Who doesn’t love a good smoothie? Whether for a meal or snack, they seem to always hit the spot, and when done right pack an array of nutrients. But not all smoothies are created equal. Some (especially store-bought ones) have too much sugar in them, and others just aren’t providing the nutrients they could be. If you are just adding banana, strawberry, and almond milk into your blender you are missing out on a lot of ways to upgrade this meal or snack to make it more nutrient-dense and reap additional health benefits.
So how do you ensure that you are getting maximum benefits from your homemade smoothies?
Start with your base, whether it be 1 cup of nut milk, coconut water, or coconut milk.
From there, choose 1-2 fruits, such as a ½ cup of blueberries with ½ of a frozen banana, a ½ cup of strawberries, or a ½ cup of blackberries with ¼ cup of frozen mango.
Then, add in 1 item from each of these groups:
Add a healthy fat (approx. 1-2 tbsp.)
Anything from your favorite nut butter (maybe cashew or almond butter), your favorite nut or seed (macadamia nuts make smoothies extra creamy), frozen avocado chunks (1/4 cup), flax seeds, hemp seeds, or chia seeds.
Adding fats to your smoothies will help control your blood sugar levels, help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E, and K, nourish your brain, provide you with lasting energy, and balance hormones.
Add a superfood (usually 1 tsp.-1 tbsp.)
Anything from cacao powder or nibs, maca powder, medicinal mushroom powder, acai powder, or bee pollen.
Adding superfoods to your regular smoothie will make them a lot more nutrient dense by providing a range of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. Furthermore, superfoods like cacao are full of magnesium and can boost one’s mood. Medicinal mushrooms are great for immunity and help your body adapt to stress, and maca powder is great for hormone balance and healthy skin.
Add greens and/or a vegetable (Usually 1-2 cups)
Spinach, kale, chlorophyll powder (1 tsp.), frozen zucchini or cauliflower (can’t taste either of these and they will make your smoothie creamy) to name a few.
This is a great way to get extra greens and/or vegetables into your daily diet. Greens in particular are cleansing and help your body release toxins, and leafy greens/vegetables are full of fiber which help to stabilize blood sugar, keep you full, and aid in digestion.
Add an herb or spice (1 tsp. for most spices and 1 tbsp. to ¼ cup for herbs)
Cilantro, cinnamon, cardamom, parsley, basil, ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper, or mint.
Overall, herbs and spices are detoxing, nutrient dense, and cleansing. Cilantro helps to detox heavy metals from the body. Cinnamon helps lower blood sugar levels, and turmeric is anti-inflammatory and protects against cancer. Mint and ginger are both great for digestion. Not to mention herbs and spices can add a unique flavor to your smoothies.
Add a protein powder or collagen (1 scoop, as directed)
Such as quality undenatured whey protein, a quality plant based protein, or collagen peptides.
Adding a quality protein powder to your smoothie is a great way to drastically boost the protein and make it a complete meal or balanced and filling snack. Whey protein is quickly digested and absorbed by the body. While collagen nourishes your joints, hair, and skin and is great for your gut. I enjoy the brand Vital Proteins for both whey and collagen powders.
And there you have it! I like to grab 1-2 smoothie staples (like the ones mentioned above) each week I visit the grocery store to have my pantry/fridge stocked with options to make a variety of nourishing smoothies.
Get creative with mixing and matching the ingredients too! You might be surprised by some of the ingredients, like how good basil can taste when combined with the right fruit and vegetable, such as strawberries and cucumbers, or when cayenne is added to a smoothie with cacao powder and banana. I personally, love combining almond butter with blueberries, ginger, and cinnamon.
Britt Martin is the founder of Fitbrittnutrition, a Holistic Nutrition Consulting company based in LA. She is a Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Yoga Teacher who is passionate about teaching her clients and community how to nourish their bodies and live more holistic lifestyles. She considers herself a health-foodie who aside from holistic nutrition and yoga, loves hiking, cooking, her dog-child Logan, and traveling as much as possible. Follow her on Instagram: @fitbrittnutrition