It seems to me that smoothies and juicing are increasing in popularity these days. Jamba Juice franchises are everywhere and boutique juice shops are popping up left and right. Are there benefits to smoothies and juices or is it just a trend?
I’m not a huge fan of juicing mostly because the sugar content increases in whole foods through the juicing process. And, from my understanding, the nutrients are more abundant in the vegetables and fruit as whole foods rather than their liquid form.
When it comes to smoothies, I believe there is a time and a place for them. The quality of the ingredients are just as important as they are when preparing a whole food meal.
Here is when I recommend enjoying a smoothie:
You’re on a liquid only diet. Maybe you had dental surgery or your tonsils removed and you’re unable to swallow for a week or two. This is where a nutrient dense smoothie will come in handy.
You’re crunched on time. In today’s world, we try to pack everything we can into one day which makes it difficult to consume the nutrients our body needs to have the energy to get everything done on our constantly growing to-do list. One thing I love about smoothies is you can make them in a big batch at once. Gather a few mason jars with lids and divide your smoothie mix up for a few days. Just shake it up when you’re ready to enjoy it as some of the ingredients may settle to the bottom. Most homemade smoothies should last a for a few days in the fridge.
You want to replace your favorite beverages with a healthier version. I used to love getting mochas and peppermint mochas from coffee shops before I was primal. I didn’t drink them too often, about once a week if that, but as I look back I realize it was probably too often. I’ve created my own mocha and peppermint mocha with high quality Primal Kitchen Chocolate Collagen Powder, raw cacao powder, and peppermint extract. Check out the recipe here. When I drink it I feel like I’m nourishing my body rather then putting it into a diabetic coma with low quality ingredients.
You just don’t want to cook or eat whole foods. I’m a firm believer in eating W.H.E.N. (when hunger ensues naturally). I usually fast in the morning and don’t eat anything until about 11:00am. Often times when I am hungry in the morning, I just don’t feel like making eggs, bacon, and veggies so I whip up a smoothie in less than five minutes. Or I’m just craving a smoothie. I fill my smoothie with healthy proteins and fats that keep me satiated until I’m hungry for my salad.
Here are the ingredients I recommend for a satisfying smoothie:
Collagen Protein Powder
Collagen is the largest protein in our body. It’s great for our skin, hair, nails, and joints. Everyone should be eating collagen every day. Primal Kitchen makes a great tasting, high quality collagen protein powder (e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in a sample). It’s made with grass-fed bovine collagen peptides, coconut powder (the coconut taste is very mild), monk fruit extract, konjac root, vanilla extract, and sea salt. It comes in chocolate and vanilla. The chocolate powder is made with organic fair trade coco powder.
Raw Cacao Powder
Raw cacao powder is one of the most delicious and nutrient-dense foods you can enjoy. Cacao powder is different than coco powder in that it comes from un-roasted cacao beans rather than from roasted, which is what coco powder comes from. It’s less processed than coco powder and cold-pressed rather than processed at high heat.
Raw cacao powder has many health benefits including monounsaturated and saturated fats in it to help you feel satiated longer. It’s also full of vitamins and minerals such as B-vitamins, vitamin E, zinc, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, calcium and manganese. In additional to the vitamins and minerals, cacao powder is high in antioxidants, which help prevent oxidation in your body. Oxidation in your body can cause chronic inflammation, negatively effecting your immune system, and premature aging. It has also been known to decrease stress levels and increase energy levels.
Maca powder is from the root of the maca plant which is the part of the plant that is most edible. It has a nutty flavor to it but I can’t taste it in my smoothie.
There are a number of benefits that come from maca powder. It’s high in vitamin C, iron, and copper. It has also been known to increase energy, endurance, and improve your mood. This is especially beneficial for folks who are have challenges with anxiety and depression.
Cinnamon is one of my favorite spices. Cinnamon is a sweet and savory spice that’s delicious in pumpkin pie and cinnamon rolls. I love sprinkling my whole milk grass-fed yogurt and raw walnut pieces with cinnamon. One of my non-primal treats is cinnamon flavored gluten-free oatmeal. And cinnamon my “secret” ingredient in my HBK Taco Seasoning.
Cinnamon has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. All you need is about ¼ tsp in your smoothie to add a little extra flavor and get the health benefits.
MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) and olive oil are two fantastic healthy fats to include in a smoothie. These healthy saturated fats are a great addition to smoothies to help keep you satiated (feeling full) longer.
It’s widely known that olive oil is a heart healthy monounsaturated fat. But what’s MCT oil? MCT oil is concentrated coconut oil. We buy the flavorless MCT oil so I can’t even taste it when I put it in my smoothie. In addition to helping you feel fuller longer, MCT oil has also been known to give you mental clarity, more energy, improved digestion, and keep your hormone levels in check.
Nut butters such as almond or cashew add flavor, fat, and protein to a smoothie. I will occasionally add peanut butter to my smoothie as well. Yes, I know peanuts are technically legumes and not primal or paleo, however, I still love the taste of it. And it’s better than other non-primal/paleo foods.
Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are high in antioxidants. They also have a lower glycemic index than most other fruits which means our bodies process them slower. Your insulin levels won’t spike after eating them.
I love the consistency bananas bring to a smoothie. It adds a nice smoothness and creaminess. When bananas are more on the green side they are a great source of resistant starch. Resistant starch is food for our good gut bacteria that we want to keep alive. Fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha are also great sources of resistant starch.
Water, Milk, or Cold Brew Coffee
The type of liquid used in a smoothie can make all the difference. I prefer to use almond milk because it gives it a creamier texture than water or cold brew coffee. Cold brew coffee is delicious when I’m on the mood for a coffee beverage that’s a little on the sweet side yet nutritious.
Of course, there are so many more nutrient dense ingredients you can include in your smoothie. The one common denominator in most of these ingredients: they help you feel satisfied longer.