How to make a Nutritious Smoothie

I got a question recently on smoothies; here at the house we have been having a green smoothie most mornings this summer and I find it’s such an easy way to get so many vitamins and nutrients and easy to take to work.  David loves having his cereal and then having a smoothie to sip on at work the rest of the morning. Disclaimer:  I’m not an expert on nutrition, so always feel free to take my advice or leave it.  This is just what works for me. 

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I make our smoothies at home in the Vitamix.  I love this product; I saved up for two years and finally bought it, and it is worth every penny and is my most-used kitchen appliance.   Now I can’t stand sugary smoothies or shakes from chains/fast food places; I like to know what ingredients go in them.  I really like adding a lot of fruits and veggies;  they pack so many nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants that prevent disease (fruit has so many benefits) and lots of good fiber.  There is some sugar but whole fruits do not have much compared to many processed foods and drinks most Americans eat.  I like having a smoothie on most days and often a big salad for a meal too to get in all my greens.

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And side note: I love my smoothies but at times I still want something solid to chew on.  This often makes me eat more.  So it is good to ask yourself if you really feel like a liquid meal, because if not, you might just eat more after the smoothie to appease your craving (if you are me at least!).  Also smoothies are very easily digested since they are already processed for your stomach so they are great when you need to get calories quickly, but you may not get the same full feeling you get from eating a big meal like a salad.  I eat them with a spoon and a little granola sprinkled on top; it slows me down and gives me something to munch.  My smoothies usually depend on what’s in the fridge, but here is the basic recipe (double it for two people); adjust the liquid to your preference:

Base: 1 c liquid.  Can be water, almond milk, milk (for creamier), coconut water (I use this when I want more hydration, but it is higher in sugars).  Usually I do 1/2c water and 1/2c milk or coconut water.

Fruits, both of the following:

  • 1 banana (I always use a banana as it makes the smoothie creamier & thicker – usually frozen but fresh sometimes too.  Can substitute something like unsweetened pumpkin puree)
  • 1/2-1c of fruits – mix of any of the following: strawberry, kiwi, oranges, mango, frozen berries, peaches, cherry (also good anti inflammatory), etc.  Many of these have good anti-inflammatory properties and are high in Vitamin C and other Vitamins.  It is often cheaper to buy frozen fruits/berries.

Veggies, one or more of the following:

  • 1 stalk celery (very anti-inflammatory, and hydrating)
  • sometimes 1 carrot
  • 1/2 beet raw or roasted (this is also sweeter, so could be substituted for a fruit)

Greens, I do one of the following OR a mix of them – the more reading I do the more I find the benefits of incorporating dark leafy greens at least once per day:

  • 2 leaves kale
  • 1-2 handful spinach
  • 1-2 leaves collard greens

Protein, I aim for 15-20g protein per meal, so I add the following only as needed

  • 1/2 – 3/4 scoop of  protein powder (currently have Bluebonnet whey, natural flavor)
  • Greek yogurt or Kefir
  • use milk as base
  • hemp seeds

Add-ins (optional – I buy many of these in bulk from Vitacost <- referral link):

  • 1/2-1 T Ground Flax seed or wheat germ (for nutrients & healthy fats)
  • 1/2-1 T Chia seed (also has Omega-3’s)
  • 1/2t spirulina powder (protein + amino acids)
  • Spices – cinnamon, all spice, ginger (whole or powder), nutmeg, etc.
  • 1 date if needed as a sweetener (honey/maple/bee pollen also work – usually the fruit is sweet enough, but a date helps if easing into the taste of kale, for example)
  • Ginger (whole or powder -ginger is great for digestion and anti-inflammatory)
  • Basil or herbs would be great but never seem to have them around
  • Cacao nibs or cacao powder

Healthy Fats (optional – I add these less often since I also get healthy fats from the flax & chia):

  • Bit of avocado <– makes it taste like pudding
  • Small handful of almonds or walnuts
  • Pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • Coconut milk: I don’t use this often because I would only want 1-2T to thicken a smoothie, and have to open a whole can for it.  Also a bit high in saturated fat, but is delicious.  Could use coconut oil similarly.

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Some of our favorite combinations:

  • Mango-strawberry-kale is always popular with David.  He also loves if I add a kiwi – I just add them whole, skin and all.  I am also liking collard greens a lot lately as they are pretty mild, or spinach-berry.
  • Peach Pie Smoothie: all the basics, but using frozen peaches, banana, spinach, vanilla protein powder, walnuts, cinnamon, pinch of all spice & ginger
  • Cherry Banana Split: all the basics plus banana, cherries, choice greens, chocolate protein powder or cacao powder (tastes like dessert)
  • Beet Smoothie (don’t have to roast the beet)
  • Pumpkin spice smoothie: sub the banana with pumpkin and add spice; appropriate for the fall.  Maybe even use steamed sweet potato or butternut squash.
  • Creamsicle Smoothie: Oranges are also good lately since a lot of good Vitamin C for flu season.
  • Chocolate mint OR chocolate cayenne: use a regular smoothie base but add either chocolate protein powder or cacao powder and either mint leaves or a dash of cayenne powder.  Do NOT overdo the cayenne Winking smile

I’ll probably ramp up the warming spices for the fall and maybe add cranberries or pomegranate.  What are your favorite ingredients/recipes?  I typically have a lot of smoothies in the summer, then once it gets colder they ramp down and I have more warming oatmeal/porridge.  I would love to branch out and try something new.  These are giving me inspiration!:

http://www.runnersworld.com/recipes/runner-friendly-fall-smoothies

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/tag/smoothies

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3 thoughts on “How to make a Nutritious Smoothie

  1. Yum! All those combos sounds delicious! I, too, need something to chew at breakfast 🙂 The Vitamix is the most used appliance in house, too, though, sad to say, I haven’t been on a green smoothie kick (though this week made pumpkin protein smoothies!). Do you find your Vitamix blends beets and such well? Mine sometimes takes forever to blend a frozen banana!

    1. Thanks Erin 🙂 I need to break out the pumpkin soon (but David is not as big of a fan of pumpkin as I am), and someday I want to get some Osmo to try your Osmo smoothies – they sound so good! I have to press the beet down with that pusher tool, but then it blends. Frozen banana shouldn’t be difficult as long as there is a little liquid. I find it has a hard time blending if I load things wrong or don’t have enough liquid (I load in this order: liquid, soft fruits/veg, hard fruits/veg, frozen fruits, greens, then powders). I have sent my Vitamix in for repair before so if it doesn’t seem to work or is making weird noise they are super helpful about repairing it!

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