hosting a regular smoothie bar. You can provide the blender(s), produce and liquids, and your employees can mix up their own nutritious concoctions. Most people enjoy the refreshing taste of smoothies, but store-bought versions can come with a hefty price tag while other varieties are loaded with sugar. Additionally, they can be a hassle to make at home. Fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients that can improve cognitive function, boost brainpower and contribute to overall health and wellbeing, which is a win-win situation for both employees and their companies.
Creating a Smoothie Bar
Let’s talk logistics:
- You can make it a one-time deal or host a smoothie bar on a regular basis. If you’re going to make the smoothie bar a regular affair, offer it at consistent times every week so employees can count on a healthy breakfast or snack at certain times each week. Monday mornings are a great option to jump-start your employees’ week on a healthy note.
- You’ll need at least one blender; multiple blenders would be best.
- Blenders can be noisy so it would be beneficial to choose a location that’s somewhat removed from people’s desks, and set smoothie bar hours (e.g., 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.) so it’s not too disruptive.
- Ask employees to help set up and clean up the station. You can have a sign-up process so volunteers can take turns each week.
- Your company can provide all the fixings or you can ask employees to sign up to contribute ingredients. Another option is to charge a nominal fee to offset costs.
- Have employees supply their own cups or provide reusable mugs with your company’s branding.
- Provide recipe inspirations to guide employees as they create their smoothies, such as a carrot cake smoothie that provides a powerful combination of nutrient-dense foods: almond milk, Greek yogurt, carrots and coconut with a touch of honey and cinnamon, sprinkled with walnuts.
- Blueberries: Blueberries, more than any other fruit, have the highest amount of antioxidants. Their nutrients can have a protective effect on the brain and boost one’s memory and mood. An added bonus is they’re low in calories. One cup of blueberries is less than 100 calories. Fresh, frozen or freeze-dried blueberries all do the trick. While blueberries tend to be the most highly regarded, all berries are rich in vitamins and are a great addition to smoothies for both the flavor and nutrients they provide.
- Blackberries: As we age, it gets harder to learn new things because to process fresh information, brain cells need to communicate with each other. Due to the aging process, those cells get inflamed, making it harder to converse with each other. Blackberries can get brain cells talking again because they provide potent antioxidants called polyphenols that decrease inflammation and encourage communication between neurons, improving the ability to absorb new information.
- Apples: Apples are a leading source of quercetin, which is an antioxidant that defends brain cells from free radical damage that can erode the lining of delicate neurons and lead to cognitive decline. To get the most quercetin, apples should be eaten with their skin since that’s where most of this valuable nutrient resides.
- Citrus Fruits: Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C. The benefits of vitamin C are vast and may include protecting against immune system deficiencies, heart disease, eye problems and cancer.
- Avocados: Avocados aren’t just for guacamole anymore. They add a nice smooth texture to smoothies while delivering loads of nutrients. Avocados contain monounsaturated fat, which improves blood flow and can lower blood pressure. They are high in calories, though, so we’d recommend pre-slicing individual servings.
- Spinach: Smoothies are a great way to sneak spinach into one’s diet. You can toss a handful into the mix without altering the taste too much. Spinach is loaded with vitamins E and C, which studies have shown help to improve cognitive abilities. It is also packed with vitamins that can help prevent dementia, such as folate and vitamin K.
- Carrots: Carrots are well-known for being good for the eyes, but they’re also good for the brain. They contain high levels of a compound called luteolin, which may reduce age-related memory deficits and brain inflammation.
- Nut Butters: Nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E, which can decrease cognitive decline that occurs with aging. When you’re selecting nut butters, make sure they don’t contain trans fats (e.g., partially hydrated fats).
- Flaxseed: Research suggests that flaxseed may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. It provides omega-3 fatty acids, aka “good” fats, which have heart-healthy effects. Flaxseed provides lignans, which have antioxidant qualities. In fact, flaxseed has 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods. Ground flaxseed can be sprinkled atop a smoothie, or flaxseed oil can be drizzled into the mix.
- Wheat Germ: This superfood contains vitamin E, omega-3s and fiber, and can easily be sprinkled into a smoothie.
- Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate is chock full of antioxidants and small amounts of caffeine to boost concentration. Aim for chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa to limit sugar intake. Chocolate can also stimulate endorphin production, which can be a mood booster. Its benefits may also include lowering blood pressure and keeping your mind sharp by protecting against memory loss that accompanies the aging process. This is because the polyphenols they contain can boost blood flow to the brain. This smoothie addition is best eaten in moderation.
- Cinnamon: The way cinnamon is metabolized by the body significantly raises sodium benzonate levels in the brain, which can improve brain functioning and greatly slow or prevent a variety of degenerative diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
- Pomegranate Juice: Pomegranates offer powerful antioxidant benefits that can protect the brain, which is particularly susceptible to damaging free radicals. Pomegranate juice may have added sugar so it’s best to use sparingly or dilute with still or sparkling water.
- Tea: Brew some fresh tea and chill it as a healthful base for a smoothie. Green, white, rooibos and fruit teas will all do the trick and can add some nice flavor. Avoid the premade, high-sugar varieties. Tea is high in antioxidants, especially catechines, which promote blood flow. Tea also delivers a small dose of caffeine, which can boost memory, mood and focus. One study found that tea drinkers perform better on memory and information processing tests than non-tea drinkers.
- Concord Grape Juice: Just like blackberries, grape juice contains polyphenols that improve communication between brain cells. A study found that participants with declining memory who drank grape juice on a daily basis significantly improved their spatial memory and verbal learning skills compared to those who drank a placebo drink. Just like pomegranate juice, it may have added sugar, so it’s best to use sparingly or dilute with water.
Other great additions to your smoothie bar include bananas, plain Greek yogurt (for its protein content and creamy texture), kefir (a probiotic milk drink), honey and coconut.
If your goal is to have a healthy workforce, get creative in finding ways you can make healthy living more convenient for them.