Smoothies 101: Mix, match and read your labels!

What’s delicious but healthy and loved by everyone in this little family?

Smoothies!

Smoothies 101: Mix, match and read your labels! – Little Sexy Mamas 2016-01-15 00-47-49

Do you make them? Drink them? Pin them on Pinterest? Just hear and see everyone else be all crazy about them?

Here’s the reality of smoothies… They are ‘all the rage’ because they come with a healthy stigma, but the truth is, they can easily but just as unhealthy as anything else. Done right… they can be an awesome addition to your daily routine and even help you kick some not-so-awesome things in your diet.

Smoothies are a great “One Simple Change” challenge or resolution in general. Diets themselves are not something you’ll hear me promote, but adding something to your daily routine that floods your body with nutrition, now that is something I am on board with! They can be a great start to your day, an easy lunch or a perfect snack, especially if you get sweet tooth cravings like myself.

I’ll be honest… If you are an experienced smoothie-regular. This post might not be for you. But as someone with several years of experience with smoothies, I get frequent questions on “how to make one” or recipe ideas.

Confession: I don’t really do recipes. I simply do ingredients thrown into a Nutri-bullet at guesstimated amounts until it seems right.

Now… don’t be scared. Just start experimenting… Here is a quick list of ingredients and tips:

smoothies-1

  1. Protein powder
    One of the greatest things about a smoothie is that it’s an easy opportunity to add a TON of nutrition to your day without sitting down to eat a bunch of individual things. In addition to the ingredients you actually choose to blend together, including a whole-food based protein powder truly is invaluable. BUT BEWARE! Every protein powder is not created equal, even if marketing and labels like to make you think they are all super healthy. My choice is the Juice Plus+ Complete mix for a couple of reasons and here’s what you should consider when choosing yours:

    1. It is whole-food based (chickpea, rice, apple, broccoli, alfalfa, radish, quinoa, millet, mushroom, pumpkin… just to name a few). Protein is great, but the REAL foods you can get in a mix are golden.
    2. Protein type. My Complete uses low-processed (Read: the healthiest) soy, chickpea, pea and rice powder. We try to keep dairy to a minimum (especially since the hubs is allergic!) so skipping whey protein is a big plus for us.
    3. My suggestion (PLEA!) is to read the label and ingredients before you purchase your powder and don’t go with just cost. I strongly suggest to look for whole/real foods and less of the supplemental stuff.
    4. Avoid refined sugars and sweeteners. There will be sugars in the mix, but pay attention to what sweeteners are being used and opt for natural ones (stevia, cane sugar, agave nectar…)

     

  2. Fruits
    Smoothies are not limited to strawberries and bananas. It is definitely a great place to start if you are new to the game, but here are a few other pointers for branching out:

    1. Smoothies are a great way to get berries in your diet–a fruit you may not just keep on hand or eat daily. Berries are full of antioxidants our bodies need and frozen mixed berries are pretty easy to find these days.
    2. Bananas are great for a smooth, ice-creamy-like taste, but I am aware many people *cough, cough–my husband–cough* have strong anti-banana opinions. I’ve found mangos can bring a similar taste and feel. Not to mention they are delicious.
    3. Avocados do wonders in smoothies. Honestly, their flavor isn’t intensely strong, but they have a secret way of adding an amazing creaminess to your drink.
    4. Try different fruits with both chocolate and vanilla protein mixes. You might be surprised how it turns out.
  3. Liquids
    There are no restrictions on what liquid works in a smoothie. Some of the top choices include:

    1. Non-dairy milks like almond, rice, soy or coconut milk. Others use actual milk. These milks tend to come in both vanilla and chocolate varieties.
    2. Juice! Another great way to include a variety of fruits. My hubs prefers juice (apple juice usually but sometimes we branch out). I’ll just again caution you to look at the sugar and ingredients in the juice you buy.
    3. Greek Yogurt… OK, not really a liquid, but it definitely makes a difference in the consistency (and taste.) Honestly, I don’t do this simply, because Mingus can’t have the dairy, but I know many are huge fans.
  4. Make sure it’s frozen.
    How do you get a smoothie to have that icy-ness that makes it a smoothie and not just thick juice? Trust me… a cold tasty drink is not nearly as good as an icy one. Two easy ways:

    1. Buy frozen fruit (or freeze your own)
    2. Add some ice.
  5. Veggies & Greens – Don’t be scared!
    This may sound extreme to an new-to-the-smoothie-world person, but you might be surprised…

    1. Pumpkin puree can add some serious flavor and texture.
    2. Vegetables can be sweeter than you might suspect. Try a carrot or beet sometime.
    3. Throw in some greens. Spinach is a great one, because it has such a mild flavor and, trust me, you’ll want to brag all day about how you ate spinach in your smoothie.
    4. I feel like this is a no-brainer, and it’s not exactly a vegetable, but PEANUT BUTTER people! (Or almond butter…) I, personally, prefer it in my chocolate smoothies. But, do me a favor…and don’t use some sort of ridiculously sugarized PB. Can I say it too many times? READ THE LABEL!
  6. And when you start to feel comfortable.. Some more add-ins
    There are sooooo many other things you can throw in a smoothie to take it to the next level. And if you have a restaurant-grade blender (like a Nutri-bullet) you really can put about anything in and the end result will still be smooth as silk. Here are a few things we regularly put in our smoothies or have tried:

    1. Cinnamon
    2. Honey
    3. Flax seed
    4. Coconut oil
    5. Chia seeds
    6. Walnuts
    7. Oatmeal/Oats

I really tried to bring all that down to a basic level… But I feel like it may have still been a bit much… Bottom line is that healthy smoothies really come down to paying attention to what you are putting in and reading the labels of your ingredients. If you are taking the time to make one, make it worth your while.

If this was too basic or you want some more ideas, check out this article.

And be sure to check out HJ’s video today. While you sip your smoothie and make your insides feel good, she’s got all the pointers for stepping up your beauty game. She’s the queen of tips, tricks and hacks in this department so check it out!

And–SPOILER–We have a giveaway on the horizon!!! Stay tuned!

Cheers to looking good on the inside and out!

 

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