This post was written by the Rebecca McConville for our partner, Shopwell. Rebecca is one of the registered dietitians for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. You can follow her Pinterest page on “Nutritious yet Delicious (Drinks and Smoothies),” as well. Rebecca has developed an easy-to-follow smoothie formula that can make any day more delicious and nutritious for everyone in your family. What will you create?
Smoothies are an easy way to get in many nutrients with minimal prep work. Smoothies can “hide” many fruits and veggies, making it a good option for children, those crunched for time or as a way to ensure you are getting those 4-5 servings of fruits and veggies each daily. Smoothies are also a go-to favorite with our Chiefs for a recovery beverage when their appetite is diminished after practice.
Below is an outline of how you can become your own “Smoothie King” and create these delish beverages for your own enjoyment.
You should start off with between 1-2 cups of liquid. This goes into the blender first as it needs to be surrounding the blade in order for the blending process to start properly. These are some good options to try:
- Milk including: dairy, soy, almond or coconut milk. Go with unflavored if you’d like to have a neutral and smooth taste. You want the add-ins and fruits/veggies to set the tone of the taste.
- Fruit juices can be used to increase the nutrient content of the smoothie, but beware of added sugar, as it will increase the calories. For those trying to gain “healthy” weight, fruit juice is a suitable option. Also keep in mind that the density of the smoothie may change and the flavor may intensify as a result of the type of fruit juice added.
- Tea & coffee add a source of caffeine and additional antioxidants for adults. Green tea & black tea not only increase the antioxidants but also provide a flavor enhancement.
- Yogurt and kefir milk are great options to provide probiotics for gut health.
- Water makes a top choice, as it is inexpensive, convenient, and calorie-free!
¼ fruit & ¼ veggies (or add more fruit)
The more frozen fruits/vegetables you use, the less ice you will need. Likewise, the more juices the fruits/vegetables have, the less liquid you will need to add.
- Bananas are a popular choice, as they help to thicken the smoothie and provide a neutral taste that goes well with most everything.
- Leafy greens (such as spinach, kale and romaine lettuce) blend easily into fruit smoothies, and they do not add a strong vegetable taste.
- Cucumbers add thickness and moisture to smoothies without adding much flavor.
- Carrots are a sweet vegetable that are almost undetectable when added to a smoothie. Consider investing in a high-speed blender before adding carrots to smoothies. Weaker blenders may leave your smoothie with an unpleasant, chunky texture.
- Avocados are a source of heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Their creamy texture makes them a natural addition to smoothies.
¼ protein & other add ins
- Protein powder (half to a whole scoop) will nutritionally balance the smoothie similar to that of a meal. Look for a powder with the fewest ingredients. Whey protein isolate still stands as a gold standard unless you are only consuming plant-based products. There are many different flavors – vanilla blends right in with the taste of most fruits.
- Greek yogurt or any yogurt will provide a source of protein and increase calcium.
- Wheat & barley grass powders are powerful sources of chlorophyll (which is known for balancing blood pH levels) and are known as a “complete food source,” containing vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, and antioxidants.
- Chlorella & spirulina are amazing sources of almost every vitamin and are 70% protein by weight; they will also turn your smoothie green!
- Seasonings common in cooking or baking such as cinnamon, honey, brown sugar, nutmeg, and vanilla extract will all add sweet complexities to the flavor.
- Peanut butter as well as any nut butter can add protein and a thicker texture. Mixing in PB2 powder will enable you to limit calories without compromising taste.
- Chia & flax seeds are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids and are nutrient-rich.
- Oats help lower cholesterol and provide long lasting energy.
Here are some recipe ideas:
- Add coffee to make a smoothie Frappucino.
- Blend together 1 cup of soy milk with half of a frozen banana, 1 cup of frozen strawberries and 1 cup of raw baby spinach or add kale to a smoothie made with orange juice, yogurt and bananas.
- Try a ripe avocado with pineapple, coconut water, agave nectar, lime juice and vanilla extract to create a healthier version of a piña colada.
- Blend a raw, chopped carrot into a mixture of green grapes, lime juice, half of a banana, half of an apple and orange juice.
- Blend cucumbers together with tomatoes, lemon juice, garlic and fresh basil to create a gazpacho-like savory smoothie with vitamins A and C and the mineral potassium.
When you’re on the run, opt for a dietitian-recommended menu choice at restaurants nationwide. It’s easy to search for these smoothies and similar choices using the personalized search on HealthyDiningFinder.com. The nutritious flavor you’ll love without the mess of making it yourself!