Healthy Living

Deconstructing the Smoothie

Kristi Whitley



If you are my age, 34 ;-) , you probably think smoothies are fruity milk shakes. We couldn’t be more wrong. A smoothie is a delicious way to boost nutrition. They can be customized to individual taste and nutritional needs. My doctor recommends them at every visit as a way to get my supplements in as I have difficulty swallowing pills. After a recent dental surgery I used them for meals.  My uber-glamorous dental assistant, Christina, uses smoothies served in sippy cups to sneak spinach and chia seeds into her children. My other gorgeous dental assistant, Amber, makes them for her elderly mother who has trouble keeping weight on and getting proper nutrition. 

Boosting Nutrition

The mechanics of blending the fruit and vegetables helps make nutrients in the food more available. The blender replaces chewing and starts the digestion process with the nutrients more “exposed” for better absorption. This is very important for picky-eater children, anyone convalescing from an illness or the elderly who usually have trouble with nutrient absorption, GI distress, or digestion issues. 

Another way smoothies boost nutrition is with the ingredients. A large handful of baby spinach practically disappears in a strawberry and banana smoothie. If it didn’t turn the drink green you would never know it is in there. Other ingredients, like flax seed, an opened calcium or magnesium capsule, or fish oil, are also easily disguised inside the fruity concoction.

The Tool

A blender that has 1000 watts or more is especially helpful. My Dash has 1500 watts and can grind up a tree stump, well, almost. It makes smoothies in a snap without having to stop the machine and stir or scrape down the sides.  If you are raising children or taking care of elderly parents, invest in one of the mega-watt blenders. It makes the process so easy you will use it more than a regular blender.  Never use animal products in it and you can quickly and safely rinse it clean.

The Deconstruction

You don’t need a recipe to make a delicious and perfectly nutritional smoothie. You just need the elements. Choose one from each of the following categories and your smoothie will have super powers!

Fruit

  • Frozen or fresh, always organic
  • Blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, apple, orange
  • ½ to 1 cup of berries, ½ to 1 whole apple/orange
  • For cleansing, detox, vitamin C, phytonutrients, anti-oxidants, fiber, & flavor


Banana

  • Frozen or fresh
  • Only 1/3  – ½ per serving of smoothie
  • For sweetness and consistency


Seeds and butters

  • Almond butter, peanut butter, cashew butter, raw sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds
  • Quantity depends on how much weight you want to gain or maintain
  • Start with 1 tablespoon
  • For minerals, Omega fats, protein, flavor and consistency


Greens

  • Parsley, cilantro, kale, baby spinach, greens powder
  • Start with one packed cup greens or ½ scoop of powder, add as taste will allow
  • For detox, phytonutrients, anti-oxidants, vitamin C


Power boosters

  • Flax seed meal, hemp hearts, chia seeds, vegan protein powder
  • Quantity depends on personal tastes and amount of weight to gain or maintain
  • Start with 1 tablespoon
  • For fiber, consistency, bulk, Omega 3 fats, minerals, B vitamins, & protein


Liquid

  • Almond milk, flax milk, rice milk, hemp milk, coconut beverage, coconut water, canned coconut milk
  • For a more fattening beverage always use canned coconut milk
  • Start with 1 cup and add more if necessary
  • To liquefy the smoothie and give it creaminess


Ice

  • Use about three cubes to a mix of ingredients that are not already frozen
  • Unnecessary if fruit and banana are frozen


Optional

  • Avocado, for creaminess, consistency, Omega 3 fats, vitamin C, weight gain
  • Start with ¼ - ½
  • Cocoa powder, for flavor, anti-oxidants, caffeine boost
  • Start with 1 tablespoon, increase sweetness as needed to compensate for the bitterness of the cocoa powder
  • Dates, stevia, agave nectar, honey, for added sweetness
  • Use according to needs for weight gain or use the stevia to control sugar content for blood sugar issues and weight loss
  • Carob powder, for a chocolate flavor in the evening when no caffeine is needed
  • Cooked quinoa, rice, or raw/cooked oats  for fiber, bulk, consistency, vitamin B & protein content
  • Start with ¼ cup cooked grains or 1 T raw oats


That’s all you need to know to get started. Just in case you still can’t get off the starting line, here’s a real recipe to try. It is my go-to smoothie because it has all the elements.

Chocolate Blueberry Smoothie

½ -1 cup frozen blueberries

½ fresh or frozen banana

1 cup almond milk, plus more if needed

1 T almond butter

1 T ground flax seed

1 cup packed fresh baby spinach

1 T cocoa powder

stevia to taste

2-3 ice cubes if fruit isn’t frozen


Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender. Serves 1

 

Here’s a great blended juice to reduce inflammation and increase detoxification.

 

Pineapple Cucumber Cilantro Juice Blend


1 bunch Cilantro, rinsed and drained

½ fresh pineapple, cored, and chopped

16-24 oz coconut water

1 organic cucumber


Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender. Divide into 8oz mason jars filled to the rim. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate.  Enjoy one 8oz glass twice a day.