For simplicity, we call them smoothies, but my rendition is much more and not to be confused with an Orange Julius or other retail smoothie option which tend to be loaded with sugar and contain little to no nutrition.
I was recently asked for the specifics on what I put in my smoothie. The contents of my fridge and pantry determine the recipe from day to day, but as a standard, I attempt to include the following superfoods–recipe below. (You’ll find a reoccurring theme: Fat and Protein.)
Chia Seeds. These tiny seeds are one of the most nutritious foods you can consume, especially when you consider the benefit you get compared to their small size. They’re loaded with omega-3 and omega 6 fatty acids, protein, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese. Chia seeds provide energy and support pain relief, inflammation, digestion, blood pressure, blood sugar, and naturally thin the blood aiding in reducing heart attack and stroke. These are a must in my smoothie. I also add them to salads and mix them in my daughter’s yogurt so she too obtains the multitude of benefits from these tiny powerhouses.
Flaxseed. A good source of fiber, unsaturated fat, omega-3, and protein. Also supplies potassium for well-functioning muscles, iron, and zinc to boost immunity and thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, B vitamins that help your body turn food into energy. Consumption of flaxseed is linked to reduced rates of certain cancers. Also, helps fill you up and reduce hunger helping to control weight.
Hemp Seeds. Again, these provide omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, protein, fiber, and a number of vitamins and minerals. Good fat sources protect us from cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, diabetes, and other illnesses. Hemp seeds, or hearts, increase your metabolism, improve brain health, regulate blood sugar, reduce the symptoms of PMS, improve the condition of hair and nails, lower levels of bad cholesterol in your blood, and decrease inflammation in your body. They almost have the complete set of amino acids that are found in meat and dairy, so they make a great protein option for vegetarians and vegans. Again, I’ll add these to my salads.
Bee Pollen. Another wonderfully nutritious superfood, bee pollen is one of the most complete foods found in nature. Provides antioxidants, amino acids, protein, and B vitamins. Helps fight allergies, anemia, constipation, asthma, and bronchitis. I was turned on to it originally for its fertility powers. Known as a natural aphrodisiac, too, and helps with muscle recovery from sports and exercise.
Collagen. As we age, our body’s ability to repair itself diminishes. Collagen helps lubricate joints, builds connective tissue, heals injuries, reduces inflammation, supports hormone balance, improves digestion and works wonders for your hair, nails and skin.
Spirulina. A type of blue-green algae has healing properties and positive impact on the immune system. I use the powered form in my smoothies to provide protein, healthful fatty acids, B complex, vitamin K, vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc, copper, iron, manganese, and selenium. My greatest attraction to spirulina is its ability to absorb heavy metals from the body–a detox we could all benefit from.
Spinach. When I took the photo associated with this post I was out of spinach so used kale this particular day. Kale is awesome and I recommend it but I usually always have spinach in the fridge so it’s my go-to to give my smoothie a beautiful rich green color. I also incorporate it for all the health benefits it offers. I think we all know we need more greens in our diets and a smoothie is a great vehicle to get a bunch of it in easily. Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are important for skin and hair, bone health, and provide protein, iron, vitamins and minerals.
Apple Cider Vinegar. A great addition to address gut-health. ACV promotes healthy alkaline pH levels (look this up and work to consume more alkaline foods!), cleanses lymph nodes, rids candida, detoxifies your liver, and reduces body weight.
Aloe Vera Juice. Another alkaline ingredient with countless uses and benefits. Aids in digestion, helps the immune system, an anti-inflammatory, potent antioxidant, alleviates joint and muscle pain, supports memory and mood, encourages normal blood sugar, reduces redness and swelling. Also great for your skin and hair.
- I’ll include a tablespoon of IDLife shake mix to enhance flavor and increase the nutrition level with fiber and protein.
- A small amount of fruit. Fruit is good for you and loaded with antioxidants. It also sweetens and flavors the smoothie in a way we can all appreciate. Use caution and moderation, however. One of the mistakes people make when trying to be healthy with smoothies is opting for lots of fruit. Fruits contain natural sugars which in excess will rais your glycemic index. Use a small amount of fruit or opt for lower-sugar fruits. Consider kiwi, apple, berries (blueberries and raspberries offer great health benefits), or melons. I will also use pineapple, mango and banana, but again, small quantities.
- Avocado–I love this food and will probably dedicate a future blog post to this incredibly nutritious, creamy beauty.
- Almond or coconut milk. I actually purchase a 50/50 blend of these as my alternative to milk. (Concerned with the hormone levels in dairy milk, I switched out years ago. Dairy also contributes to inflammation so I opt to limit my dairy and usually reserve my quota for cheese!)
Below is my standard recipe if I have all ingredients on hand. If you don’t have these items or only have a few, I encourage you to experiment with healthy smoothies as a way to increase your nutrient intake and replace sugar and grains.
I make a large batch and enjoy for breakfast and then again as a snack or leave half in the fridge to consume the next day with zero prep work involved. You could also make a large batch and freeze in individual serving containers (pint-sized mason jars) and pull them out the night before for a breakfast that travels. Or you can cut this recipe in half for a single serving that will fuel your body, fill you up and leave you satisfied until the next meal.
- 12-16 ounces of almond, coconut or almond/coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons of aloe vera juice
- 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon of flaxseed
- 1 tablespoon of collagen
- 1 tablespoon of bee pollen
- 1 tablespoon of IDLife shake mix
- 1/2 avocado
- Fruit combination similar to one of the following:
- one kiwi and 1/4 cup of berries
- one kiwi and 1/4 cup melon
- 1/4-1/2 cup of berries
- one apple
- one banana
- Spinach–I usually pack my Ninja blender full after all other ingredients are added, approximately 4 cups. You can do less and add as you acclimate.
Blend all ingredients together on high for a couple minutes to break down the food and marry the ingredients. I let my mixture sit for a few minutes which allows the seeds to absorb the liquid and soften. I find the consistency to be a true smoothie texture: thick but pourable. If you prefer a thinner consistency add more milk or reduce some of the ingredients. You could use frozen fruit or ice to chill the mixture and to thicken further.
There are a ton of recipe options on the internet and there really is no limit to the combinations. In the summer months when my garden is prolifically producing cucumbers and mint, I’ll include those. You could include citrus fruits, celery, broccoli–if you have a powerful blender, you could add a number of items and easily transform them into a palatable, delectable beverage.
Start with a few items and build from there. The objective is to introduce nutrient-rich foods in an easy and delicious way. It also allows you to consume a higher quantity of these foods than you would if you tried to eat each individually–that is the magic of a smoothie!
Hope this inspires you to experiment with healthy smoothies.
To your health!