By popular demand from my readers, I wanted to share what I call my “beginner’s smoothie guide”.
I LOVE my morning smoothies (as all my ex-coworkers know very well and would make fun of me for!) because, while they look green and weird, my recipes are actually delicious, and of course, they are the quickest way to get a nutritious breakfast that revs up my metabolism and leaves me satisfied for hours.
I make sure to include a combination of organic greens, low-glycemic fruit, clean protein and healthy fats; this way, my smoothies won't cause a spike in blood sugar levels the way most other quick breakfast options do, like cereal and even oatmeal (especially if it’s the quick oats you get on-the-go). And of course, green smoothies are an easy way to get 1-2 servings of greens into your day! (Note: you shouldn't stop here with your greens, every meal should have some green vegetables, but at least with a green smoothie breakfast, you’re making sure to start your day in the right direction!)
So let’s start off with my STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE on preparing the smoothies, and then I’ll provide you with my recommended SHOPPING LIST for you to take to your next visit to Whole Foods, Amazon, or your local health market!
STEP-BY-STEP SMOOTHIE PREP GUIDE:
Start by adding about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of WATER to your smoothie cup or blender (I like to use NutriBullet for ease of use, though for something more powerful, Vitamix is the most recommended blender).
Add your preferred source of PROTEIN. I always use a vegan Protein Powder + some powdered greens (including organic chlorella, spirulina, wheat-grass, barley grass, etc) if not already included in my protein powder. Always look for a high-quality protein powder that is FREE of pesticides, chemical preservatives, GMO ingredients and artificial sweeteners. And personally, I recommend soy-free, gluten-free and dairy-free options. SEE BELOW for my Protein Powder recommendations! Not a fan of powders? Use raw nuts and seeds (hemp seeds are great as they offer a TON of protein) and/or some cooked quinoa or oats.
Add your VEGETABLES. This can by a combination of organic spinach, kale, romaine, zucchini, cucumbers, or whatever greens you have in your fridge/freezer. I like to add a combination of dark leafy greens (spinach or kale) with some sweeter greens - romaine, baby lettuce and zucchini are my favs. I personally find celery and parsley have a strong flavor, and since I like my smoothies on the sweeter side, I save those for my pressed green juices (vs. smoothies).
Add your FRUIT. My preference is to use high fiber and relatively low-sugar fruits such as all berries (especially organic blueberries, strawberries and cherries), pears and apples. Since I've moved to Nicaragua, I've now made a point of using local and seasonal fruits, including papaya, mango, pitaya and guava.
Load up on HEALTHY FATS. I almost ALWAYS include organic chia seeds and/or flax seeds in my smoothies, and then alternate between adding coconut meat, avocado, a tsp of coconut oil, or a nut/seed butter (I alternate between sunflower seed butter, pumpkin seed butter and almond butter).
Add your (additional) LIQUID of choice. I like to switch it up between vanilla almond milk (unsweetened), coconut milk, and coconut water.
Add your SUPERFOODS. Apart from my powdered organic greens, I also like to add other superfoods such as Maca and Ashwaganda (adaptogenic herbs for hormonal balance and energy), Lucuma, Acai and Raw Cacao (for sweetness and antioxidants),, E3 live (for added minerals, vitamins and chlorophyll) and of course, as mentioned above, Chia seeds and Flax seeds. Try them out and switch them up depending on your needs / taste.
BLEND! And try it out. If it’s too bitter, add more fruit and/or a date and/or some honey for sweetness, and blend another few seconds. If it’s too liquid, add some more greens and berries, maybe ¼ avocado for added creaminess, or if it’s too thick, add some more almond milk or water, and blend another couple of seconds - until creamy and perfect.
OPTIONAL TOPPINGS. I personally like to add something crunchy at the end, so that I have something to chew (which stimulates the digestive enzymes in my mouth and gets my digestion process started), so I add some coconut flakes, slivered almonds, chopped cashews, cacao nibs, goji berries, mulberries, etc., as “toppings” to my creamy smoothie.
Experiment and see what you like and what keeps you satiated!
PROTEIN POWDER: I've done extensive research on these, not only tried them all, but have also checked-in with some functional medicine doctors and nutritionists, and after my research (and tasting) my favorites include:
Sun Warrior Warrior Blend (organic pea, hemp and goji berry protein)
Amazing Grass Protein Superfood (organic pea, hemp, chia and quinoa protein), in addition to superfood greens
Vega Sport Performance (pea, sunflower and pumpkin seed proteins) or Vega One (pea, hemp and flax seed protein) both of which include superfood-greens. (These 2 are my personal least favorites among this list as they're too sweet for me, but many love them!)
For those of you who are OK with dairy/whey, Tera's Whey is a good option, organic and carefully sourced/prepared.
POWDERED SUPERFOOD GREENS: They offer a huge nutritional punch filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, fiber, usually probiotics & enzymes as well, and it’s an easy way to add a serving of greens to your day. I like:
Seeds: Chia, Hemp and ground Flax seeds (you buy them whole and grind them at home when using; they last longer this way)
Powders: Spirulina, Chlorella, E3 Live, Maca, Lucuma, Ashwaganda, Camu-Camu, Tulsi, Raw Cacao, Acai.
organic (fresh or frozen) baby spinach, kale, romaine, collards,mixed baby greens
organic zucchini, cucumbers, avocados, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, cauliflower
organic apples, pears, berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries), figs, coconut, prunes, mango, bananas, and any/all local and seasonal fruit
fresh ginger (I add to all of my smoothies) and even small amounts of fresh turmeric
ADDITIONAL HEALTHY SWEETENERS:
And there you have it! Give these smoothies a shot! It may take a bit of practice and getting used to, but once you find the combos/ingredients that you like, start making green smoothies a regular morning meal, twice or three times a week if not more. I personally find that no other breakfast makes me feel as good, so I have them almost every day (I’m slightly addicted!) but I switch up my combinations, and even alternate between protein powders when I finish them.
Love to get your feedback as always!
Love and smoothies,