Base liquid: I like making a nut or seed milk for my smoothie bases. This adds a consistent source of protein and fat to help stabilize blood sugar. Another option is coconut water, which I love for it’s electrolytes like potassium, which is a little harder to get sufficient amounts of in one’s diet then you might think, and chloride, which is needed to create stomach acid for digestion and nutrient absorption. Other great options are vegetable juices such as carrot, beet or fermented beet kvass, or even just water!
Vegetable: I always add at least one type of vegetable to my smoothies. What this usually looks like for me is something leafy like spinach or baby kale. Other great options are swiss chard or beet greens. The best way to add this in, especially if you have a more fibrous vegetable like Italian or Dinosaur Kale, is to blend your vegetable with your liquid base until smooth. This will disguise a leafy veggie so well that even those who hate all things green will be delighted. Other options or addition include squash, sweet potatoes, or cauliflower, steamed and then frozen. You will be amazed at the creaminess these options can add to the texture of your smoothie!! It’s like a milkshake with tons of added antioxidants, fiber and nutrients with none of the unnecessary added sugar or toxic chemicals! Carrots and beets can also be steamed and then frozen but I usually add them in addition to the leafy green or with a lot less (or no) fruit because they’re a little sweeter than most of the other veggie options.
Protein Powder/ Nut Butter: Whey protein is a great choice for those who tolerate dairy because it’s one of the best sources available of glutathione which is the body’s master antioxidant that allows your body to survive and thrive in the midst of whatever toxins are being thrown at it. Of course, you’ll want to buy it organic or pasture raised, if not both. Collagen powder is another option I like to add for extra protein. However it’s not considered a complete protein, so I’ll usually combine this with a nut or seed milk base and/ or a nut butter as well to ensure no blood sugar spikes occur and to make this more of a nutrient dense meal than a simple snack that leaves you hungry within an hour or two. Some non-animal sourced options for protein include fermented pea protein or sprouted brown rice protein. I like to buy any grain or legume powder this way due to the reduction of an anti-nutrient called phytic acid. This compound is a natural predator deterrent that plants use which is often responsible for digestive upset that can come with consuming such plants. Another simple option that is less likely to cause digestive upset is a nut or seed butter. This is especially important if you chose to use a juice, coconut water or water for your base. Any nut or seed butter will do. I’ve personally enjoyed tahini (otherwise known as sesame seed butter, has a toasty/ nutty taste)as well as almond, or walnut butter. Nut butters are actually quite easy to make yourself if you own a food processor or a high quality blender. If you don’t have nut butter or a food processor, it can definitely work to just throw some seeds in the mix with everything else or on top at the end for added crunchiness and texture.
Yogurt: I always enjoy adding this for extra fat, protein and probiotics. While some won’t need this much protein (the slower metabolizers/ oxidizers) combined with nut butter, protein powder, or a nut milk, many also might benefit. Here’s a hint, if you tend to be cold often, have thinner hair and/ or thinner skin, you’ll likely benefit from the additional protein and fat included from this as well as a nut base and/ or protein powder or nut butter. Coconut yogurt is another great option as well as cashew yogurt for those who prefer plant- based products. In that case, some great brands for those are GTS, Coyo, or Forager. If you are doing an animal based yogurt, always organic and/ or pasture raised and definitely full fat. We need these fats for more of the fat-soluble nutrients which our health depends on, in addition to better satiation and for the optimal functioning and support of our being altogether.
Fruit (optional): As many may not realize, fruit is a completely unnecessary part of a smoothie. You can still enjoy the taste of a smoothie without it, or with very little. Stevia leaves or extract, cinnamon, cardamom, a teaspoon or so of monk fruit (which works for the Ketogenic diet) or lucuma (can also work for Keto dieters) can make any low- carb smoothie delectable! However, fruit still does have a lot to offer including a wide variety of nutrients and necessary enzymes. If you’re adrenally depleted or have candida, less is generally more. However, I am not one to make you feel guilty for eating any kind of fruit. The most important thing here is that you are listening to your body and heeding to any signs, symptoms and signals it’s giving you. As long as that’s being done, you are on the fast track to long term, sustainable success in my view. I always aim for a greater volume of vegetables than fruit. It’s also helpful to consider the season. We in the Northern Hemisphere process sugars from fruits best during the Summer when our skin gets exposed to the sun. It’s always best to keep things varied, too, this way you can maximize nutrients and minimize potential for creating food sensitivities. Some fun and interesting fruits you may not have considered are dragon fruit, otherwise known as pitaya, or acai. These are slightly lower in sugar and often can be found in the frozen section of any store you might frequent. I also like pineapple for all of the helpful enzymes it contains like bromelain which can be helpful for clearing up congestion. Berries are also a good choice since they’re lower in sugar. This can help reduce issues with insulin resistance which is more common today than ever. If you are on the ketogenic diet and would like to add some fruit for flavor, the juice of a lemon and lime can make a big difference in taste. For instance, a delicious ketogenic fruit and vegetable smoothie could include spinach with coconut, pecan, or macadamia milk along with shredded coconut or coconut meat, frozen cauliflower or zuchinni, stevia leaf or exract, a squeeze of lime, and a sprinkle of mint! I always like to adjust my fruit seasonally too. For instance, peaches and cherries in the late summer to early fall, and persimmons or pomegranates in the winter. It is always supportive to the body’s natural rhythms to eat seasonally.
Extra Mix-ins, Antioxidant, Adaptogenic or Superfood Powders:
I love adding cacao to my smoothies. This contributes the amino acid tyrosine which is a precursor to the feel-good chemical dopamine for extra energy, as well as antioxidants, the minerals magnesium, zinc and iron. Fermented cacao is even better because it frees up any nutrients that might be bound to the previously mentioned phytic acid which is found in nuts, grains, beans and legumes (Cacao is especially delicious paired with peanut butter, frozen banana, date, sweet potato, and lots of spinach. I’m warning you now that you’re likely going to get addicted.) Maca is another interesting powder that can add another dimension of flavor to your smoothie as well as more endurance and energy to your day. Maca contributes a lovely butterscotch- like taste and is actually a root vegetable. Yay for more veggies! Other extra powders I’ve loved adding for more benefits include an adaptogen powder made from ashwaganda, nettle leaf and oatstraw. I was amazed at how much calmer I felt just from the addition of 1 tsp into my daily smoothies. Another powder you might consider is called dandy blend. It’s made from roasted dandelion and other ingredients like chicory. The dandelion makes it greatly supportive to the liver and gall bladder and it actually tastes just like coffee! (Dandy blend can also be added to water to make what tastes much like a regular cup of coffee, with none of the caffeine but tons of minerals and a resultant calm, clean energy.) One of most noteworthy powders I like to put in my smoothies that I think everybody should know about is diatomaceous earth. This stuff is amazing! You’ll want to be sure to buy it food grade. DE actually comes from fossilized algae otherwise known as diatoms and is rich in silica. There are tons of testimonies from people online who have used this successfully for everything from hair loss to arthritis, skin issues, or parasite and candida control. For me, it has worked wonderfully to reduce my pathogenic load and has completely eliminated a skin condition I had been dealing with for years on end! This stuff is potent though so be sure you start slow. The average person might want to be extra careful and start with about 1/4- 1/2 tsp and working your way up by doubling each week (backing off if you ever get die- off, in that case taking some activated charcoal would help and can also be added to smoothies). Diatomaceous Earth can also reduce aluminum in the brain which has been widely linked to dementia, alzheimers and autism; so it’s amazing that a very simple (and inexpensive) powder can accomplish this task. With how wide of a variety of uses that diatomaceous earth has, there is no reason every household shouldn’t have some. If you need any more of a reason to buy it, it also works against house pets and can enrich your garden as well.
Garnishes: Don’t forget to make your smoothie look pretty! Not actually necessary, but can be very enjoyable. I love to add bee pollen for a wide variety of amino acids and enzymes to contribute energy and stamina to my day in addition to better allergic tolerance. Goji berries are another great and delicious one that can be blended in for an amazing flavor or garnished on top for more of a chewy texture and a sweet and sour, candy-like taste. Rose petals are also another fun topping that contribute vitamin C as well as bioflavonoids and, believe it or not, digestive support. Rose petals from the garden are fully edible (granted you didn’t spray them with any toxic chemicals like pesticides, etc– but hopefully if you’re reading this blog you wouldn’t do that anyway) and rose petals can support an incredible uplift in your mood as well!