Summertime is the PERFECT time to enjoy smoothies. For a while, didn’t we all believe that Jamba Juice was healthy? The fact is that although smoothies are convenient and delicious, they can be loaded with extra calories primarily from sugar. I think fruit is a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber and I will always support our intake of fruit. However, I think there are ways to boost fruit smoothies so they are more balanced and provide other nutrients. Although many people turn to protein powder as a practical drink additive, I think there are whole food ways to naturally pump up your smoothies:
(1) Dry Rolled Oats/Ground Flax Seed
Rolled oats are a great addition to a smoothie because they provide a kick of complex carbohydrates/fiber to slow down the digestion of the simple carbohydrates (fruit). Ground flax seed provides fiber and heart healthy omega-3’s. Also, don’t you hate it when your smoothies begins to separate into juice and fruit pulp? Adding rolled oats and/or ground flax seed will solve that problem in a snap! Try adding 1/4 to 1/3 cup of oats and 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed depending on your taste and size of your smoothie. I would not recommend using steel cut oats in smoothies because they don’t blend well.
(2) Cooked Black Beans
Black beans provide a great source of iron, fiber, and plant-based protein. It sounds like a weird addition but they actually have a savory sweetness to them. They also add a creaminess to your smoothie that is reminiscent of bananas (hint hint: add them in a smoothie that has bananas in it). Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup.
(3) Dark Leafy Green Vegetables
A fruit smoothie is great. Adding vegetables like spinach or kale help to better balance the simple carbohydrates in fruit. Plus, they provide an extra boost of vitamins and minerals! Just don’t add a billion different vegetables: you don’t want to drink a salad. I learned that the hard way. Pick one or two and put in a fistful.
(4) Yogurt, Milk, or Soy Milk
Adding yogurt, milk, or soy milk is a great way to pump protein into your smoothie and make it more balanced. I like greek yogurt because it’s thicker and has more protein per serving. If you add milk or soy milk, it will replace some of the juice which will help with the sweetness of the smoothie. Try adding 1/2 cup of yogurt, milk or soy milk to your recipe.
Water, water, water! Yup, most of us add only juice to our smoothies. But adding juice seems redundant esp when the fruit provides adequate sweetness. Water helps to cut the sweetness and the unnecessary calories from juice. Also, water helps to digest all that wonderful fiber. Try making water half the liquid in your smoothie.
Caution: adding all of these ingredients into one smoothie will make one disgusting smoothie. Sure, we want a healthier smoothie, but it has to taste good still. So, try to pick just one or two of these each time you make a smoothie. Play around with different combinations and mix it up! I think a great smoothie can have 5 ingredients or less, taste great, and still be healthy.
What other ways do you boost your smoothies?