Smoothies have become awfully versatile over the years. In addition to being a succulent dessert and a post workout slam, they are also quite the photogenic model on social media.
But a smoothie’s talents don’t end there! The benefits contained in that blended bundle of goodness are so tremendous, that it is encouraged to replace 1 meal a day with a smoothie. That’s right, swap the eggs and bacon with a delicious blended delight and watch the magic happen.
So what is the secret behind smoothie greatness? How can you improve your smoothie-making skills? What ingredients should you use to maximize your smoothie experience?
Whether you’re new to smoothies and simply looking for the motivation to try, or you’re a smoothie master searching for some new ideas to blend with your own, you’ve come to the right place to get all your questions answered and more!
WHY DRINK SMOOTHIES?
Maybe you’re comfortable with your eating habits. You like your granola, your sandwiches, your pastas and you have your occasional salad. Why switch it up now?
Smoothies can improve your health, your lifestyle and overall well being. And that’s just the beginning. I could go on all day listing the advantages! However, as you probably don’t have all day to weed through all there is to know, I will limit myself to the top 5.
#1. GET YOUR DAILY REQUIREMENT FOR FRUITS AND VEGETABLES IN ONE GLASS
Depending on your age and gender, you should be getting about 2 cups of fruits and vegetables a day. In today’s world full of fats, fried foods, salts, grains, meat, etc., achieving this goal can be harder than it seems.
But it becomes a lot easier when you can mix and match a couple servings in the blender and let them slide smoothly down your throat. Fresh produce you don’t even have to chew through and you can check the fruits and veggies right off your daily list!
#2. FAST AND EASY
We’ve all experienced kitchen disasters. Pork chops left long enough in the oven to bake to a blackened mess. Chicken soup so salty no amount of extra broth could save it. Carrot cake that’s a little more like carrot pudding than it was supposed to be.
But when the whole point of a recipe is to be a mess of ingredients blended into a delicious meal, you really can’t go wrong! You chop, you throw the ingredients in, you press go and viola! You’re good to go.
#3. PROMOTES WEIGHT LOSS
Most meals typically hit high on the calorie intake scale. This is why replacing one meal a day with a fruit-and-veggie-filled smoothie is a great way to get all the needed vitamins, minerals and fats and keep things low on the calorie scale!
Also, since your blender has already done half the work your body normally does during the digestive process, your body will thank you with a healthy digestive system and you can direct that extra energy towards other things!
#4. IMPROVED IMMUNE SYSTEM
As much fun as it is to stay in all day watching Netflix from your pile of tissues, no one likes a cold.
You can keep sicknesses at bay by strengthening your immune system with blended fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C. And the money you saved from not having to pay for cough drops and doctor visits can be used for your smoothie ingredients!
#5. ENERGY SUPPLY
Food is fuel for the body. And the best kind of fuel is healthy carbohydrates, which you can get from the fruits and veggies in your daily smoothie!
Healthy carbohydrates can help regulate your energy as you need it throughout the day, which can help get rid of those mid-afternoon crashes.
GREEN VS. FRUIT VS. PROTEIN SMOOTHIES
Now that we’ve talked about the benefits, lets get into the technicalities of a smoothie. No two smoothies are the same and each one speaks to specific needs. Some common smoothie types are green smoothies, fruit smoothies and protein smoothies.
Green smoothies are a combination of leafy greens and fruits. They are also generally dairy free with juice or water as the liquid base.
A green smoothie is a great choice of daily blended delight, because dark, leafy greens are about the most healthy things you can find on earth. Although you can get your greens in salad form, you’re a lot more likely to consume those much needed portions when they can be sipped instead of crunched.
Fruit smoothies have a liquid base of water, juice or milk, mixed with – you guessed it – fruit! This smoothie can be a meal replacement or an afternoon energy boost, but most often it’s a tasty offering to satisfy that sweet tooth.
If you’re looking for an smoothie for your daily routine, this may not be your best choice. Because fruits contain so much sugar, fruit smoothies can give you more than your wanted calories and also spike your blood sugar. But if you’re looking for a healthy dessert option, then a fruit smoothie is definitely the way to go!
A protein smoothie is a blend of fruits and veggies high in protein. It’s also common to add a protein powder to give it an extra boost. This is a great option for a meal replacement, because protein is a lot of what your body looks for in a meal.
A great time for a protein smoothie is right after a work out. Your body can use the help rebuilding muscles, which they need protein to do. Protein smoothies are also a great option right before bed and right after you wake up. Your body could put the protein to good use by building up for or recovering from those 8 hours without food!
HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT MEAL REPLACEMENT SMOOTHIE
1) Pick Your Greens
First thing’s first; you need a few good handfuls of greens. If you’ve been blending for a while, you probably have your favourites, but if you’re just starting out, consider a mild green like baby spinach or collard greens.
These two greens provide ample amounts of vitamins and nutrients, which will keep your immune system buzzing, but tend to blend up almost tastelessly with other ingredients.
2) Pick Your Fruits
Again, if you’ve been blending for awhile, you know what you like, but if you’re just starting out, consider a few low sugar fruits that taste delicious, but won’t spike your blood glucose. (A steady blood sugar is the key to all-day energy,)
A few low sugar fruits include: Strawberries, raspberries, green apples, lemons, limes, blueberries, and melon.
Use about 1 – 2 servings of fruit in your smoothie (a serving is about a half cup of smaller fruits, or one whole medium fruit like an apple or orange).
Even though bananas aren’t typically classified as “low sugar,” they make a great, creamy base for smoothies (and also provide magnesium and potassium), so consider having a few frozen pieces of banana on hand to add to the mix!
3) Pick Your Protein Supplement
Protein powder is one of the easiest, quickest ways to increase the amount of healthy protein in your smoothie. If you’ve never used protein powder before, we recommend starting with an organic, Hemp protein. Hemp protein is one of the easier protein powders to digest, blends well into most smoothies, and is often low in fat and calories.
Start with one tablespoon of hemmp protein, and slowly increase to two tablespoons (or one full scoop) depending on your tastes and energy levels.
If protein powder isn’t for you, consider adding three tablespoons of nuts (cashews and almonds work great), a half cup of plain, unflavoured greek yogurt, two tablespoons of flaxseed or hemp seed, or a half cup of rolled oats. While these options aren’t as low in fat and calories as hemp protein, the fat they do contain is good-for-you fat, and works to keep you satisfied for hours.
4) Pick Your Superfood
At this stage, you should pretty much have everything you need to turn your green smoothie into a meal replacement, but there’s no harm in adding a teaspoon or two of your favorite superfood!
Superfoods like moringa powder and maca root powder are great additions if you want a little extra energy.
Camu camu or baobab powder are fantastic for boosting the antioxidant and vitamin C content.
Cacao, lucuma and cinnamon add a touch of sweetness without any extra sugar, as well as a pop of anti-inflammatory goodness.
Green algae like chlorella or spirulina will help boost your immune system.
Whatever superfood you choose, start with a teaspoon, and then add a little more over time depending on your personal tastes.
If you’re new to the world of superfoods, we sell Organic Superfoods from Mynawiri, the Kenyan Superfood Company that includes Spirulina, Moringa, Baobab and Neem powder.
5) Choose your liquid
What do you want to use as liquid for your meal replacement shake? Good, old fashioned clean water is always an option! If the ingredients you add are flavorful and creamy enough, then sometimes water will do the job just fine. If you’re looking for something a little more dense than water, then we would suggest the following:
Almond milk. Preferably unsweetened. If you have some time on your hands, you can even make almond milk yourself!
Coconut milk. You can get this from a carton like almond milk, from a can, or the best option would be to make your own by blending the coconut flesh with the coconut water. Go for unsweetened versions, with as few fillers and additional ingredients as possible.
Hemp milk. Seems to be trending these days and is a good, nutrient-rich option.
Flax Milk. Contains a similar nutrient ratio as almond milk and tastes just as good. Opt for unsweetened if possible.
Coconut water: Another great option that is rich with electrolytes and great for hydration.
How much liquid should you include in your smoothie? Generally 1-2 cups is plenty, but you can always add more if needed for consistency.