There are so many damn smoothie recipes out there that I want to throw up sometimes. Not because I hate them. I have been drinking a smoothie a day for a few months now as a way to "sneak" more veggies into my body and I'm actually kind of obsessed with them. But there's this huge hooplah (yes, that's a word, ask Spongebob) about using them as meal replacements or consuming only smoothies for stretches of time in order to "detox."
As just stated, I don't hate smoothies. I hate the stigma they've turned into. While that statement may make my degree in acting blaringly obvious, I'm using it to make a point: smoothies are beneficial just like anything else. If you're using them to promote health in some way (like increasing veggie intake) then you're probably benefitting. If you're using them to try and drop "10 pounds in 10 days - GUARANTEED!" then you're probably just going to be left hungry and disappointed. Especially when those 10 pounds come right back and somehow turn into 15 the next time around.
So before getting to my method of making smoothies, the point here is that I like them as supplements to a healthy, whole-food diet. They are easier to eat than a giant salad. They can get you specialty additives that aren't necessarily great on their own (like collagen or mushroom powders). And they are tasty, if you make them right. The ones I make by now barely have any fruit in them and I still thoroughly enjoy drinking them. That comes with tastebud adjustment, of course, but veggies are much easier to hide in smoothies than you may think. Give it a shot and get that veggie intake up! :)
Okay, here's what I do. Keep in mind that I use a Nutribullet literally every day, so if you're using a conventional blender, doing these steps in reverse may be best. Most of my method is honestly built out of the fact that leaves don't like to blend well, so I use gravity in my favor for every "layer" of ingredients added to my drink. The ordering of ingredients is actually one I follow to a T every day.
My smoothies usually consist of berries, green "stalk" veggies, leaves, collagen protein, and veggie or citrus juice. Depending on what I want for the day, I may also throw in some mushroom powder for immunity, or BCAAs after a workout, or home-grown microgreens for antioxidants, or anything that's a specialty ingredient of that nature. If I'm using it as a heartier snack, or I know I won't be eating for a few hours after it, I'll also throw in some almond butter or coconut flakes. The fat keeps you full longer.
Let's get started!
1. Fruit and/or frozen stuff on the bottom. The example smoothie uses blueberries, but if I throw in some acai, that's frozen and I'll put it down there as well. This is usually the heaviest thing you'll blend, so going with the "use don't hate" gravity theory, placing the fruit on the bottom will mean that when we flip the cup around to blend it, the weight of the fruit will push the lighter stuff into the blades.
2. Heavier veggies next. I called them "stalk" veggies above because it's a broad topic and I don't know how else to refer to them. My favorites to include are celery, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. Mostly green. Again, it's whatever you want to use. Basically any veggies are a "go" if you want to try them!
3. Leaf veggies following. I've got spinach in these pictures, but I'll rotate between that and spring greens and kale most often. Just eating that roughage, ya know?
4. Add-ins go on top of the leaves. Pictured here is Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides and Almond Butter from Trader Joes, which I usually call "crack butter" because I will eat an entire jar no problem if you let me.
I pour the juice in last because you probably actually need less of it than you're thinking. Let it fill up the cracks about halfway up the cup and that's enough. For this particular smoothie, I used a mix of fresh-squeezed lemon, orange, and grapefruit juice that I prepped at the beginning of the week.
Twist that blade on tight, and let 'er run! The color will vary based on the things you're mixing. Keep in mind that if you're mixing red fruits with green veggies, the smoothie will look like dirt but it'll probably taste incredible. Using lighter fruits like pineapple, citrus, mango, etc. will let the green of the veggies show up more. The blueberries don't usually make the color toooooo terrible...
And there you have it! That's become a daily ritual for my smoothie intake. Usually my smoothie is my post-workout snack, along with some plantain chips. Getting to have some every day along with a veggie boost is a highlight for me, to say the least. ;)
- Avoid ruts by switching up the fruits and veggies you throw in each week. Your body will benefit from the nutrient rotation and you may find some favorites you didn't know you'd have!
- A 1:4 ratio of protein:carbs is great for post-workout to repair and gain muscle. You can also handle carbs best right after exercise and those plantain chips are my vice. This is why I eat them with my post-workout smoothie, too. I always have a collagen blend of some sort in my smoothie, getting me a good amount of protein for post-workout. If your smoothie is using higher-carb fruits like pineapple, mango, apples, etc. then you'll be getting closer to the 1:3 or 1:4 ratio and may not need anything extra outside of the smoothie for post-workout. But my smoothies are all veggies except for the small amount of berries at the bottom, so that's just my method.
- I don't put fat in my smoothie if I'll be eating it post-workout. Mixing fat with your post-workout carbs & protein slows the absorption and may delay muscle building and repair. If you're trying to gain muscle or you're doing close workouts, like 2-a-days, try to have low fat in your post-workout refuel.
- However, if you're just generally being healthy and working out, adding the fat from almond butter or coconut flakes (or Rickaroons like this one!) will keep you full longer and the smoothie can hold you over for the next few hours. This would be a good option if you're on the go and have got a few more meetings to sit through before you can eat again.
Now get out there and open your mind to some more plants in that diet - without feeling restricted!