There is a lot of misinformation circulating regarding what constitutes a “healthy” smoothie. I feel like everyday I see at least a few instagram posts of bloggers or social media celebrities promoting some weight-loss smoothie or protein powder. Beyond social media, nearly all of the “Smoothie King”-type smoothie stands around offer drinks that they market as nutritious and healthy alternatives. In reality, these drinks are often filled with sugars, artificial flavors and sweeteners, dairy, and loads of dairy-based protein. I’m outlining for you what really is healthy for you, and what should just be avoided at all costs.
If you are a morning smoothie drinker, it is extra important to consider that your smoothie should be putting great stuff into your body to set up your digestion for the rest of the day and give you the energy you need to start your day. In addition to my do’s and don’ts lists ahead, I’m sharing with you the smoothie that I choose to make and drink every morning!
Smoothie Ingredient Do’s:
In addition to the many specific beauty benefits of individual fruits, the cleansing properties of all fruits make it an excellent ingredient to include in your smoothie. Particularly in the morning, fruit is a great way to clear things out- and is much better at achieving this in a healthy way than acidic coffee is.
Something very important to consider about fruit smoothies: fruit does not combine well with other ingredients. Fruit should typically be consumed on its own and on an empty stomach, due to its intense cleansing properties and how quickly it passes through the system. When fruit is mixed with other foods, or eaten after a meal, it is unable to move through the body as it should, and ends up fermenting on top of the food that was just eaten- not cute. Also, mixing fruit, an alkaline food, with acidic foods such as dairy and dairy-based protein powders (we’ll get to that in a minute), causes the two to neutralize in your digestive tract and they cannot be processed well. The only smoothie I make with fresh fruit plus other ingredients is Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie. The recipe is shared at the bottom of this post, and it involves only fresh vegetables in addition to the fruit, which is all very easy to digest.
Fresh vegetables also have unbelievable cleansing and beauty properties that make them the perfect smoothie ingredient. On the list of what is most easily digestible, fresh vegetables come right after fresh fruit. Many vegetables, like celery, are more fibrous than fruit, so they take a little longer to digest. However, when blended, there is no more “difficult” aspect to digesting them, and they can therefore be combined with fruit without creating digestive problems.
Water is the best base for a smoothie involving fruit. Though there is a place for almond milk as a base, it should not be mixed with fruit for the above reasons. (Almonds are protein and don’t combine well with fruit in the digestive tract.)
Almond milk is the best “milk” out there. It provides lots of protein and has a subtle, nutty, taste. It is perfect for a smoothie that you drink later in the day, and can be combined with healthy protein powders (see below) and various seeds.
Why isn’t protein a good addition to your morning smoothie? Protein is the hardest thing for the body to digest. Some proteins create more problems than others, but it’s not easy on the body to have to work so hard first thing in the morning. There’s a lot of misinformation regarding protein and people tend to think they need a lot more than they actually do. And actually, dark, leafy greens, (like those included in the Glowing Green Smoothie below) provide lots of protein in a more easily digestible way.
Hemp or brown rice protein powder:
These and other plant based powders are the only protein powders I trust. Like I’ve already said, I will only incorporate protein later on in the day and without adding fresh fruit. But there is good nutrition and healthy protein to be found in these protein powders.
Hemp in particular is a great source of protein because it offers around 11 grams of protein per three tablespoons and provides omega-6 fatty acids.
Smoothie Ingredient Don’ts:
I wrote a whole post linked here outlining why dairy isn’t a great idea for your diet in general. It’s difficult to digest and doesn’t combine well with other ingredients in your smoothie. There are far more nutritional bases to use for a smoothie that also give it a rich, creamy consistency such as almond milk. Also, many dark leafy greens like spinach provide excellent sources of calcium.
Soy milk is often considered a healthy alternative to milk, but soy has it’s own drawbacks. As Kimberly Snyder writes, “Genetically modified soy makes up 91 percent of America’s soy crops. GM foods present a number of health dangers including DNA damage and
reproductive issues.” Since almond milk offers more nutritional value anyways, it is a safer alternative in more ways than one.
Whey protein powder
Whey is dairy-based and as wikipedia defines it, ” whey is the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained.” To me that sounds just plain gross, and if we’re already avoiding dairy, we can avoid this dairy derivative as well. There are great alternatives above that offer plenty of protein.
Sucralose (Splenda) or aspartame (NutraSweet) are sometimes used to sweeten smoothies and other beverages. They are marketed as sugar free alternatives, but are chemicals, and are toxic to the body. They have actually been linked to weight gain, among many other issues, including “the death of nerve cells and increased acidity in the body.” (kimberlysnyder.com) Studies suggest that aspartame, an excitotoxin, is actually toxic to the brain.
The Glowing Green Smoothie
My lovely smoothie of choice is Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie. She has always recommended the Vitamix blender, as it is the most powerful and therefore brings out the most nutrition in the blended fruits and vegetables. I use a Vitamix and absolutely love it! It is an investment (it’s available at Costco for a discounted price now) but is well worth it. It can also be used to make a number of things like soups, dips, smoothies, doughs and more.
Here’s the recipe:
photo source: Kimberlysnyder.com
Enjoy loves! xx