By Shannon Morehouse
Looking for one simple way to pack a bunch of nutrients into your busy life? Pull out your blender and have some fun creating delicious smoothies that can improve your health and help you to feel your best. You can blend fruit with milk or an alternative milk (ie: almond milk, oat milk, cashew milk, etc). You can use frozen fruit instead of ice. Some fun combos include frozen bananas with chocolate almond milk and nut butter, or frozen strawberries and frozen bananas with rice milk. For a tropical flavor, try pineapples, frozen mango, and coconut milk. To get the most out of your smoothie, consider protein powder and/or Superfood add-ons.
Make your Smoothie a Meal with Protein Powder
You can create a meal out of smoothies by simply adding a protein powder to your fruit and milk blend. Here are common protein powders that we often recommend:
Whey, which is derived from milk, is the most commonly used protein product and one of the most researched. It is rich in branch-chain amino acids and is very easy to absorb. However, people with milk or dairy allergies or sensitivities may need to avoid using whey. Natur-Tyme Whey Protein is available in a 32-ounce value size, and a 12oz size. Flavors include chocolate, vanilla, and unsweetened. This whey protein is from grass-fed cows, it is rBGH and GMO-free; contains naturally occurring immunoglobulins and has 17-19 grams of protein per serving.
Plant-based proteins are not just for vegans. New plant-based protein powders are hitting the market weekly. The most common plant-based proteins are pea protein, brown rice protein, hemp protein, flaxseeds, and chia seeds. Pea protein is highly regarded for its ease of absorption. Rice protein has a broad profile of amino acids and other important nutrients like thiamin, iron, and potassium. Hemp, flaxseed, and chia seeds have the added benefit of being high in essential fatty acids and fiber.
A staff-favorite is New Chapter’s ‘Complete Organic Plant Protein+’, and ‘Complete Organic Plant Protein+ Fuel & Replenish’. With 20 grams of protein per serving, these USDA certified-organic protein powders are a blend of mung bean, brown rice, hemp, chia seed, flax, sunflower, and pumpkin proteins. Both are available in chocolate and vanilla, and both sweetened with stevia.
Garden of Life’s Raw Fit, which is a USDA certified-organic blend of various sprouted plant proteins, including brown rice, flax, amaranth, adzuki bean, garbanzo bean, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, and more; with its included green coffee bean extract, it helps with weight loss by satisfying hunger and fighting cravings. Raw Fit offers a whopping 28 grams of protein per serving.
All of the plant-based protein options described above are gluten-free and vegan. They are a delicious way to get veggies and healthy grains into your diet also!
Hemp Protein is considered one of the easiest proteins to digest, and the least likely to cause gas and bloating. It has a complete amino acid profile, contains Omega 3-6-9, and Fiber. Manitoba Harvest’s Hemp Yeah! hemp protein is a combination of Hemp and Pea protein, is sweetened with coconut sugar (which has a lower glycemic index then fructose), and is available in Chocolate, Vanilla, Unflavored, and Unflavored + fiber. It contains 20 grams of protein, and 2-4 grams of fiber (8 grams in the ‘+ fiber’ formula) per serving.
Add-On Ideas for Children:
Smoothies are one of the sneakiest, tastiest, and most exciting ways to boost our children’s nutrient intake, which is why we consider smoothies especially essential for kids who are picky eaters. Here are some of our favorite add-ons for kids’ smoothies:
- A multivitamin powder mix can be added to the smoothie. Oxylent’s children’s multi, is Non-GMO, Gluten-Free, has no sugar and is sweetened with stevia; it comes in Bubbly Berry Punch flavor.
- Probiotics, the beneficial bacteria in the gut, play a large role in immunity, brain development, and digestion. Nordic Naturals Pixies powdered probiotic is a great option and comes in a great ‘rad berry’ flavor. Just open them up and put them in the smoothie. Dosage depends on the age of the child.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for children. A 2005 study reported that children between 20 months and 3 years who took fish oil daily, had positive transformation in behavior and learning abilities. Another study performed in 2008 showed a positive correlation in preschoolers’ listening comprehension and vocabulary with high blood levels of DHA through supplementation. It is recommended that infants 12-18 months take in 32 mg of EPA+DHA/lb of weight, and children 18+ months need 15 mg of EPA+DHA/lb of weight. Carlson’s Cod Liver oil (lemon) is a good choice to try. Fish oil is an important supplement for moms and dads too!
Boost your Smoothie with Superfoods
Superfoods are high in antioxidants, as well as micro and macro nutrients, and phenolic compounds (found in fruits with blue and purple skins). Adding them into your diet is an incredibly helpful way to protect your system from oxidative stress and keep your nutrient levels up. Superfoods are also great for detoxification and boosting energy levels.
Many plant protein powders have two of the most common Superfoods: flaxseeds and chia seeds. These seeds are rich in essential fatty acids, are great sources of fiber, and are also mineral-rich. Give yourself a further Superfood boost by adding a couple extra tablespoons of flaxseed or chia seeds into your smoothie. Flaxseeds do need to be ground for your digestive tract to absorb them; chia seeds do not.
Many greens are also classified as Superfoods. Some include Barley grass, wheat grass, kale, spinach, etc. Many plant-based protein powders have a blend of greens in them. If your protein choice does not, you can get your greens boost by adding a scoop of Whole Earth and Sea Fermented Greens which has fermented fruits, vegetables, grasses, and mushrooms. Another boost option is Yerba Prima’s Moringa which is full of superfood goodness.
Collagen, while not strictly speaking a super food, is super important for your bodies repair and recovery mechanisms. It Is an easy add-on to any smoothie. Ancient Nutrition’s Multi collagen contains 5 types of collagen in order to cover most of your collagen needs. It comes unflavored, or you can choose from flavored options including chocolate, vanilla, mocha, cucumber lime, and strawberry lemonade.
Add-On Ideas for/Weight Loss:
Many individuals on a weight-loss plan find that smoothies are a quick and easy way to stave off unhealthy cravings. In addition to a protein powder, here are some add-ons we recommend for weight-loss:
- MCT oil is a common component in Keto diets and can easily be added to a protein smoothie. It is quickly converted to energy for the brain and body, and helps you feel satiated. Dr. Mercola’s Mitomix Keto MCT oil is a great option!
- Natural Factors’ PGX powder is a highly purified fiber complex from the Konjac root. PGX supports weight loss and supports healthy blood sugar levels already in normal range. NOTE: thickens smoothie very quickly so you need to add as the last ingredient to the smoothie and consume within five minutes. CAUTION: if taking medication, take one hour prior or two hours after taking PGX.
- Maca is a root that is used as a stress-fighting adaptogen to increase stamina and combat fatigue. This can assist stamina for longer and aid in more powerful workouts. Maca goes great with a nice chocolate-flavored protein drink. Navitas Maca is USDA Organic, non-GMO, and vegan.