It's getting hot which makes me want to break out the blender and make a refreshing smoothie instead of having something heavy for breakfast. We’ve all seen an infinite amount of smoothie recipes out there. But I’m not a fan of most of them. Whenever I try to search for new ideas they usually have tons of sugar but very little protein, healthy fat and fiber. This adds up to a breakfast that will not only make you tired, but put you on a blood sugar roller coaster and leave you absolutely HANGRY by mid-morning. Below I explain what to minimize and what to add in so you get more energy and have a satisfied tummy until lunch hour. No specific recipes here (stay tuned for more posts), but the ideas listed are a springboard for many possible combinations you can try.
What to ditch
Excess sugar – Sure we need a little sweetness to go along with all those greens, but there is no reason to include multiple servings of fruit, extra syrups or juices. A small piece of fruit or a cup of berries will provide plenty of flavor without overloading your liver with too much fructose.
Highly processed protein powder - Don’t get me wrong, protein is crucial to include, ESPECIALLY in the morning. But too many protein powders have tons of chemicals and additives which we can’t pronounce and also come from questionable sources. There are better options out there, try one of the choices listed below.
What to add in
Vegetables: Vegetables are very low calorie but include high levels of nutrients, fiber, phytochemicals and other powerful plant compounds. Include a handful of leafy greens (collard greens, kale, spinach) or ~1 cup of any combination of the following: beets, carrots, cucumbers, celery, peppers, zucchini or any other veggies you think would go with your other ingredients. Try the 80/20 rule to maximize your nutrient intake and minimize sugar – aim for 4 parts vegetables for every 1 part fruits.
Nourishing fats: Add in ~2 tablespoons of one or a combination of the following: coconut oil, peanut or other nut butters, or seeds (flax, chia, sunflower, pumpkin). A teaspoon of fish oil could be added for a shot of essential omega 3 fatty acids. Avocados also add a delicious creamy texture.
Protein: Some of the fat sources listed above have a little protein. To add even more try cleaner one ingredient protein powders such as pumpkin seed, pea, or hemp seed. If you want to use whey protein, consider one that has few ingredients and comes from animals that were humanely raised and grass fed.
And a few extra tips…
Choose your base wisely
All of the ingredients above require a liquid base to help blend everything together cohesively. It’s easy to go overboard with juices or flavored milk / milk substitutes. Consider the following to keep the sugar content low and minimize additives: Vanilla or plain kefir, almond or other nut milk (the kind with only nuts and water - NOT one with chemicals and added gums), or coconut water. My current favorite option is chilled green tea for a powerful antioxidant boost and natural source of energy. Iced herbal tea is a great option too and there are TONS of different flavors out there, lemon and hibiscus are herbal blends that I use often.
Experiment with superfoods!
Lemon / lime juice, gogi or acai berries, maca powder, cacao powder or nibs all contain powerful nutrients in only small quantities. Try adding one or two of these for a powerful flavor and nutrient boost.
Don’t forget herbs and spices
Depending on what you include, small amounts of herbs such as mint, parsley, cilantro or basil can add a nice zip to your beverage and help boost your liver's ability to detox. Spices add very potent flavor and are very beneficial. Cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, turmeric and ginger are spices that I constantly have on hand. Be sure to only use small amounts to avoid an overpowering flavor.
And sip slowly
Don't gulp it down, savor your creation and enjoy it to the fullest. Not only you will be eating more mindfully, but you will also absorb your nutrients and digest your food more efficiently.
There you have it, a template for lots of clean, low sugar, healthy smoothies with tons of potent nutrients that will keep you full and energized for hours. The list of ingredients above should yield many different combinations that will give you a variety of so many options you will never get bored again with your breakfasts again. Have fun experimenting!