Lots of people nowadays find themselves too busy to eat as well as they would like. Even the most dedicated natural foodie finds some mornings too rushed for more than a cup of something caffeinated and a bite of something sugary. We know these habits leave us crashing before noon, and most of us would like to make time for something more nutritious. The blender was invented for just such days.
Delicious smoothies can include any ingredient you like. The healthiest are based in vegetables, with just a bit of fruit. An 80/20 veggie/fruit blend is an optimal ratio. Smoothies made exclusively from fruit can spike blood sugar as much as soda or cookies. The lowdown on fresh vegetables in smoothies is this: Juicing provides max nutrients for minimum strain on your digestive system. If you are fasting, or need instant energy, removing the fiber and drinking just the concentrated juice will do the trick. For more of a meal, or if like many people you need more fiber with your nutrients, then a high-speed centrifugal blender that breaks down cell walls making vegetables optimally digestible will work best for you. Some people add fresh-pressed juices to their blender- those folks can be congratulated on their time spent and willingness to wash multiple appliances. Smoothie beginners will find any quality blender does the job. Regular blenders may take a little longer to blend chopped, fresh food than a centrifugal machine, and over time you may not absorb the nutrients as fully as possible, but it sure works for a start. More info and recipes for fresh smoothies can be found here and here. For today, we’re talking about products you can grab from your fridge or cabinet and scoop out something your body will find nourishing.
Beyond the basic fresh ingredients, or if you’re really in a hurry, the nutritious options for your smoothie are almost endless. Guests at our Superfood Smoothie Sample bar walked through the building blocks of a multi-tasking beverage. First, choose your base liquid. Grass-fed yogurt cut with water makes a creamy drink for those who tolerate dairy. We chose Seven Stars for the grass diet of the dairy cows, and that Seven Stars sweetens exclusively with maple syrup, which contains far more minerals and other nutrients than other natural sweeteners. Almond, coconut, sunflower seed, or hemp milks, sweetened, flavored, or plain, make a nice base for dairy-free drinks. Water always works, of course, and coconut water makes a refreshing, hydrating base for hot days and tropical tastes.
Next, add protein. There are lovely plant-based protein formulas on the market now, formulated for maximum amino acid content. Omnivores like whey (the liquid atop a fresh container of yogurt) as a quality, highly-tolerable form of dairy protein. Protein powders come in a wide variety of formulas and flavors. Protein powder can provide flavor for simplicity, or you can choose unflavored to tailor your drink to your tastes each day. Spend some time reading labels at the smoothies shelf (between the supplement aisle and bulk herbs) to familiarize yourself with the options available.
Fiber comes next. Flax must be ground for the nutrients to be absorbed. Chia seeds can be used as-is and add thickness to your drink. Both are loaded with Omega 3 EFA’s. Flax and chia are found on the bulk shelves near the dairy refrigerator. Fiber formulas found on the detox shelves (across from books, near the bottom) combine several of these. Psyllium can be hard on the digestive system- consider gentler fiber supplements before taking the psyllium route.
Greens powders turn a basic smoothie into a true superfood. Most boast several kinds of alkalizing cereal grasses such as wheat grass, barley grass, and alfalfa, along with green powerhouses spirulina, chlorella, and more. Some greens powders include fruits, protein, and fiber, too. Like protein, greens come in a variety of flavors. Choose a few products to vary or find one tub to do it all. Not all greens come in powdered form: those who prefer straight wheatgrass will find cubes ready for your blender in our freezer.
Fish or flax oils can be easily blended into your smoothie. There are options for both fish and flax made to taste like dessert, too. Enjoy them on a spoon or blended into your drink. Find these oils and blends in our supplement refrigerator (near cleaners and garden) or on the fish oils shelf at the end of the supplement aisle. (Join us in August to celebrate Shark Week: Sustainability!)
The rest of the drink is all about the little things. Bee pollen, fruit concentrates, aloe vera juice, multivitamin powders- the options for flavor and nutrient power are impressive. Cacao, maca, chai, coffee-style, acai, true energy shots, electrolytes without sugar, beet crystals, even seabuckthorn… name your flavor or your nutrition goal, and a truly natural smoothie additive can be found to match it. Our staff are here to explain your options. Part of the joy of discovering a natural lifestyle is experimenting to find your perfect blend. It’s been a long road since bananas and blackstrap molasses.