Build a Better Smoothie - AP Nutritional Therapy
Build a Better Smoothie

Why drink a smoothie?

Smoothies are an easy and delicious way to get your 5 or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Research shows we should be aiming for more like 10 servings a day to get the most health benefits. Of this, 6-8 servings should be of vegetables, and the remaining of fruit. Fruit and vegetables are a great source of fibre, which we need to maintain a healthy gut, and they provide us with a variety of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Skip straight to the smoothie recipes

When should I have a smoothie?

Smoothies are the perfect way to start the day if you are short on time in the mornings. Alternatively, smoothies can ward off that mid-afternoon slump and keep you going with plenty of energy until dinner – especially if you tend to exercise after work.

What do I put in a smoothie?

The ideal smoothie contains a blend of healthy fats, protein, vegetables for added fibre and nutrients, and some fruit for sweetness and additional nutrients. A smoothie is also a good vehicle for powdered supplements, such as collagen, protein, green powders, vitamin powders, and more, as the smoothie tends to hide the taste or some less flavoursome add-ins.

Pros and cons

Benefits of smoothies include:

  • Increased vegetable intake
  • Increase in raw foods, which can be higher in nutrients and enzymes
  • More fibre than juices as you are blending and drinking the whole food, with no waste
  • Lower insulin reaction than juices, due to the added fibre, fat and protein (as long as you keep your vegetable to fruit ratio correct)
  • Easy to prepare in advance: keep all the ingredients in a bowl in the fridge and then blend when needed

Potential downsides of smoothies:

  • They can be high in sugar and cause a blood sugar spike if the fruit is not balanced with healthy fat and protein
  • They can be caloric, so they should be viewed as a meal replacement for most people – and watch your portion size
make a smoothie

How to build a smoothie

Step one: Choose your liquid

  • Filtered water
  • Unsweetened plant-based milk (mylk) – eg coconut, almond, soya, hazelnut
  • Plain, unflavoured natural or coconut yoghurt
  • Chilled herbal tea – eg green tea, peppermint, lemon, ginger
  • Lemon water
  • Cucumber (1/4-1/2 cucumber per smoothie)
  • Celery (1-2 stalks per smoothie)

Step two: Add a little flavour

  • Apples and pears – contain pectin, which is a soluble fibre that helps soothe the lining of the gut, support healthy elimination, and improve the balance in the gut microbiome. Use ½-1 piece of fruit per smoothie.
  • Berries – Berries are lower in sugar than many fruits, and are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, and fibre. Frozen berries are great for smoothies as they also help keep them cold.
  • Cherries – Cherries are a good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals and are well known for their antioxidant properties. Frozen cherries are a great option as they don’t need to be pitted, and help keep the smoothie cold.
  • Pineapple – Pineapples are high in bromelain, which is good for digestive health, and relief from pain and inflammation. They are also high in fibre. Choose fresh, and use in moderation as they are high in natural sugar.
  • Lemon/Lime – add a bit of zing to your smoothie by juicing ¼-1 lemon or lime. These citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, which helps support your immune system. If your fruit is organic and unwaxed, add some zest to the smoothie, which can contain more nutrients than the fruit.
  • Banana – Bananas are high in potassium, magnesium, fibre, b-vitamins, and vitamin c, and the riper the fruit, the more flavourful. Stick to one small or ½ medium/large banana as the ripe fruits can contain a fair bit of natural sugar. TOP TIP: if your bananas are starting to ripen too much, peel them, cut them up, and place individual bananas in freezer bags for easy additions to smoothies.

Step three: Vegetables, herbs and spices

  • Cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens – for great liver support (natural detox!) bulk out your smoothie with some broccoli, spinach, sprouts, kale, cauliflower, watercress, rocket, dandelion leaves, and chard. These vegetables are rich in folate, vitamin C, iron, beta-carotene, and magnesium. These can be added raw (unless you have an underactive thyroid – then cooked is best) or even from your freezer. Many supermarkets carry whole leaf spinach in little frozen parcels – add 2-4 per smoothie.
  • Herbs and spices – this may take some experimenting to find the right amount for your preference, as herbs and spices can be strong in flavour. For inflammation, try adding turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger. Fresh mint and coriander (cilantro) leaves can help with digestion. Also try basil, parsley, and rosemary for flavour and added health benefits.
  • Powders – high nutrient powders (sometimes referred to as ‘superfoods’) such as lucuma, cacao, maca, acai, spirulina, matcha, wheatgrass, moringa, etc can be rich in antioxidants and support the immune system and lowered inflammation. Naturya make some of my favourite superfood powders.
  • Dulse – Seaweed is high in iodine, iron, vitamin C, antioxidants, soluble and insoluble fibre, vitamin K, vitamin B-12 and a range of other nutrients. Add ½-1 tsp dulse flakes to your smoothie for great thyroid support.

Step four: Healthy fats

  • Chia, Flax, and Hemp – Added omega 3 fatty acids, protein, fibre, and calcium. Add 1TBSP of each
  • Avocado – adding ½ avocado to your smoothie will make it deliciously creamy, filling and will support heart health, eye health and healthy blood sugar
  • Nut or seed butters – adding peanut butter, or almond butter to your smoothie can make it taste delicious, as well as add protein, fibre, and a good amount of Omega 3 fatty acids. Choose brands with no added sugars or palm oils, like Pip N Nut, ManiLife or Meridian. Nut butters contain healthy fats which can support heart health and healthy blood sugar. If you are intolerant or allergic to nuts, seed butters can be a great option, providing similar nutrients safely – just read the labels carefully to ensure there are not potential allergens. As these fat sources can be caloric in large quantities, stick to no more than 1TBSP per smoothie.
  • Coconut oil – Coconut oil contains the medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) caprylic acid, lauric acid, and capric acid which can contribute to energy and satiation. Choose raw, unprocessed, or extra virgin, and you may choose to melt it first for more seamless blending.
  • Olive oil – Add a tablespoon of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil for a great source of omega 3 and antioxidants, and to help reduce inflammation.
smoothies

Smoothie Recipes

For each recipe below, place all ingredients in your blender, blend until combined, pour in a glass, and enjoy!

PEAR BLACKBERRY SMOOTHIE

  • 1 pear
  • 110g blackberries
  • 2 TBSP ground flax seed
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 large handful baby spinach
  • 240ml water
  • A few ice cubes

GUT HEALING GREEN SMOOTHIE

  • 360ml cold water or almond milk
  • 70g kale leaves
  • ¼ avocado (peeled)
  • ½ banana (frozen)
  • 1.5 TBSP chia seeds
  • 1 TBSP ground flax seeds
  • 2 TBSP hemp seeds
  • 1 TBSP raw honey (or maple syrup)

CHOCOLATE CHERRY SMOOTHIE

  • 20 almonds soaked overnight
  • 10 frozen cherries
  • 200ml coconut yoghurt
  • 2 tsp cacao powder

GREEN SMOOTHIE

  • 1 large handful of baby spinach
  • Small knob of fresh ginger
  • Juice of 1 lemon (add some zest if organic and unwaxed)
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 120g cucumber
  • ½ avocado
  • 300ml water

BREAKFAST SMOOTHIE BOWL

This can be eaten with a spoon, or as a smoothie with some extra milk

  • ½ avocado
  • 1 small banana, fresh or fozen
  • 1 handful frozen raspberries
  • 1tsp raw coconut oil
  • 1 TBSP chia or flax seeds
  • 100ml coconut milk or almond milk

BEETROOT BRAIN BOOSTER SMOOTHIE

  • 1 red beetroot (trimmed and scrubbed clean – peeled if not organic)
  • 5 walnuts soaked overnight
  • 40g blueberries
  • 40g raspberries
  • ½ avocado
  • 300ml filtered water

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY SMOOTHIE

  • 5g fresh turmeric root or 2tsp dried powder
  • 10g fresh ginger root
  • Black pepper – a few cracks from the grinder
  • 1/3 fresh pineapple (including core)
  • 1 fresh lime, juiced
  • 2TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 200ml filtered water