They’re healthy. They’re convenient. They are the breakfast all those weird Type A high achievers rave about. They’re smoothies and they’re here to stay. And that’s a very good thing for new parents (and everyone else whose time and energy banks are in the red). Smoothies are the best way I can think of to get high quality whole (relatively speaking) foods into my body in a balanced way without having to wash more than two items. They’re portable and, usually, palatable. I know that lots of other people love smoothies too, but for one reason or another, they fall off the smoothie train after a while. So to help prevent that, I’ve come up with what I think are the principles of an excellent smoothie. There are four. And they’re pretty straightforward, but there’s some nuance.
The Principles of An Excellent Smoothie
First and foremost, fruit and veg for flavour and nutrition. (That was a lot of f’s.) If you can manage to get greens into your breakfast, you’re doing better than those mowing down on their lovely 2-3 servings of refined carbs and unhealthy fats every morning. Everyone’s taste is different and you’ll likely find yours changes as you experiment more, but the general rule is that strong veggie flavours pair well with strong fruit flavours. For example, apple isn’t going to do much up against kale, but raspberry will! Strong flavours (raspberry again, for example) go a long way, so you can keep your sugary fruit levels down by using half an apple and a small handful of frozen raspberries and still manage to prevent your smoothie from tasting like a cow’s breakfast. Speaking of frozen fruit, go buy some! As long as you have frozen fruit and protein, you’ve got all you need to make a surprisingly palatable smoothie.
The second ingredient in any excellent smoothie is protein (and fat; I guess it’s a one-two punch). Now, some might disagree with me here, but I really think protein is an important thing to add to your smoothie because we need it to recover from physical strain (like birth, or a workout) and rebuild our body’s tissues. It also makes up the majority of your blood and does countless other things to keep you alive. So get some protein and keep it on hand. Depending on what you’re trying to avoid in your diet, you may want to look for one that is naturally sweetened with something like stevia, or even completely unflavoured/unsweetened. I also add some kind of fat to every smoothie I make, too. Sometimes it’s a nut butter, sometimes coconut oil, but most of the time it’s flax oil. Flax oil contains omega-3, which is something we don’t get enough of in our diets and is very good at treating inflammation in the body. Fats work with proteins to help us feel satiated and full of energy, so if you’ve found in the past that smoothies don’t fill you up much, maybe you jus
t have to add some fat.
So, the third principle is the easiest part: some kind of liquid. I usually just add water to my smoothie because I try to avoid the the sugars of fruit juice. But if you have some (with no added sugar) laying around and you’re trying to hide a particularly pungent flavour, why not?! I squeezed some mandarin oranges into my smoothie today because they were those gross tough kind and the skin was getting all dried up anyway. Waste not want not! I know lots of people add milk to their smoothies too, but I feel like that’s a waste of milk because you don’t really end up tasting it and the oil you add contributes to a creamier texture anyway. I’d also like to say here that temperature is a pretty vital component to a smoothie. If you’re using fruit/veg at room temp, along with room temp water, and room temp protein powder, you’re going to have a bad time. Nobody wants to drink a tepid smoothie! So please make sure that you either: 1. Chuck whole ingredients into the blender jar the night before and leave it unblended in the fridge (convenience bonus); 2. Add ice cubes instead of some of the water; or 3. Use frozen produce.
The last principle in an excellent smoothie is the tool you use to make it. Now, I’m not suggesting you go out and spend unholy amounts of money on a new blender. But I am suggesting that you ask someone else to do that for you. Just kidding. (Kind of.) I have a VitaMix (not a salesperson for them, I swear) and it’s magical. It chomps up entire kale leaves like they’re boiled potatoes. It’s truly a marvel. I have friends who swear by their BlendTecs, too, and I believe they’re the same level of quality as the VitaMix. I’ve heard that Magic Bullets work well, but I’ve never used one myself and I’m a bit dubious. I highly recommend investing in a great blender. Heck, even put it on your baby gift wish list – you can make baby food with it, after all!
So, there you have it. The four principles of an excellent smoothie experience. I can’t believe I wrote an 800+ blog post all about smoothies, but I guess I’ve done stranger things. I hope this is helpful in keeping you on the smoothie train for the long term!