My go-to ingredients and easy tips for maximizing your nutrition by learning to build a better smoothie.
Smoothies are a great complement to a food plan because they help get in so many great micronutrients. However, to build a better smoothie, aka a truly nutrient-dense smoothie, it takes some planning and intention.
What makes a healthy smoothie? MOSTLY greens and veggies, healthy fats, fiber, and low-glycemic fruit.
Key Steps to Build A Better Smoothie
Start with a non-dairy milk (such as Willa’s Oat Milk or Cashew Milk or Full-fat Canned Coconut Milk) or brew one quart of strong tea to use as a base for your smoothies (store remainder in refrigerator). Green tea works well, or for an electrolyte boost try using coconut water.
Green leafy vegetables blend nicely into a smoothie and add bulk to a smoothie. Choose any seasonal leafy greens (chard, kale, spinach, etc.). Next, add whole vegetables of your choice. Cucumber, Carrot, Beet, Zucchini, and Cauliflower all pair nicely in a power smoothie. For one serving, aim to add at least one cup of greens and 1-2 servings of other veggies.
To tame the bitter greens, use 1/2 to 1 whole lemon.
Add 1/2 cup of unsweetened, organic fruit to the blender. This includes berries, pomegranate seeds, papaya, mango, and citrus. For those struggling with metabolic syndrome, stick to low-GI fruit.
[Want to know more about Fructose? Read this article by Dr. Rasmussen]
For an easy flavor option, consider a high-quality Fruits & Greens powder, like this one by Nutridyn.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are rich sources of minerals like magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Add variety! 1 to 2 Tablespoons of Chia, Pumpkin, Hemp, Sesame, or Flaxseed.
Flaxseed is an incredible source of fiber and a powerful antioxidant. However, when ground flaxseed oxidizes very quickly and you loose those valuable qualities! If adding flax, use a spice grinder and fresh grind the flax just before adding to the smoothie.
Herbs and Spices
Phytonutrients like tannins, lignans, and catechins are richly concentrated in aromatics like ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon. Plus, herbs such as cilantro and parsley are chelators that pull heavy metals from the body and help excrete them in waste.
Fresh is best. Ginger and turmeric can be added in the root form (about 1 in. per serving). I try to find variety in my herbs by including mint, cilantro, basil, parsley, or dill occasionally (a handful will do).
Bonus: Try growing your own phytonutrient-rich microgreens with minimal space using Hamama!
This is a crucial element in a nutrient-dense smoothie. Many vitamins are fat-soluble and are only absorbed from our food when we consume them with fat. A top way to add fat: avocado. Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it. If you want to build a better smoothie try this! Avocado gives smoothies a creamy texture.
Other ideas to add fat include full-fat canned coconut milk, MCT Oil, Nuts and Nut butters, and unsweetened coconut.
E X T R A for a Better Smoothie
While following the above guidelines will result in a powerhouse of vitamins and nutrients, smoothies are also a place to add an extra boost. That can mean adaptogens, roots, superfoods, and supplements.
Here are a few ideas for smoothie boosts:
+Functional mushrooms (like Lion’s Mane, Reishi, Turkey Tail and Chaga)
+Adaptogens (like Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, or CBD)
+Healing Roots (like Maca or Beet)
+Superfoods (like Bee Pollen, Raw Honey, Acai, or Ginseng)
+Supplements (like Creatine or Glutamine)
Choose Your Own Adventure Smoothie
This provides the basic template with options for customizations. I would do the math on the number of combos, but it's unneccesary. You can make any flavor you want!
- 1 cup Dark Leafy Vegetable [Kale, Collards, Swiss chard, or other dark green leafy vegetable]
- 1/2 cup Fresh Herb [Parsley, Cilantro, Mint, Basil]
- 1 Apple or pear or banana or carrot or beet
- 1 cup Berries (can be frozen)
- 1 Whole lemon (peeled, but keep as much white pith as possible)
- 1 scoop Protein (grass-fed whey or protein of choice)
- 1 Tbsp Freshly ground flaxseed (or chia seeds)
- 1 Tbsp Pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds or sesame seeds
- 1 Tbsp Nuts or nut butter [walnuts, cashews, almonds, macademia, coconut]
- 1 inch Fresh ginger or turmeric
- 1-2 cup Liquid (Green Tea or Coconut Water or Water)
- Ice to Blend
Put everything in a blender and blend until smooth.
This is best served fresh, but may be made AM and stored in refrigerator to drink throughout the day. It will last a couple days if you want to make a BIG batch. Try to use a variety of different ingredients each time the Smoothie is prepared!
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