Smoothies are the convenient new health food that’s all the rage. Everyone and their mothers sisters uncle now owns a high-tech blender for making tasty offerings for the whole family to enjoy. Typically, smoothies consist of ice, juice, fruit and maybe a favorite protein powder if you’re lucky.
However, there are so many other ingredients to put in your morning smoothie that may not be on your radar yet, but are tremendous for your health.
Here are my top 15.
- Juice (from a juicer) – Many prefer using a juice base to sweeten up smoothies. Just make sure to avoid juice with any added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, additives and/or preservatives. To ensure the freshest quality, try using juice from a juicer. Juicing keeps the vital nutrients, antioxidants, and enzymes that store bought juice can lack. Juice made from home is also considered a whole food with more prana (life force energy) than juice that has been sealed in a bottle, can, or carton for months on end. Local and organic is your best bet for the freshest produce to juice. If you don’t have a juicer you can also try coconut water as a substitute for juice, which is loaded with electrolytes and still gives you that added sweetness we all crave.
- “Mylks” – Many people are experiencing allergies to cow’s milk nowadays. Plant based “mylks” are an awesome substitute that provide high amounts of omegas and protein. Yummy “mylks” made from things like coconuts, hemp seeds, almonds, and sunflowers are totally in right now. To avoid any unnecessary ingredients try making your “mylk” at home. It’s actually pretty easy – simply soak overnight, rinse, add filtered water, blend, then strain, and voila (homemade mylk)!
- Tea – Use tea instead of juice or milk for the added health benefits, which include anti-aging properties and increased energy, without the high sugar content. Try experimenting with herbal and green tea for a different experience altogether.
- Healthy Oils – Drinking oils has been used as a folk remedy in ancient cultures for centuries. From arthritis and digestive disorders to skin health and detox – oils are a must! Coconut, sesame, and olive oil can easily be poured into your smoothie for added health benefits and can also for a subtle nutty flavor. They help with proper brain function, weight loss and are incredibly medicinal. (Chose organic, cold-pressed, extra virgin oils for the highest quality.)
- Seeds – Chia, flax, and sesame seeds are all excellent options. Chia seeds, for example, are a complete protein and the highest plant source of omega-3′s (which reduces inflammation). Chia seeds are said to make you feel satiated longer too. Flaxseeds are another good one, loaded with good fats, lignans, and fiber to the max. Sesame seed are known to destroy phlegm and mucus, which is a huge cause of disease in the body. Tip: soak seeds overnight before use to make them easier to digest.
- Dark Leafy Greens – If you are someone who can’t stand the bitter taste of greens – try adding them to your smoothie! Kale, chard, watercress, and parsley are great to use. And the cool part – you may not even be able to taste them. Greens are obviously packed full of essential vitamins and minerals and are considered one of the best foods for your health, period!
- Sea Vegetables – There are many great powders that have sea vegetables in them such as spirulina, wakame, and kelp. They contain lots of minerals, phytonutrients, and probiotics. Opt for brands that are organic, non-gmo, and raw for optimum health.
- Kefir – Probiotics are so important for the immune system which kefir is famous for. If you are avoiding dairy, there are alternatives like coconut kefir that work just as well. Benefits also include better absorption of nutrients from food and increased digestive health. Kefir is also a great source of phosphorus, calcium, and B-vitamins.
- Roots – Ginseng, burdock, astragalus, maca, turmeric, ginger, and licorice are all roots as well as medicinals. These all come in raw or powder form for a dash of energy and immune and digestive system support.
- Spices – Spices are a nice way to get added flavor and healing compounds into your drink. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and cayenne pepper are all popular and tasty choices to increase digestion and clean the blood. In Ayurveda (yoga’s sister science) to enhance the wellness factor of any meal, it needs to incorporate the ‘6 tastes’. Using spices is a great way to accomplish that.
- Shrooms – No, not the halucinogenic kind (though that might be interesting), but good old fashion mushrooms. Mushrooms like reishi, maitake, and crimini are just a few known to boost the immune system, fight cancer and help heal arthritis. Kombucha is a kind of “mushroom tea” that can be an added kick to your morning ‘go juice.’
- Super Berries – These anti-oxidant powerhouses should be regulars in your blended concoctions. Acai berries, goji berries, golden berries, and mulberries are new super berries that have a multitude of health benefits including anti-aging and anti-carcinogenic properties.
- Vegetables – Cucumber, celery, cabbage, bell peppers, and zucchini are not typically what you think of when it comes to smoothies – however they are surprisingly tasty when blended. They also add another source of liquid and hold tremendous nutrition. These are all great sources of vitamin C and help with weight loss and fighting cancer to name a few other factoids.
- Avocados – This is an incredible fruit without the big sugar content. Avocados add a wonderful and unexpected creaminess to smoothies. They are also loaded with omega 3’s and have many health benefits such as increased heart health, blood sugar regulation, and anti-aging properties.
- Superfoods – Cacao, bee pollen, royal jelly, dragon fruit, maqui powder, camu-camu, and moringa are all lesser known superfoods that can hype up your drinks’ wellness factor. According to Zach Alderman Founder and CEO of Nativas Naturals, “A superfood is a nutrient-dense fruit or vegetable that contains a high amount of protein, omega-3, antioxidants, minerals, fiber or other essential nutrients that have proven health benefits. Nutrient density is the ratio of micronutrients to calories – superfoods have a high ratio of micronutrients.” Who can argue with that?
There you have it folks! Pick and choose which ingredients you will use on any given day. But, whatever you do – PLEASE DO NOT PUT ALL THESE INGREDIENTS INTO ONE SMOOTHIE! Not only would your smoothie be horribly yucky, but more importantly your blender would overflow! Do however, get creative and see what flavors go together to tantalize your taste buds. Use fruits and veggies that are local and in season and play with blending colors and tastes. This is a great way to get healthy foods into your diet that you wouldn’t typically eat. The options are endless!
Have a great ingredient to add in smoothies? Please comment below.