Love making smoothies? A basic smoothie consists of a variation of fruits, veggies, juice, milk, yogurt, ice, etc. Almost any basic fruit smoothie is a wonderful healthy snack, but adding the right super foods can really make it a nutritional powerhouse! Go beyond the basics and try adding some of these healthy smoothie add-ins for an intensifying boost of nutrition.
Healthy Smoothie Add-Ins for a Nutritional Powerhouse
Oats are an awesome source of dietary fiber – just 1/2 a cup of old fashioned oats can provide you with 20% of your total daily recommended value. They’re also a great source of protein, iron, thiamin, phosphorus, and magnesium. Oats work great to thicken smoothies, and make them more filling to help you to ward off hunger longer.
I just pour the raw oats right in my blender with the rest of my smoothie ingredients. I use a Vitamix,* which does a great job of grinding the oats down and giving everything a smooth consistency. If your blender doesn’t seem to be grinding the oats enough, try chopping them in a food processor first. It’s definitely an extra step, so I recommend investing in a high quality blender.
Wanna give a good rolled oats smoothie a try? Check out this Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie recipe. You’ll love it.
2. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds may be one of the world’s original super foods, being cultivated as early as ancient Egyptian times. They are a powerful source of protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids – making them great for your heart.
It’s important to note that you won’t get much value by eating flax seeds whole. Make sure to grind them up well so that your body can absorb their nutrients. You may do this using a coffee grinder or food processor before adding them to your smoothie.
Just a teaspoon of ground flax seeds will provide your body with these awesome benefits without messing with the taste. If you like a nutty, earthy taste, add a little more.
3. Chia Seeds
“Cha-Cha-Cha-Chia!” Yep, these are the seeds that sprout the fur on the 90’s popular Chia Pets.
Chia seeds are another one of the world’s oldest super foods. They are super tiny, but full of fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium along with other nutrients. They absorb water and create a natural gel texture when wet – which is why they are often used to make pudding or bubble tea. This effect will help you stay fuller longer.
Unlike flax seeds, you don’t have to grind chia seeds to get all of their nutritional value. Their flavor is neutral, so you won’t taste them in your smoothie.
4. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds come from the cannabis plant, but you won’t get a high from eating them!
Hemp seeds are a great source of complete protein, providing 11 grams in just 3 tablespoons. That’s nearly 75% more protein than what flax and chia seeds offer. They do not however offer nearly as much fiber than those of flax and chia.
In addition to their high protein content, hemp seeds are also a rich source of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin E, and iron.
They have a very mildly nutty taste, which is easily masked in a smoothie.
Matcha is a very finely stone-ground powder that comes from the leaves of green tea. It’s been around for centuries, but has become very trendy as of late. Matcha offers a more potent and concentrated source of nutrients, antioxidants, and caffeine than steeped green tea, because the leaves are actually ingested rather than discarded. Adding this to a pre-workout smoothie can be a great way to get a boost of energy and help with stamina.
Matcha has a very earthy, bitter taste, so you may want to start with just a teaspoon or less in your smoothie.
One not-so-wonderful things about matcha is that, if grown in polluted areas (particularly areas in industrial China), it may contain traces of lead – even if grown organically. This is because tea leaves tend to absorb pollution from the environment in which they grow. The more polluted the environment, the more polluted the leaves. For more information on lead contamination of tea, visit http://nutritionfacts.org/video/lead-contamination-of-tea/.
I prefer this DoMatcha Green Tea, Organic Ceremonial Matcha, for it is 100% Japanese matcha green tea, pure, and additive free. It is definitely pricier than other lower grade options, but in my opinion, worth it.
You can’t go wrong with adding cacao nibs or powder to your smoothie. Just make sure to not overdo it – it’s not going to make your smoothie taste sweet and chocolatey like you might think. It has a rather bitter, earthy taste. It may, however, help you kick your sugar cravings.
Cacao nibs are made by breaking or crumbling the full cacao bean into smaller pieces, and can be made into powder form from there. Either form provides a wonderful source of free-radical fighting antioxidants, fiber, manganese, magnesium, iron, and copper. Cacao also may work as a mood booster, which of course is another reason we love chocolate so much!
Cinnamon will add a boost of spice and sweetness to your smoothie, and at just 6 calories per teaspoon.
One of the greatest benefits of cinnamon is that it’s antibacterial, making is especially useful when fighting off infections or viruses. It’s also great source of antioxidants, manganese, calcium and iron, regulates blood sugar, has anti-inflammatory properties, and boosts brain function.
Just 1 ounce (a typical shot glass is 1.5 ounces) of wheatgrass is the nutritional equivalent of 2.5 pounds of green leafy vegetables! It’s great at cleaning the body, and building blood. Wheatgrass is loaded with protein and amino acids, fiber, vitamins A, B6, E, K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium. It’s really quite amazing how healthy just a small bit of wheatgrass is. For a complete list of it’s nutritional value, visit http://nutritiondata.self.com.
There are two methods to incorporate the superfood wheatgrass into your smoothie recipe: in juice form or powder. Juicing is definitely the freshest way to do it, but of course, more time consuming, so you may opt for powder.
Try adding a shot (or a 3/4 of a shot) of wheatgrass juice, or a teaspoon of wheatgrass powder to your smoothie for optimal health benefits. It certainly has a potently green taste, so adding it to a sweet smoothie, say pineapple, is a common way to incorporate it.
9. Acai Berries
Acai berries are one of the greatest sources of antioxidant power, and have anti-inflammatory properties.
It’s uncommon to find fresh acia berries in a grocery store, as they are grown in Brazil and do not travel well. Acai powder, pulp, frozen and freeze-dried berries are much more common.
It tastes a bit tart and bitter, a little like pure cocoa or red wine, and goes well in a smoothie with other berries, banana, and cacao.
10. Goji Berries
Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are a bright red fruit cultivated in the Himalayan Mountains and China. Fresh off the vine, they resemble mini-sized Roma tomatoes, but just like acai berries, it’s uncommon to find them in fresh-produce form. You will likely find them in dried and powder form.
They provide a nice source of antioxidants, fiber, vitamin A, iron and copper, and may help protect your eyes.
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