I work with a lot of people on improving nutritional strategies for overall health and performance. The advice I give is generally pretty simple: Eat good food. Eat good food at the right times. Eat good food in the right amounts. Simple, right? Pretty much.
For most, common sense can dictate much of the nutrition program and the choices they make. We inherently know whether what we are eating is moving us towards or away from our goals. After that, will power, impulse control, and good planning take over. Planning is what I want to address here.
My clients are busy. Every single one of them. And so are you. Convenience is often one of the biggest factor in healthy eating choices. Typically, convenient food is processed and thus high in ingredients, added salt, etc. or convenient food is one dimensional (fruit for example). While not always a bad choice, convenient often leaves holes in a solid nutrition plan. But how do you factor in the need for convenience with a busy, unpredictable lifestyle? Sometimes, drinking your nutrition is the best and easiest answer.
The great thing about smoothies is they are infinitely adjustable for your needs and, tastes and they are super easy, relatively inexpensive and CONVENIENT! When prepping, we always make our smoothies the night before while cleaning up from dinner. Everything goes into the Vitamix (third to sliced bread and light bulbs on the invention list) and then put in insulated mug in the fridge. Grab in the morning and it stays cold all day – give a shake before drinking and you have ready-made meal wherever you are.
Simple math can give you nutrition breakdown, from total calories to grams of protein and then your individual needs can dictate ingredients from there. Here are some ideas to guide you getting started.
Water: simple, cheap, no calories. Coconut for more electrolytes.
Milk: better tasting, thickener, can use any kind (hemp, rice, whole) and get added calcium, protein, etc. from fortified sources.
Juice: high in calories, flavor. Adds tartness.
Ice: thickener, use with any of the above bases.
A staple in smoothies. Adds vitamins, minerals, and flavor. Use frozen berries, bananas (don’t get rid of rotten bananas, freeze then drop in here!), citrus, whatever. Really personal preference here but also consider things like blueberries for added anti-oxidants.
Not for every smoothie, but an easy way to get more protein in diet. Several sources here…
1) Powder. I generally look for the highest protein with the fewest calories. Target 15-20 grams of protein for your smoothie. Lots of vegan options available here, too.
2) Nut butters. Peanut, almond, sunflower, etc. a scoop or two adds flavor, thickness, and protein. (If you have a Vitamix you can just add nuts direct)
3) Hemp seeds
Some ideas would be olive oil, flax seeds or oil, or fish oil to add good fats to the mix. In small amounts, you’ll never even know that they’re there.
Drink your greens:
Easy way to increase amount of leafy green vegetables is to add to smoothie. Aside from altering the color there is no way you know they’re in the mix. We buy an organic power-mix with kale, chard, spinach and add in a big load before mixing, makes things really easy.
Play around with the list here. Mix and match different ingredients from each of the lists for a blend that you enjoy and that has the nutritional values you need. Is it for before or after exercise for example, is it a snack or meal replacement? Possibilities are endless and only limited by your blender and creativity!
Smoothie base recipe
As a starter, here is our current smoothie base recipe. We actually double this to make enough for all four of us.
1 C hemp milk (we like vanilla Tempt brand – a little more expensive but dairy free and the hemp milk provides a richness that is more dairy-like.
1 fresh banana
1 spear of fresh pineapple (Costco sells cored and ready to use)
1 handful of pecans (toasted) or almonds – can also sub a nut butter
1 handful fresh power greens (again, Costco sells a large bag, washed organic)
1-2 C frozen strawberries or other berries (Costco is a good source for frozen fruit but they only have organic seasonally. Whole foods carries their 365 brand of organic year round)