For those that don’t drink smoothies on the regular, working them into your diet can be a little daunting. There are so many ingredients to choose from it’s confusing where to start. Nearly all of my wellness clients have asked me for smoothie recipes. This usually perplexes me because well, I don’t have them. I simply toss stuff into the blender and give it a whirl.
I have been experimenting with smoothies for what seems like forever. Some concoctions work, some not so much. Smoothies can be packed with lots of things or just 1 or two ingredients. You just have to take charge and make it your own. Some people like thin, juice-like smoothies and some people prefer thick, milk shake type smoothies. I fall into the latter category. In fact, I dig smoothies that I can chew, packed with crunchy almonds or granola.
While I don’t ever follow a smoothie recipe, there is a general formula or smoothie equation that works for me. I didn’t invent (or patent – there I go, getting all legal and I haven’t even started my first day at Rutgers!) this formula. It’s not rocket science and you don’t have to have a culinary degree to follow it or to make a great tasting smoothie. I am sure someone, somewhere invented this wonderful smoothie formula and if I knew who, I would give credit where it’s due. Since I have no idea, I’ll just lay it on you:
Fruit + Greens + Protein + Binder + Liquid + superfood + spice (optional) = DELICIOUS, Healthy Smoothie!
I don’t always follow this formula but when I do, the smoothie is always a hit. Here’s how it breaks down:
Fruit (1 serving soft and 2 servings frozen)- this can be anything, it all depends on your taste buds. However, experience has taught me a few things. I wouldn’t call them hard and fast rules as they are definitely subject to your personal taste buds and preferences. Good soft fruits for smoothies include bananas and avocados. Now before you start freaking out about mixing avocados into something you’re going to drink, check yo-self! They are delicious. You could also used organic canned pumpkin for a fall smoothie. Frozen fruits can also be anything that’s suitable to your taste buds! I find berries and cherries (antioxidants!), mango, pineapple and peaches to be my favorite. For some reason I am not a fan of citrus in my smoothies so I save the oranges, lemons and limes for juicing.
Greens: (a handful) Dark, green leafy ones. These include spinach, kale, collard, swiss and rainbow chard and dandelion. I’ve even tried broccoli – I personally wasn’t a fan, but that doesn’t mean you wont love it. My go-to greens for smoothies is kale and spinach. There’s also a whole family of super greens that you can use including sea algaes and spirulina – be careful though, these have a distinct sea weedy flavor and you palate may not be used to it!
Protein: (1-2 scoops) Protein comes in many forms, in this instance I am referring to protein powders. There are lots to choose from including whey, casein (milk), soy, brown rice, hemp, yellow pea, and different flavors including chocolate and vanilla. I like Metagenics BioPure (though it does contain whey and soy) and Nutivia if I’m staying away from dairy and soy.
Binder: (2-4 tablespoons depending on the type) yogurt, nut butters, oats, cooked quinoa, ground flax seeds, soaked raw nuts, regular nuts or oil (flax, coconut, hemp, almond etc.). The amount of binder is dependent upon the type you choose. Use your judgement here. For example, 4 tablespoons of yogurt, oats or quinoa is great. 4 tablespoons of flax or coconut oil may be a bit much!
Liquid: (1-2 cups) Water,coconut water, nut milks, So Delicious Coconut milk, green tea or chai or if you’re not worried about sugar and insulin response fruit juice like oj or apple. I really only use coconut water and nut milk. For me, straight H2O is a waste when I can get all the benefits from coconut water.
Superfoods: (quantity depends upon the type). cacao nibs, gogi berries, chia seeds, maca, bee pollen. The superfoods you choose are basically dependent upon what fruit and liquid you choose for your smoothie. In my opinion, chia seeds, maca and bee pollen go with everything, while cacao nibs I save for banana smoothies.
Spices: (to taste) cinnamon, tumeric, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, anise, or cayenne. When adding spice to smoothies, it’s a good idea to think about spices in relation to baking. Cinnamon goes well with apples, pears and pumpkin. Chai type spices go well with banana and ginger will make your tropical fruits sing.
Be creative, get wacky and follow your taste buds! You definitely don’t need to follow this equation if you learn (usually through trial and error!) that you want more or less of an ingredient in one or more categories. For example, almond butter and oats are both binders, but I sometimes I want both.
If this equation just isn’t enough for you because you’re truly a visual learner, check out my soul sister Taraleigh Weathers from the Healthy Human Magazine. She’s always got something cooking in her kitchen and this week it was smoothies!