Smoothies are one of the most nutritious ways to consume a large dose of nutrients quickly and conveniently. You can control the ingredients for a smoothie, unlike store bought drinks. Each day can bring a new profile of flavors when you experiment with different foods and smoothie ingredients. In doing this, you won’t grow bored of your morning smoothie routine.
The best way to be inventive with your smoothie making is to think outside the box. Don’t restrain yourself to just fruit and milk. Open your mind up to different, healthy smoothie ingredients. Perhaps, think of foods you don’t normally consume by themselves but are beneficial to your health.
In a smoothie boasting robust flavor, you can “hide” these ingredients in your smoothie and still gain the nutritional benefits. Also, you can use certain foods to ramp up the current flavor of your favorite smoothie recipe like herbs and spices.
There is a multitude of foods, some already in your pantry, that will give your smoothie a tasty, healthful boost.
1. Cacao Powder
Don’t confuse cacao powder with overly processed cocoa powder that you’ll find in grocery store baking isles. Cocoa powder has often been heated and combined with preservatives to increase the shelf life. The product to look for is raw, organic cacao powder. This rich, decadent superfood will give your smoothie a chocolatey flavor without the fat and sugar that comes in a candy bars.
Chocolate in its natural form (cacao) is a powerful superfood loaded antioxidant-dense phytonutrients. Areas of the world that consume large quantities of cacao are also recorded as having the lowest prevalence of diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Using up to a tablespoon of cacao powder in your smoothie is adequate to receive its nutritional benefits as well as add sufficient flavor. Cacao powder goes well with ingredients like banana and coconut.
Many health food stores carry organic cacao powder and nibs. Purchasing cacao in an organic form might cost a few more dollars but it will be worth it knowing you’re making your smoothie as clean as possible. Organic cacao powder can also be used to make a healthy version of a traditional cup of hot chocolate.
As a promoter of blood sugar balance, cinnamon is more than just a robust spice. It is one of the best smoothie ingredients because of its health benefits. Blood sugar balance is helpful for those seeking weight loss, which may make cinnamon a favorite for weight conscious individuals.
Cinnamon can be used as a natural way to lower bad cholesterol, treat arthritis-related pain and enhance brain function. Cinnamon pairs well with many fruits including bananas, nectarines, peaches, pears. It also tastes great when combined with chocolate or vanilla flavored protein.
Invest in organic cinnamon, which you can buy for a reasonable price at most health food markets. Using organic cinnamon will ensure that this cinnamon was grown free of pesticides–making it no burden for your body to digest and detoxify.
Maca, from the radish family, is derived from the maca root and is known for its ability to naturally balance hormone production. It can benefit the entire endocrine system by optimizing the production of hormones from the adrenal gland, pancreas, pituitary gland and thyroid. This is especially important for weight-conscious individuals with thyoid problems (whether suspected or diagnosed), as this gland is involved largely in metabolism and weight.
In women, maca can help alleviate menstrual cycle related symptoms such as cramps, irritability, hot flashes and anxiety. In men and women and alike, maca can help increase libido and enhance fertility. It’s a fantastic ingredient to use in a “his and hers” smoothie.
Maca powder can be found in the supplement section of most health food stores. It’s also available in capsule form.
4. Raw Honey
Raw honey is one of nature’s many nutritious, tasteful, sweet products. When you consume honey, it’s important that it’s raw – especially if you are wanting to take advantage of its nutritional offerings. The reason that it’s important to eat it raw is multifaceted:
- Heat denatures the nutrients that the honey is comprised of.
- Honey bees, as a part of their honey producing routine, fan the hives with their wings to keep the honey at a certain temperature. It seems as if nature does it this way for a reason–to preserve the honey.
Check your local area for local honey farms to get the freshest, raw honey available. If that’s not applicable to you, you can look to your local health food store, who is likely to carry it.
5. Oat Fiber
Oat fiber is just what is sounds like: the fibrous, rough part of the oat. It contains no fat, no sugar and no protein and no gluten. It is simply fiber.
This makes a great addition to a smoothie if you have trouble feeling full or maintaining that full filling after a meal. 2 tablespoons (at most) will make your smoothie noticeably more filling and satisfying.
Oat fiber can be found in some health food stores in the supplement section near other detox and fiber products. It is also readily available in bulk from several online sources.
6. Zucchini or Cucumber
Don’t knock this one until you try it. Adding zucchini and cucumber to your smoothie is a great way to satisfy your suggested daily vegetable intake.
These vegetables won’t add a strong flavor, rather they will add a light and fresh flavor to your smoothie. They go well with a wide range of ingredients like berries, apples, peaches and bananas.
Merely any fruit combination you could dream up will be complimented well by these veggies. The sugar in the fruit will mask any slight green flavor that comes through. What you’ll be left with is a delicious, energizing smoothie that is a bit heartier with healthy vegetables.
Drinking a smoothie once a day might sound like a boring, bland way to fit in a meal. But, it certainly doesn’t have to be. Add some of the aforementioned ingredients for smoothies that will kick up the flavor and zest of your concoctions. Experiment with different combinations and amounts and you’ll soon look forward to your daily, power-packed smoothie.