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Smoothies 101: The Basics for a Nutritious Smoothie

Smoothies can be a wonderful addition to the daily routine.  They are quick to prepare, filling, and delicious.  Yes, breakfast time is synonymous with smoothies, but they can be gulped down easily any time of day.  So, as you sip away your tall, icy glass of goodness make sure to get the most out of your drink. However, it can very quickly turn from a nutritious meal-in-a-glass to a decadent, sugar-filled dessert. Next time you blend away your favorite smoothie recipe, keep these four things in mind:

Power it with Protein

Including protein into every meal or snack is essential.  Protein is the building block for muscle and tissue, and it helps keep you stay full longer.  Just two reasons why we need to ensure we are getting enough protein through the day.  Although there are tons of protein powders out there in a variety of flavors, aim for a product with the least amount of ingredients and the best amino acid profile (the more amino acids on the label, the better).  Aim for at least one serving of protein in every smoothie to ensure you get your daily need in.    

Fill up with Fiber

Did you know the majority of people in the United States do not get enough fiber?  If you are using a smoothie to replace breakfast (or any other meal for that matter) make sure fiber plays a key role.  It not only works to stave off hunger (making sure you won’t be rummaging for a donut two hours later), but fiber helps the body detox and stay regular.  Adequate amount of fiber has also been linked to lower rates of cancer and heart disease, not to mention weight loss.  Have trouble figuring out how to get fiber into a smoothie? Flax meal and chia seeds are good sources of fiber, as is psyllium husk.  All three are neutral tasting and blend easily.  Just a spoon or two will do the trick.  Drop it into the blender first with some of the liquid you will be using in the smoothie, and give it a few minutes to swell up before adding more ingredients.  As a bonus, they help thicken up the smoothie, making it rich and creamy.  Yu-um. 

Limit the Sugar

Store-bought smoothies (and some homemade recipes) can be sugar bombs.  Yikes.  Don’t go crazy with the fruit or sweeteners you are adding – especially if you are drinking a smoothie as your first meal of the day.  That rush of simple carbs you find in processed sweeteners sends your insulin into overdrive.  Use low sugar fruits like berries in your drink to lower the total amount of sugar.  If fruit isn’t your thing try adding stevia or monk fruit to for a touch of sweetness without the sugar.  Your body will thank you.

Vegify it

Drink your veggies?  Sure.  Incorporating veggies into a smoothie is actually quite easy to do.  Although greens like spinach and kale are popular additions, consider adding other frozen vegetables.  If you are worried about the taste — fear not, usually your smoothie won’t taste like yesterday’s stir-fry when you use mild-tasting veggies, like cauliflower or zucchini.  Not only will they add needed vitamins and minerals, but frozen vegetables also create a frosty end result without watering down your drink.  Need more reasons to add veggies to the blender?  Vegetables add even more fiber to keep you full.  How can you not add them?!

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