Super Smoothies: Creating Convenient, Portable, Nutritious and Inexpensive Meals at Home
Nourishing our bodies with nutrient-dense whole foods is the ultimate goal for optimal health and immune function but having the opportunity to sit down to a home-cooked nutritious meal is often a challenge given our complex modern lives. On top of that, we are surrounded by grab and go processed food options and fast food which tempt us when we are short on time, on the road and or too busy to sit down to a healthy meal at home. Ideally, we would sit down to a home-cooked meal containing medicinal foods and allow it to nourish us both physically and mentally using mindfulness and gratitude to consume our meal. In real life, commitments to work and family can often leave us little time for this important form of self-care sabotaging our food choices leading us to the drive-thru or the quick processed snack to satisfy our hunger which can negatively impact our metabolism and does not provide the nutrients we need for our bodies to function at their best.
So how can we weasel in some healing phytochemicals from plant foods into our busy day? Smoothies can be the perfect way to increase fruit and vegetables intake with less work and time to prep. It is also portable allowing you to take your smoothie with you in the car or on the job. Many people like to use a morning smoothie or shake as a tasty vehicle for dietary supplements as well allowing them to combine several therapeutic ingredients into a tasty and convenient concoction that can be used as a meal substitute when you are in a rush or just want an easy and healthy option to cooking a whole meal.
Smoothie 101: Engineering the perfect smoothie for health benefits.
Although preparing a smoothie seems easy in theory, there are several considerations to keep in mind when making a smoothie that will give you the best health benefits. There are many smoothie recipes available online that may taste great but often miss key ingredients to help balance blood sugar and keep you satisfied for hours. Many recipes are loaded with sugar from too much fruit or excessive sweeteners. Sometimes a simple substitution in ingredients can make all the difference.
Start with a Liquid Base.
Getting the right consistency in your smoothie is dependent on the right amount of liquid base. Measure 4-8 fluid ounces of liquid for the perfect thickness and consistency. It may take some trial and error to find your personal preference. If you include ice to give your smoothie a slushy consistency you may have to modify the amount of additional base liquid so as to not water down the smoothie excessively. Water works well as a base, but here is a shortlist of other liquid options to use as a base. These liquid base ideas provide good flavor as well as additional health benefits.
- Coconut water
- Milk alternatives such as almond milk, nut milk, coconut milk, rice milk can add a smooth consistency
- Kombucha or another fermented beverage
- Coffee if you tolerate caffeine and would enjoy a frozen coffee flavored drink
- Brew your favorite herbal tea ahead of time and store in your fridge for up to 10 days to add interesting flavors
Add Carbohydrates from a Whole Food Source.
People often add too much fruit to their smoothies in an effort to make their smoothies taste good. This causes the smoothie to have a large sugar load and can cause dysregulation of their metabolism raising blood sugar levels and causing insulin to spike. Carbohydrates in your smoothie should come mostly from vegetables and some fruit. Adding vegetables to your smoothie can help add fiber, vitamins, minerals and healing phytochemicals. The taste of the vegetables is easily covered by a small amount of fruit. To control the sugar load in your smoothie and keep it from becoming a sugary dessert, keep the amount of fruit or starchy vegetable to ½ cup. Use unlimited amounts of non-starchy vegetables. Your goal is to get just enough fruit to add sweetness while focusing on getting more vegetables in. Here are some examples of ingredients you can play around with.
- Fruit (frozen fruit will last longer and keep your smoothie cool allowing you to skip ice): strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, frozen or fresh banana (1/3 of a whole banana), mango, and or pineapple
- Starchy vegetables to experiment with include pumpkin, cooked sweet potato, winter squash, snow peas, beets or jicama
- Non-starchy vegetables (use liberally, 1-2 cups or more): These include leafy greens such as swiss chard, kale or spinach. Frozen greens work well and are convenient for those who go to the grocery store less often. Carrots, cucumbers, zucchini and even tomatoes can be used to create a delicious and nutritious confection
Don’t Forget to Add Some Healthy Fat to Your Smoothie.
Adding a source of healthy fat is important to increase satiety, slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates as glucose in the blood as well adding to the ani-inflammatory effect of the vegetables. Fat also ensures that you are able to absorb fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, D, E, and K from the vegetables. Adding a healthy source of fat will also make the texture creamier. Add 1-2 Tablespoons of any of the following fat sources to enhance the nutrient content, health benefits, and keep you feeling full for at least 3 hours.
- Coconut or MCT oil
- 1-2 Tbl of ground flax seed
- Coconut milk or cream
- Chia seed
- 1-2 Tbl of natural nut butter (almond, cashew, sunflower, macademia etc)
- Full fat dairy (if tolerated, organic and grass fed) yogurt, kefir, milk
- Heavy cream (if tolerated, organic, grass fed)
- Non-dairy yogurt or Kefir
The Power of Protein
Adding protein to your smoothie will balance out the macronutrient profile allowing you to have a full meal’s worth of nutrition in an easy and convenient smoothie. Protein will provide building blocks for muscle tissue, hormone production and many other bodily functions as well as help you feel satisfied for longer. You can use Greek style yogurt or kefir to boost the protein content of your smoothie. It may be easiest to add a good quality protein powder in the form of whey protein or a vegetarian source of protein like pea protein. You can ask your functional healthcare provider for a recommendation that first your needs. To make a smoothie that is more like a meal replacement, aim to get 20-30 grams of protein in your smoothie. If you are not able to add protein to your smoothie, pair your smoothie with a high protein meal such as cooked eggs or other protein containing meal.
Adding Supplements to Your Smoothies
A smoothie is also a great vehicle to get in any supplement recommended by your integrative and functional healthcare provider. Adding the contents of the supplement capsules, probiotic powders and even omega 3 fats are an example of some of the supplements that can be added to streamline one’s supplement regimen. Bitter tasting supplements are often masked by other bitter flavors such as that in coffee but be careful with the amount of sugar in your smoothie. Keep the fruits that are higher in sugar such as bananas, mango and pineapple to ½ cup. You may add another 1/4-1/2 cup of berries since they have less of a glycemic impact that the aforementioned fruits if necessary. Examples of additives include:
- Try hiding any liquid or powder supplements such as liquid fish oil, vitamin D and or powdered probiotics, or powders for gut repair (SBI protect, Gl Protect, etc.), or Personalized Nutrient powders
- Consider giving your smoothie an antioxidant boost with an organic and non-GMO Greens powder if you need more support for detoxification.
- Herbs can provide another layer of complex flavor as well as additional nutrients and phytochemicals. Consider experimenting with refreshing mint or give it a flavor kick with parsley or cilantro.
There are unlimited combinations of flavors and nutrient dense ingredients you can put into your smoothie. Follow the basic template above to create a balanced and nourishing smoothie that provides protein, healthy fats, and a little fruit (1/2 cup). Have fun perfecting your smoothie recipe to make it delicious and nutritious. Here are some smoothie combinations you can get ideas from as you develop your own smoothie recipe that meets your nutrient needs as well as those of your taste buds.
Super Smoothie Recipes
Try using the following smoothie templates to create delicious and nutrient-dense smoothies using your favorite ingredients in each category. Add a small amount of stevia to sweeten if desired.
This recipe is helpful for masking the bitter taste of some supplements. People avoiding too much sugar should note that this would meet the limit of fruit intake for the day.
- Liquid base: 6 oz Filtered water, coconut water or dairy alternative such as almond milk
- Carbohydrates: ¾ cup pineapple, ¼ cup mango, juice of 1 lemon, handful of spinach
- Healthy Fat: ¼- ½ cup coconut milk, 1 Tbl chia seeds, and/or therapeutic oil supplement
- Protein option: If this smoothie is to be used as a meal replacement, add 20-25g of a good quality protein powder. Rezilir Health offers multiple options; if in doubt, call us for a recommendation.
Breakfast power blend:
Start the day off right with this highly nutritious smoothie blend which provides more nutrition than your usual breakfast options.
- Liquid base: 6 ounces of coconut water
- Carbohydrates: 1/3 cup organic berry blend (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries),1/3 frozen banana (freeze after it is peeled), ¾ cup organic frozen or fresh spinach.
- Healthy Fat: ½ avocado, 2 Tbl natural almond butter, 1Tbl ground flax seed,1/4 cup canned coconut cream
- Protein: 2 scoops or 20-25 grams of protein pea, whey, or rice depending on healthcare provider recommendations.
- Nutrient Boost: 1 tsp Turmeric, dash of Himalayan salt, juice of ½ lemon, 1 tsp of liquid fish oil supplement
Detoxification Support Smoothie
This smoothie provides nutrients that support detoxification pathways in the body and should be used in conjunction with a healthy plant based diet and other detoxification enhancing therapies recommended by your functional and integrative healthcare provider.
- Liquid base: 6-8 ounces of Traditional Medicinals Everyday Detox tea
- Carbohydrates: ¼ cup cubed beets, 1 handful beet greens, 1 handful arugula, ¼ cup diced apple, ¼ cup blackberries, ¼ cup pineapple
- Healthy Fat: 1 Tbl Chia seeds, 1 Tbl ground flax seeds, ¼ cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes or coconut milk
- Protein: 1 scoop of Designs for Health VegeCleanse protein powder
For more information on creating the PERFECT smoothie “combos” for your current health concerns or if you would like more information on taking your supplements in a delicious smoothie, please request an appointment with our Registered Dietitian, Jannell Baez, MS, RDN, LD/N.
You can either use the “REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT” form on the website or contact the office at 1-866-REZILIR.