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What connects Spirulina, Guarana and Baobab?

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

All three are ingredients in Innocent smoothies, a leading manufacturer of fruit-based drinks that are now owned by Coca-Cola. Moving away from traditional fruit-based ingredients, the company, who promises to be 'Good to the Core', has added powder derived from green tea leaves, climbing plants from the Amazon basin and blue/green algae from select lakes to their concentrated bottles of goodness.

Three friends started the company over 20 years ago when they decided to sell their smoothie drinks at a music festival in London. Once customers had drunk their drink, they were then requested to vote as to whether they enjoyed their drinks by putting their bottle in one of two bins. The first, meant 'Yes, quit your current job to make smoothies full time'. The other bin, 'No, don't give up the day job, just yet'. Punters were overwhelmingly positive, and the three followed the suggestions of the concert goers and started the company now known as Innocent smoothies.

From bananas to berries to botanicals, the company has gone from strength to strength, and Innocent has become 'Intriguing' in their use of ingredients. Spirulina, for example, was discovered by Aztecs in the 16th Century as a rich source of nutrients. Indeed, scientists are now looking for it to be included in the dietary support for long term space missions to distant planets. And yet, it is described on the smoothie packaging as only ‘a splash of spirulina’ extract, so a little goes a long way!

There is even less Guarana (0.01%) in their energiser smoothies, such is the potency of it. Sitting alongside cherries, blackcurrants and grapes, guarana contains twice the concentration of caffeine as that found in coffee beans! It not only acts as a defensive toxin for the plant, but adds its ‘energising’ properties to the bottle!

Baobab is more simply, the fruit of an Adansonia tree. Citrus in flavour, this high vitamin C packed fruit is less well known in the UK as it is an Australian species. In its powdered form, it is worthy of inclusion in any smoothie for taste as well as intrigue and interest!

These ingredients may only be a ‘dash of this’ and a ‘splash of that’, but they can make a significant difference to both the curiosity of the blue drink (if it contains 0.01% spirulina) and also to sales of the product! When our curiosity is piqued, that can have a huge impact on how we are feeling. If we are more inquisitive, in and of our world, then we will discover more about its delights, its beauty, its complexity!

Curiosity gives us a purpose, an aim, a focus, a meaning and all four are vital for our wellbeing. If nurtured, they can boost our resilience, enabling us to bounce back when things don’t go our way such as when McDonalds stopped putting Innocent smoothies into their Happy Meals resulting in the loss of a significant amount of revenue. Or, it can be something less dramatic, but more personal to you. A lesson not going quite as smoothly as you had planned it to; feedback from an observation not being constructive, just negative; a parent meeting where your decisions are challenged. It is at times like these that we need to draw on the 0.01%.

What is that special ingredient in teaching for you?

What makes you get out of bed in the morning and do it all over again?

Why do you so love your job?

From Aztecs in the past to space flights in the future; from Amazon rainforests to the ocean floor, we have scoured the Earth’s surface for smoothie ingredients. They may only be a small part of the ingredients list alongside the more dominant apples, grapes and cherries, but they make a difference.

Spend a moment today to remind yourself of why you became a teacher. Then, once you have done that, capture that goodness, bottle it and seal it. Open it when you need that boost, when you need to feel energised, when you need to deliver in your classroom!

This blog is written by David Gumbrell, author of ‘LIFT! Going Up If Teaching Brings You Down’. He is passionate about boosting teachers so that they can be the best that they can be. If you liked this article, then you may well enjoy 39 other snippets of nourishment in his book.

It is available via this link:

and his new book for 2020 can be pre-ordered here:

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