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How to make a tasty smoothie with health benefits

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The secret to getting more veggies and essential nutrients might be hiding in your kitchen cabinet: hint, hint your blender. A decent high-speed model, plus the right ingredients, are all you need to whip up delicious smoothies at home. Smoothies are an easy way to get more servings of fiber, protein, and healthy fat in your diet—they help you stay hydrated too. 

Just remember that DIY is the way to go. Many store-bought smoothies are flavored with artificial ingredients and packed with added sugar. You might be better off drinking a caramel latte. Here’s the breakdown of how to create a nutritious smoothie: 

The 3 Components of a Healthy Smoothie

1. Fiber

If you want your smoothie to keep you satiated and full of energy, fiber is the ticket. It’s what gives smoothies their edge over juice. Juicing extracts water and nutrients from veggies and fruits, separating the fiber and leaving it behind in the machine. Smoothies keep the fiber intact for a slower release of nutrients. Here are three ingredients we love for an extra fiber boost:

  • Flaxseed meal, e.g., Bob’s Red Mill: It’s high in dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble) and provides omega-3 fatty acids, a type of healthy fat that’s been shown to have heart-healthy effects.

  • Acacia fiber powder, e.g., Sari Foods: If flax is too harsh on your stomach, acacia fiber is an ideal alternative. Rich in soluble fiber, it ferments more slowly in the gut than other types of fiber, so it’s well tolerated.

  • Chia seeds: A single-ounce packs in 11 grams of fiber.

Don’t shy away from healthy, unsaturated fats in your smoothie. Not only do they help the body store energy and provide sustained energy, but they also benefit heart health. Replacing a carb-rich diet with plenty of unsaturated fats lowers blood pressure, fat levels, and heart disease risks. Here are a few of our smoothie-friendly sources of healthy fat: 

  • Avocado: Adds a nice, creamy texture.

  • Almond or cashew butter: Makes smoothies thick and satisfying.

  • Sunflower seed butter: A nut-free, allergy-friendly alternative to almond butter, with the same benefits as monounsaturated fat. 

  • Tahini: Like other nut and seed butters, it contains monounsaturated fat. It may help reduce cholesterol levels and inflammation. 

2. Protein

Adding protein will make your smoothie more satisfying and help keep you fuller, longer. Protein is essential for muscle gain and recovery. General protein recommendations vary with age and gender. With that in mind, here are some protein powders we recommend: 

  • Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein: This easy-to-digest powder, made from bone broth concentrate, comes in five flavors, including vanilla and chocolate.

  • Orgain Simple Plant Protein: Five different organic plant-based sources of protein—peas, peanuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds—fuel this 100 percent vegan powder. All three flavors (chocolate, vanilla, and peanut butter) are smoothie-friendly too.

  • Amazing Grass Organic Plant Protein Blend: Pairs 20 grams of plant-based protein with nutrient-dense greens and fruits and veggies, including organic spinach, broccoli, acai, and beetroot.

  • Sprout Living Simple Protein: Each of these vegan options—pumpkin seed, pea, and sunflower seed—are made from a single source of plant protein. 

  • Manitoba Harvest Hemp Yeah! Protein Powder: A blend of hemp and pea protein, this vegan formula, in chocolate, vanilla, and unsweetened options, also provides 3 grams of fiber and 2 grams of omega-3 and omega-6 per serving. 

  • Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides: This collagen-based formula also includes hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, dissolves easily in hot or cold liquids, and supports healthy hair, skin, nails, bones, and joints.

  • Vital Proteins Vital Performance Protein: Another offering from Vital Proteins, this unique formula pairs lactose-free milk protein isolate with collagen peptides and comes in four flavors, including Strawberry and Cold Brew Coffee.     

  • Nuzest Clean Lean Protein: A simple vegan, pea-based formula in seven distinctive flavors, from Wild Strawberry to Real Coffee to Vanilla Matcha.  

  • Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein: Another vegan option made from organic peas, plus 13 organic sprouted grains, seeds and legumes, and probiotics and enzymes to support digestion.

  • ALOHA Organic Plant Based Protein: Peas, brown rice, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds power this vegan, dairy-free, soy-free blend, which comes in chocolate and vanilla. 

  • Truvani Organic Plant Based Protein: Both the classics (vanilla and chocolate) and more adventurous flavors (chocolate peanut butter and banana cinnamon) are made with a handful of ingredients, including pea protein, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and monk fruit.  

  • Navitas Organics Vanilla & Greens Essential Superfood Blend: This one has it all—12 grams of plant-based protein, greens, probiotics, and four different digestive enzymes. 

  • Four Sigmatic Plant-based Protein: Alongside the usual plant protein sources (hemp, pea, pumpkin, chia), Four Sigmatic adds a mix of five mushroom extracts, including chaga, lion’s mane, and reishi, plus adaptogens.  

 Other options to consider: A couple of tablespoons of almond or cashew butter, which supplies 6 to 7 grams of protein (healthy fat plus protein—win-win!), or Greek-style yogurt (a 7-ounce serving provides 20 grams of protein). 

3. Greens

A big handful (or 1 cup) of spinach or kale is ideal in pretty much any smoothie. With all of the different flavors and ingredients going on, you really won’t taste it. Bonus: Leafy greens provide fiber, calcium, iron, vitamins A, C, and K, omega-3 fatty acids, heart-healthy flavonoids, and much more. Tip: In smoothies, frozen greens work just as well, pack the same nutritional benefits, and are easy to keep on hand. If you have leafy greens about to go bad, you can wash them, let them dry, and pop them in the freezer to add to smoothies later. 

What About Fruit? 

Fruit is great for sweetening up smoothies. Look for recipes that contain berries, which provide antioxidants and extra fiber. Bananas are another smoothie-recipe standby, and for good reason: They bring sweetness and creaminess and add nutrients like potassium, vitamin B6, and fiber. Don’t forget to balance out the fruit with protein and healthy fats.

5 Smoothie Recipes

Vanilla Green Protein Smoothie Here’s an everyday go-to smoothie. Baby spinach adds vibrant color while allowing the vanilla flavor to shine. Add pure vanilla extract if you like. Recipe from Healthy, Seasonal Recipes

Chocolate Almond Butter Smoothie Here’s a yummy smoothie for chocolate lovers: You’ll get a double dose of chocolate protein powder and cocoa powder, plus some leafy greens for a nutritious smoothie. Recipe from Clean & Delicious With Dani Spies

Avocado Smoothie with Blueberries Blueberries are full of antioxidants—so you’ll get a good dose of them in this smoothie, along with some healthy fats from avocado and almond butter. Add a dash of cinnamon for extra flavor! Recipe from Well Plated by Erin

Peanut Butter Cacao Nib Smoothie Here’s one for the peanut butter and chocolate lovers! Cacao nibs are great—they’re a naturally low-sugar way to get a richer, more complex chocolate flavor and some healthy antioxidants. Recipe from Be Well by Kelly LeVeque

Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie Sometimes it’s hard to get the right balance when you combine mint and chocolate—real fans want both! This smoothie does it with cacao nibs and peppermint extract. Recipe from NourishMint Wellness

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