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Start TODAY with Al: Brain-boosting granola and superfood smoothies

Try Al Roker’s superfood smoothie and other diet advice from Marco Borges.
Image: Al Roker on the Today Show. February 28, 2017.
For Start TODAY, Al Roker is focusing on simple healthy lifestyle changes.Nathan Congleton

As January comes to an end, some of us might have given up on our New Year's resolutions and planned lifestyle changes, but now is the time to recommit to your goals. Lifestyle coach and exercise physiologist Marco Borges stopped by TODAY to talk with Al Roker about how to be healthier in 2021.

For Borges, it's all about building an environment that can lead to success, especially when it comes to diet. Another key is making sure you add some movement into your day: Borges said that people should avoid sitting for their entire workday and try to create some time where you can walk around.

"It's all about creating the environment that is conducive for the results that you want to see," said Borges. "If you keep your house full of cookies and chips and you're trying to avoid them, it's probably not going to be that easy. ... We want to fuel our health. We want to make sure that we (eat) good, clean food that are unprocessed, vegetables, fruits, seeds, legumes, grains that are good for us."

To start the day strong, Borges offered two useful recipes that can give your morning a boost.

"The beautiful thing, Al, is that what happens when you make this early decision in the morning, it's an early win," Borges explained. "One good action perpetuates another good action."

Get started with a smoothie

Borges said that a smoothie can be a great way to start your morning, but only if you're using the right ingredients.

"At the end of the day, a smoothie can be a superfood fuel for the day, or it can be, like, a doughnut in a blender," Borges said. "It's about making sure that you're putting in foods from the earth, (like) raw vegetables. ... It's about creating the drink that you know will fuel you for the rest of the day. "

He explained that he typically starts the day with a superfood smoothie, packed with fruits and other ingredients he loves. Here is the recipe:

Superfood Smoothie Breakfast

While you can adjust it to your own taste, Borges recommends including a base, such as almond or oat milk, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and some yogurt for extra nutrition and flavor. If you want an extra protein boost, try adding some plant-based protein powder.

"People are always wondering, 'If I don't do a traditional breakfast of like, scrambled eggs or bacon or ham, am I going to get the right amount of protein?' So my solve for that is always just add a little bit of protein in there," said Borges, who also recommended adding flax or hemp seeds.

To avoid an unintentionally unhealthy smoothie, make sure to skip ingredeints like commercially processed juices, which can have added sugars or high-fructose corn syrup and remove healthy nutrients like fiber.

"What we want to do is take all of these fruits and vegetables, throw them into a blender, (and) make your own juice," said Borges. "It's a lot cheaper. You're not throwing away some plastic bottle. It doesn't cost you $12, like some of those fancy juices does. ... For pennies you can make a super juice in your home."

Get ready in advance with homemade granola

If a smoothie isn't to your taste, or you don't have time in the morning to prep the drink, Borges recommends making homemade granola, which just takes a few minutes to prepare and can be added to a variety of foods like yogurt, or eaten on its own.

"You like pumpkin seeds? You like walnuts? You like almonds, cashews?" he asked. "Whatever nuts you like, raw nuts, you just toss them all in there."

Brain-Boosting Granola

When buying nuts for granola, Borges recommends using raw nuts without added oils, salts, sugars or other sweeteners.

Add a touch of maple syrup, then toss the mixture and put it on a baking sheet. Bake it in the oven at 325° for 10 to 15 minutes.

Granola can also be added to overnight oats, which can be made in advance and eaten as desired.