Ask me to paint a picture that represents what it feels like to live with anxiety, and I would construct a collage of jagged strokes, and vibrant yellows and reds would clash with navy blues and moss greens. For the past two years, I’ve been experimenting with meditation, yoga, and tangible products to sew a kind of safety net to fall back on when my mind goes on a rampage and my attitude goes sour. To do this, I’ve tried several different stress-relieving supplements, which is what led me to develop my signature Moon Juice smoothie to calm my busy mind and improve my mood.
I grew up in a traditional Irish household where, if tea couldn’t fix a problem, that's when you should really worry. Fast-forward to my early 20s, and a warm pot simply wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I still find comfort in wrapping myself up in a blanket and sipping on an oversized mug, dipping the bag of tea leaves in and out along the ceramic rim, but stress builds like a tower of blocks inside my head, and the second they're knocked down, I’m out of commission.
What's more, my stress levels can become wildly high in the face of things that might seem insignificant to other people, like struggling to meet a deadline or waking up feeling grossly bloated. When anxiety takes over, I feel like an entirely different person, and I fall into this moody slump that, I'll admit, is super unattractive and doesn't make me feel like me. I knew I needed something stronger than Lipton to help me readjust on a whim, but I never thought I’d find the answer in a jar of protein powder.
When Moon Juice launched a line of adaptogenic protein powders, I decided to try them out.
I know myself, and when I’m feeling stressed or anxious, my emotions spill out, and I can get panicky and upset, or frustrated and snippy. Either way, it’s a dark side I’m not exactly proud of. I’ve been desperate to find something that can turn my frown upside down when I need it most, and I was pleasantly surprised when I figured out a way for my daily afternoon smoothie to make it happen.
Adaptogens, aka Ayurvedic herbs used to treat things like stress and anxiety, have become a hot commodity for health and wellness influencers on social media. Being the sucker for stunningly filtered photos and informative captions that I am, further research on the subject piqued my interest, and eventually led me to brands that sold all kinds of powdered goods to encourage not only better mental clarity, but an overall happier, more chill lifestyle. Moon Juice is among these holistic resources that focus on plant-based supplements to encourage a more natural, wholesome means of wellness and beauty. After successfully sampling both their Brain and Dream Dusts, I was excited to see what these new protein powders had to offer.
The collection features a trio of jars: Vanilla mushroom for energy, focus, and recovery; deep chocolate for energy, stamina, and drive, and blue beauty for energy, control, and collagen. Because I’ve had some not-so-great experiences with powder supplements before, vanilla sounded like a safe bet. While I’ve yet to try any of the other flavors (I’m a creature of habit and tend to stick to what I know I like), this was definitely the right choice.
The powder can be added to pretty much anything, including coffee and even brownie batter, so I decided to scoop some into my favorite smoothie for my own experiment.
Like I said, I am (shamelessly) a creature of habit. When I like something, I stick to it, at least for a while, so for the past few months, I’ve been making the same smoothie once a week comprised of unsweetened almond milk, half of a frozen banana, a quarter-cup of Trader Joe’s frozen berry medley, one scoop of Amazing Grass Holiday Cookie greens powder, one tablespoon of raw cacao powder, and a spoonful of nut butter (peanut butter usually, but Crazy Richard's cashew butter is my favorite). If your mouth isn’t watering after reading that ingredients list, it should be, because the combination is — dare I say — foodgasmic.
Once you master this level of culinary genius, you don’t want to add or subtract ingredients that could potentially mess with the masterpiece, which is exactly why I chose Moon Juice’s vanilla powder. I’m also cautious about experimenting with different flavors and ingredients because I struggle from a digestive disorder, and I want to ensure what I’m putting into my body won't trigger any painful symptoms. Having said that, you better believe I went over the ingredients list before casually plopping two scoops into my blender.
I was relieved to find that the Vanilla Mushroom Adaptogenic Protein followed the usual Moon Juice standard: It’s made up of less than 10 ingredients, and it's 100 percent plant-based. The whopping 20 grams of protein come from brown rice which, I’ve found, is gentle on my digestive system and provides other essentials like amino acids, vitamins B and E, as well as fiber and healthy carbs. The powder also contains cordyceps and reishi mushrooms which improve stamina, balance hormones, boost immunity, and lower blood pressure, as well as ashwagandha root to reduce stress and anxiety. Bottom line: all good stuff.
I drank the smoothie three times in one week during varying levels of stress, and I was genuinely impressed by how much it improved my mood.
The first time I added the adaptogenic protein to my smoothie was on a Monday. I'd had a lovely weekend, and felt a bit cranky going into a hectic week of work. So rather than muddle through the mid-afternoon slump that was inevitably creeping up on me around 2 p.m., I took a 10-minute pause to sip my smoothie and really enjoy it. By the time I was done, any animosity I felt toward the day had disappeared, and I was able to cruise through my assignments with a smile on my face.
Wednesday proved to be the true testament to what this powder could do for my mood because, man, was I having a day. Call it PMS, call it a minor breakdown, but I became so frustrated and annoyed that at one point, I was fighting back actual tears. I took an early lunch break to whip up the smoothie, sipping along and crossing my fingers for the slightest of pick-me-ups it could offer. I slurped my final sip, sat back down at my desk, and I can honestly say I felt like an entirely different person. I banged out my assignments with a newfound clarity, had positive conversations with my editors, and felt genuinely proud of the work I did. The Julia I was when I woke up was a monster compared to the happy-go-lucky Julia that ended the day with a smile.
I'll admit that I didn't feel like a dramatically changed person when I drank the exact same smoothie for breakfast on Friday, but that's likely because it was the weekend, and my stress levels were already lower than they'd been all week. However, it was still beneficial to compare the effects on a good day versus a bad day to get a feel for how and when the powder actually works.
Overall, I'm thoroughly impressed by Moon Juice's adaptogenic protein powders, and would highly recommend them. Of course, what works for me won't necessarily work for you, so make sure you do your own research before adding a scoop to your own smoothie. Otherwise, bottoms up!