Spring is here, with warmer months coming, it's a great time to experiment with smoothies. Smoothies are great for a morning meal, they also make a portable snack for on-the-go. They're an easy way to get some great nutrition into kids when their meals have been not as nutritionally dense as you would like. If you have leftovers from a smoothie batch, either store it in the fridge in a mason jar (makes it easy to shake up and consume later) or turn it into popsicles (kids love this!).
I generally prefer smoothies to juicing as you retain the fibre and there is no wastage (no pulp to throw away). Also, you can put all sorts of things in there such as supplements, and extra fibre etc.
Now that blenders are so powerful it adds plenty of options for ingredients. The flavours we can create are endless! Worry not if your blender is less powerful, you'll need to stick to easier to blend ingredients.
Here's how I build my smoothies:
Liquid: Mostly, I stick with water as the liquid in my smoothie. I like to keep things as close to natural as possible. Instead of using almond milk or another nut/seed milk, simply combine water with those nuts or seeds in the blender. After all, almond milk is basically almonds and water with some preservatives, so l skip the preservatives and get the fibre from the actual nuts. For those with a less powerful blender, hemp seeds are pretty easy to blend or consider nut/seed butter. Herbal tea or iced coffee can also help create some fun flavours!
Veggies: Most people prefer mild-tasting veggies in their smoothies, spinach is great for this. I've also found that bok choy and sunflower or pea shoots make a nice mild addition. Kale is great but too much can overpower the flavour. For those with strong blenders (for example a Vitamix) consider harder to blend things like zucchini or cabbage (a great source of the amino acid L-glutamine, supportive to the digestive tract).
Fruit: The options for fruit are endless! Bananas make smoothies creamy, but so do avocados (and they provide healthy fat). Berries are great as they tend to be lower in sugar. Tropical fruits like mango and pineapple go well with coconut for a more tropical flavour.
*Economize! Lately we've been saving veggie scraps such as kale and parsley stems or leftovers that come home from school in the kids' lunches (apple pieces, veggie sticks) and throwing them in our smoothies.
Protein: Adding protein to our smoothies helps to sustain us and keeps us from feeling hungry too quickly. You can use unsweetened protein powders, I prefer plant based ones (read ingredients, some are packed with unhealthy additions) or you can use nuts and seeds or their butters. The benefit of adding the whole nut/seed is that you get some healthy fat as well – also energy sustaining.
Flavour: Adding a little vanilla to smoothies can really enhance the flavour. Fresh mint or natural mint extract is also yummy. Warming spices such as cinnamon and ginger go well – in the fall I like to use left over pumpkin/squash in my smoothie with banana to make pumpkin pie smoothies! A couple of dates in a smoothie will sweeten it up and adds fibre.
There are lots of smoothie recipes online. I encourage you to experiment on your own, you'll soon discover the flavours that you enjoy most. I tend to use a “throw it together” style, but for those of you who like to be more exact, here is a recipe for a smoothie that I made while writing this. Combine all ingredients in blender, and enjoy!
Mix Ingredients in a blender. Serves 3-4
- 1 small banana
- 1 cup frozen mango
- 2 cups packed spinach
- 1 scoop (28gm) hemp seeds
- 1/2 cup cashews (could use 3 TBSP cashew butter)
- 1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut
- 8 ice cubes
- 2 cups cold water
Dr. Alexis Blanks is a naturopathic doctor who is clinically trained and naturally focused. She is co-owner of Flourish Naturopathic at Moss Healthcare. Learn more at FlourishND.com.