Fruit and vegetable smoothies are quick and easy to make and a powerhouse of nutrition. Smoothies can help you meet your nutrition goals whether you are following a vegetarian, plant-based, paleo, or keto diet or you are needing extra nutrients. Commercial or store- bought smoothies often contain added sugars, fats, artificial ingredients, and are high in calories. Homemade smoothies can be much healthier than commercial or store- bought ones and when prepared right they provide many health benefits. They are a great way to get your fruits and vegetables in for the day and can provide a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants. Homemade smoothies save time when you are too busy to prepare a complete meal. The basic ingredients of a smoothie are a liquid base, fruits and vegetables, healthy add-ins, and ice. There are endless ways to make a smoothie and can be designed specifically to meet your nutrition goals. Homemade smoothies along with a well-balanced diet, exercise, and a healthy life style can support wellness, anti-aging, and improve nutrient intake.
Tips to making the perfect smoothie
1. Choose fresh or frozen produce. Wash fresh produce thoroughly to remove any possible soil, bacteria, and pesticide residue. Produce should be cleaned right before using with a vegetable brush and then rinsed under cold water. Peel foods with non-edible skins.
2. Experiment with a variety of ingredients. Be creative. Choose ingredients specific to your nutrition goals.
3. Freezing fruit for a slushy or creamy texture. Adding ice can also maintain smoothie texture, increase fluid volume and fullness, without additional sugar or calories.
4. Layer each ingredient starting with the liquid ingredients first. Blend at low speed first and gradually increase the power. The liquid base will keep the solids moving to make a more smooth consistency without small pieces remaining.
5. Avoid refined sugars, if additional sweetness is desired add a little fruit concentrate, stevia, dates, or maple syrup to taste.
6. It is best to drink your smoothie right away. But you can keep it covered in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Freeze your smoothie in small containers or in an ice cube tray to enjoy at a later time.
Step 1: Choose a liquid base (1-2 cups)
A 32 ounce smoothie is approximately 2 servings and will require 2 cups of liquid depending on the water content of fruits and other ingredients
· Almond, coconut, soy milk unsweetened, or low fat milk
· Kefir (choose without added sugars): is a fermented yogurt-like drink containing probiotics
· Herbal or green tea
· Vegetable juice
Step 2: Add Leafy Greens if desired
To maximize nutrition antioxidants and phytochemicals add leafy greens. Choose a milder green if you are new to a smoothie.
· Mild: 1-2 cups spinach, romaine, or radish greens
· Medium: ½ to 1 cup chard, Bok choy, collard greens, beet greens, or kale
· Strong: 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup dandelion greens or arugula
Step 3: Pick your protein
Protein is essential for building and maintaining lean muscle mass, bones, skin, hair and nails, and supports the immune system.
· Greek yogurt ¼ to ½ cup (plain is preferred)
· Cottage cheese
· Peanut butter
· Protein powder (1 tablespoon to 1 scoop or more to preference, aim for 15 to 21 grams of protein per serving) choose certified USDA organic and non-GMO brands, whey based protein or pea protein (a non-dairy vegetarian and plant-based protein).
Step 4: Choose your Fruit (1 cup)
Fruits provide a rich source of vitamin C, potassium, manganese, folate, B-vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. Antioxidants support the immune system and protect your body from harmful free radicals that can lead to heart disease, cancer, inflammation, and other health conditions. Using frozen fruit creates a more creamy smoothie. Be careful when adding fruit as it also contributes to sugar and calorie content.
· Choose fresh or frozen fruit or try a combination of different fruits.
· Fruits high in antioxidants are blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, oranges, prunes and raisins.
Step 4: Add Nutrition Boosters
Add one or more of these nutrition boosters to increase the nutritional value of your smoothie.
· Healthy Fats 1 tablespoon (nut butters, avocado, unsweetened coconut, flaxseed oil, cashews): contain omega 3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats, and helps to increase the absorption of vitamins and minerals.
· Herbs and Spices (cinnamon, turmeric, ginger): helps improve immune function, digestion, decreases inflammation and relieves chronic pain associated with arthritis.
· Seeds 1 tablespoon (ground flaxseed, chia, or hemp seeds): provide omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, B vitamins, and zinc.
There is no evidence that dietary supplements provide the same health benefits as eating a healthy well-balanced diet that includes lean unprocessed animal proteins, plant-based proteins, fruits and vegetables. High-dose supplements may actually be harmful and increase health-risk or interfere with certain medications. It is best to consult with your health care provider or a registered dietitian before starting any supplement.
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