“Eat more fruits and vegetables”
We all have been hearing this advice since we were kids, but it can be hard because we get busy and who really loves lima beans anyway?? I have found that smoothies are an easy way to incorporate more fruits & veggies into my diet without making much effort. One great thing about smoothies is you can sneak in veggies/fruits you don’t like and mask the flavor.
Here Are Some Of The Possible Ingredients You Can Make A Great Smoothie Out Of
Spinach/Kale –it is great to add a cup of greens. You won’t be able to taste it once you add the fruit in (I promise!). This is a perfect way to get more fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K. I prefer Spinach; but if you are open to either, Kale gets a slight edge in the nutrition benefits department. A cup is a good place to start, but play around with adding more as you really cannot eat too many of these greens. My husband will fill the whole blender with kale, blend it down then add the rest of his ingredients. If you can do this, props to you…but I would start with a smaller amount and add more gradually in case you don’t want to drink a smoothie that (I find to be) too bitter.
Banana –I always put 1 banana in my smoothies. Besides the potassium and antioxidants you are getting, bananas help the texture of the smoothie. If you only use berries, you may find the smoothie to be a little seedy.
Avocado –What? That sounds gross….I know, I know, but hear me out. I had the same reaction when I first heard about this and it took me months to give in and try it. Turns out I’m a fool and should have been doing this from the start. Like the greens I promise you won’t taste the avocado, and it will make your smoothie creamy and delicious. Avocado’s list of health benefits is extensive, from the brain healthy omega-3s to folic acid; it packs quite a nutritional punch.
Peach –Peaches will also help balance out any seedy berries, but will not provide as creamy a texture as avocado or banana does. I usually throw in around ½ a cup of frozen peaches. Peaches are rich in antioxidants and minerals. If I don’t have peaches, I usually add frozen Mangos to balance out the texture of the smoothie.
Cherries –Similar to peaches you won’t be able to taste the cherries much, but they help with texture and provide valuable vitamins & minerals.
Berries are great sources of antioxidants that may help ward off cancer, they also happen to be delish which works out great for smoothies. The following berries are all great to use:
Blueberries led the group with their nutritional resume, but all these berries are great for your body. Fresh berries can be pricey; I often buy the frozen ones for a portion of the cost. The berry choice(s) will have the strongest impact on what the smoothie will taste like, so keep that in mind when picking.
Kefir – This is a great natural probiotic. It will also help make the smoothie creamier and add protein. I add around ¼ to ¾ cup. If you are not familiar with kefir, it is similar consistency to yogurt but slightly thinner. Kefir has more helpful bacteria than yogurt does, so if you are deciding between the two go for kefir. You can play with the amount of kefir to add depending on how many of the non-berry ingredients you are using.
Yogurt – Both Greek and regular yogurt are great for your digestive system. Throw some in your smoothie and your stomach will thank you.
Chia Seeds -These are a great source of omega-3s, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. Throw a handful in, you won’t taste them and you will get all the benefits!
Flax Seeds -These are similar to Chia Seeds in their benefits. They provide omega-3s, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. One important note for flax seeds is that they must be ground up for you to reap their benefits. Chia seeds do not need to be ground up. You can buy ground up flax seed from Whole Foods, Amazon, etc.
Supergreen Superfood - From wheat grass to acia, this supplement is full of good stuff. Ignore the smell and add a spoonful. Some people are able to add this to water and drink it, I think they are crazy and cannot do that….so I sneak it into my smoothie and don’t have to taste it.
I threw a lot of ingredients at you, so let me give you an example of a recipe.
- 1 cup of spinach (packed down, put this in first)
- 1 banana
- 2/3 cup of strawberries
- 1/3 cup of blackberries
- 1/3 cup of mangos
- 1/3 of an avocado
- 1/2 cup of kefir
- 1 scoop of flax seed (between 1-2 tbsps)
Throw all these ingredients in a blender (Vitamix is what I use and I absolutely love it, but there are a few less pricey Vitamix options as well) and you will be all set! I blend the ingredients for up to a minute because I like a very smooth consistency. If you use a lot of frozen fruit, you may need to add more liquid (e.g. kefir, yogurt, milk, water) to have it mix evenly. I usually use at least half frozen fruit, so there is no need to add ice. If you are using all fresh fruit, or if you like that crunch then add some ice in. I bought a plastic cup (see below) with a top that snaps shut; it works perfectly to bring to work and have smoothies for breakfast. I can throw that in my bag and it won’t spill at all.
The above recipe is just an example; there are tons of different combinations so play around. I find it best to do an ingredient or two from each category (veggies, fruit non-berry, fruit-berry, non fruit/veggie). Once you get used to it, you may not feel the need to measure the fruit and veggies which will make the process faster.
Random smoothie benefits:
1) Once I got used to having these in the morning, I found that some mornings when I would think I needed caffeine, if I had a smoothie that would satisfy the craving. This was a surprising and fabulous side benefit of adding in daily smoothies.
2) My nephews think they are dessert because they are so delicious. Score for tricking kids into thinking they are getting a treat when really we are giving them healthy food J