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