Smoothies on Deck
Updated: Jul 2, 2020
You don't have to spend a ton of money on healthy smoothies. With a little bit of time up front you can prep your own ready-to-blend smoothies to have throughout the week. This is an easy way to be healthy, add variety to your meal prep and ensure you don't waste any produce.
You can look at your favorite juice joints or Instagram for specific recipes, or get creative and invent your own. Often times the smoothies we buy are crafted to taste good, not necessarily to be a balanced meal. Whether you’re adapting or starting from scratch, I recommend including the following components:
Protein — Powdered form is the most popular and easy with ingredients to suit any and every diet. Whatever you choose, whey, pea, etc., be sure to invest in good quality. There shouldn’t be a lot of sugars or syrups or hard-to-pronounce chemicals. If you opt for a whey or collagen, be sure to buy grass-fed. Yogurt or non-dairy yogurt alternatives are great fresh options and lend a creamy texture. You’ll also get a bit of protein from nuts (or nut butters) and seeds.
Vegetables — Spinach is a nice mild choice. I love using fresh herbs, like mint or basil, or microgreens, which are especially nutrient dense. Red cabbage and cauliflower offer both taste and nutrient variety without being overpowering. Cucumbers are nice, especially with mint and tropical fruits. Greens powders are also an option, and they have the advantage of being portable and including a lot of variety that you might not otherwise eat. Getting a variety of plants in your diet (and the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals they contain) is a great way to improve or maintain optimal health. Here again, any time you are purchasing a processed food, check the ingredients label. Just like with protein powders, you want to avoid added sugars and chemicals. Another simple way to increase nutrient density: sprinkle in a little chlorella, spirulina, or maca.
Fat — Avocado, nut butters and seeds will add a nice creaminess and richness of flavor. Nuts and seeds are also rich in a variety of minerals and some protein. Explore hemp, pumpkin or flax seeds as well as a variety of nuts. You could also try coconut butter or milk (and adjust other liquids accordingly) to make your meal rich and satiating.
Fruit — It’s time to go beyond the banana. Yes, they’re creamy and sweet, but consider branching out: berries, mango, kiwi- whatever’s in season. Frozen fruit is a great option here. Not only does it make having ingredients on hand easier, it’s usually highly nutrient-dense. More of the vitamins are retained, because the fruit is usually harvested and frozen right away, rather than having to make it’s way to a store and then your kitchen. You can also branch out and include starches like pumpkin, butternut squash and sweet potato. Who doesn’t love a smoothie that’s reminiscent of pie? Do be aware here of portions here. Fruit can be a healthy part of your diet, but piling in too much fruit can make your smoothie more of a dessert than a meal. Unless you are trying to put on or maintain mass, try to stick to one serving of all fruits + starches combined, or adjust your other meals accordingly.
Liquid- Here’s another place you can inadvertently add more food than you realize you’re eating. I personally like water or some non-dairy milk. If water tastes too bland at first you can mix water and another liquid. If you’re watching your intake and using something really thick like coconut milk or whole milk, consider how much other fat you put in. I advise against using juice, unless you aren’t adding other fruit. The exception here is a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.
Additional flavoring - Herbs and spices are healthy and tasty additions. I love adding cocoa powder, vanilla and cinnamon. But really, the spice cabinet is your oyster. Ginger - whether powdered or grated- adds some nice bite. You could throw in some ashwaganda, turmeric and just a pinch of black pepper (you won't even taste it) for a fruity riff on golden milk. If you're going the citrus route and feeling fancy, feel free to add in some zest. And a pinch of himalayan or celtic salt never bothered anybody.
Once you've gathered your ingredients it's pretty straightforward- wash, chop and portion out your food ingredients and refrigerate or freeze. When you're ready to blend, add your liquid and powders and let 'er rip! I've been loving these reusable silicone bags*. They don't take up a lot of space and the ingredients slide out easily. Glass containers or jars also work. If you go this route, put anything that's already frozen on the bottom. Fresh ingredients may tend to stick more to the glass when fully frozen. When you’re ready to blend, run the bottom of the sealed container under water for a few seconds, and pour your liquid in and let sit for a few minutes. Go brush your teeth, walk your dog, etc., while it thaws a little.
Blend, explore, and enjoy! I'd love to hear what tasty concoctions you come up with.
*Some people find the closure on these tricky. I just picked them because they were the best value among the few options I saw at the time. I've noticed lately more and more silicone bag companies and styles, so you might find some easier options.