Anatomy of a Smoothie

by Dr. Patricia

Over the past three decades of counseling thousands of patients on nutrition,  I have observed that for many people a healthy breakfast or a quick meal seems to be a challenge. People are seeking sustained energy and blood sugar stability–not the highs and low that can come from the sugar and caffeine cycle.

An option for breakfast or a time when you don’t have the time or interest in sitting down to a proper meal can be having a nutrient-dense smoothie.

I have enjoyed many smoothies over the years, and I like experimenting in the kitchen. I am often asked for some of my favorite recipes.

There are many recipes and great ideas in many books and websites. I have attempted to write a few recipes myself, and then I realized what was stopping me – I don’t follow recipes – with an Italian background, I find recipes helpful but then I often find myself “doctoring” them up. I actually love and have benefited so much from smoothies, so I want to share virtual recipe-free approach.

If you know the basic “anatomy” of a smoothie, you can enjoy the creativity of making smoothies your way. They can be a little different each time. Sometimes I am surprised at what I find in my kitchen that I end up putting in the smoothie. I often find that I can use some of the fruits and vegetables that might spoil otherwise.

The Basics:

The essentials of a smoothie consist of protein (powder), fat, and fruit and/or vegetables, and liquid.

Protein Powder:

When making a smoothie, it is important to choose a good protein powder. I am often researching and reading labels, and I often find a lot of sugar and other additives in many protein powders. I personally use protein powders that have very few ingredients–often one ingredient, the actual protein source.  I generally use collagen that is grass-fed, or if you want to go vegan pea, pumpkin, or hemp protein or some good options.

Healthy Fat:  You can add a tablespoon of nut butter (such as cashew, brazil, filbert, almonds) or unsweetened coconut flakes; another option is a third to a half of an avocado or a teaspoon of MCT oil.

Greens:  Ideally have fresh greens handy, and add a handful of greens such as dandelion greens, spinach, chard, arugula, endive, If you don’t have fresh greens handy, a scoop of an organic greens powder can be an option.

Fruit: Low glycemic fruit and/or a small amount of fruit can add a nice flavor, however don’t overdo it! Many patients who don’t think they are eating sugar describe their smoothies to me, and I find that they are loaded with sugar–as  they sometimes are loaded with fruit! Try limiting fruit to a handful of berries or sliced mango; you could also use acai (unsweetened).

Liquid: Options include: organic unsweetened “milks” such as coconut milk,  hemp milk, organic nut milk-  I usually use half non-dairy “milk” and half water,

Optional:

More veggies: in addition to the above, I often add half a cucumber, several stalks of celery, or a chopped carrot

Herbs:  pick one: basil, thyme, oregano, cilantro etc  – a pinch up to a handful

Spices:   In the fall and winter I notice I want to warm up my smoothies, so I tend to sprinkle some spices such as, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and/or ginger. Other options throughout the year include turmeric, cardamom, allspice, anise, or any of your favorites.

Superfoods – I usually pick one for each smoothie : hemp seeds, bee pollen, kefir, chia seeds, cacao, mushroom powders – i.e. reishi, chaga, – usually a teaspoon up to a tablespoon of each depending on the superfood potency

Tips:

Avoid sweeteners: I recommend setting an intention to dissolve the desire for that sweet taste – my basic advice is have the smoothie as less sweet as possible while still enjoyable – and keep reducing sweetness to “retrain” your tastebuds. I remember years ago when my smoothies were loaded with fruit and now they are not very sweet and loaded with vegetables and nutrient-dense foods and my energy is much more vital and stable.

Blend: I use a VitaMix, but most high-performance blenders do the magic.

room temperature vs cold – room temperature recommended except on very hot days;

Experiment have fun creating your own smoothies. Take a picture and show me on Instagram @drpatriciafitz  🙂

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