I often go through stages with meals. For weeks on end I will have eggs for breakfast, and then just suddenly stop. Or I’ll have salads or sandwiches for lunch every day, and then out of the blue I will be done with them. It’s not that I grow sick of these foods; it just feels like the routine has ended for a bit. Smoothies are the same. I go through stages of having them for breakfast, lunch or a snack, and then I’ll go months without one.
There is something about this time of year that makes me want smoothies. I suppose it makes sense that when it’s -20C or colder outside I wouldn’t be too inclined to make myself a cold beverage. These nice summer days when the sun is up before I am are the perfect time to enjoy a healthy snack or meal in the form of a smoothie.
When I first started making smoothies I would have them as a snack and use frozen berries, banana, juice and yogurt. It never changed from that. It was just a couple of years ago that I got brave and started adding spinach to them, and I was pleasantly surprised. Since then I have done a ton of research into the best ways to make a healthy smoothie.
Here are some of my favorite tips to help you make the best smoothie possible!
Include Protein & Fat
It’s important to make sure that your smoothie contains a protein and (healthy) fat if you’re using it as a meal replacement. This will help you ensure that you stay full longer and are less likely to reach for that enticing bag of chips. Some options for this would be peanut or almond butter, seeds or nuts, oil, yogurt or different varieties of milk.
Skip the Juice
One of the easiest way to make a healthy snack unhealthy is by adding sugar, which is something that fruit juice is laden with. Since you are likely already using fruit in your smoothie, you may not want all that extra sugar, and calories. Water is a great alternative to make sure your smoothie isn’t too thick, though it can often water it down a bit too much. Personally, I love to add lemon juice to my smoothies. I like the slight sourness that it brings, and it’s often a great balance to the sweet flavor of the fruit. Some other options would be almond milk, or coconut water/milk.
Use Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
Frozen fruits & veggies often get a bad reputation. For some reason, they are often seen as being less healthy than their fresh counterparts. This couldn’t be further from the truth. They actually get frozen at their peak ripeness, which means that the nutrients are at their highest. There is no need to stock your fridge full of fresh fruit that’s going to go bad in a week, or have some sitting out on the counter while you wait for it to turn ripe. Having it frozen means that it’s easy to keep a selection on hand at all times, plus you can get a cold smoothie without having to add ice! Bonus benefit: saves you from wasting food and money!
Prepare Ahead of Time
I don’t buy all of my fruits or veggies frozen. I like to get different mixes, but often there are great options missing from these. Some of these are bananas, kiwis, apples, zucchini, cucumber and beets. With items like these I will cut them and freeze them myself in Ziploc bags so that I can grab them anytime I want to add it into my drink of the day. Sometimes, while I’m at it, I’ll put a variety of fruit & veggies into one bag so that I can just grab that bag, throw it all into the blender, and I’m set for the day. It’s a quick and low maintenance way to have a “grab it and go” meal.
Keep the Skin
It’s second nature for most people to take a bite of an apple without peeling it first, and who in their right mind would think about peeling a grape? Fruits like bananas and kiwi on the other hand, traditionally very few people want to eat the skin. Smoothies are a great opportunity to leave the skin and reap the nutritional benefits from it. You won’t even notice, thanks to the blender! I just wouldn’t recommend doing this with a lime, it will make your smoothie smell, and taste (I imagine), like lawn clippings. No one wants to drink lawn clippings.
Embrace the Green
Let’s face it, the color of your food is important. That’s likely the reason that purple and green ketchup didn’t last as long as it could have. Many people see the bright green hue of a smoothie brought on by leafy greens and are instantly turned off. Adding spinach, kale and other greens to your smoothie reap huge nutritional benefits. don’t be scared off by the color. If you really can’t stomach it, adding berries or beets are a great way to have a nice purple or red colored drink as it overpowers the green. Just be careful adding in any pineapple or similarly colored fruit, you will end up with a not-so-pretty brown drink that looks even more unappetizing than the green!
When done right, there are so many benefits to smoothies. They are nutritionally dense and it’s a great way to add fruits and vegetables to your diet that you may not eat otherwise. They are easy to take on the go, and can even keep in the fridge for a day or two if you need to make them ahead of time. By following the six steps outlined above you will be a smoothie pro in no time!
Do you make smoothies? What are your favorite combinations?