One of our favourite quick snacks or breakfasts is to whip up a smoothie in our blender – but we keep using the same old combination of ingredients and we have a nagging feeling we could be doing better when it comes to how healthy our smoothies are. For some input on how to give our smoothies a healthy makeover, we touched base with holistic nutritionist Joy McCarthy.
Add greens to your fruit smoothies
If you’re only using strawberries and banana and other common smoothie choices, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to up the nutrition of your drink. Green veggies are McCarthy’s top choice when it comes to increasing the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in a smoothie. And if you’ve got kids, she adds that it’s a great way to get your kids to eat green leafy vegetables too because they won’t even know they are in there. “I suggest a handful of spinach or kale. Make sure you toss in some fruit to take away any bitterness.
If you prefer to use a green powder sweetened with stevia, her personal favourite is Organic Greens+. “One scoop of Greens+ gives you a megawatt dose of minerals and antioxidants,” she says.
Make your smoothies more super with chia seeds
“Chia seeds are one of my favourite super foods for smoothies! They are a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids, a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and have more fibre than wheat bran gram for gram,” says McCarthy, adding that the combination of protein and fibre makes chia seeds very blood-sugar balancing. And why’s that great for you? “You will be less likely to reach for sweets after you eat a smoothie with chia seeds.”
Up the protein of your smoothies with hemp seeds
Not a fan of chalky protein powder? “Then hemp seeds are your next best option. They’re a complete source of protein and they add a smooth, delicious texture to your smoothie,” she says. McCarthy recommends adding two tablespoons of hemp seeds into your smoothie for an instant protein kick.
Try a new flavour with this ingredient (chocoholics, you’ll love this!)
McCarthy suggests adding cacao powder or nibs, which are essentially raw chocolate, to your smoothies. “Cacao contains one of the highest amounts of antioxidants on planet earth,” she says.
Focus on balance when it comes to your smoothies
Be careful of adding too much of any one ingredient, warns McCarthy. For example, if you add too many greens, your smoothie may become bitter. “A healthy smoothie should be a good balance of protein, complex carbs and good fats. Good protein the form of a protein powder or hemp seeds, complex carbs such as vegetables and fruit (plus you get a nice hit of fibre) and good fat from a nut milk or coconut oil and even chia seeds,” she says.
Also, keep an eye on how large your smoothies are. Keep them to one or one-and-a-half cups, says McCarthy.