It is no secret I love smoothies; I have one almost every single day either as a meal or a snack. It is such a fantastic way to get some extra nutrients into me.
How you make your smoothie will depend on your nutritional needs if you have it as a snack, all you need is some frozen fruit and a liquid of choice, however, if you have it as a meal, you will need to add some extra ingredients to help you get all the nutrients you need.
How Much Liquid To Use
For a lot of smoothies, 1 cup of liquid will do the trick. So this is a great place to start, then you can add more as needed. I like to use either water or plant-based milk such as coconut or almond milk. These kinds of milk are great if you want a more creamy smoothie. However, if I am just after something refreshing, I like to use plain old water.
Smoothie Liquid Options
Plant-based milk such as almond, coconut, oat or cashew
100% fruit juice such as orange, pineapple or apple
Some people also use coffee or tea; however, I have never tried either of these, but keep them in mind. Also, keep in mind that you want to choose liquids with no added sugar as the fruit you put in will already have a lot of fruit.
Instead of putting in fruit juice a lot of the time, I prefer to put the actual fruit in with water. For example, instead of 1/2 cup of orange juice, I'll put in 1/2 and orange with some water.
If you are after a liquid base high in protein, choose soy or hemp milk. If you are after something, low-fat try oat and rice milk. However, almond and cashew milk are also great options as they fall somewhere in between as far as the nutrition they provide. My favourite is coconut milk; however, this is also a high-fat option. Although the extra creaminess and delicious coconut flavour it adds should not be overlooked.
Frozen fruit is what will make up the majority of your smoothie and is where you will get most of the flavours. My favourites include:
Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries
While you may think of fruits are the same as per there nutritional value, you are wrong. Some are higher or lower on the glycemic scale, and some have more calcium or iron in them.
For example, you may want to choose low-glycemic fruits as they are more slowly digested and absorbed, causing a slower and smaller rise in blood sugar levels. Or you might want to add a banana even though it is higher on the glycemic index because it is high in cholesterol-lowering fibre as well as an excellent source for other vitamins and minerals.
My advice would be to add some low-glycemic fruits as well as other fruits which have other nutritious qualities you need even though they may be higher.
If you don't want to add plant-based milk but still want a creamy smoothie try adding half a banana. I like to peel the bananas and chop them in half and place in the freezer until needed, its also great if you have bananas that are overripe that you aren't going to use for anything else in time.
Fruit can get expensive, so watch out for sales and stock up. Any fruit can be frozen so don't worry if you think you won't eat it in time. I prefer to use frozen fruit as I don't use ice, and the frozen fruit helps me get the nice cold smoothie. However, you can use a mix of fresh and frozen. Or if you do not want too cold a smoothie, for example in winter, add all fresh fruit.
While my smoothies always have fruit in them, you can also make fruit free smoothies!
HERBS AND VEGETABLES
I love adding some vegetables to my smoothies as it is a great way to bulk them up and sneak in some extra nutrients, often without changing the taste.
Getting enough vegetables every day is a common concern for many of us, and almost all of us can benefit from more. By adding in some veggies to your smoothies, you will be benefiting from healthy fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, all of which aid in digestion, help to prevent chronic disease, promote healthy skin and support immunity. It is also a great way to eat less sugar and add more volume so it can help you stay full and energised. My favourites include:
Leafy greens such as spinach and kale
Zucchini (a great alternative to banana to get the creamy taste)
Herbs such as basil and mint
Just like the fruits, you can easily freeze herbs and vegetables, so you always have some on hand for your smoothies.
On a side note, make sure you mix up your leafy greens to avoid oxalic toxicity (which can deplete calcium from bones and teeth). Spinach and kale are great for beginners as they don't add any taste to your smoothies but also try adding radish greens, chard, beet greens etc. so this oxalic toxicity doesn't happen to you.
The easiest way to add protein into your smoothies is through a protein powder. I put protein powder in almost every smoothie as it is not only a great way to add protein but also helps to sweeten and thicken the smoothies as well.
However, there are some great ways to get protein into your smoothies without using protein powder! My favourites include:
Kales (8 grams in 2 cups)
Spinach (10 grams in 2 cups)
Chia seeds (6 grams in 2 tablespoons)
Soy milk (7 grams in 1 cup)
White beans (10 grams in 1/2 cup)
As you can tell by mixing and matching these ingredients, the protein adds up. You can easily create smoothies with 15-20 grams of protein without using a single scoop of protein powder.
It is essential to add some protein if you want your smoothie to be a well-rounded meal as it helps to build and repair muscle, tissue, hair and nails. We also need protein to make hormones and enzymes, and it's an essential building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and even blood. Play around with different ingredients that are high in protein and see which ones you like best.
ADD HEALTHY FATS
Yes, there is such a thing as healthy fats, not all fats are bad. In fact, we need some fats to stay healthy. These healthy fats help to slow down the digestion of carbohydrates to help keep blood sugar levels more stable and keep you fuller for longer. Fats also help us absorb some vitamins such as A, D, E and K. My favourites include:
Coconut milk, shredded coconut or coconut meat
Nut or seed butter
Whole nuts such as cashews or almonds
Chia seeds or flax seeds
Mix these up as you want both unsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats in your diet to stay healthy, and not all of these ingredients have both.
There you go, include ingredients from those five groups into your smoothie and you will have a great healthy smoothie that you can have as a snack or even replace a meal.
What you should do now
I have been where you are and I have women all over the world (just like you) transition to eating a plant-based diet. If you are looking for a guide to help you find the healthiest way to eat, check out these blog posts it is a great place to start.
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