I am not a smoothie person. Not because I don’t think they have value, or because I don’t like the taste. I just enjoy eating and chewing so much, I prefer a solid food to a smoothie. However, I do think smoothies can be convenient, nutritious and very quick and easy, so it is a reasonable choice for many people. In addition, blending breaks down plant cell walls making many of the valuable nutrients even more digestible.
I am not terribly impressed with commercial smoothies as they tend to be very sweet. Sometimes they have fruit juice or fruit juice concentrates added, so READ the label or ask the restaurant or smoothie bar to skip these ingredients or any other concentrated sweeteners. I am also less than enthusiastic about smoothies that are meant to replace a meal but contain only fruits, vegetables and water. These smoothies lack the protein, essential fatty acids and trace minerals that you need from a meal. Adding seeds, nuts, seed or nut butters, tofu or non-dairy yogurt can help to boost nutritional value and provide some fat to help maximize the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients.
Basic Berry Breakfast Smoothie
1.5 cups (375 ml) non-dairy milk (use 1 cup non-dairy milk and 1/2 cup non-dairy yogurt if desired)
1 cup (250 ml) fresh or frozen berries
1 frozen banana, chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) hempseeds
1-2 Brazil nuts
1. Replace berries with 1 cup fresh or frozen mango and/or pineapple
2. Replace the berries with 1 cup fresh or frozen nectarines or peaches
3. Decrease the hempseeds to 2 Tbsp (30 ml) and add 1 1/2 Tbsp (22.5 ml) almond butter, tahini or other nut or seed butter
4. Replace hempseeds with 2 Tbsp (30 ml) chia seeds or ground flaxseeds and 2 Tbsp (30 ml) sunflower seeds (best to soak them first)
There are several “boosters” you can add to make your smoothie even more nutritious.
1. GREENS – add 2 cups baby kale, spinach or your favorite greens OR 2 Tbsp powdered greens.
2. PROBIOTICS – add the contents of one probiotic cap or 1/4 tsp (1 ml) probiotic powder.
3. AVOCADO – add 1/4-1/2 an avocado.
4. WHEAT GERM – add 1 Tbsp wheat germ
Here are some simple tips to help you avert smoothie disasters.
1. If you add flaxseed, drink your smoothie right away so it doesn’t get gummy.
2. Freeze your banana before adding. Smoothies are just better cold.
3. Make sure your fruit is ripe before adding or freezing it for smoothies. This is especially important for bananas.
4. Do not add sugar, syrup or dried fruits to your smoothie. You get enough sugar from the fresh fruit.
5. Don’t bother adding ice – it just dilutes the fabulous flavors. If you want your smoothie colder, just freeze all the fruit!