Hello all! So many times I get the question at the shop… “What should I get? What do I need to be healthy? What add-ins will help me feel this or that way?” The truth is, smoothies are a meal just like any other meal you would prepare, and the key is making them balanced. This is certainly the case of you are completely replacing a meal like breakfast or lunch, or even as a snack. Think about how you would prepare a meal for yourself or family; you’d try to keep it as balanced as possible, being sure to include a variety of food groups.
Although there are a million different ways to create the perfectly balanced smoothie (that’s why I love them so much!), here is a quick breakdown of the essential food groups you should always include.
-Water (hydration like distilled water or coconut water)
-low sugar fruit
-low sugar citrus
… If you are thinking I’m leaving out Protein, you’d be wrong! You’ll be getting enough protein with those leafy greens! Of course you can always add a scoop of your favorite protein powder of your choice if you’re chasing a workout.
Start with your greens. Whatever they may be (spinach has the most protein), blend them with your distilled water or hydration of choice. I steer clear of milks because in the end, it usually just adds sugars I don’t really need. They key element is blending the greens before adding any other ingredients, preferably on a juice setting if your blender has one. You’ll want to throw in a cup of greens with 4-8 ounces of water, depending on how you like the consistency of your smoothie-play around! If not, blend for at least 50 seconds.
2. Choose a fruit or veggie with a lot of fiber. My go-to’s are apple, mango, carrot, or banana, but you could choose papaya, passion fruit, and a plethora of other foods! Why fiber? It helps to create a smoothe texture, as well as helping your body digest the sugar in the fruits you’ll be adding. You’ll want to use 1/2 cup for this ingredient.
3. At this point, I like to toss in a low sugar fruit, or a fruit that packs a real nutrient punch, like raspberries, blueberries, Aronia berries (choke berries), kumquat (high in protein), or tomatoes- especially if you’re making a veggie smoothie. I also like to include a squeeze of a low sugar citrus like lemon or lime- just gives it that extra punch and adds a cleansing element to your smoothie. Use 1 cup of a low sugar fruit, and just a squeeze for 1/4 lime or lemon.
4. Always include a superfood. I mean, why not? For me, it’s unlikely that I’m going to eat super foods at any other point in my day; I’m busy, and I don’t always have time to create new recipes, or steam up some beets. So throwing chia seeds or goji berries in my smoothie is an easy way to make sure I’m getting more complex and dense nutrition in my diet. If you’re unfamiliar with this category of foods, check your local health food store and have fun trying different foods out! If you don’t have a store near by that sells them, you can go online to one of my favorite companies, Z Naturals. All their goods are organic, clearly labeled, and super easy to navigate!
My super foods favs are chia seeds, goji berries, and I include in this category healing and cleansing herbs like parsley. BUT, the list is endless! At my little shop alone we have over 30! So do a little googling, and shake things up with some superfoods! A tablespoon for berries and seeds, and a teaspoon for powders will do the trick.
5. The final step is a healthy fat. The only exception to this would be if you’re following a workout and need some complex carbs like oats, for example. The perfect smoothie carb add in! Oats are also great for thickening and texture. So if you’re feeling foggy, oats might be what you need to give your body that slow glycemic sugar release. Otherwise, grab some walnuts, flax oil, pecans, avocado, dark chocolate (yes, I said chocolate), coconut oil, full fat yogurt- I mean, the list goes on and on! Just watch your portion size, as you’ll want to stick to about 1/4 per smoothie.
The final step is to blend! If you can manage to drink your smoothie at room temp., go for it! It’s easier for digestion. However, adding just 1/2 cup of crushed ice can give it that chilled creamy factor that’s oh so yummy!
This step takes a bit of practice and is totally subjective. What matters is giving the blending time to incorporate the ingredients. We’ve found 30 seconds on a high powered blender is generally pretty perfect. However, you might want to play around with it at home!
The final step is presentation. If you have time and you’re not running out the door, treat yourself to a beautiful final product- this is a form of self love that really helps you enjoy and indulge in your balanced smoothie meal! Enjoy your smoothie making adventures. Strive for balance and beauty, and as always, eat well!