One of the quickest health enhancing beverages is the creation of a smoothie. What is a smoothie? Depending on ingredients, it can range from a meal replacement to a vegetable consumption enhancement to a healthy energy pick-me-up.
Smoothies were first introduced in the 1930s. The first smoothies were primarily made of fruits, fruit juice and ice to be offered as a refreshing drink for beach-goers. During the 1960s and 1970s, the focus shifted to the blending of fresh vegetables and fruit to enhance health. In the 1990s, proteins and protein powders became additions to serve as post-workout enhancers or even meal replacements. Today, smoothies are serving to aid nutrition boosting to people with chronic illness or children who are picky eaters. Whatever your reason for choosing a smoothie, there are a few considerations beyond throwing things in a blender.
There are three types of smoothies: fruit, green or protein. Fruit smoothies are a refreshing drink containing fruit blended with fruit juice, water/ice or milk. Green smoothies are packed with vegetables focused on leafy greens (but any veggie can be added). To add flavor, a little fruit is added and blended with water/ice, juice or milk. Protein smoothies combine fruits, vegetables and a major protein source with a liquid.
To remain health enhancing, the sugar content must be considered. Sugary smoothies consumed on a regular basis may appeal to taste buds, but they have a downside. Chronically elevated or spiked blood sugar can contribute to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, dementia and some cancers. Instead focus on combinations providing a good balance of protein, fiber and flavor.
Choosing carrots, kale or spinach adds immune system boosting properties without overpowering other flavors. Likewise, the addition of healthy fats — almond butter, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, ground flax seed and avocado — help to stabilize blood sugars and promote hormone balance. Here are some of the most popular smoothie ingredients:
• Fruits: berries, banana, apple, peach, mango and pineapple
• Vegetables: kale, spinach, arugula, wheatgrass, microgreens, avocado, cucumber, beetroot, cauliflower and carrots
• Nuts and seeds: almond butter, peanut butter, walnut butter, sunflower seed butter, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flax meal
• Herbs and spices: ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cocoa powder, cacao nibs, parsley and basil
• Nutritional and herbal supplements: spirulina bee pollen, matcha powder, protein powder and powdered vitamin or mineral supplements
• Liquid: water, fruit juice, vegetable juice, milk, nondairy milk, coconut water, iced tea and cold brew coffee
• Sweeteners: maple syrup, raw sugar, honey, pitted dates, simple syrup, fruit juice concentrates, stevia, ice cream and sorbet
• Others: cottage cheese, vanilla extract, soaked oats, cooked white beans, silken tofu, and dairy or nondairy yogurt
Adding a smoothie to your day can improve gaps in nutrition. Additionally, it can help to maintain a healthy weight and energy levels. Furthermore, a well-planned smoothie can help reduce inflammation in the body. Eating the rainbow just got easier: Blend it and drink it on the go!
Dr. Dianna Richardson has worked in the field of health and nutrition as a wellness practitioner for more than 30 years. Richardson holds a doctorate in naturopathy, along with degrees in nutrition and a master’s degree in public health education. She may be found at the Health, Wellness & Nutrition Center, LLC on Dix Road in Jefferson City.
Ginger green smoothie (makes 20 oz.)
• 2 cups (56 grams) of fresh baby spinach
• 1 large ripe banana, sliced and frozen
• 1 tablespoon (6 grams) of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
• 2 tablespoons (32 grams) of unsweetened almond butter
• 1/4 of a small avocado
• 4-6 ounces (120–180 mL) of unsweetened almond milk
• 1/2 cup (125 grams) of low or nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
Directions: Add all ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth. If it’s too thick, add more almond milk.
Tropical berry beet smoothie (makes 20 oz.)
• 1 cup (197 grams) of frozen mixed berries
• 1/2 cup (82 grams) of frozen mango
• 1/4 cup (34 grams) of raw beets, roughly chopped or grated
• 2 tablespoons (20 grams) of hemp hearts
• 1/2 cup (125 grams) of low fat plain Greek yogurt
• 4-6 ounces (120–180 mL) of unsweetened coconut water
• a squeeze of fresh lime juice
Directions: Add all ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth. If you want it a little sweeter, use lightly sweetened yogurt or swap the coconut water for 100% fruit juice.
Blueberry, Lime Cashew Smoothie (4 servings)
• 2 Medjool dates, pitted
• 2 cups coconut water
• 1 cup cashews
• 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
• 1/3 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
• 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
• Large pinch of kosher salt
Directions: Purée dates, coconut water, cashews, blueberries, yogurt, lime juice, salt and 2 cups ice in a blender until smooth.
Green Peanut Butter Smoothie (2 servings)
• 1 banana
• 1 cup nut milk
• 1 cup torn kale
• 2 tablespoons peanut butter (may substitute other nut butters)
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Directions: Blend 1 banana, 1 cup nut milk, 1 cup torn kale, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon and ½ cup ice in a blender until smooth.
Tropical Carrot, Ginger and Turmeric Smoothie (makes 2 servings)
• 1 blood or navel orange, peel and white pith removed
• 1 large carrot, scrubbed, coarsely chopped
• 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
• 2/3 cup coconut water
• 1 tablespoon shelled raw hemp seeds
• 3/4 teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger
• 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated peeled turmeric
• Pinch of cayenne pepper
• Pinch of kosher salt
Directions: Purée orange, carrot, mango, coconut water, hemp seeds, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, salt and ½ cup ice in a blender until smooth.
Inflammation Buster Smoothie (makes 6 servings)
• 4 cups frozen pineapple chunks (about 22 oz.)
• 2 ½ cups coconut water
• 1 ½-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
• ½ tsp. kosher salt
• ¾ tsp. ground turmeric, plus more for serving
Directions: Blend pineapple, coconut water, ginger, salt, ¾ teaspoon turmeric, and 2 cups ice in a blender until smooth. Divide among glasses, then sprinkle with more turmeric.
Green Smoothie (with a kick) makes 2 servings
• 1 banana, frozen, cut into 1” pieces
• 1 cup frozen pineapple pieces
• 1 cup fresh parsley, spinach, or kale leaves
• 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
• 2 tablespoons almond butter
• 2 tablespoons flaxseed oil
• 1 teaspoon agave syrup (nectar)
• 1 teaspoon matcha (green tea powder)
• ½ teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger
Directions: Purée banana, pineapple, parsley, almond milk, almond butter, flaxseed oil, agave, matcha and ginger in a blender. Sweeten with more agave, if desired.
Cherry Mocha Smoothie (2 servings)
• ¾ cup cold brew coffee
• ½ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 dash ground cinnamon
• 2 cup frozen pitted dark cherries
• 1/3 cup almond milk
• 1 scoop unflavored protein powder
• 1 teaspoon honey (optional)
Directions: Combine coffee, cocoa, cinnamon, cherries, almond milk and honey in blender. Cover; blend until smooth.