Over the past few years, smoothies have evolved to become a popular way to consume highly beneficial nutrients through the blending of real food ingredients. The ease of creating a nutrient-packed beverage that can be taken on-the-go is quite appealing, especially in a fast-paced world. This trend has influenced the creation of some pretty unique smoothie recipes, making some people pause as to whether or not taste will have to be sacrificed to benefit from the salubrious effects.
For dedicated smoothie drinkers, it’s not just about taste, but the feeling of vibrancy and sustained energy that is experienced when consuming a high-quality smoothie. Who doesn’t want more energy? If you struggle with the afternoon slump or need more pep in the morning, before reaching for another cup of coffee, try sipping on a nourishing and revitalizing smoothie.
Basics of Building a Healthy Smoothie
If you are new to making smoothies, it can be overwhelming at first, so start simple. Once you have the basics down, you can be more adventurous and begin adding ingredients like “superfoods,” which are nutrient dense and considered medicinal. Keep it exciting by rotating through a variety of ingredients to help promote balance and optimal functioning of the body by getting different nutrients. Making smoothies is a good practice in mindfulness as well by determining which foods “vibe” with you and which don’t.
A well-made smoothie not only boosts energy, but ensures satiety and keeps you feeling full for longer periods of time. You will have your base ingredients such as a nut milk, a protein, and fresh fruit or vegetables. From there, you can begin to add your selected ingredients. It’s helpful to choose a cornerstone for your smoothie. What are you looking to get out of it? Improved digestion, detoxification, post-workout snack, increased immunity, general well-being … you can find all this in a smoothie, and knowing what you want from your smoothie will prompt you to seek out the appropriate ingredients.
For increasing energy, consider adding the following ingredients to your smoothie:
- Maca powder
- Fresh greens
- Fresh mint
- Raw organic cacao powder
- Chia seeds
- Coconut (water, flesh/meat, oil and butter)
- Flaxseeds and oil
- Hemp seeds and oil
- Matcha powder
Be careful of smoothies that are packed with too much sugar as this can defeat the purpose of a healthy snack. Keep it at roughly 20 percent fruit (if using) and the rest whole food ingredients, which includes a good quality protein such as:
- Almond butter
- Peanut butter
- Chia seeds
Protein powder is helpful to have on hand for a quick smoothie, but be sure to look for a brand that contains no added:
- Artificial sweetener
Ayurvedic Perspective on Smoothies
Ayurveda, the ancient mind-body health system of India, traditionally considers a cold beverage such as a smoothie to hinder proper digestion. According to Ayurveda, smoothies have qualities including:
If a person has a weak Agni, or digestive fire, these qualities can snuff out digestive fire, thus a cold smoothie might not be the best choice. Low energy, especially after eating, can be indicative of improper digestion.
However, this doesn’t mean you can never enjoy a smoothie. The key is to use moderation and be mindful when choosing ingredients. There are ways to help make your smoothie more digestible and have it perform its function as an energy-boosting food.
Here are some suggestions inspired by Ayurvedic principles:
- Choose seasonal fruits and vegetables. A helpful resource can be found here.
- Drink smoothies at room temperature (Use your discretion as sometimes a cold smoothie sounds perfect on a hot summer day).
- Drink smoothies more during the hot season and less during the cold winter season.
- Milk is considered a stand-alone food in Ayurveda and should not be consumed with other food. Try using nut or plant-based milks instead.
- Limit mixing fruit and vegetables.
- Limit raw vegetables. Try steaming before using in a smoothie (This can be done ahead of time).
- Use ripened fruits as much as possible. If this means having to use frozen, that’s OK.
- A smoothie shouldn’t be too thick; thinner is easier to digest.
- Drink your smoothie mid-day when digestive power is at its peak.
- Use warming spices: cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, nutmeg, cloves, and raw honey.
Keep in mind these are suggestions or guidelines and not hard rules. Ayurveda ultimately encourages listening to your body’s intelligence and noticing what makes you feel full of energy and what brings you down—something only you can determine.
With the summer months here, this is the perfect time to practice your smoothie-making skills. To help you get started, try the following recipes for inspiration. They are non-dairy and include fruit that is currently in season. A protein is always included and the Ayurvedic warming spices are easy to add as a topping. Happy smoothie making!
Malty Maca Smoothie
For an added boost of energy this summer season, try adding maca to your smoothies. This ancient root had been used for thousands of years for its nutritional properties and medicinal value. For colder days, this recipe can be tasty warmed up as well.
- 1 cup coconut water
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- ½ cup dried coconut flakes with ½ cup water
- 2-3 dates (seeds removed)
- 1 tablespoon maca powder
- Protein powder of your choice
- Pinch of sea salt
- optional: ¼ tsp vanilla extract
Blend all ingredients together and enjoy with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg.
Peach and Basil Smoothie
A refreshing, yet filling smoothie, this recipe combines the tastes of summer in a delicious on-the-go snack. Its lightness makes it a perfect drink for warmer seasons.
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup peaches
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- 3-4 fresh basil leaves*
- 2 fresh mint leaves
- ½ lime juiced
- 2 tablespoon hemp seeds
- 1 tablespoon monk fruit to taste (or any sweetener of your choice)
- Optional: 2 ounces water
*Depending on the size of the basil leaf, the amount will either be 1 big leaf or 3-4 smaller leaves. Adjust the amount according to your preference.
Blend all ingredients together; add water to decrease thickness as needed. Enjoy with a sprinkle of coconut flakes and cinnamon.
Turn your idea of chocolate smoothies upside down with this recipe that uses a pure and raw form of chocolate: cacao. Combined with ingredients that will hit your sweet tooth without the sugary side effects, this snack is a great treat on a hot summer day.
- 1 cup macadamia milk
- 1 cup sweet cherries
- 1 heaping handful of spinach or mixed greens
- 1 tablespoon cacao powder
- 2 tablespoon walnuts
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup (depending on how sweet you like it)
- Optional: ½ banana
Start by adding the spinach first and the rest of the ingredients on top. If you need additional sweetness to counter the bitterness of cacao, feel free to add the banana.
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