I love smoothies. I drink a lot of them. They are a perfect breakfast because they give your digestive system a break from solid food (helpful for detoxification and for those with sensitive guts), while packing a serious nutritious punch.
You can put anything in a smoothie! My NutriBullet is the one kitchen item that I can't live without. I got it as a Christmas present years ago and it still works like it did the first day.
Here's my basic outline for smoothies, followed by some of the superfoods I've been using lately.
SUPER SMOOTHIES, STEP BY STEP:
- Choose a base.
I like to choose a base that is low in sugar, and preferably with no added sugar. I typically just use water, or I'll use a 50/50 split of water and my favorite milk alternative. Faves for me include hemp milk, coconut milk, & oat milk. Other alternatives are rice milk, almond milk, cashew milk, macadamia nut milk, etc. If you're buying these alternative milks, opt for the least amount of ingredients, no added sugars, and try to avoid carageenan. (You can google more about it, but that's been known to be a digestive disrupter.)
- Add fruit.
Smoothies are a great way to get your fruit, which gives natural sugars (= carbs) and quick energy. Great for the morning! Fruit is all I use as a sweetener in my smoothies. Organic or wild berries are amazing and low in sugar, so you can eat a lot of them! My favorites are blueberries. Also try strawberries, raspberries, or cherries! Why not add pineapple? Add some banana for extra creaminess (yum!) and extra sweetness (bananas are higher in sugar, so not great to eat a ton of bananas if you are looking to lose weight).
Easy prep tip: I usually use frozen berries. They are easier to store and sometimes even taste a bit sweeter!
- Add veggies.
Why not get a dose of vegetables in your morning brew? It's a way to get 1-2 servings of veggies before you even get to breakfast and lunch. The possibilities are endless. The easiest for me? Add a serving of raw or frozen spinach. Spinach blends well and you won't taste it. You can also try kale or other greens. I also love throwing in carrots and beets. They are sweet veggies, and add a wonderful flavor! Finally, AVOCADO IS MY FAVORITE. A ripe avocado gives you an amazing dose of good fats and it makes the smoothie unbelievably creamy. You won't regret it.
Get creative and just wander free - take a risk. The worst thing that can happen is that your smoothie one day isn't your favorite, but you drink it anyway for its nutrition content.
- Add protein.
Protein helps to keep you feeling a bit more full. I love plant-based proteins. One of my favorites right now is pumpkin seed protein, but you can use pea protein, rice protein, hemp protein, quinoa protein, or any other plant-based blends. Just make sure your protein has no added weirdness (no added sugar! and look up any strange chemical ingredients you can't pronounce). Enzymes and probiotics are fine, but we don't want toxins in our protein. You must read labels and be choosy here. More on reading labels later.
My favorite protein powders:
Sprout Living Epic Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder
Nature's Plus Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder
Sprout Living Epic Protein Powder
Equilibrium Daily Support Shake
(made by a functional medicine practitioner in Boston)
4. Add superfoods.
This part is optional but it makes smoothie making really fun. You can add superfoods for additional health benefits or even for flavor (raw cacao powder with a few dashes of cinnamon = chocolatey goodness). There are lots of websites that breakdown all kinds of superfoods you can add in your smoothies, so feel free to google those and give them some love. For now, I'm going to break down a few that I am currently using.
SOME FAVORITE SUPERFOODS:
- Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are high in fiber, protein, good fats (Omega-3s), and all kinds of vitamins and minerals, like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. They were literally used by Aztec warriors for energy and endurance. Superfood. According to Dr. Axe, chia seeds help with healthy skin, antiaging, heart health, digestive health, and more.
Chlorella is a blue green algae with a high chlorophyll content. Chlorella helps promote detoxification, boosts the immune system, and even fights cancer. Plus its super high in all kinds of vitamins and minerals - its a powerhouse.
- Chaga Mushroom
High in antioxidants, chaga gives your immune system a boost. It's antiviral, and even shown to fight cancer. Not to mention, it reduces inflammation. Getting sick a lot or have aches and pains? Chaga to the rescue.
- Reishi Mushroom (not pictured)
Another mushroom powder I've been using lately is reishi. The benefits are almost too numeous to list, and I used Dr. Axe's website as a guide. It's an adaptogen, which is a type of herb that helps us fight the negative effects of stress - which can be everything from inflammation, poor immune system, high blood pressure, low energy, etc. These mushrooms are amazing for the immune system, fight cancer, balance hormones, helps allergies and asthma, and aids detoxification. Seriously, we all need to eat more super mushrooms.
The next two are lumped together in a blend of Golden Milk from Gaia Herbs. The Golden Milk is amazing on its own with your favorite milk alternative, but I also like to add it to my smoothie to get the effects.
Turmeric is known for its antinflammatory effects, and can naturally help with pain. But did you know it also fights cancer (yes, again!), helps maintain healthy skin, reduces depression, helps arthritis, balances cholesterol, and even reduces risk of blood clots? There's even more here, and you can do your research to get the most absorbable form of curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) if you want to maximize these benefits.
Last but not least, I think this is my favorite. Definitely my favorite to say. Ashwaghanda is a must if you are stressed. And with today's technology and lightning pace, most of us are undergoing more than normal levels of stress to the system. This ancient herb reduces cortisol (your stress hormone) levels, and reduces anxiety and depression. It's another cancer warrior, reduces blood sugar, boosts brain function, and may increase fertility in men. (I use this Golden Milk, which has both turmeric & ashwaghanda in it, and can be added to a smoothie or enjoyed on its own.)
Above I've included some links to some brands that I trust, but there are so many brands you can check out. I also really love the brand Four Sigmatic for mushroom drinks, and mushroom infused coffee. Check out their chaga or reishi packets, or their reishi spores powder.
And that concludes my current smoothie protocol! Let me know what you think. What are your favorite superfoods to add to your smoothies? Comment below!
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