Don’t misunderstand me; there’s nothing wrong with basic smoothie recipes that include milk or soy milk, yogurt, fruit, and perhaps a handful of spinach and a dash of vanilla or cinnamon. They are delish, nutritious, and satisfying.
But why not get a little adventurous and let that smoothie not only provide a different taste experience but perhaps boost the nutrition level higher than you’ve ever done before. Yes, it’s time to get a little crazy and look at 9 surprising ingredients to put in your smoothie…and why.
Avocado. The addition of avocado provides healthy monounsaturated fat to the mix plus a creamy texture. You don’t need a lot of avocados: ½ of the fruit, along with 8 ounces of your favorite plant milk or other liquid plus additional fruit (fresh or frozen) will do the trick! Avocados are a great addition to any green smoothie.
Coconut. We’re not talking coconut water (although that’s a possibility too!) but shredded coconut, which provides some texture as well as mild natural sweetness. Generally, ¼ cup of shredded coconut is perfect with 8 ounces of almond or other nut milk (or coconut water) and lots of your favorite fruit, including banana if you use water as your liquid.
Collagen. Would you like to improve the health of your skin, hair, nails, bones, and muscles when you drink your next smoothie? Then you might want to consider adding powdered collagen to the blender. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. The powders are neutral in taste and aroma but potent in health benefits. Add the recommended daily dose to your next smoothie. Because amino acids need fat-soluble vitamins (A and D) to be absorbed properly, be sure your smoothie contains a vitamin D fortified beverage or produce rich in vitamin A such as carrots, cantaloupe, kale, mango, or sweet potato. [Editors Note: Our sponsor Youtheory has high-quality collagen powder that can be added to smoothies.]
Green tea. Two ways to make green tea a part of your smoothie experience are to use the brew as your liquid base or add green tea powder. Matcha tea is recommended in both cases, as it's rich in catechins (super antioxidant power) and convenient to use. If you choose to make tea, allow it to cool completely before whipping up your smoothie. If the powder is your choice, try ½ to 1 teaspoon.
Moringa. The moringa oleifera plant is considered a superfood because of its abundance of nutrients and antioxidants, including but not limited to vitamin C, calcium, amino acids, potassium, magnesium, and fiber. Because moringa has a mildly spicy taste, experiment by adding just half a handful of leaves in your first smoothie and increase according to taste. Moringa is also available as a convenient powder form.
Pomegranate seeds. Although pomegranate seeds can be a bit of a challenge to separate from the rind, it’s well worth the effort. Pomegranate seeds are a great source of vitamin K, antioxidants, potassium, and fiber, and they add sassiness and tartness to your smoothie. Include about ½ cup of frozen pomegranate seeds in your next smoothie. (You can freeze your own seeds or buy them already frozen.)
Probiotics. Sure, you could take your probiotic supplement by itself, but why not enjoy your beneficial bacteria in a great tasting smoothie? There are several ways to make this happen. One is to add a liquid probiotic product (e.g., Bio-K) as part of a favorite smoothie recipe; another is to simply pour in a powdered probiotic supplement. Did you know bacteria could taste so good?
Seaweed. A great way to enhance the nutritional value of any green smoothie is to add seaweed, aka sea veggies. The most convenient seaweed to add are dulse flakes and kelp powder. Keep your seaweed addition to one teaspoon or less and you won’t notice any fishy or “ocean” flavor. If you can’t find dulse flakes or kelp powder, you can use dried seaweed and soak it in water before adding to your blender.
Zucchini peels. No, don’t discard the pulp and just include the peels! Just keep the peels on your organic or well-washed conventionally grown zucchini when you add it to your smoothie. Zucchini peels are a great source of fiber and nutrients and perfect for both veggie and fruit and veggie smoothies. Just don’t tell your kids!
What do you like to add to your smoothies?
Image via Lars Plougmann
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