We used to make smoothies with only fruit thinking they were “healthy”. Anyone else do that? With the large quantity of calories and natural sugars, they were rather sweet and not very filling, plus we’d feel hungry in no time. Fortunately for us, we’ve learnt a thing or two since then. Here are some valuable tips from clinical nutritionist Natalie Brady on how to make better smoothies for you and your family.
Smoothies are a quick and easy way to pack a heap of wholefoods and nutrients. Whether you’re enjoying a smoothie for breakfast, afternoon snack or post-workout fuel, they should be nutritionally balanced. What does that mean?
A healthy smoothie should contain a source of protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and portions of fruit, vegetables and greens. Including organic health supplements like BOTANISTRY Blends to supply micronutrients is highly recommended. A balanced smoothie will make you feel satiated (feel fuller and fuelled for longer), provide essential nutrients and support balanced blood sugar levels.
Let’s learn more about how to make better smoothies and the different components to structure a healthy smoothie.
Protein provides essential amino acids for muscle repair and connective tissue support. It also helps you feel fuller and less likely to have cravings. You can use non-vegan protein powder, vegan protein powder like pea or hemp protein as well as collagen powder as your sources of protein.
Nut butters like almond, cashew and peanut butter are a rich source of healthy fats. One tablespoon of nut butter gives a naturally sweet taste to your smoothie if you’re craving something sweet. Other sources of healthy fats include adding half an avocado or a tablespoon of chia, flax or hemp seeds. These seeds are rich in minerals and Omega-3 fatty acids, which are critical for heart, brain and hormonal health. Make sure any seeds are well ground so they can be properly absorbed by the body. Smoothies that contain healthy fats, fibre and protein can reduce the speed at which sugar enters the bloodstream, preventing a blood glucose spike.
Fibre-rich or non-starchy vegetables help maintain stable blood sugar levels which help to support energy levels. Fibre is also essential for gut health, so helps to support our gut microbes. Non-starchy vegetables are also rich in phytonutrients, making smoothies a great way to sneak in extra nutrition. Zucchini and cauliflower are two great options which you’ll hardly taste in your smoothie, and you could also try carrots, cucumber or a little sweet potato. Once blended, you can’t actually taste them but they make the smoothie creamy and filling. Vegetables also help with removing toxins and bowel regularity.
We now know that the problem with a fruits-only smoothie is that the overload of natural sugars will give your body a serious sugar spike. Blood sugar spikes and crashes can be harmful – sometimes causing symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, headache and mood swings. Over time, it can lead to chronic health complications including nerve damage, vision loss, kidney damage, kidney problems and an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
For optimal blood sugar balance, it is best to stick to one portion (1/2 cup) of fruits per smoothie. However, you could enjoy 1 cup (2 servings of fruit) if that was the only fruit you had that day and made sure your smoothie had sufficient protein and fat to balance out the blood sugar effects of fruit. To benefit from natural nourishment and fibre, always include the whole fruit with skin and pith, only leaving out inedible seeds. Berries like strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, fresh or frozen, are lower glycaemic options and packed with vitamin C. Fruit provides sweetness and makes your smoothie taste great, which would mean you don’t need extra sweeteners like maple syrup, honey or coconut sugar. It is a good idea to freeze single or mixed portions of fresh fruit to be used for your smoothies as needed.
Make sure to add some leafy greens like spinach or kale that provide fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. They also give your smoothie more body and in fact, are virtually undetectable when combined with fruit and nut butter. It is a great way to sneak in some greens without the kids even noticing! The fibre improves the regularity of your digestive system and can even help manage cholesterol levels.
Organic spices and herbs are a welcome addition to smoothies for their numerous health benefits. BOTANISTRY Blends make it easier to add a therapeutic dose – just one teaspoon daily – to support your health goals. As a powder and having versatile flavours, the Blends are convenient to add into your smoothies.
Not only are they delicious, the benefit of smoothies is that they can be functional, addressing specific nutrition concerns in a simple way. And BOTANISTRY organic health supplements help support these functional benefits for your body.
- Fruit and vegetables rich in vitamin B and C with BOOSTING AMBERS to naturally support immune function. BOOSTING AMBERS is a natural blend for the immune system, helping the body combat inflammation with Turmeric, support circulation with Ginger and a boost of vitamin C with Lime.
- Fibre-rich foods in smoothies with DIGESTIVE JADES for gut health. Ginger helps with nausea and igniting digestive fire, while the calming ingredients of Lemongrass and Chamomile can soothe any stomach discomfort.
- A workout recovery smoothie is best with protein-rich ingredients and ACTIVE CORALS. ACTIVE CORALS contains Ceylon Cinnamon (great for blood sugar balance), Turmeric (anti-inflammatory and immune supportive), Ashwagandha (ideal for the immune system and nervous system), Clove (for antioxidants and metabolism), and Black Pepper (helps with Turmeric absorption and supports circulation).
- Cleansing smoothies with GLOWING GREENS help to eliminate toxins, combat inflammation and support skin health. GLOWING GREENS contains the antioxidant-rich and skin-loving plant ingredients of: Moringa, Peppermint, Green Tea, Curry Leaf and Black Pepper.
Incorporating some liquid helps to properly blend all the ingredients, making the smoothie less thick and easy to drink. Pro tip: Add your liquid into the blender in first; followed by greens and fruit, and finally butters and powders. This helps to mix all the ingredients easily without clumping at the blades. Also, don’t overfill the blender which can cause it to leak and not mix properly.
Natalie recommends adding unsweetened almond milk, hemp milk or coconut milk as they are more blood sugar supportive than other milks. Dairy or non-dairy milk will increase your smoothie’s protein content too. Alternatively, for a lighter version, you might like to simply add filtered water or coconut water (replenishes electrolytes). Definitely leave out adding fruit juice, especially if you’re already adding a portion of fruit. To make a thicker smoothie bowl, you can add unsweetened Greek yoghurt or coconut yoghurt.
Once we learnt these foundations for how to make better smoothies, we began to experiment with different ingredients and flavour combinations, and you will too. Don’t forget to tag @botanistryblends in your wholesome creations. In addition, you might like to try Natalie’s go-to balanced breakfast smoothie recipe here or find more recipes here.
Natalie Brady is a registered clinical nutritionist, wellness expert and holistic health blogger based in New Zealand. She believes that simple changes can have a big impact and it is about making better, realistic lifestyle choices. She likes to add ACTIVE CORALS and BOOSTING AMBERS Ayurvedic powders into her family smoothies and porridge. If you would like to learn more about Natalie’s highly-acclaimed online programmes and coaching, get in touch through her website or Instagram.