Smoothies here, smoothies there, smoothies everywhere! Is it just a fading fad? Are you a devotee or in the “enough already” camp? (If you are the latter, I guess you wouldn’t be reading this, eh?) I will say for the record, I still find it one of the more versatile ways in which to pack a wholelotta punch, whether for flavor, refreshment, nutrition or, in my case, All of the Above. 😉 I love to experiment with different variables, but as things happen in The Intuitive Kitchen, there’s a basic template which allows for play and I would encourage you to use my Loose ‘n Easy Formula each time you make your Fantastic Meal-in-a-Glass so that you know you’re getting allkinza’ great benefits each time…
When I make a smoothie, I use a VitaMix and make enough for the whole fam with room for improv. No, I haven’t played with the Bullet, yet, but I’m sure it would work just fine. Amounts are to taste but are in the same general proportions each time: mostly fruit; a good dose of protein but not overwhelming; a small amount of some important fats; a lil’ “extra” fiber in addition to the fruit; a bit o’ green food, e.g. Some Kind of Algae; any “bonus” nutrients you like or need, such as from those amazing "Superfoods" like acai, goji, maca or the proliferation that continually emerges from the Amazon or other exotic sources. Some bee pollen (awesome for enzymes and immune defense), is a great addition, too, as is some brewer’s yeast (for your B vitamins) if you’ve got it on hand. The best part of smoothies is that you can have a lot of tasty fun just dumping Everything That’s Not Moving into the blender and GO! Let’s do this, shall we?
1. So, you start with your FRUIT: using frozen berries, bananas, mango, whatever was overripe before tossed into a Ziploc and into the freezer, allows you to not use ice which just dilutes things, in my opinion. Although I just had a thought: how about an ice tray of coconut water cubes for this purpose?! Why, you can freeze any liquid you’d like to include in your concoction, right? I love it. Feel free to throw in some freshies, too, like that bruised pear on the counter that no one wants to eat. Using whole fruits will give you the fiber so many of us are lacking and those crucial phytonutrients that you can not get from supplements.
2. Protein: I use an awesome trio of a nut or seed butter (a heaping tablespoon into the mixer), about the same amount of a full-fat yogurt (plain or a compatible flavor) and a great powder from the JuicePlus+ company called “Complete”. It’s the best one I’ve found and I’ve tried a lot of ’em: whole-food based and 13g of protein per serving, tho’ I use a bit less ‘cuz I don’t want the flavor and texture to dominate and I have the other sources, too. As a vegetarian, for the most part, I want high-quality, mostly plant-based proteins like legumes and my smoothies give me a good chunk of the recommended daily dose of 46 grams for an adult woman. (Most Americans get too much protein, anyway, which negatively impacts bone density. check it out.)
3. Fats: get your precious omegas with half an avocado (also a great gut cleanser) or a generous tablespoon of extra-virgin coconut oil to do the job. I typically use a few ounces of either flax or hemp oil. If you don’t mind a lil’ crunch, hemp seeds are a good way to go, too.
best food ever. well, one of 'em...
4. Antioxidants: Chia seeds, yo! Amazing little buggers which also add to the Fiber Factor. And it’s worth investing in a big bottle of blue-green algae or “green food” powder like spirulina, which, while a bit pricey, will last forever and turn your smoothie into a weird-looking science experiment that you can tell the kids is “Ogre Food” and makes Shrek as strong as he is…and You, right? 😉 * Remember: green food = chlorophyll = cleansing. The squeamish may not dig the color but you don’t even taste it. You can also use cacao powder or nibs if some deep, chocolatey flavor works for your recipe’s flavor profile.
5. Probiotics: You’ve got the yummy, creamy yogurt going on in your protein trio (above) but if you’re vegan, there are other sources available so just do a little research… Good Belly is a nice brand offering alternatives, including a coconut base, and is in many grocery stores.
6. Fiber: GREENS, anyone? Seriously, a couple of leaves of, yes, kale, or a handful of spinach will be the hook-up your innards will thank you for with healthy digestion and an easy time in the bathroom, eh? True. It’ll add some texture to your smoothie but you won’t even taste them, otherwise.
7. Detoxifiers: the juice of half a lemon and a handful of fresh parsley will help to cleanse your Temple. And how about apple, cinnamon, fennel, pineapple, beets, basil, sesame seeds? (maybe a teaspoon of tahini instead of a nut butter? yum.) So MANY possibilities!! Dude, you’re going to be so clean… Bonus: eat seaweed for cleansing as well as a metabo-boost. Speaking of which…
8. Metabo-boost: consider a dash of cayenne and/or fresh ginger, depending on what else is going on in your mixer, flavor-wise… Happily, several of the ingredients that go well in a smoothie do already help with metabolism, such as blueberries, grapefruit, almonds (butter), even green tea which you can keep chilled in the ‘fridge for the liquid component of your mix.
9. Liquid Love: You have a bunch of options but I recommend using as little sugar as possible since your fruits will give you the sweetness that you need so I keep the juice to a minimum, just adding a shot of whatever flavor I’m in the mood for and works with my other ingredients. *Bonus: cranberry's alkalinity will help moderate your body’s pH, most of our diets being fairly acidic. I use some kind of non-dairy milk for the majority of the liquid base, such as rice or almond milk; I like to try and enjoy different varieties. I am also a big fan of a generous splash of coconut water which will give you a great dose of electrolytes which are so important for good metabolism, brain and heart function and muscular contraction, especially after exercising.
Now, I don’t do this everyday as some folks do but when I do, I feel fantastic. I had one this morning and now, many hours later, I’m just getting hungry tho’ still energetic. Just gather all your ingredients, get ’em in the mixer and press the button! I know everything I suggest here seems like a lot to think about but it’s easier than many other meal productions and, trust me: a big ol’ serving of this “formula” for breakfast or lunch will leave you feeling satisfied and well-nourished, ready for a busy day or continuing one. Not only are you rockin’ out in the kitchen to your favorite Blender Jam, but you are also caring for your entire body, brains and all, and it will give you an emotional/spiritual lift, knowing that you are taking great care of yourself and those you love… So, get creative and enjoy! (Hey, how ’bout a bit of espresso for a wee caffeine boost when needed? HECK YEA!) Get a little crazy, fo’ real; you’ll learn a lot in the process of, well, processing. 😉