Getting a hefty dose of fruits and veggies can be as easy as downing the tasty goodness of a smoothie. Unfortunately, grocery store and restaurant versions can drag smoothies through the nutritional dirt. Artificial ingredients and added sweeteners in juices and yogurts muddy up the healthy benefits. Stick to these ingredients and treat yourself!
Cut up your favorite fresh fruits — bananas, berries, pineapple, mango, peaches, and pears are all great options. And make good use of not-so-fresh fruits (like those bruised pears the kids won’t touch), too. Stay away from juices so you don’t miss out on whole fruit’s fiber — it helps you feel full longer. If you’re after thick and frosty, frozen fruit (or ice) does the trick.
That’s right, greens. The darker and leafier the better. Smoothies are a great way to sneak a handful or two of greens into a diet (though the green result may blow your cover). Most fruits easily mask the flavor of spinach. Other greens like kale and dandelion greens tend to taste more bitter and need to be paired with sweeter fruits like pineapple or banana.
A smoothie feeds your body plenty of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Making protein part of the mix helps keep hunger at bay, fuels your metabolism and builds muscle. A tablespoon or two of natural nut butter or a cup of plain yogurt pack a great protein punch without added sugars. A scoop of any variety of protein powder [link to protein powder post] is another easy option.
Usually, fruit has sweetening covered. Your taste buds may need a little sweetening bump if you’re weaning yourself off sugar or if you’re going heavy with added greens. A drizzle of a natural sweetener like agave syrup or honey, or a sprinkle of stevia (a natural, sugar-free sweetener) will do it.
A cup or so of water, coconut water, coconut milk or unsweetened almond milk helps blend your nutritional gold. You can adjust the amount to get the thickness you want. If you use ice or frozen fruit, you’ll likely need more liquid.
You can boost the nutrition of your smoothie even more by adding other superfoods. Chia, flax and hemp seeds, coconut oil, cinnamon, and cacao give you a dose of healthy fats, antioxidants, and fiber.
Want to learn more about superfoods? Check out these 5 to add to your diet today.