The Anatomy Of A Smoothie

This past weekend, Roger and I ran our online Writer’s retreat and we simply didn’t have time to stop and sit down to a meal. Yes, it is certainly best when we can take 20-30 minutes to sit, relax, eat slowly and truly be mindful of each bite of food, but we also live in the real world…a world that is often hectic and that doesn’t always make room for a quiet, sit-down meal. With that in mind, I created this post to help out when YOU need a grab-and-go meal but you don’t want to hit the drive-thru.

As you may remember from waaaay back, at the top of my list for a fast, easy, tasty meal that also nourishes my body is the smoothie. Today, I wanted to break down what needs to be in my blender so that I feel satisfied, energized and nourished while I am on-the-run.

Welcome to the anatomy of a smoothie.

Essentially, all you need is some kind of blender (even a hand-held immersion blender can work), some liquid, some protein, some veggies, and some fruit. Everything else is optional.

The Base

For the base, feel free to use any kind of liquid you like. I typically use water. But for a creamier smoothie, try a nut milk like almond or cashew or else coconut milk or cow’s milk also work. I don’t eat soy, but if you do, be sure to use organic soy milk.

The Protein

Next, comes the protein. My hands-down favourite protein is hemp hearts. I use 4-5 tablespoons per smoothie. I buy the large bag at Costco for the same price as a bag half its size at the grocery or health food store. Hemp hearts alone make my Costco membership worthwhile! I also like organic Greek yogurt (1/2 to 3/4 cup per serving) or organic cottage cheese (1/2 to 3/4 cup per serving). I sometimes use an organic whey protein powder and Bulletproof makes a good one. They also make a high quality collagen protein that is excellent for skin, hair and nails, among other benefits. If you do choose a protein powder, I would highly suggest looking for a quality brand void of any artificial sweeteners, sugar, flavour, soy, or preservatives. Low quality protein powders lack nutrition and can cause stomach upset and constipation. I always like to choose real food when I eat.

Yes, nuts and seeds and also nut/seed butters contain protein, but I add these as a supplement, rather than relying on them for protein. For example, I like adding freshly ground chia and flax seeds or some pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas) or soaked walnuts, or a tablespoon of almond butter, for example, but they won’t provide me with enough protein to keep me satisfied for very long.

The Vitamins

Once you’ve got your base and your protein, it’s time to add in your veggies and fruits. This is where we get our micronutrients–the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to thrive. For the veggies, I love using all sorts of greens like lettuce, arugula, parsley, spinach (this has the mildest flavour), kale and collard greens. I also enjoy adding cucumber, celery, sprouts and herbs like basil and mint. Have fun and experiment!

Next, comes the fruit. This is what sweetens up your smoothie. Frozen avocado doesn’t have much flavour but it makes for a lovely velvety texture. To freeze avocados, scoop them out, slice into halves, quarters or chunks and freeze them on parchment. Once frozen, store in a freezer-safe bag. Frozen banana makes it rich and creamy (fresh also works, of course, but it won’t make your smoothie cold or add the same creaminess). Play around with your fruits! Mango and papaya are lovely, as are peaches (in Ontario, they are in season for a little while longer—buy them at farmer’s markets and freeze them in slices or chunks for frozen add-ins throughout the colder months!). Of course, any kind of berry also works, including cherries, raspberries, cranberries, blueberries and even Goji berries. Sometimes I put together a mix of about half a cup of all sorts of berries and throw them all in.

The Mix-Ins

Once you’ve got the basics down, you can choose any mix-ins you like such as nuts, seeds, cinnamon, almond butter, coconut oil, cashew butter, organic peanut butter, cacao powder, raw honey (I live in Ottawa and my favourite brand is Truebee, but seek out your own local honey), Matcha, Moringa powder, Maca powder, Camu Camu, Ashwagandha, etc. depending on your taste, and your superfood desires.

I often add ice to my smoothies to make them cold. But if you are using frozen ingredients (including the  greens—I OFTEN freeze my spinach) they can work perfectly without ice.

Honestly, anything goes when it comes to whipping up a smoothie, and I encourage you to play around and have fun!

Some of my favourite combos are:

Strawberry-banana: 1 cup of almond milk, 1 small or 1/2 a large frozen banana (frozen into coins) and several frozen strawberries (around 5-8) plus a few handfuls of frozen spinach.

Chunky Monkey: 1 cup coconut milk, 1 small frozen banana (frozen into coins), 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder, 1 tablespoon organic peanut butter (or another nut/seed butter) and a few handfuls of frozen spinach.

Green Pina Colada: 1 cup water, 1 small cucumber, 1 rib of celery, juice of 1/4 a lemon, a few handfuls of greens (parsley, spinach, kale), 1/2 cup pineapple, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Add a few ice cubes to make it colder and 3/4 cup of Greek yogurt if I want to add protein (this is what Roger and I were enjoying in the photo). I shot a video a while back showing you this recipe! Note that on video, I double the recipe I’ve shared here.

Date & Almond: 1 cup almond milk, 2 Medjool dates (soak them for a few minutes in warm water ahead of time if they aren’t soft), 1 tablespoon of almond butter, 1/2 a frozen banana (frozen into coins), a few handfuls of spinach.

Mango Lassi: 1 cup coconut milk (or milk of choice), 3/4 cup organic Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup frozen mango (frozen in slices or chunks), a drizzle of raw honey (optional), a sprinkle of Ceylon cinnamon (optional).

While your smoothie will taste its very best as soon as you make it, I often make mine ahead and enjoy it later on. That said, I don’t recommend waiting until the next day, as the taste and texture will change.

The Bottom Line

I hope this post inspires you to put together a bunch of delicious, nutritious and satisfying smoothies that will help you feel your best when time is limited. Just like we talked about over the last few weeks, take-out doesn’t have to be the only option when it comes to eating fast food…a smoothie will fit the bill nicely and leave you feeling energized rather than drained.

Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.

P.S. Are you in recovery from something (depression, cancer, divorce, addiction, PTSD, etc.) and have a desire to write about your experience? Last weekend, Roger and I launched our online Writer’s Retreat that will teach you how to write your story–from start to finish–and self-publish your book, the way I did, in order to heal yourself and help others. If this speaks to you, click here to register!

P.P.S. Let’s be friends! I’d love to connect on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram. Plus, if you haven’t already subscribed to my blog, you should! That way, you won’t miss anything. For joining, you get my personal meal plan, shopping list, and a week’s worth of easy, tasty recipes. http://sarahtalksfood.com/

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