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Build a Better Smoothie

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
4
December 21, 2020

We are often told that we need to plan and prep more meals that contain an abundant amount of vegetables and other foods that have a high nutritional value. But let's face it, if you have had a long week and are always exhausted after work, it is hard to stay motivated to cook and eat healthy meals. If only there was something that is both quick and fun to make, but also very healthy... Oh but wait, yes there is!

In the mornings, it can be difficult to eat a good breakfast since we are in a rush to get to work. A simple and fast way to have a delicious and nutritious meal is to make a smoothie! The great thing about making smoothies is that you can add a lot of ingredients, such as fruits, vegetables, honey, and even protein powder! So if you want to learn more about how to make some delicious smoothies, keep reading!

Anatomy Of a Great Blend

In order to feel both full and energized we need to eat meals that contain fluids, carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, and minerals. For adults, each meal should contain about 20g of protein and 30-60g of carbohydrates. Extra protein can help to prevent sarcopenia associated with aging. Carbohydrates provide our bodies with sufficient energy to help maintain metabolism. It is important to balance the protein, fat, and carbohydrate consumption throughout the day to improve the sensation of fullness.

Ideally, a meal for most adults should contain around 20g protein to help prevent sarcopenia associated with aging, and around 30-60g carbohydrates to provide sufficient energy to maintain body processes and not falter metabolism. A good goal is to spread protein, fat, and carbohydrate consumption evenly throughout the day for improved sensation of fullness. 

Most adults, unless on a specialized diet, should aim for a minimum at each meal of 5g of fiber, but preferably around 8-10g fiber per meal, to provide approximately 33% of the daily needs of fiber. To achieve all this, smoothies should be designed to include the following: 

  • Liquid: Using almond milk or whole milk as a base in smoothies is a great option because both are high in Vitamin D, Calcium, and protein.
  • Carbohydrates: To make your smoothies have both color and flavor, add about 0.5-1 cup of fresh or frozen fruits. Fruits can help make smoothies taste healthy and delicious!
  • Protein: Adding protein to smoothies is extra beneficial for providing fullness and it also helps to build muscle. Different sources of protein include: protein powder, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, nut butter, etc.
  • Fat: Flax seeds, chia seeds, nut butters, almond flour, and avocados are all great examples of healthy fats that contribute to our overall heart and body health.
  • Produce - Vegetables: Adding about 1-1.5 cups of fresh or frozen vegetables to smoothies is a great way to fulfill your daily vitamin intake.

If you are having a smoothie for a meal, choose from each category below. If you are having it for a snack, choose from liquid, fruits and vegetables.

Combinations and Measurements:

Liquids

Vegetables

Carbs*

Carbs- Fruit*

Protein#

Fats

Almond, flax  or oat milk

Spinach or kale (1 cup)

Dry oats (2 tbsp)

Strawberries (¾ cup)

Cottage Cheese (½ cup)

Flax seeds & - 2 tbsp

Cow’s milk # -8floz 

 

Cooked Sweet potato

Blueberries- 1 cup

Greek Yogurt- ½ cup

Chia seeds &  - 2 tbsp

Soy milk # - 8floz

Cauliflower (uncoooked)

Pureed pumpkin (1 cup)

Papaya or melon- 1 cup

Silken Tofu (6oz)

Almonds, other nuts & - 6-8 nuts

Water

celery

Beets- ½ cup

Dried Goji berries- ⅓ cup

Protein Powder

Hemp seeds &  - 1 tbsp

 

parsley

 

Tropical fruits - ½ cup

 

Avocado- ¼ cup

     

Peaches, plums, apples, pears - ½ cup

 

Unsweetened Coconut flakes- 2 tbsp

Ice (if little frozen foods are used)

         
  • *Carbohydrates suggested above typically also contain around 4g fiber or more per serving. All carbohydrate portions are around 15g of carbohydrate, or 1 controlled serving for Diabetics.
  • # Protein options will be around 8-10g protein per serving, and protein foods are not just in the proteins category, but also includes some foods that are also in other categories.
  • & Foods containing 4g protein per suggested serving

For an extra zing, you can try adding spices and herbs, such as, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, fennel, mint, etc.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

In order to live a healthy and energized life, we must eat well. We also need to fill our bodies with plenty of fluids, carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats so that we can focus better and feel happy. Though we do not need all these things in every meal, it is important to pay attention to what we are eating and when we are eating it. After doing a lot of exercise and sweating, drinking gatorade may seem like the easiest way to get electrolytes, but in reality, having a balanced smoothie is a much healthier way to consume even more electrolytes.

Takeaways 

For each meal, make sure to include a good amount of liquids, carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables mentioned above. If you are eating a snack, adding liquids, fruits, and vegetables is good enough. Depending on the amount and types of exercise that you do, you can also add one or two servings of protein.

Enjoy it in a bowl: Smoothie bowls are a fabulous alternative to drinking your food, and still just as satisfying, if not more so. If you don't want to blend it, or don’t have a blender, arrange it in a bowl!