When we advocate eating more plants and all five colors everyday, often our clients jump right to the blender to boost health, shed pounds and increase energy. And while well put together smoothie recipes can be delicious, satisfying, excellent exercise recovery and a great ways to pack in the micro, macro and phytochemical nutrition, not all smoothie recipes are created equal.
Heed our smart smoothie recipe tips when you’re looking to maximize your efforts and avoid the most common pitfalls. This is a three part post where we’ll start by addressing the largest smoothie pitfall, share our 5 rules to create your own smoothie recipes and then give you a list of our favorite protein, produce and super food mix-ins!
Or better (and easier) yet, you can start a Smoothie Subscription or a Prepared Detox Kit from our San Diego Meal Prep company and we’ll do all the work for you. You just pick your flavors, drop the goodies in a blender with ice, your liquid of choice, blend and go!
Part 1: Common Smoothie Recipe Pitfalls
Can you say sugar BOMB? Nothing is more frustrating to health practitioners than sneaky marketing gimmicks that literally trick healthy hopeful consumers into drinking a days worth of sugar under the guise of it being “healthy.” Often times, prepared smoothies contain every form of fruit sugar in an oversized cup with only enough greens to change the color and hide the nutritional atrocity.
Take Jamba Juice’s Apple ‘N Greens smoothie (pictured below). Encouraging consumers who are struggling to eat enough greens into drinking them is a great idea. But sneaking in 78 grams of sugar into it is just not right. A worse offender is the Greens ‘n Ginger with 87g sugar but the marketing language in the description is not quite as offensive. True, that is for a large serving which is twice as large as the small, but when you’re peddling better health, can’t the consumer assume more is in fact better?
Note: For comparison purposes, 32 oz of regular coca-cola has 104 g sugar, and it’s all added. But at least they aren’t leading consumers to believe they are achieving their health goals with their sugar laden beverage.
What’s worse is that these types of smoothie recipes have little protein, fiber or fat to curb the blood sugar spike and insulin roller coaster to follow. While it might be yummy, make you feel like you’re doing something good and temporarily boost your energy level, these types of smoothie recipes are not an effective way to boost long term health or shed pounds. Instead, they can lead you on a blood sugar roller coaster, leave you hungry very quickly after drinking and most definitely go straight to your waistline.
Part 2: Smart Smoothie Rules
Every so often, we teach a Smart Smoothie workshop where we cover the in’s and outs of our Smart Smoothie Rules, provide all the right ingredients and have our clients build their own smoothie bags so they have their healthy treats ready to blend and go! Below is the flyer we use to cover the bases. Feel free to pin, print or bookmark it for easy access in the future!
Part 3: Smart Smoothie Recipe Ingredients
The actual recipe you follow can be based on your preferences and what you happen to have on hand. But make sure it includes these types of ingredients. We’ve included a little blurb about just how they set you up for sustainable better health.
Pro Tip: Adding protein to your smoothie makes it an excellent exercise recovery as well as better meal replacement in general.
Greek Yogurt: for those who want a creamier texture and want to avoid powder for any reason. Look for unsweetened and low-fat to control calories if weight loss is important. Greek yogurt has 130 calories and 23 g protein 9g sugar. Regular plain yogurt has ~143 calories, 12g protein and 16g sugar
Protein Powder: While protein powders are processed products, they can be a very efficient way to meet nutrition needs while on the go and are typically far more efficient than your grab-and-go protein bar. Look for something that is about 130 calories per serving with 20+g protein. Depending on sugar content, they are typically low on the glycemic index.
- Plant Based: generally blends of soy, pea, hemp, chia, rice, mushroom. We like Pure Protein superfood for its superior flavor.
- Whey: Dairy based, generally tastier, higher bioavailability and less expensive.
Pro Tip: Super food mix ins maximize micro-nutrition and provide more plant based protein, healthy fat and fiber to help you feel fuller, longer.
Flax: Good source fiber, lignin, omega-3 fatty acid, alphalinolenic acid and a phytoestrogent to help regulate hormones. They are also low on the glycemic index and slightly alkaline forming in your body helping to regulate PH and blood sugar.
Chia: Good source of minerals calcium, iron, manganese and zinc and also helps with the absorption of other B vitamins. They are a plant-based protein that is high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
Raw Oats: Good source of minerals manganese, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. Strong antioxidant and immunity-boosting properties. Contains beta-glucan, which helps regulate blood sugar and lower cholesterol. Good source of fiber and lignin. Old fashion oats are also low on the glycemic index and slightly alkaline forming helping to regulate blood sugar and PH.
Cinnamon: Has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties and has been known to have an anti-clotting affect in blood. Cinnamon is also being researched to understand its blood glucose lowering Great way to add flavor to baked goods and coffee to reduce or eliminate unnecessary sugars.
Cacao: Contains the mood improvers and protective polyphenols and antioxidants to protect against heart disease, skin cancer, and fight aging. Also helps control appetite and can help you naturally shed weight.
Nut Butter: Contain monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorous, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper and niacin. They are also low on the glycemic index and slightly alkaline forming in your body helping to regulate PH and blood sugar.
Coconut Flakes: A good source of satisfying fat and fiber. Contains some plant based protein and critical minerals like iron and zinc. The fat is saturated, so good to enjoy in moderation.
Produce: Fresh Greens and Some Fruit
Pro Tip: Don’t overload your smoothies with more than 2 servings of fruit. And use them whole, not in puree or juice form to maximize fiber. And trust us, you can add a full cup of greens and they will completely “blend-in” the smoothie and you’ll never notice the flavor!
Kale: Good source of vitamins A, C and K as well as minerals iron, calcium and manganese. Strong antioxidant with carotenoids like lutein and flavonoids. Has anti-inflammatory properties from omega-3 fatty acids and will help lower cholesterol and detoxify the body. Kale is very alkaline forming in your body helping to regulate PH.
Spinach: Good source of vitamins A, B, C, E, and K as well as minerals manganese, zinc, and selenium. Strong anti-inflammatory benefits and a good source of flavonoids and the carotenoids beta-carotene, lutein, and zaexanthin. Cooking spinach improves bioavailability of nutrients, but juicing is said to be the best. Spinach is low on the glycemic index helping to regulate blood sugar.
Pumpkin: Good source of vitamins A, B, C, E, K, minerals potassium, calcium, iron and fiber. Has anti-inflammatory properties and is a good source of beta-carotene and zaexanthin. Also an excellent oil replacer in your baked goods. Pumpkins are also alkaline forming in the body, helping to regulate PH.
Strawberries: Good source vitamin C, manganese and fiber. Potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits with over 20 phytochemicals including flavonols, anthocyanin, resveratrol and lignin (in the seeds). Currently being researched to understand their ability to help regulate blood sugar and decrease risk of diabetes. Strawberries are also low on the glycemic index and very alkaline forming in your body helping to regulate PH and blood sugar.
Blueberries: Good source of vitamin A, B, C and E, minerals copper, selenium, zinc, iron and fiber. They are known to have the most potent antioxidant capacity of all fresh fruit due to vitamin, mineral and phytochemical profile. Strong anti-cancer benefits from the polyphenol, phenolic acid and the flavonoid anthocyanin. Blueberries are also low on the glycemic index and alkaline forming in your body helping to regulate PH and blood sugar.
Orange Citrus: Good source of folate, vitamin C, the mineral potassium and fiber. Full of phytochemicals but specifically a variety of flavonoids and carotenoids. Orange citrus is low on the glycemic index and very alkaline forming in your body helping to regulate PH and blood sugar.
Pineapple: Good source of vitamins A, C and beta-carotene, as well as minerals calcium, copper, manganese and fiber. Pineapples contain bromeline, an enzyme that helps digest protein, aiding in digestion and supporting a healthy digestive track. They are also low on the glycemic index and alkaline forming in your body helping to regulate PH and blood sugar.
Banana: Good source of vitamins A, B and C, minerals potassium, iron, phosphorous, manganese and fiber. Bananas are versatile snacks and add richness to smoothies similar to full-dairy ice cream. They are also alkaline forming in the body, helping to regulate PH and are known to soothe ulcers.
Smart Smoothie Recipes in Summary
While the pitfalls can be alarming, you can see the rules are quite simple. And if you’re not in the mood to figure it out yourself, we’re more than happy to do it for you! Click below to see our smoothie recipes for inspiration or save yourself all the trouble and let us assemble the bags for you. The order minimum is just 5 and you can can pick them up for free in our kitchen in Mission Hills. Because they live in the freezer, they can last months so stock up or you can pick up new ones each week!