Just like a salad, a well combined smoothie can be the best meal – if you've combined ingredients correctly!
Let’s talk about the best ideas for smoothie ingredients, and how to make it a meal:
1. Milk, ‘Milk’ or Water
So, as the base of a smoothie, we would choose a liquid first! But what to choose…?
As discussed in “The Best Protein for IBS”, a lot of people can struggle to digest dairy. This can be due to the lactose sugar or the whey and casein proteins. There are also hormones, chemicals, antibiotics, immune factors and other concerns that relate to the consumption of dairy, so avoiding or reducing is a wise choice when it comes to health and disease prevention.
Coconut, Soy, Rice, Oat, Nuts, Seeds…and Good Fats!
Plant based ‘milks’ can provide a good foundation or nutrients, especially when made fresh. Although shelf-life plant based ‘milk’ is convenient, it is highly heated treated, which ruins a lot of nutrients, and sometimes it can be over-priced or have added sugar. So, just read the ingredient list to check what you’re drinking.
A very simple way to make your own ‘milk’ or base for a smoothie, is to combine 1c water with 2Tbs of nuts or seeds of choice. Sesame seeds are a great source of calcium, but can make the ‘milk’ bitter.
Adding a small amount to any of the following choices to boost calcium is a good way to increase nutrients but not compromise on taste - cashews, almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, or pepitas are some good choices. You can also add vanilla and a teaspoon of honey and have ‘milk’ like this every time.
Obviously, fibre will be present, but this often sinks to the bottom. It is best to consume the fibre, but if you wanted it completely smooth, you could pour the contents through a nut-milk bag and straight in to a cup or glass. Give it a gentle squeeze at the end, and you’re done! Very simple.
Tips: Some people react to nuts and seeds, and the Lectins (topic for another article!) in these foods. So, it is best to soak nuts and seeds overnight to break these down. This also makes for a smoother milk too, and you can soak nuts and seeds in big batches for several days-worth, as long as they are kept in the fridge in an air tight container. Soak 1c of nuts or seeds in enough water to cover them completely. Add 1/4c vinegar, seal the lid, and put in the fridge. Change the water and rinse nuts and seeds thoroughly before use. As you need to, you can remove a portion of the nuts or seeds for smoothie etc.
If you choose to use soy, ensure you choose an organic, non-GMO brand.
Adding nuts and seeds can also add a perfect source of fat to your smoothie. This is important, because we need healthy fats! So, no matter what milk base you choose, adding in 2Tbs of hemp, flaxseeds or chia seeds will create a smoothie full of amazing, essential, anti-inflammatory, brain-boosting, skin-rejuvenating omega-3 fats! This is a must for the best smoothie combination!
Low calorie and very simple, water can be the best choice for a smoothie. If you are adding nuts or seeds to your smoothie, you with have enough fats to create a smooth, milky texture. This can be much more cost effective for people, as well.
2. Vegetables and Fruit - Carbohydrate
Adding 1-2c of leafy greens, celery, zucchini or cucumber is a great way to alkalise, and add vital nutrients to your smoothie. This also helps to make it a meal! Kale, Spinach, Asian greens or Mesculin lettuce mix are four great options for leafy greens.
Fruit is much easier to add to a smoothie! Choose any you like! Banana is high in starch, and can add a thicker, creamier texture to a smoothie. Overripe bananas can be stored and frozen for quick smoothie use. Avocado can also create an amazing, creamy smoothie, but are low in carbohydrates! These can be cut up and frozen too! Other fruits like apple, pear, berries, orange, etc… can be used to create different combinations! There are so many amazing recipes out there! Fruits are also a perfect, healthy, whole food source of carbohydrate, so use that to your advantage! You could also add some cooked quinoa or rice to a smoothie for a carbohydrate component, but these are not in the fruit or vegetable category.
3. Protein sources
If you have already added 2Tbs (30g) of nuts or seeds, you will have also already added about 5g of protein, depending on your choice! Kale is also particularly high in protein, so your choice determines the overall protein amount. However, adding a protein powder is a great way to add protein and make your smoothie a sustaining meal.
15-30g of protein per meal can be more than enough for a lot of people. However, the amount you would include depends entirely on your overall protein requirements for the day, your eating schedule and how many meals you eat in total.
4. Superfood additions
Turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, maca, organic-dehydrated greens, herbs, spirulina, chlorella, cacao, etc… The list is so long! There are so many incredible, medicinal plant food additions that can make your smoothie next-level healthy. If we treat food as medicine, we want to get in as many plant nutrients a possible to prevent disease, right?! So, use every opportunity to put something amazing in to your mouth that will benefit you! - Not cause you disease and problems. 1-4tsp of any addition is perfect! It really depends on your taste buds! Mixing and matching, or searching for good superfood smoothie ideas is a great start!
When creating a smoothie, and making it in to a meal, we can choose something from 4 categories:
So there you go! The BEST smoothie ideas, and how to make it into an amazing meal!
Now, if you're running low on supplies and need to top up your protein powder stores, be sure to grab your favourite brand of protein powder and other supplements at a price you can afford.