I have been creating and enjoying more smoothies these days.

Maybe it’s due to the warmer temperatures we’ve been experiencing in the San Francisco Bay area? Or, admittedly I’ve been a bit bored with my go-to breakfast of smoked salmon paired with greens and/or kraut — and drinking a smoothie saves me some valuable time in the morning.

Smoothies cannot only save you a few minutes in the kitchen, but can be a healthy way to take in a variety of nutrients in a quick and easy delivery form.

Here are my tips for making a healthy and well-balanced smoothie.

Less is More

I have to practice the skill of constraint sometimes when it comes to cooking and creating recipes. The old me would have thrown a million different ingredients into my concoction because more is better, right?

Well, I’ve learned that some of the most delicious tasting meals I’ve created are quite the opposite of complex.

The same rules should apply when making a smoothie.

Think about your digestion.

A smoothie is another way to acquire many servings of fruits and vegetables in one sitting, but when you think about the quantity of these foods that go into making your drinkable meal, and then how much you’re actually consuming, you should be mindful that your digestion may be working overtime to digest it all.

While you could argue that a smoothie is essential pre-digested (eliminating the chewing step in digestion), some of us may be more prone to guzzling more than is necessary because it’s more difficult to visualize the actual quantity of vegetables and fruits being consumed (this is much easier to do when we consume them in their whole form).

There is another theory that cold beverages could hinder digestion for those who already have poor digestion. Just something to consider.

As a general rule of thumb, I’d stick to a maximum of 5-6 ingredients.

Balance Out Those Macros

Far too often as I peruse enticingly vibrant pics on Instagram (of far-too-perfect-looking smoothies that are too pristine to eat), I realize that fruit is glorified and in my opinion overrated.

I personally think if we could abide my the rule of more veggies and less fruit, we’d be better off.

I’m not opposed to moderate intake of fruit. Those with blood sugar sensitivity issues should be more mindful of their fruit consumption in comparision to those with normalized blood sugar. And if you’re in the latter category, maybe you can afford to take in more carbohydrates from fruit (i.e. athletes or more active individuals).

Fruits and even veggies are more carbohydrate based, so I’d recommend adding some protein and fat to make a smoothie more well-rounded nutritionally.

My choice these days for protein: collagen peptides.

And for healthy fat additions:

  • coconut milk
  • avocado
  • coconut oil or MCT oil
  • chia seeds
  • flax seeds

Macros is the abbreviated word for macronutrients in case you didn’t know, and fats, proteins, and carbohydrates are classified as macronutrients. 

Not so Sweet

Rather than making it a fruit-only smoothie, stick to 1-2 fruits (and maybe even slim down portion sizes of the fruit) and add vegetables to balance out your glycemic load.

The last thing we should be doing is having a sweet, sugary smoothie first thing in the morning. For some in an attempt to clean up the diet and eat healthier, a fruit-heavy smoothie may be a sweet food disguised as a health food.

Veggies to consider adding:

  • celery
  • fresh ginger root
  • sweet potato (sweet but not as sweet as some fruits)
  • cucumber
  • jicama
  • pumpkin

Go Green

Lastly, don’t forget to add some of your favorite greens.

Switch it up to prevent boredom.

Green options:

  • spinach
  • parsley
  • kale
  • fresh mint
  • matcha powder
  • lime juice
  • chlorella
  • spirulina
  • cucumber
  • avocado
  • celery
  • green apple (less sweet than red apples)

Lightly steaming leafy greens such as kale and spinach may be helpful for certain individuals (read why here).

What are some of your favorite smoothie ingredients or tips for making a healthy and well-balanced smoothie?


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Please note:

I am a nutrition educator/consultant and not a physician.  As such, I do not diagnose or treat disease, rather I support lifestyle balance and health with my work.

Please understand that any information provided on the relationship between nutrition and health is not meant to replace competent medical treatment for any health problem or condition.

 

 

Mike is a holistic nutritionist that helps people feel more optimistic about their health and wellness through changes in diet and lifestyle shifts.

He has authored posts and articles featured on MarthaStewart.com, today.com, and iVillage.com.