Smoothies are a fantastic way to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, and to incorporate some really healthy foods into your daily diet that might otherwise be challenging to get. Smoothies can be a great add to your daily diet, but before you get started, there are a few points for consideration and tips I would like to share.
Tips and Pondering Points:
- Think of smoothies as food. If you consider that you are putting several servings of fruit and veg, as well and nuts/seeds into a smoothie, you will realize that this can add some calories to your day. If you stick to fruits, veggies and aren’t adding nut butters or other higher calorie foods (like avocados), this may not be such a big deal. But if you ARE including nuts/seeds/nut butters etc – which can certainly help to make a smoothie a more filling meal – you need to consider it a meal, especially if weight loss or maintenance is one of your goals. If that’s your situation and drinking a smoothie for breakfast or a snack just doesn’t seem satisfying to you, you might be better to eat your fruit and veggies to get that chewing satisfaction in.
- Sip your smoothies – no guzzling allowed! One of the great things about smoothies is that they include all the fibre that naturally comes with the fruits and vegetables contained within; however, because you have blended them up and don’t have to chew them, they will be absorbed more quickly than if you were chewing the whole food. So take your time – don’t down it all in one big gulp!
- Consume them fresh. Smoothies are best eaten as soon as they are made (via sipping rather than guzzling, as mentioned above). As soon as they are made smoothies start to oxidize, so if you are making them ahead and storing them, keep them in an airtight glass container in the fridge if possible, and don’t store for longer than 12 hours.
- Use organic produce whenever possible. This is advisable for all fruits and vegetables. If you are not buying organic, be sure to wash, soak and/or peel your fruits and veggies, and if you have to choose, refer to the EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists to find out which produce are best purchased organic, and which ones you can get away with buying non-organic.
- Soak dried fruit and nuts ahead of time for softer texture. This is not so important if you have a high speed blender, but if you’re working with a regular blender, soaking can be very helpful in making your smoothies more smoothie and less chunky!
- Use nuts + water instead of nut milks if desired. Don’t have nut milk on hand, or want to try making your own? For a light nut milk use a couple tbsp of nuts per cup of water; for a cream increase up to 1/3 cup nuts: 1 cup water.
- Include a variety of colours in your smoothies – maybe not all in the SAME one since that will get you a brown smoothie, but make sure you don’t get stuck on making the same one all the time. Different colours represent different nutrients in food, so one day make yourself a green smoothie, the next a purple one, and the next an orange one. This will keep you interested, as well as ensure you are getting a good variety of nutrients.
- Start with milder-tasting veggies and use a higher fruit ratio until you get used to the taste. If you’re just getting started with smoothies, try a green smoothie with spinach, orange, a pure orange juice for the base and some frozen cucumber, or celery and a few ice cubes. Vegetables with stronger flavours, like kale or beets, might be something you include a bit further down the line once you are a committed smoothie enthusiast.
- Use frozen fruit – especially berries and bananas as a thickener.
- Frozen or cooked vegetables can be included, and they often have a milder flavour and softer texture.
- If you are drinking citrus-y smoothies a lot use a straw to keep them away from your teeth to avoid damage to teeth enamel and don’t brush your teeth until half an hour after eating.
So, ready to get started? Here we go…!
(makes enough for 1-2 people)
1) CHOOSE 1 CUP OF LIQUID
- Plant milks such as soy, almond, hemp, cashew, etc
- Water or coconut water
- Unsweetened, pure juice: such as cranberry, orange, apple
- Tea, cooled
2) CHOOSE 1-2 PIECES OF FRUIT
- berries (1 cup)
- pineapple (1 cup)
- mango (1 cup)
3) CHOOSE 1-2 CUPS OF VEGETABLES
- mint leaves
- mixed greens
4) ADD 1 CUP ICE OR FROZEN FRUIT/VEG
5) ADD 1 TSP – 2 TBSP OPTIONAL SUPERFOOD EXTRAS SUCH AS HERB/SPICE, DRIED FRUIT OR NUTS/SEEDS
(for the nuts/seeds and fruit I would add the 1-2 tbsp; for the powders/spices I would add up to 1 tsp)
- chia seed
- ground flax seed
- hemp hearts
- nut butter
- matcha (green tea powder)
- amla powder
- maca powder
- turmeric (dried or fresh)
- ginger powder (or a thumb of fresh ginger)
- goji berries
- dried apricots
6) BLEND AND ENJOY
Still not ready to go out on your own? Here are a few of my favourite recipes to help get you going:
Green Ginger Pear Joy (serves 2)
- 2 cups water/coconut water
- 1 tbsp ginger, chopped fine
- 2 oranges
- 2 pitted dates
- 2 cups frozen pear slices (or fresh with 2 ice cubes)
- 4 cups spinach
- 1 tbsp chia seed (optional)
Green Morning Monster (serves 1)
- 1 orange, peeled
- 1 cup pure orange juice or water (oj makes it a little sweeter)
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 lime, peeled (but you can include a bit of the zest if you like)
- large handful spinach/kale (spinach is milder – so use it if you are not used to green yet)
- handful of fresh mint (optional)
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp hemp hearts
- 3-4 ice cubes
Pineapple Cucumber Mint Refresher (serves 2)
- 2 cups coconut water
- 1 cup pineapple
- 1 cup mint leaves
- 1 large handful mixed greens
- 2 frozen bananas
- ½ cup frozen cucumber
- 1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
*Simple Berry Smoothie (serves 2)
- 2 cups almond milk
- large handful chopped and stemmed kale or chard (or spinach)
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 cup fresh/frozen blueberries/blackberries/mixed berries
- 1 tbsp ground flax
- maca powder