When people ask me if I'm a fan of smoothies, my response is always the same. "It depends."
Does your smoothie have a PURPOSE ...nutritionally?
I think smoothies can be an excellent way to pack a whole lot of nutrition into a quick and easy meal or snack...but it can turn unhealthy quick if you're not careful.
I'm not a fan of smoothies as any kind of "liquid diet". I don't recommend juice cleanses either. I believe in chewing real food. With that said, do I think smoothies can find their way into a healthy lifestyle?
I want to share my favorite Healthy Green Smoothie recipe with you that I make for my husband and I a few times a week. I also want to talk ingredients with you because these days it's hard to decipher all the "mix in's", supplements and superfoods you may be seeing out there. What the heck is Matcha anyway? ...or Maca? ...and do I need it??
Like I said, a smoothie is a great way to get a huge dose of nutrients into your body easily. This is what I like to use smoothies for. Adding Nutrition. Too many people think you need to add fruit to smoothies to make them taste good. Sure, it might make them taste good, but it also can add a ton of unnecessary sugar.
Another reason I've taken fruit out of this smoothie... as a Nutrition Coach, I actually recommend eating fruit by itself...or first at a meal. What? Why? When you consume fruit WITH other foods like protein, it can cause bloating. Fruits tend to move through your body quicker than proteins. Proteins take longer to digest which is why they keep you satiated longer. When you consume fruit after protein or with it, it can slow it down and the sugars in the fruit start to ferment... can you say BLOATED?
I'm going to show you how to make a green smoothie taste creamy and delicious without any fruit or added sugar at all.
Ingredients: (more detail on ingredients below)
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond or coconut milk (I use Califia Farms brand)
- large handful of baby spinach (about 1 packed cup)
- 1 level scoop of Life's Abundance Vanilla Plant Protein Powder
- 1 tsp Maca Powder
- 1 tsp Matcha Powder
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 3 ice cubes
Add liquid first, then all other ingredients and blend well in a high powered blender. I have a fancy Vitamix, but I don't use it for this unless I'm making multiple servings at once, it's just too big. I use a Magic Bullet that I got at Target. It's the perfect size for a single serving and blends it perfectly with minimal cleanup.
I'm not a calorie counter....but for you calorie counters out there, this smoothie above is only 200 calories. Ahem....ever had a "Peanut Butter Moo'd Smoothie at Jamba Juice? I have. Was it tasty? Yep...BUT a small is 500 calories and a large is almost 1000 calories and 131 g of sugar!!!!! This is the typical "smoothie" people drink in America! It's no wonder our waistlines are expanding, right?
All the ingredients I use in my Healthy Green Smoothie have a PURPOSE. I think that's the key to making a HEALTHIER smoothie.
What are these ingredients...and where to buy them:
Raw Maca Powder: I get Navitas Naturals brand at Sprouts. If you can't find it near you, you can get it HERE. Maca is a potent, anchient Peruvian superfood made from a root. It's a tan color with a slightly sweet, malty smell and flavor. It supports energy and vitality naturally without jitters. As an adaptogen, maca balances hormones and stress levels in the body. It also provides an abundance of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and sterols. My husband loves the subtle flavor of maca!
Matcha Powder: You can find matcha green tea powder at any health food store, Whole Foods or Sprouts. I happen to have the Sprouts brand right now. Matcha was recently named "trendiest ingredient" by CBS News and Huffington Post because it's everywhere these days... Matcha Latte photos are all over social media these days. Unlike drinking brewed green tea, you drink the whole leaf plus the taste is twice as much as regular brewed green tea. Here's a helpful graphic that will help you see just how healthy Matcha powder is!
Life's Abundance Plant Protein: This is where people usually fall short. There are a lot of unhealthy protein powders on the market today full of dairy, unhealthy oils as emulsifiers, and artificial sweeteners. One serving of an unhealthy protein powder can wreak havoc on your whole "healthy" smoothie...and your body!! Take it from me, I've done the research for you and have found a creamy (not chalky) plant-based protein that is non-GMO, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, vegan, and has zero sugar added. It's also made with coconut oil rather than unhealthy sunflower oil that can cause inflammation in the body. (Vanilla is used in this recipe, but it is also available in delicious chocolate.) This protein is not sold in stores, but you can get it HERE and anytime through me under my "Nutrition" tab on my menu. It ships really fast and you'll have it usually in 3 days or less!
Cinnamon: Yep, even this ingredient has a purpose. Cinnamon is high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. Cinnamon has been shown to significantly increase sensitivity to the hormone insulin. This means that it can help with insulin resistance which is the hallmark of serious conditions like metabolic disease and type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon has a blood sugar lowering effect. Bet you didn't know what a healthy punch a sprinkle of tasty cinnamon can make!
Unsweetened Almond Milk or Coconut Milk: The key here is to use homemade, or a good quality refrigerated brand such as Calafia Farms. Steer clear of boxed brands that sit in the unrefrigerated section because they have unhealthy preservatives in them...or added sugar. Find one that does not have carrageenan in the ingredients. I love canned coconut milk, but I don't use that as it's too thick for this recipe.
Baby Spinach: You don't have to use baby spinach, that is just what I get. It's just harvested a bit earlier and is a bit more tender...so I think it works great in a smoothie. Spinach is high in niacin and zinc, as well as protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese. Abundant flavonoids in spinach act as antioxidants to keep cholesterol from oxidizing and protect your body from free radicals, particularly in the colon. The folate in spinach is good for your healthy cardiovascular system, and magnesium helps lower high blood pressure. Studies also have shown that spinach helps maintain your vigorous brain function, memory and mental clarity. Packing a big handful of spinach in a smoothie is such a great way to get all it's nutritious goodness in easy and quick! Too many people don't get enough greens! Trust me, the tasty vanilla protein powder will actually totally hide any "veggie taste", so kids will even love this!!
Ice: I like adding a few ice cubes because no one wants a warm smoothie. Am I right or am I right? :)
If you make this just as I describe, it should turn out the perfect consistency, tasty, with a creamy mouth feel. The secret ingredient is the protein powder that is key for this creamy texture and delicious taste. If you use another brand, I cannot guarantee taste or texture.
Like this recipe? Let me...and others... know! Post your pics on social and tag me!
Other Blog Posts you might enjoy that you could also use this Plant Protein in: