Happy day after Memorial Day, always a special time to reflect and give thanks to all those who have, and are presently keeping our country safe. Although Memorial Day usually marks the beginning of summer, here in New Hampshire, that has not been the case.  We are still waiting to see the sun and enjoy some warm weather.

That being said, once the weather warms up, many of us will find ourselves craving a cool, refreshing smoothie to start off the day.  It is important to understand that not all smoothies are created equal.  For example, a Strawberry Banana Smoothie from McDonald’s provides 39 grams of sugar (some is natural from the fruits), 2 grams of fiber and only 2 grams of protein  This, does not constitute a meal as it is much too high in sugar and much too low in protein.  I thought it might be helpful to share my general guidelines to making your morning smoothie into a meal.

HOW TO MAKE A SMOOTHIE A MEAL

1/2 to 1 CUP GREENS

Kale, Spinach, Dark Leafy Greens (I often use frozen, helps to thicken the smoothie ) Although not green, I have started blending a handful of frozen riced cauliflower into my drink for added fiber and nutrients (Birds Eye has one that can be found in the freezer section of the grocery store)

FRUIT (1/2 cup)

Watch out for too much fruit in your smoothie.  Often people will add a cup of fruit, a banana and then use juice as the liquid – TOO MUCH!  1/2 cup total is more than enough to provide flavor and nutrients

Frozen fruit will help to thicken the smoothie.  You can purchase a variety of different types in the freezer section of your local grocery store.  Place the emphasis on lower sugar fruits such as blueberries, blackberries and strawberries

PROTEIN

The addition of protein to your smoothie will make it more of a meal, help to keep you full and stabilize blood sugar

The protein source can come from Protein Powder (whey, rice and hemp are my favorites).  Be sure to read the powder’s ingredient label and avoid brands with added sweeteners, fillers and chemicals.  Plain or Vanilla Greek Yogurt is another excellent protein source (1/2-1 cup) as is a few chunks of Tofu.

HEALTHY FAT 

If your protein source does not contain at least 5 grams of fat, I recommend the addition of a healthy fat to your smoothie (check protein powder label)  The addition of fat will also help to keep your full and spark your metabolism into high gear first thing in the morning.   This can be as simple as a tablespoon of peanut or almond butter, a few chunks of frozen avocado (makes your smoothie SUPER SMOOTH) or a spoonful of seeds such as chia, flax or sunflower.

LIQUID

Water works fine as your liquid source but if you want to add flavor, you can add dairy or non-dairy milk

SUPER ADD-INS

Cinnamon, Ginger, Cayenne and Turmeric Powder can add a little ZIP to your smoothie along with some added nutrition.

The Sky is the Limit

ADDITIONAL TIPS

“Chewing your smoothie is NO FUN, so blending your leafy greens and frozen fruit first can be very helpful.  Once this is done, you can add the remaining ingredients

No time in the morning to make a smoothie?  NO PROBLEM! You can make your smoothie the night before and simply give it a quick whirl in your blender in the morning.  Be sure to keep the container covered overnight to avoid oxidation.

I have rambled on long enough!  Later this week, I will post some yummy smoothie recipes to get you all started, but here are some tried and true combos that I love!

DELICIOUS COMBINATIONS

Apples, Cinnamon, Vanilla Greek Yogurt, Flax Seed

Pumpkin (canned), Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Vanilla Greek Yogurt, Chia Seeds

Chocolate Protein Powder, Peanut Butter and Banana

I toss A handful of spinach to all of the above combos!

To Your Health – Noreen MS RD