We think of smoothies as a healthy breakfast or a protein rich snack. Yet your smoothie is only as healthy as what you put in it. Here are six things you need to be doing to assure that your smoothie is a lean, mean nutrient rich, nutrient filled powerhouse.
Freshly grind your seeds –
Throwing in flax seeds, chia seeds or pumpkins seeds can be good way to supply your body with additional omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and protein. It is popular to purchase packaged ground seeds for use in such things as smoothies. The problem is that once seeds are ground, the oils are easily oxidized which diminishes their nutrient value. Freshly grinding seeds keeps the oils fresh. You can grind them in a small coffee grinder or in a power blender. Just make sure the seeds are fully ground into a powder or you won’t be able to absorb their nutrients.
Avoid Using Fruit Juice –
Fruit juice seems like it should be a source of vitamins and minerals for your smoothie. In reality, fruit juice is made by isolating the sugar from the fruit while leaving out any of the fiber and vitamins that make fruit nutritious. The sweetness from fruit juice is enough to upset your blood sugar balance and lead to sugar cravings later in the day. Stick to some form of milk as your base and leave the sweetness to your fresh fruit.
Check for hidden sugars –
While we are talking about the sweet stuff, many smoothie ingredients are full of added sugars. This might be in your non-dairy milk, your protein powder or any add-ons like peanut butter. Read all ingredients carefully before using. Nothing detracts from a smoothie’s health potential than lots of sugar. There are plenty of unsweetened or naturally sweet options, so pick those instead.
Add Greens –
Hate kale? Cool, throw it in anyway. If you do a smoothie right, you will have such a mix of flavors that you won’t even taste the veggies. This is perfect for a little kid (or big adult) who won’t eat their vegetables. One handful of greens is usually just perfect.
Choose Antioxidants –
Think beyond just the banana when choosing fruit for your smoothie. Berries like blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are not only really satisfying in smoothies; they are a great source of antioxidants. Some of the many benefits of antioxidants are better skin, improved immunity and increased overall health. Go ahead and use frozen. Once they are blended your smoothie will by cold and refreshing.
Support Healthy Gut Bacteria –
So many people have taken multiple courses of antibiotics or years of birth control pills (which both help destroy the much needed healthy bacteria in the gut.) For that reason it is good to consume foods high in natural beneficial bacteria. So mix in some kefir or some plain yogurt with live cultures. These foods are high in probiotics (good bacteria) and will support the health of your gut. When your gut is happy, your immunity is up and your entire body can be balanced.
So drink up. A smoothie done right is a wonderful addition to a healthy diet!
Jacqueline Gum says
Well I am relieved to know that I am not committing any sins with my protein drink:) I haven’t thought of adding ground up nuts, though. So I am going to use that suggestion and thanks! I do use a whole avocado and instead of fruit juice I use beet juice and carrot juice.
Yes, adding avocado and vegetable juice are a couple of other good suggestions for a healthy smoothie. Thanks for the input!
I love kale! (I suppose I’m lucky I do). So my smoothies almost always have kale. Finally I have found a good balance of ingredients for my smoothies. I have stayed away from flax seeds because of the oxidation issue, but I suppose if you use it fresh (with a grinder), then it works. Bought chia seeds once – maybe grinding them will help. Found them too tiny.
Grinding flax seeds on demand is a bit inconvenient, but it does help you maximize its nutrient potential. I’ve never heard of grinding chia seeds, but you should give it a try. I agree, they are very small.
Hi Erica, I love your smoothies and your nutritional information. Now I have a request. Can you come up with a smoothie to imitate vegetable cocktail. I love that stuff but stopped drinking it because of all the add-ins. So here’s your homework – make a healthy substitute LOL.
Is vegetable cocktail like V8? I’ve never been a huge V8 fan (I don’t like the taste), but I’ll give it a try just for you Lenie!
Marquita Herald says
This is a great resource Erica. I don’t especially hate kale, but for some reason I do have a thing about green drinks. Anyway, the tips are great and maybe I’ll go ahead a get a small bunch of kale and just give it a try. 🙂
I think you are in good company Marquita. It is totally different eating a vegetable and blending it into a drink. My husband is the same way. He’ll snub his nose at kale, but once it is in a fun smoothie he has no problem with it.
Donna Janke says
Good tips on what to add to smoothies. Thanks.
Great ideas for a smoothie, which I love . But thanks for the tip about fruit juice. I know I drink too much of it. Ive taken now to just putting a 1/4 of a glass and then fill the rest up with water. I hadn’t thought of it giving sugar cravings for the rest of the day, but that makes total sense.
That is great how you have made that adjustment Andrew. I’m sure you are ingesting much less sugar by diluting your juice like that. If you can’t give up something, then doing what you did to transition to a healthier habit is the best bet.
You can throw pretty much anything into a good smoothie that has fruit in it. The sweetness of the fruit will definitely overpower the kale, as you say, and then you are getting the best of both worlds.
This is especially helpful for parents whose kids won’t eat vegetables. Or, in the case of my husband, a big kid who won’t eat kale!
Pamela Chollet says
I make a smoothie every day after my Yoga practice. I add whey or rice protein, yogurt, fresh fruit and powered red greens…love it! I’ve never thought of adding seeds, but I have flax seeds, I’ll give it a try tomorrow. My biggest tip, save up for a Vitamix.
You should definitely give flax seeds a try. They are such a good source of healthy fat. They can also be helpful to women for hormone balance so for many, that is a double win.
Thanks for the terrific advise. I like to add kale (or spinach), a banana and some frozen berries. While I sometimes throw in seeds, I see I should probably put them in first so they grind up before I add the other ingredients. I think I will have a smoothie now!
Grace, I think you will definitely prefer the seeds if you grind them in advance. I find that they don’t attain the same texture when I just throw them in without grinding them first. Having said that, I don’t have a power blender like a Vitamix, so it might be different if you have one of those.
It’s so true kale can be mixed up in a fruit smoothie and barely be detectable if at all if done correctly. Smoothies are great that way. So many ways to get in the good stuff and not sacrifice taste.
Yes, it is fun to also try new flavors and new vegetables. That allows you to be really well balanced while still enjoying flavor.
Meredith @ The Palette Muse says
This is so timely for me, as I figure out how to use my new blender to make healthier smoothies! I didn’t know that about ground nuts/seeds. I was using ground flax, but it sounds like I should buy whole seeds next time and let the blender do its thing.
Wishing you much fun this summer with your new blender! I hope you discover some amazing creations.
William Rusho says
This is a great post. I know with summer around, I will be taking my magic bullet and be making some smoothies. Using some of these tips, I can make them into something helpful to my body to drink. Thanks for sharing.
I do love that smoothies can be used to throw in healthy things you wouldn’t normally eat. Enjoy making your healthy smoothies with the magic bullet!
Kire Sdyor says
Erica, I have tried a couple of times to make a smoothie with watermelon, but I can’t fit it into the blender. Maybe I should try cutting it up next time.
Lol…that is all I have to say.