Updated: Jun 26, 2020
Smoothies are an insanely delicious way to flush your body with tons of nutrients and blend all your favorite things into one thick shake. They're easy to digest, easy to make, versatile and one of my go-to breakfasts. That being said, not all smoothies are created equally, and the benefits of a smoothie completely depend on how they're made, the ingredients and how you drink them. Below I'll breakdown the pros and cons of smoothies, provide my equation for creating the perfect smoothie and a list of my recommended smoothie ingredients.
Smoothies are made using a blender and pulverizing whole fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients into a thick drink. The key here is that the fruits and vegetables are put into the blender in their whole form which, in addition to tons of vitamins and nutrients, also includes tons of fiber. Fiber is beneficial for several reasons. It slows digestion and absorption in your stomach and intestines, keeping you full and satisfied for a longer period of time. The fiber in the whole fruits and vegetables is also a rich source of prebiotics, making them great for improving gut health and your microbiome. Prebiotics are the nutrition source or “food” necessary for the growth and development of probiotics, the “good” bacteria in our gut. Probiotics cannot survive without prebiotics. The prebiotics move through our small intestine undigested, and when they reach the large colon, they are fermented. This fermentation process feeds the probiotics, the beneficial live bacteria in our intestines.
Another reason I love smoothies is that you can customize them and throw in so many bonus nutrition items. I love adding greens and veggies like spinach, kale, frozen cauliflower and frozen zucchini to sneak in an extra veggie serving and add bulk and nutrients to a smoothie without affecting the flavor. Outside of fruits and vegetables, you can blend almost anything into a smoothie and make them nutritional powerhouses packed with both micro- and macronutrients aka protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Below you can find some of my favorite protein and healthy fat sources to blend into smoothies!
The biggest issue with smoothies is it’s very easy for the sugar and calories to quickly add up. Store-bought, pre-made and even homemade smoothies often have excessive amounts of produce, added sugars, and sometimes 2-4 servings of fruit per smoothie. Fruit is a great source of fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and flavor but multiple servings of fruit in one smoothie will contribute excess calories and sugar. A good rule of thumb is to make your own smoothies at home, avoid added sugars, always use an unsweetened liquid base, and include one serving of fruit per smoothie. Also, be mindful of what you’re blending into smoothies and determine whether it’s more of a snack, a meal addition, or a meal replacement. Below is my equation for making a balanced smoothie and some of my favorite smoothie ingredients. My recommendation is to keep it fairly simple - play around with different flavor combinations and textures but don't try to pack in too many ingredients and flavors into one smoothie. Feel free to completely customize based on your favorite tastes!
Smoothie Recipe Equation:
1 cup plant-based unsweetened liquid base
1 serving of frozen fruit
1-2 tbsp fat and/or protein
1-2 cups leafy greens
½ cup frozen vegetable to add thickness
Plant-based unsweetened base: almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, nut milk
Frozen Fruit: banana, berries, mango
Frozen Vegetables: cauliflower, sweet potato, spinach, zucchini
Leafy Greens: spinach, kale
Healthy fats: nut butter, full-fat coconut yogurt, flax seeds, hemp seeds, avocado
Protein: Greek yogurt, chia seeds, collagen powder, plant-based protein powders and nut/seed butters
Have questions? I’d love to hear from you - send me an email or DM on Instagram.