For me, smoothies are one of life's greatest joys. I love desserts and sweets, so a healthy smoothie feels like a guilt-free way of indulging. I've been drinking even more smoothies lately as I've been focusing on increasing my protein intake (more on that next month)! I've always been a bit of a scientist when it comes to smoothies, but drinking more lately has given me the opportunity to experiment with lots of different add-ins. Here's my top ten favorite add-ins for magic smoothies.
Obviously, this is the baseline add-in. At some point, I'm pretty sure we've all had a smoothie with protein powder but there are so many these days that it can be hard to decide which one to try. My favorite go-to brands are all plant-based: Vega, Perfect Fit, and Moon Juice. I know so many people love chocolate protein powder, but I like to stick with basic vanilla to keep things easy and if I want a chocolate shake, I just add a bit of cacao. However, Perfect Fit sometimes offers seasonal flavors that are fun to try out. Their coconut flavor was delicious.
Nutritional powders differ from protein powders in that they focus primarily on micronutrients and adaptogens. My all-time favorite is the Raw Beauty Green Superfood Powder. It tastes like mint chocolate chip and you can simply mix it in with almond milk and a banana. This powder contains a blend of wheatgrass, chlorella, spirulina, alfalfa grass, and barley juice powder plus acai, goji, cocoa, moringa, matcha and grapeseed and adaptogens such as ginseng, astragalus, licorice, ashwagandha, eleuthra, and rhodiola and a probiotic blend. Basically, it contains all of the superfoods you need in one, easy powder.
Cacao is the raw, pure form of chocolate making it far less processed than your average cocoa powder. In powder form, most of the nutrients are still intact and it contains more fiber (and calories) than traditional cocoa powder. It's also a great source of protein, vitamins, and more. Use this just as you would any chocolate powder. I love blending cacao, almond milk, banana, and frozen cherries for a delicious dessert shake.
Back in college when I worked in day-of event coordination, I used to go to the juice bar down the street from my dorm and get a maca smoothie before working all night. Nothing really makes that kind of work easy, but it certainly helped sustain my energy without any spikes or crashes. Maca is also known anecdotally for helping skin and mood issues. It's full of vitamins B, C, and E as well as calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, and amino acids. It has a nutty taste on its own, but I honestly am never able to taste it in my smoothies. I especially like maca blended into a peanut butter shake.
Did you know that spirulina is one of the most concentrated sources of protein on Earth? It is also rich in vitamin b1, iron, and calcium as it is a form of blue-green algae. Be careful when buying spirulina, though. First, make sure that you buy spirulina powder or liquid drops as opposed to the tablets which are hard to work with. Also, ensure that you are purchasing from a clean source to avoid heavy-metals. My personal opinion is that spirulina works best in fruity smoothies, so mix it with berries and pineapple for an ocean-inspired drink.
Most of us use honey in our smoothies already, but you should consider making the switch to raw. It is a little harder to work with outside the blender since it isn't a liquid but it's great for blending. It's a wonderful source of antioxidants and phytonutrients that heal your body.
Reishi is a medicinal fungus, essentially a mushroom, that is anti-inflammatory and adaptogenic. You may have seen some bottled reishi drinks on the shelves at Whole Foods if the word rings a bell. Just like all adaptogens, reishi helps the body adapt to stress side-effects like inflammation, low energy levels, and hormonal imbalances. On its own, it isn't the most delicious thing but you can easily mix it into your drinks (especially chocolate ones) to mask the taste but still reap the benefits.
I've spoken about my love for bee pollen before. It is rich in protein and amino acids and has tons of benefits for the body from energy and digestion to allergies and the immune system. This ingredient is super easy to incorporate into just about anything. In a smoothie or smoothie bowl, it will quickly dissolve and has a sweet flavor (sort of like a powdered honey).
Ho Shou Wu
Amanda Chantal Bacon of Moon Juice (my queen) inspired me to look into adding ho shou wu to my diet. It is a powerful Chinese herb derived from a plant root known as an anti-aging tonic because it stimulates longevity-promoting substances in the body as well as DNA repair processes and rejuvenation. It has a sweet taste like chocolate, so you can mix it into your smoothies or even your cup of tea.
Collagen is incredible. That's a well known fact. It accounts for 70% of the protein in our skin and is vital for anti-aging. Obviously you can get it in your beauty products, but did you know you can drink it too? Blend it with greens, lemon, ginger, and berries for the ultimate anti-aging smoothie from The Skinny Confidential.
What are your favorite smoothie add-ins?