Smoothies make an excellent breakfast, post-workout meal, or snack on-the-go. But not all smoothies are created equally. While a homemade kale-spirulina-blueberry smoothie might be one of the healthiest meals on the planet, a large smoothie from Jamba Juice can easily have upwards of 100g of sugar.
Don’t fall prey to the sugary traps of smoothies and star your morning with a healthy, smoothie that’ll nourish your mind and body.
Use nature’s candy
Rely on nature’s candy (i.e., fruit) to sweeten your smoothies. Skip the sugars, syrups and even the less processed stuff like honey and maple syrup. There’s no need to add additional sugar (or artificial sweeteners) when you use fruit, which will naturally sweeten your smoothie.
To get a thick, luscious and creamy texture, add a frozen banana to your smoothie. Just slice up a ripe banana, lay it flat in a ziploc bag or tupperware, and freeze. And to up your antioxidant intake, throw in a few handfuls of frozen berries. Or, for a tropical flair, try frozen or fresh pineapple, which is loaded with Vitamin C and bromelain, an anti-inflammatory enzyme found in pineapples.
Don’t forget the veggies
Eating enough vegetables every day is easy when you include some with breakfast. After all, the more vegetables you eat in the morning, the more almond chickpea cookie dough you can snack on later, right?
For a green smoothie packed with calcium, fiber, and iron, try leafy greens like spinach and kale. If you’re looking to limit the amount of sugar you consume, replace frozen bananas with frozen cauliflower. It’ll give you the same creamy, thick texture without any of the sugar.
For a hearty smoothie, try adding root vegetables. Steamed carrots or baked sweet potatoes make a delicious addition, and cooked or raw beetroot will give you a beautiful pink smoothie!
All smoothies need a liquid base. If you need to replenish your electrolytes after a tough workout, try coconut water. Otherwise, opt for a plant-based milk, such as almond milk, soy milk, or even hemp seed milk.
While you might think cow’s milk is the best source of calcium, today’s plant-based milks are fortified with plenty of calcium, often more than dairy milk. Additionally, they have no cholesterol, contain less saturated fat and often contain fiber and other nutrients.
Most plant-based mylks are fortified with calcium, but check the nutrition label and ingredient statement to be certain. For instance, Califia Farms’ unsweetened almond milk contains 45% of your daily Calcium needs, compared to the 30% contained in your average 2% dairy milk.
Some plant-based milks are also fortified with additional vitamins and minerals, making them an even more attractive option for your smoothies. For instance, Good Karma’s flaxseed milk is fortified with calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12.
Fear not, fat is your friend!
Adding a healthy fat to your breakfast can help you avoid mid-morning stomach growling. Plus, a diet rich in monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats can help reduce your risk for heart disease, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. So do your heart a favor and pour some heart-healthy fats into your smoothie!
To make the world’s creamiest smoothie, add a half avocado to your smoothie. For a spin on PB&J, add peanut butter (or almond butter) and strawberries or raspberries to your smoothie. Other healthy sources of fat include cashews, pumpkin seeds, and coconut oil.
And don’t forget those omega-3 fatty acids! Adding a tablespoon or two of flaxseed meal to your smoothie will provide you with your daily requirements of the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fat that our bodies cannot produce. Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids that make perfect smoothie additions include chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts.
Make your belly happy
Add a dose of probiotics to your morning smoothie and make your belly happy. Probiotics are essential for a well-functioning gut, which, in turn, is essential for maintaining the immune system, brain functioning, the body’s response to inflammation, and even mental health.
Probiotic-rich foods that are also smoothie-friendly include unsweetened yogurt and kefirs. If you’re dairy-free or vegan, not to worry. Many plant-based yogurts contain active live and cultures just like dairy yogurt and are therefore good sources of probiotics. Just be sure to check out the ingredient statement and look for phrases like “live and active cultures” or “live active cultures.” Some yogurts may even include the specific probiotic strains, such as L.Acidophilus or Bifidobacteria.
If you’re not a yogurt fan or can’t find a plant-based yogurt near you, try using kombucha as the liquid base for your smoothie. Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage that’s sold in the refrigerated section of grocery stores. It’ll add a fizzy quality to your smoothie, which makes it all the more fun. Alternatively, you can add a spoonful of probiotic powder to your smoothie.
What are your tips for making a healthy smoothie?