I'm going to show you how to make a smoothie that's made with the right ingredients... smoothies that are loaded with phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and enzymes that come in a whole-food form that's easily digested and assimilated.
Smoothies made with a variety of high-antioxidant fruits and vegetables, especially when combined with antioxidant superfoods, are the most nutrient-dense meals you can make. They're also just about the quickest, too!
Because the possibilities with smoothies are endless, getting started can seem a little overwhelming. And if you don't know the best ingredients to use — and which to avoid — you could end up with a sugar-and-calorie-filled monster that may taste great, but it's not going to do much for your health!
The good news is that anyone can make a smoothie that's healthy and delicious — just use the six steps I'm going to describe below. You'll see just how easy and quick it is to make a smoothie that you're going to love!
The first thing you'll want to do is make sure you have a blender that's up for the job. You can find out what you'll need by reading my page on the best blenders for smoothies.
Most smoothie recipes call for some liquid to allow the solid ingredients to move around inside the blender and make your smoothie the right thickness. I'll show you how to make a smoothie using the right ingredients for your starter — and talk about some ingredients to avoid if you want to keep it healthy.
Water or Ice
Using water as the liquid is a great way to make low-calorie smoothie recipes — and it's cheap, too! Just make sure you're using pure, filtered water. You can add ice to chill your smoothies or to thin it down.
You can use any type of juice — orange, apple, grape, pineapple — whatever. Fruit juices should be used in moderation, however — they're high in fructose. Even though the fructose is natural, a glass of most fruit juices gives you too much. Fructose goes staight to your liver, where it will be converted to fat, and will lead to weight gain faster than a high-fat diet will.
Avoid highly-processed juices — they're not the same as fresh-squeezed. Most of these fruit juices have been heat-pastuerized and only contain a fraction of the nutrients they originally had. You can recognize these juices easily because the expiration date is weeks, even months away.
There's also much more that goes into the making of juice than the list of ingredients will tell you. My article on the processing of orange juice demonstrates what you're really getting in a commercial fruit juice product.
Instead of processed juice from a bottle, throw some fresh fruit into your blender along with your other ingredients. You can get the same taste, and all the benefits of the added fiber as well. If you have enough fiber, protein and fat in your smoothie, that will slow down the absorption of the fructose.
Milk or Yogurt
Milk and yogurt are two very popular foods that people use to make smoothies. However, many experts think that homogenized and pasteurized dairy products are not healthy choices. I generally recommend dairy substitutes like nut milks for healthier smoothies, unless you have access to raw milk.
Soy milk has become a staple for many people who are trying to eliminate dairy from their diet. However, there is disagreement about whether soy milk and other soy-based products are healthy foods. A better option to me would be to use any other variety of non-dairy milk: almond, rice, coconut or hemp milk.
I don't concern myself with soy because it's just as easy to use a nut milk instead. If you want to use soy milk, look at the package to make sure that the product you use is made from non-GMO or organically-grown soybeans. If you don't see either label, try another brand. Virtually all of the soybeans grown in the United States are now genetically-modified.
Least objectionable, in my opinion, of all the packaged beverages you can use to make your healthy smoothies are dairy-substitutes such as rice milk, hemp milk, coconut milk and almond milk. They're similar to soy milks, but without the possible drawbacks of soy. They're lower in protein content, but there are other ways of adding protein to your healthy smoothie recipe. Keep in mind, though, that they are still processed foods.
If you have one of the more powerful blenders such as the BlendTec or VitaMix, you can make the freshest and healthiest smoothie starter in the world. They're easier than you'd think — and it only takes a couple of minutes.
You can use either of these as a substitute for milk in any healthy smoothie recipe — or drink it as is. They will only keep for a few days or so in the refrigerator, but they're so quick to make, it hardly matters.
Combine the following in your blender:
Blend until smooth and strain through a nylon-mesh nut bag to remove the almond meal. Sweeten with stevia, if desired.
Pre-soak dried, shredded coconut in water to soften it up (optional). Blend until smooth and strain out the coconut meal with a nylon-mesh nut bag.
Tips on Blending Your Smoothies. You want to blend the ingredients of your smoothie in the blender until they have been liquefied and are circulating freely. This can take the better part of a minute. If you don't have a high power blender, be careful not to overload your blender's capability.
You can chill your smoothie by either adding a few ice cubes while blending, or by using frozen fruit instead of fresh. It's easier to keep an ample supply of fruit on hand by doing this, as well.
You can adjust the thickness of your smoothie as you go. If you want to thicken it, add more solid ingredients or superfood powder; if your smoothie's too thick, add more liquid or ice cubes.
Almost any combination of fruits or vegetables can be used for your smoothies, depending on the strength of your blender. It's best to keep the proportion of fruits to vegetables heavier on the vegetables to avoid increasing the sugar content of your smoothies too much.
Many smoothie recipes use fruits for most of the ingredients. These smoothies can be too high in sugar to be healthy when consumed frequently. Save the fruitier smoothies for occasional desserts.
Should you use fresh or frozen fruits in your smoothie recipes? Either option will work fine, but frozen fruit does offer several advantages. Not only is frozen fruit cheaper, it has just as much, if not more, nutritional value than fresh. This is because fruits meant to be sold frozen aren't picked until they're fully ripened.
When buying frozen fruit, make sure that there is no added sugar or any other ingredients — just the fruit. Buying in bulk is almost always cheaper. Many warehouse stores such as Costco and Sam's Club have a great selection of frozen fruit in bulk resealable bags.
Smoothies are a great way of adding dark green vegetables to your diet. If you have one of the more powerful blenders, adding leafy green vegetables will increase the nutritional value of your smoothies tremendously. However, if you don't care for the taste, it may be difficult to mask it sufficiently for your liking.
If you're using tough greens like kale, collards, spinach or parsley, blend them into your liquid base first to break them down more thoroughly. This will give your smoothie a smoother consistency.
Superfood powders. An alternative to leafy green vegetables are powdered green superfoods such as chlorella, spirulina and cultivated field grasses that are freeze-dried into concentrated powders.
powders often contain blends of thirty or more of the healthiest fruits
and vegetables on earth. These blends can be formulated for a much
better taste, and they have the added advantage of a long shelf life
with no refrigeration, so you can always have them on hand.
Fresh or frozen fruits. Try making your smoothies without adding additional sugars. Your taste buds will slowly adjust to the more subtle and delicious flavors of the fruit. Ripe bananas, either fresh or frozen, will add an ample amount of sweetness to your finished smoothies.
Dates and other dried fruits. These will add an abundance of nutrients, fiber, and the great concentrated flavor that dried fruits have. Use in moderation, though; they tend to raise the sugar content substantially.
About Stevia. If you want to add some type of sweetener to your smoothie recipe, I recommend using stevia.
Stevia is an herbal extract that's many times as sweet as sugar, so you use much less. It comes in powder, liquid or tablet form and has no calories. Stevia also does not raise blood sugar levels and is safe for diabetics. It's probably the healthiest sweetener you can get.
Transform your ordinary healthy smoothie recipe into one with superior nutritional value, protein and fiber content by using these tricks.
Boost the Protein Content of Your Healthy Breakfast Smoothie
Adding a quality source of protein turns your smoothie into a complete meal. I recommend raw organic eggs or a protein powder made from hemp, rice, peas or whey.
Hemp protein powder is a great way to add healthy omega 3 fats and fiber to your smoothie as well.
Undenatured whey is another excellent source of protein for your smoothies. Both whey and hemp protein are very mild tasting; the hemp powder is not as concentrated and will thicken up your smoothie quite a bit more than the whey protein will.
I don't recommend using cheap protein powders, especially any with artificial ingredients. The whey protein should be cold-processed (undenatured) and derived from grass-fed cows, free of hormones and chemicals. Cold-processing whey protects the nutrients in their natural state.
Increase the Antioxidant Content of Your Healthy Breakfast Smoothie
Green superfood powders like chlorella and spirulina make any smoothie a super-nutritious green smoothie. They give you the equivalent of several full-size servings of dark green leafy vegetables in just one tablespoon.
Superfood supplements like maca root, raw cacao, hemp, flax, chia seeds and others increase the antioxidant content and nutritional benefits of your smoothie in their own unique ways.
Antioxidant superfruits like acai, goji, mangosteen and noni, available as concentrated juices or powders, add lots more antioxidants and a natural fruit sweetness to your smoothies.
There are many great reasons for using superfood products.
Coconut Oil gives your healthy smoothie a richer, creamier texture. It has many healthy properties that provide benefits for your heart, immune system, digestive tract, hair and skin. Coconut oil contains a rare medium-chain fatty acid called lauric acid, also found in breast milk. Because coconut oil solidifies below a temperature of 76 degrees F, it doesn't work as well in cold smoothies.
Herbs and spices
like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves have higher concentrations of
antioxidants than any fruit or vegetable, and add a warm flavor to your
healthy smoothie recipe. Just a half teaspoon or so of these spices
contains as much antioxidant power as a full serving of most fruits or
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