With the weather warming up, so too is our appetite for refreshing smoothies! Gone are the days when smoothies consist only of the likes of banana, cow’s milk, yogurt and tinned peaches…smoothies have had an en-vogue makeover in recent years and have become many people’s one-stop shop nutritional powerhouse drink! However, not all ‘healthy’ smoothies are created equal. Some store-bought smoothies have been shown to have as many calories as a Big Mac! A healthy smoothie is usually packed with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and should contain satiating fats and protein to ensure it leaves you feeling full for longer. Here are a few nutrition tips to help you super-charge your smoothie this summer…
Silken tofu – Don’t just reserve it for you veggie stir-fry! Silken tofu is a fabulous vegan high-protein addition to fruit smoothies. It takes on the flavour of the fruit you add (a dash of vanilla also pairs perfectly!) and has a silky, smooth texture that you could be fooled into thinking was yogurt. But of course, being vegan-friendly, it is dairy-free!
Flaxseeds – They may be tiny, but these seeds pack a mighty nutritional punch! Along with necessary minerals, flax seeds contain healthy fats. In particular, they contain alpha-linolenic acid, an unsaturated omega-3 fatty acid that can help you lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. While you can eat whole flaxseeds, they don’t digest as well as ground flaxseed…and you want to be able to digest them well to reap the nutritional and health benefits they offer. Start with a teaspoon and work your way up to a tablespoon.
Acai berry powder – A is for Acai and Antioxidants! Available from health food stores, acai berry powder (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) is super high in antioxidants….in fact, they are higher in antioxidants than blueberries and have 10x more antioxidants than red grapes! Acai berries are also high in vitamin C, so adding about one teaspoon of powder to your smoothie can be great to help boost your immunity. They’re an Amazonian berry, and the fresh fruit is not available in NZ, hence the powder being our local go-to!
Bee pollen – Power to the bee! Bee pollen in itself contains nearly all the nutrients required by humans to live. Bee-gathered pollens are rich in proteins (approximately 40% protein), free amino acids and vitamins, including the B-complex, and folic acid. Along with being superbly nutritious, let’s not forget how pretty all of those Instagram smoothies look with a little bee pollen sprinkled on top! A little goes a long way here though…one teaspoon sprinkled on top of your smoothie will do the trick (which is just as well considering that one teaspoon of pollen takes a bee a month working eight hours a day to gather!)
Spirulina – Spirulina is one of the highest known protein sources on Earth and contains 70% complete protein, towering over steak which consists of only 25% protein once cooked. Studies have shown that spirulina can help control blood sugar levels and cravings.
Chia seeds – Chia seeds have been around (and consumed) for millennia, but they’ve recently been getting a lot of good press…and for good reason! Chia seeds are high in omega-3 fats, protein, calcium, potassium, and iron. The seeds are also high in fiber and antioxidants.
Avocado – Avocados provide a lovely silky texture to smoothies, without an overbearing taste. Avocados can give real substance to what might otherwise be an unfulfilling smoothie, meaning you will stay full for longer post-smoothie too. Avocados are a great source of fiber and healthy monounsaturated fatty acids.
Raw cashews – Raw cashews are another great vegan protein option to add to smoothies. If you don’t have a high-powered blender, make sure you soak the raw (unsalted!) nuts overnight so that they blend easily and create the smooth texture you are after. Cashews are packed with vitamins, including; vitamins E, K, and B6, along with minerals like copper, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, iron, and selenium.
Baby Kale – Easy to pick up from your local supermarket, you can’t go past fresh greens to give your smoothie a nutritional boost. Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and like many other leafy greens, is very high in antioxidants, vitamin C, and magnesium.
Have fun trying some new additions to your smoothie this summer…and remember to mix it up to reap the many nutritional rewards from the wonderful range of ingredients that can be thrown into a blender for your smoothie du jour!
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