I’m a smoothie lover. They’re quick, they taste great, and I can pack so many good things into them. However, the key is having the right mix and thinking about your goals. Do you want to address immunity, longevity, weight management, or all of the above? Though far from a definitive guide, here are my tips on how to build a better smoothie.
I started drinking a smoothie every morning about eight years ago. I was coaching clients and leading them through my 7-Day elimination program, where I suggested a morning smoothie as a great way to start their day. They tasted great and my clients loved them. I’ve switched up some ingredients over the years but here are some key areas to always think about: 1)your base, 2)your protein, 3)vegetables/fruits, 4)fats, 5)super foods and other elixirs.
You’ve got a lot of options here: water, milk, non-dairy milk (soy, hemp, coconut, almond, oat, and more), coconut water, etc. Personally, I like water. Others enjoy the different varieties of milk for the different vitamins and minerals that they provide, like calcium. If calories are a concern for you, make sure you compare the various non-dairy milks as they vary widely. For example, soy milk is higher in calories than almond milk, which, by the way, also has more heart healthy monounsaturated fats.
Vegetables and Fruits
Try to be more veggie heavy. Add green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale and maybe some cucumbers. Fruits might taste delicious, but they are still sugars that will break down quickly and give you a spike in your blood sugar. I went from adding a whole to just half a banana to my smoothie. Sometimes I don’t even add it and rely more on avocados for the type of texture I like.
A helpful hack is to wash your greens on Sunday and have them ready to go for the week. This kind of prep work is a huge time saver for rushed weekday mornings. To add some sweetness, throw in half an apple. Or half a pear. Maybe alternate with frozen blueberries. The key is to keep the sugar down, but still enjoy the flavor. Don’t forget that sometimes we have to re-educate our palates. Cutting back on sugar is hard! However, I know that you can do it. And that you’ll be surprised how quickly you become used to the less sweet version.
Oh, and don’t forget putting some lemons and limes in there! Not just the juice, the flesh part of the fruit as well. So healthy (vitamin c!) and adds a nice freshness.
You want your smoothie to work for you. Give you energy and power you through your morning. Protein is key for this. I used to use whey protein (the watery portion of milk that separates from the curds when making cheese), but it really messed with my digestion and left me feeling bloated. I love the options of pea protein and other vegetable proteins out there. Personally, I use hemp protein powder. I also like throwing in seeds. Nuts are a great option as well. And nut butters like cashew, peanut, and almond. These can add up in calories so be mindful of amounts. I’m also a huge tahini fan.
Fats tell your body that you are satiated. They are crucial to a breakfast that makes you feel great and not hungry thirty minutes later. Healthy fats can be found in a variety of seeds like flax, hemp, chia, and sesame. Also great is coconut oil and avocados. The nut butters also provide good fats as well.
Super Foods and Other Elixirs
And now the section where you can have some fun and explore. Here’s just a brief selection of options: ginger, algae (I love spiruline), cacao (great for magnesium and for texture), turmuric (anti-cancer powerhouse), aloe vera juice (anti-fungal, anti-bacterial), reishi mushroom powder (overall fantastic tonic), matcha, maca, dates, and so much more.
The best thing about smoothies is the flexibility that you have. I know that at this point in my life, I want to lower my sugar consumption so I try to pick and choose fruits that give me flavor but reduce my portion. Fats are really important to me so avocado and coconut oil are on my list. Ever since reading Dr. Andrew Weil‘s 8 Weeks to Optimum Health twenty years ago, I have used flax seeds and haven’t looked back. So essential for women in terms of healthy fats for our bodies, brains, and with anything related to hormones, menopause and so much more. Same for maca! For protein, I also recommend sea vegetables like the algae spiruline, which has so many other amazing properties.
I hope this helps you start or shake up (sorry, couldn’t resist) your smoothie routine. Spring is a great time to switch things up and start to feel lighter!