Smoothies are one of my favorite ways to prepare a refreshingly easy, nutrient-dense breakfast or snack. It’s magic: you simply add frozen fruit and your additions of choice to a blender, and a delicious, healthy quasi-milkshake is the result! A smoothie is a convenient way to add nutrients and vitamins to your daily dietary intake. However, there are a few common smoothie additions you will want to steer clear of - as well as a few intriguing options you might not have thought of!
Smoothies are an amazing option for packing nutritionally dense foods into a morning meal or a pre-workout snack, especially if you’re someone who struggles with your morning appetite or finding time to eat. However, it’s easy to accidentally make them more calorie-dense than you might be expecting. A good rule of thumb is to measure instead of eyeballing your proportions as you add ingredients to the blender, and to prepare your smoothies at home instead of buying store-bought.
What to avoid
There are a few foods to be wary of including in your smoothie recipes. When making a smoothie, it’s advisable to avoid additional sweeteners like sugar and sweetened syrups, and to restrict the amounts of natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup - even juices can add a ton of sugar! Instead, whole fruits, either fresh or frozen, can add a rich, sweet flavor to your smoothie while providing a plethora of beneficial nutrients
It’s also a good idea to make sure your smoothies are balanced with healthy fats and protein. Try adding Greek yogurt, chia seeds, and nut butters to help with this. Nut butters are a great addition to a smoothie, both taste-wise and nutritionally, but they’re also calorie-dense, so keep your proportions in mind!
Nutritious smoothie ingredients to put on your list
- Maca - maca is a plant native to Peru and has many traditional uses, including to help enhance sex drive (libido). It has adaptogenic properties that help the body cope with stressors, and research shows that maca also has mood and energy-boosting benefits. Maca has a nutty, earthy, caramel-like flavor and is readily available in powdered form, making it easy to add to your smoothie (try sprinkling it over popcorn or granola, too!).
- Dark leafy greens - dark leafy greens are one of the most beneficial foods you can consume. They’re low-calorie while being packed with fiber, nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins. A smoothie is an incredibly easy way to get your daily serving of green foods. Simply add a cup or more of your leafy green of choice, such as kale or spinach - or, if you’re feeling very adventurous, try a cup of steamed broccoli!
- Coconut water - a delicious, “why didn’t I think of that?!” option for smoothies is adding coconut water. Coconut water has less sugar than fruit juice and contains nutrients, including electrolytes, which help your body recover from strenuous activity. Coconut water can also help mask the flavor of other healthy-but-less-tasty ingredients and give your smoothie a tropical kick for summer!
- Bee pollen - the many benefits of these tiny, bee-gathered, superfood pollen balls might surprise you! Among other benefits, research shows that bee pollen has adaptogenic and anti-flammatory properties and is high in antioxidants. Bee pollen has a sweet, honey-like flavor, so it’s tasty when blended into your smoothie or even just sprinkled over the top.
- Matcha - a popular alternative beverage, matcha is made from finely powdered green tea leaves and hot water, and offers a more potent way of accessing the benefits of regular green tea. Matcha is high in antioxidants called catechins, specifically EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which have many potential health benefits for long-term drinkers. Matcha also contains caffeine (although much less than coffee), as well as the amino acid L-theanine, which can provide a sense of calm focus. Matcha powder does have a strong umami flavor, so if it’s not to your palate, adding it to a smoothie is a great way to still reap its benefits!
- Collagen - a hot new beauty trend, collagen is not just for topical application but is extremely effective when ingested as a supplement. Collagen has a host of benefits both for your skin hydration and elasticity as well as for joint and muscle support. A smoothie is the perfect way to include a powdered collagen supplement into your self-care routine. Vitamin C enhances collagen synthesis in the body, so finding a collagen supplement that incorporates both ensures you’re getting all the benefits you can from your smoothie!