THE SMOOTHIE GUIDE
Updated: Mar 27, 2020
Who loves a freshly, blended smoothie?
Honestly, my smoothies are one of my favorite "petite joys" of my day. I love the routine of packing in super foods to either get my day off to a great start - or take some time in the middle of the day to nourish myself so I can have great energy the rest of the day. Frankly, I used to really dislike drinking a smoothie first off in the morn, as I felt like I would rather just eat food that I can actually chew on! And something warm and delicious, like oatmeal or eggs + veggies.
The reality is that I still eat food like that often for breakfast or mid-morning. But usually I start my day with a smoothie loaded with nutrients -- as I know my body thrives off this, and it really gives me the energy I want --- and need! And then once I'm hungry despite my smoothie and water, I will make myself something else to eat. Another great thing about smoothies - is that if you really like to chew, you can add on granola, nuts, berries, etc. on top of it and have a smoothie bowl. I do that often!
One major bonus of drinking a smoothie is that the blender has already done some of the 'hard' work for your body! The nutrients are more ready to be broken down in your body and to serve your body well for that day (and beyond). I love starting my day with a very strong plant base, since plants are high in phytonutrients (nutrients produced by the plants). Foods with phytonutrients have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
These phytochemicals, which are part of a large and varied group of chemical compounds, are responsible for the color, flavor, and odor of plant foods. For example, the dark blue color of blueberries or the bitter taste of raw broccoli or the powerful odor of garlic or raw onion. Research suggests that consuming foods rich in phytochemicals provides health benefits -- and I'm all about making sure I max out my chance daily to get those in!
Another one of the BEST bonus of smoothies is that they are such an easy way to sneak in so many nutrients for kiddos. My children do eat some vegetables, but let's be honest - they don't eat the hearty salads I do. They will eat kale salad or things like that, but in small portions. Making smoothies is a fantastic way to get in greens, but also so many other nutrients.
You can pack a smoothie full of so much goodness, and sometimes I even add a little elderberry to their blueberry smoothies. Or their Mary Ruths Organics multivitamin. My boys probably have at least one lil smoothie every day to every other day. It can be used as a way to augment breakfast, as a healthy snack or even as dessert for when they are still hungry after dinner.
Alright, let's get to it, my friends.
MY SMOOTHIE BASE LAYERS:
1/2 -1 banana + 1-2 c greens + 1-2 tbsp coconut cream + ice + filtered water or nut milk
*I usually often add frozen blueberries but not for all smoothies.
And then from there - I add in the following plant based powders below. I don't add each of these every single day. But I do add each of them often, and I make varying renditions! I like to keep it fun and exciting, while still routine. Coconut cream could also be subbed with avocado. It just adds in those good healthy fats and makes the smoothie SO creamy. It gives it a fun, tropical flavor as well. Here are some of my pantry and smoothie staples below.
MY FAV ADD INS:
Maca is a Peruvian plant grown in the Andes mountains. It is a cruciferous vegetable, meaning that it is related to broccoli, cabbage, and kale. Maca is associated with boosting energy, increasing fertility, increasing libido, improving mood and fighting free radicals.
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae and a known super food due to it's high protein and vitamin content. Research suggests it has antioxidant and inflammation-fighting properties, as well as associated with immune regulation support. It may have anti-cancer properties as well as improve symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
Chlorella is a single-celled, green freshwater algae and available in powder form. It is a complete protein source (contains all 9 essential amino acids) and provides antioxidant properties as well as iron, as well as B vitamins (and more). Chlorella contains omega-3 fatty acids, which offer so many benefits.
Camu is a sour berry, similar to cherry in color. It’s native to the Amazon rain forest but has become popular due to it's benefits. Fresh camu berries are tart, which is why it's sold in powder form. Camu has a high content of certain nutrients and powerful plant compounds, including vitamin C: one serving has 10 x the amount of 1 orange. Vitamin C is critical for our immune system, as well as for the formation of collagen. Eating foods rich in antioxidants like vitamin C can help prevent oxidative stress and combat free radical damage.
Turmeric, and especially its most active compound curcumin, has many scientifically-proven health benefits, such as the potential to prevent heart disease, Alzheimer's and cancer. It's a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and may also help improve symptoms of depression and arthritis. I have more on this in my golden milk latte post.
Pomegranate powder is particularly high in vitamins C and K and is are also a good source of protective minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorous. Pomegranates contain punicalagins, which are very potent antixoidants. They are so powerful that pomegranate juice has been found to have 3 x the antioxidant activity than green tea. It's associated with anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory support.
Medicinal mushrooms have been claimed to boost heart health, as well as combat viruses, bacteria, and fungi. They support reduced inflammation, fighting allergies. Adaptogenic mushrooms support the body's detoxification mechanisms. Right now we have reishi powder, but I will be exanding my adaptogenic mushroom variety! Options are reishi, chaga, cordyceps, shiitake, lions mane and turkey's tail. There are many varieties and combinations to select from, and Further Foods provides a few great options mixed in with collagen.
Collagen has many important functions, including providing your skin with structure and strengthening your bones. Collagen is a major component of your skin.
It plays a role in strengthening skin, plus may benefit elasticity and hydration. As you age, your body produces less collagen, leading to dry skin and the formation of wrinkles. Several studies have shown that collagen supplements may help slow the aging of your skin by reducing wrinkles and dryness. In one study, women who took a supplement containing 2.5–5 grams of collagen for eight weeks experienced less skin dryness and a significant increase in skin elasticity compared to those who did not take the supplement. Collagen is also associated with improving gut health, heart health, bone loss and joint pain.
GROUND FLAX SEED
Ground Flax is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and in lignans -- which may reduce cancer risk. They are high in dietary fiber and are associated with reduced blood pressure and cholesterol. Having healthy fats in your smoothies is essential not only for the health benefits, but also to keep you fuller for longer.
Chia seeds are loaded with important nutrients! They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, rich in antioxidants, and they provide fiber, iron, and calcium. Omega-3 fatty acids help raise HDL cholesterol, the "good" cholesterol that protects against heart attack and stroke.
Cacao powder is THE most potent super food in the world. YES, that's right. It contains 40 x the amount of antioxidants as blueberries and is full of magnesium and calcium. I do recommend not having cacao daily in smoothies, unless you are limiting it to 1 tsp a day. Cacao is a source of heavy metals, so I try to put cacao in my smoothies maybe a couple times a week! I love adding it in when I add in nut butter -- for more of a dessert smoothie.
Here are my "smoothie base layers" and the reasons why:
Greens are an amazing source of nutrients -- the phytonutrients in spinach are antioxidants and are associated with reduced cancer and blood pressure. Spinach is high in carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, iron and calcium. Kale is awesome, too, and I use it in our smoothies often because I love keeping our fridge stocked full of kale (and it's easy to grow!). If you are just getting started with green smoothies, spinach blends a little nicer and truly can go tasteless in a smoothie.
Coconut cream is rich in healthy fats to keep you nourished and satiated. Also high in electrolytes and lauric acid, which has antiseptic properties. High in iron and has anti-inflammatory properties. It's truly SO good in a smoothie and just takes a spoonful! I put it in my smoothies almost daily.
The bioactive compounds in berries contain mainly phenolic compounds (phenolic acids and flavonoids, such as anthocyanins and flavonols, and tannins) and ascorbic acid. These compounds, either individually or combined, are responsible for various health benefits of berries, such as prevention of inflammation disorders, cardiovascular diseases, or protective effects to lower the risk of various cancers. We keep organic frozen blueberries or mixed berries in our freezer. If I use fresh ones instead, I add some ice, since I like my smoothies cold. I add berries to most smoothies, unless I'm making the immunity creamsicle smoothie or a chocolate nut butter based one.
Bananas are high in vitamin C, manganese and potassium and can help aid in digestion. I love adding bananas to my smoothies because their sweetness off sets some of the tartness of the supplemental vegetable powders, and it helps make the smoothie creamy and delicious. Depending on my hunger level, I'll add a half to 1 banana per smoothie.
MY FAV ADD ONS:
pumpkin seeds: high in magnesium, fiber, antioxidants
cacao nibs: very high in antioxidants
the best granola: loaded with nutrients (linked to my post)
chopped nuts: high in vitamins and minerals, protein and fiber
dried goji berries: rich in vitamins + immunoprotective
dried blueberries: high in antioxidants + many more benefits
dried cherries: anti-inflammatory, rich in essential nutrients
coconut flakes: great texture + fiber + immunity support
fresh fruit: bonus phytochemicals + nutrients + textures
chia seeds: even if they are in my smoothie, I sometimes add them too
I chop my nuts with a nut chopper - makes them the perfect size -- I have that linked in my granola blog post. Smoothie bowls with some of these add ons are truly a super food explosion and delicious treat. When you make a berry smoothie, you can even add in acai powder and lots of toppings -- and boom, you have an acai bowl. Kids will devour it before your eyes!
Here are some of my favorite combos:
TROPICAL BERRY BLISS
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup kale or spinach
1 tsp pomegranate powder
1 tsp camu powder
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tbsp coconut cream
ice + water
optional: spirulina, chlorella, collagen
1 cup kale
2 tbsp almond butter (or fav nut butter)
1 tbsp cacao powder
1 tsp spiurlina
1 date (optional - but I like it in this one)
ice + water
optional: maca, chlorella, collagen, coconut cream
1 tbsp reishi powder (or your fav adaptogenic mushroom mix)
1 tsp coconut flakes
splash of vanilla
1 cup kale or spinach
ice + water
optional: spirulina, chlorella, collagen, coconut cream
Another one of my all time favorites is my immunity creamsicle smoothie -- it's got a tropical vibe and is packed with nutrients and Vitamin C. All the details are linked there for you.
I would probably add a tbsp of coconut cream to all of those, but that's up to you. And I add the optional add ins to basically every smoothie. You don't need much spirulina and chlorella.
When you make your smoothies - you can tailor to your taste. If you like it creamier, you will want more coconut cream, banana or avocado (or yogurt if you do dairy). If you like it sweeter, you can add a date or two. If you like it more potent on the nutrients front, then add more greens and add ins. If you want it richer, use nut milk instead of water. That's what I love about smoothies: you can adjust them to your desire and what you are feeling at that moment. I'm always mixing up new combinations. And I always like mine really cold - so I add a few ice cubes.
WHERE TO PURCHASE:
I get my matcha, collagen and turmeric from various sources - make sure it is a clean product! I am looking to partner with Ancient Nutrition - stay tuned! In the meantime I have gotten my collagen from Vital Proteins, my matcha from various brands (pique tea is very clean) and my turmeric from various places (Thrive, Costco). Just make sure you are trusting your brand because turmeric can be high in heavy metals.
We have gotten our chlorella, spirulina, maca, cacao, reishi, pomegranate, etc. -- all of it in various places ranging from Amazon to Thrive Market to Costco. Make sure to buy organic if possible - and as I discover my favorite brands and products, I will be sure to keep you posted! I just re-activated my Thrive subscription, and there are so many great products on that website. You pay $50 a year but then the products are on a discount. I like to cost compare them to Amazon and then go from there. I linked some options above, but feel free to just buy all on Amazon if you aren't subscribing to Thrive.
Enjoy, friends. Let me know what your favorite smoothie is and tag me in your pics!
Cheers to living well nourished with all the super foods and all the yumminess.