Kellie Blake RDN, LD, IFNCP, CMHIMP

&

Brandi Sentz CDE, MA, RDN, LD

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Up Your Smoothie Game This Summer

 

 

Hot summer days call for a refreshing beverage, but instead of going for the typical milkshake or fruit smoothie that can be loaded with sugar and other artificial or inflammatory ingredients, why not try a nutrient-packed green smoothie?  I absolutely love green smoothies and have one for breakfast every day.  It's a simple way to add in nutrients you may not routinely consume plus it can taste like dessert without much effort!

 

I often hear that my green smoothie recipes have too many ingredients.  But to me, multiple ingredients mean endless combinations and endless nutritional benefits.  I'll share my favorite green smoothie ingredients to keep on hand and how they can improve overall health and quality of life.  All these ingredients can be stored for quite some time and your cost per smoothie is really reasonable. Plus, the nutrition you're receiving is amazing. Green smoothies really are one of the best options when it comes to maximizing nutrition and upping your green smoothie game has never been so easy! 

Tip:  To make my mornings go more smoothly, I place all my ingredients, minus the frozen ones, in my blender pitcher at night and place it in the fridge.  In the morning, I add my frozen foods and blend away.  It's simple and takes almost no time.  You can also portion out smoothie ingredients into baggies and make several ahead of time for the entire week.  You can just grab the bag out of the freezer, pop in the blender with your liquid and go. 

 

My go to smoothie ingredients:

 

1. Nut milk - I use unsweetened cashew milk, but there's nothing wrong with using water.  In fact, many prepackaged nut milks contain questionable ingredients, so water is actually a better option.  I like the consistency nut milk provides, so I go with that.

 

2. Chia seeds - great source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, high quality plant based protein, but they also provide manganese, phosphorous, copper, selenium, iron, magnesium, and calcium.

 

3. Smoothe Whole millled flaxseeds - great option for fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids from ALA.  Whole milled flaxseeds also provide thiamine, copper, molybdenum, magnesium and phophorous.  Thanks Manitoba Milling Co. for sending me some free smooth whole-milled flaxseeds and smoothie recipes to add to my rotation!

 

4. Nut butter - I use nut butters that contain just the nuts.  Many nut butters have sugar and unhealthy oils added, so check out your ingredient list and if there's anything other than nuts in there, just put it back on the shelf.  Nut butters are a great source of healthy fats for brain function and metabolism.

 

5. Vegan protein powder - This is another ingredient that is just my personal preference.  There is no need to add protein powder to your smoothie, in fact, many protein powders have additives and ingredients that aren't optimal.  If  you choose protein powder, be sure to read the ingredients thoroughly and only use powders from reputable companies with strict testing standards.   I add the powder to help provide a smooth texture to my smoothies.  

 

6. Cacao powder - Oh how I love chocolate, cacao powder adds that chocolately flavor without all the junk you get from actual processed chocolate.  Cacao powder is rich in polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory effects.  Cacao may also lower blood pressure, improve brain function, elevate your mood, and prevent cancer.

 

7. Beetroot powder - I personally started adding beetroot powder to my smoothies because I do no like beets.  Beets contain powerful nutrients, but I just can't eat them in any form.  Beetroot powder is my substitute.  It is unbelievably great at regulating blood pressure, improving post-workout recovery, and improving brain function.  Beetroot powder can improve blood sugar control and provides fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals.

 

8. Cinnamon - oh the benefits of cinnamon!  It has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, but also is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.  Cinnamon protects your brain and protects you against cancer.

 

9. Acacia fiber - This is a prebiotic fiber that supports your bowel and gut microbiome function and can improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It's especially helpful for those with irritable bowel syndrome.

 

10. Baobab powder - This is powder that contains both soluble and insoluble fiber.  It's a great source of vitamin C and helps reduce gut inflammation.

 

11. Greens, Greens, and more Greens-  Greens are one of the best foods to add to your diet.  My favorite greens to add to smoothies are dandelion greens, collard greens, spinach, kale, kohlrabi greens, and swiss chard.  If you aren't a fan of these awesome foods raw or cooked, adding them to smoothies is a great way to get all the nutrients and none of the taste or texture.  So, why add greens to your diet?  They're high in fiber, folic acid, vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium.  But, they also contain many phytochemicals that support overall health.  

 

12. Frozen Avocado  - Avocados are a great source of healthy fat for brain function and aid in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins.  They also contain potassium and fiber.  I don't like the texture in general, so I add them as a frozen ingredient.  Again, I'm getting the nutrients without the taste or texture.  

 

13. Frozen Bananas - Add an awesome texture, but are also loaded with potassium for healthy blood pressure.

 

14. Frozen Berries - Nature's perfect package for nutrients and antioxidants.

 

15. Omega 3 fish oil - Omega 3's are vital for brain function and fight inflammation.  If you don't eat fish like me, or don't like taking large fish oil pills, you can use a high-quality liquid fish oil and add to your smoothies.

 

16. Unsweetened Shredded Coconut - great source of healthy saturated fats and can add texture to your smoothies.

 

17. Dry Roasted Nuts - Refer to the nut butter section.  This is another one to really watch the ingredient list.  There are several unhealthy oils and other ingredients added to packaged, roasted nuts.  So, just get nuts dry roasted or plain.  

 

18. Vegetables -  Any and all!  My favorites are carrots, cucumbers and celery due to their mild flavors

 

19. Dried Figs - Perfect little package of manganese, potassium, magnesium, and fiber.  Plus they add just enough sweetness.

 

20. Decaffeinated Coffee - Coffee is loaded with antioxidants, but also has valuable B vitamins, manganese, potassium and magnesium.  I go for the decaf because I am affected by caffeine quite a bit.  If you choose the fully loaded coffee, try to avoid this within 6 hours of bedtime.

 

21. Pumpkin - Pumpkin is often forgotten for most the year, but it's a wonderful option to provide fiber, beta carotene, potassium, and it provides a great texture.

 

Start simple at first, so you get the hang of it and don't overwhelm yourself.  Your smoothie can be as simple as adding 8 ounces of water, a handful of spinach, 1/2 avocado, and 1/2 cup frozen berries.  Simple, yet powerful nutrition.  As you get comfortable, explore different options and see what flavors and combinations you can come up with.

 

Here are some more tips for building a healthier smoothie:

1. Make it Last:  Although the combinations are endless, always add in healthy fat and protein.  This will make the smoothie more substantial and help keep blood sugar levels stable.  Just consuming fruit or juice will quickly increase blood sugar and lead to a crash making you feel hungry quickly.

 

2. Skip the sweeteners: Many smoothies, while marketed as ‘healthy’ can be loaded with added sugars from various types of juice mixes, protein powders, coconut water, honey, agave or other sweeteners. 

 

Fruit is naturally sweet and often doesn’t need anything extra to boost the naturally sweet taste. The Tropical Green Smoothie recipe below uses pineapple, which provides plenty of natural sweetness - no additional honey or maple syrup necessary! 

 

Of course fruit isn’t “bad” but since it’s being blended into a small volume, it can be easy to consume multiple servings in a short period of time once in smoothie form. A good rule of thumb is to choose 1-2 fruits totaling up to one cup.

3.
Boost It: This is the fun part! Choose “boosters” for additional flavor, texture, and nutrition. Think spices, unsweetened protein powders, nut and seed butters, or fresh herbs. 

 

Manitoba Milling Smooth Whole Milled Flaxseed is incredibly smooth and blends seamlessly into any smoothie recipe without altering the taste or texture. Just one serving (2 tablespoons) provides 3g of ALA Omega 3 (meeting your daily needs!), 4g of dietary fiber, and 3g of plant based protein. See my list above for some nutrient and flavor-dense boosters!

 

4. Use a Spoon: While slurping down a smoothie through a straw is convenient, especially while on the go, it can make you consume a meal (or snack) much quicker than you normally would. Try using a spoon to slow down, be more mindful, and pay attention to your hunger and fullness.  And, sometimes, my favorite smoothies are thick and a straw just won't do!

 

 

 

 

This tropical summertime smoothie will take you to the beach any time of year. It includes a hefty portion of greens and is naturally sweetened with pineapple and ginger. It's also boosted with Manitoba Milling Co. Smooth Whole Milled Flaxseed.

 

Tropical Green Smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup frozen pineapple

  • 1 packed cup of spinach

  • 1/2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger

  • 1/2 cup plant based milk 

  • 1/2 cup lite coconut milk

  • 2 Tbsp Manitoba Milling Co. Smooth Whole-Milled Flaxseed

Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

 

I've listed my personal favorites below, what is your favorite summertime smoothie?

 

 

It's so hard to pick my top 5, but here are my favorites (so far):

 

Fig Apple Smoothie:

10 oz unsweetened cashew milk

1 scoop vegan protein powder

1 tsp beetroot powder

1 Tbsp chia seeds

2 dandelion greens

1 handful spinach

1/4 frozen gala apple

2 dried figs

1/4 cup frozen blueberries

1 tsp baobab powder

 

Apple Nut Butter Smoothie:

10 oz unsweetened cashew milk

1 handful spinach

2 dandelion greens

1/2 small gala apple

1/2 celery rib

1 Tbsp whole milled flaxseed

1 scoop vegan protein powder

1/2 Tbsp cacao powder

1/2 Tbsp beetroot powder

1 Tbsp nut butter

1/4 frozen avocado

1/4 frozen banana

 

Berry Beetroot Smoothie:

8 oz unsweetened cashew milk

1/2 celery rib

1/2 small cucumber

1 swiss chard leaf, stem removed

1 handful spinach

1/2 Tbsp beetroot powder

1 tsp acacia powder

1 scoop vegan protein powder

3 frozen strawberries

1/4 frozen avocado

1/2 Tbsp whole milled flaxseed

1/2 Tbsp nut butter

 

Chocolate Avocado Smoothie:

8 oz unsweetened cashew milk

1 scoop vegan protein powder

1/2 Tbsp whole milled flaxseed

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 handful spinach

1 swiss chard leaf, stem removed

1/4 frozen avocado

1/4 c frozen blueberries

1/2 Tbsp nut butter

1/2 Tbsp cacao powder

 

Berry Melon Cashew Smoothie:

8 oz unsweetened cashew milk

1 scoop vegan protein powder

1/2 Tbsp whole milled flaxseed

1/2 c kohlrabi leaves

1 handful spinch

1/2 celery rib

1/2 c watermelon cubes

1/4 frozen avocado

1/2 Tbsp cashew butter

2 frozen strawberries

 

Bonus Favorite:  

Coffee Smoothie

1/2 c brewed coffee

1/2 c unsweetened cashew milk

1 collard leaf, stem removed

1 handful spinach

1 scoop vegan protein powder

1 tsp cacao powder

1 Tbsp nut butter

1/4 frozen banana

1/2 frozen avocado

 

 

 

Things to remember:  Commercially prepared smoothies can be high in sugar and unhealthy calories - you might as well drink a milkshake with some of the ingredients they add.  Make your own smoothie at home to save money and make sure the smoothie fits into your personal meal plan.   

Invest in a good quality blender, this makes all the difference when making smoothies. 

Smoothies are great for breakfast, but can also be an awesome substitute for high calorie/high sugar desserts.

For more great green smoothie ideas, follow me on instragram @nutrisensenutrition

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