Harness the power of nutrient-dense greens and antioxidant-rich fruits first thing in the morning.

Harness the power of nutrient-dense greens and antioxidant-rich fruits first thing in the morning.

I'm a morning smoothie pusher. I think it's a great way to consume a huge amount of nutrients first thing in the morning. Therefore, I post a lot of smoothie recipes, but I find a recipe isn't so much necessary if you have a formula to follow. I have such a formula, which I will share with you. A trusty formula allows me to use up random stuff hanging around, or try new things to keep the smoothies interesting and nutritious. 

Here are the basic building blocks and accompanying instructions, a.k.a., The Formula:  

Fruit:  You can use frozen or fresh. I keep frozen strawberries, blueberries and cherries on hand. Sometimes I have mangoes or peaches. Apples are good to have around, too. I always have bananas on hand, frozen or fresh, and typically use 1/2 a banana per person/serving and about 3/4 cup of the other fruit per person in my smoothies. 

Greens: I use one cup (a large handful) per person. I keep spinach and/or kale around. You can also use collards, Swiss chard, or any other green. I have also incorporated basil and mint in the past -- not in place of the other greens, but in addition to. They are pretty powerful flavors. 

Other Veggies: Although technically a fruit, cucumbers are a nice addition. They add a fresh, but still neutral flavor and up the cleansing power of the smoothie. Celery is also a pretty flavor-neutral, low-calorie addition that will brings some cleansing quality and fiber to the party. These are never the main characters, but if I have some to use up, why not? I will say, strawberry, cucumber and basil are quite delicious together. 

Liquid: Sometimes I just use water, but typically I have unsweetened coconut, almond or hemp milk on hand. I change it up. From time to time I use juice, but that really ups the sugar content, so I'll leave out the banana if I do. I use one cup total liquid per person. This could be all milk (or juice), all water, or a combination thereof. 

Add-Ins: Here's where it gets fun. There are so many good things you can add to a smoothie that you might not otherwise incorporate into your diet. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Ginger: Keep a chunk in the fridge and cut off a 1/4-inch piece per person, peel it and toss it in. It's good for your digestive tract and immune system. It also adds a nice flavor. I love using ginger with apple in smoothies. 
  • Flax Seed: I store it whole in the fridge and grind about a cupful for the week. I incorporate 2 TBSP per person. Flax seed brings a little protein to the party and makes the smoothie a bit more filling. It's high in Omegas and it also contributes to healthy hair, nails and skin.
  • Chia Seed: A little goes a long way as Chia expands in water and becomes gelatinous. I don't think all of the wonders and benefits of Chia have quite been discovered, but it is also a source of protein and filling-ness (new word!) for the smoothie. I use 1 TBSP per person.
  • Protein Powder: I turn into a monster without protein in the morning. Also, I don't think it's ever a great idea to consume large amounts of sugar, natural or otherwise, without the balancing power of protein. I use Garden of Life Plant Protein in our smoothies, but there are plenty to choose from. Just make sure you read labels... many contain whey protein and soy, which I try to avoid. Do some research to find a protein powder that you are comfortable with. 
  • Nut Butter: This is another way to introduce protein. I use 2 TBSP of nut butter per person and then leave off the protein powder. The nut butters will give the smoothie a creaminess and can take it in a savory direction -- think PBJ or a banana with peanut butter. I am not a huge sweets person, so sometimes I tire of the fruity smoothie. Switching up and using almond, cashew or peanut butter for a few days is a nice change.

Blending: I pour the liquid in first, then the frozen and harder stuff (apples, ginger, cucumber, etc.). then the seeds and powders (or nut butter if using), then the greens. I top the greens with the banana, if using. Start blending slowly and work your way up to the highest speed. I let mine run at top speed for about a minute and then gradually slow it back down and off. 

Equipment: Do you need a Vitamix? No. I have one now (the blessings of a wedding registry), but I made my morning smoothie with a $30 Oster before that. 

Have a great smoothie recipe to share? Have a smoothie question? Please post in the comments or shoot me an email. Happy blending!