We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet many of us tend to skip it in favor of hitting the snooze button. Fifteen more minutes of sleep trumps fifteen minutes spent in the kitchen every time. While grabbing a granola bar on the way out the door or stopping at a drive-thru is necessary some mornings when we’re short on time, this shouldn’t be our go-to method of fueling up for the day.
If you’re not too keen on the idea of spending more than five minutes in the kitchen every morning, then smoothies are the breakfast food for you! Packed with fruits, veggies, and protein, homemade smoothies can be customized to your tastes and desired nutritional content.
Choose Your Base
Fruits and vegetables should be the base of every meal you eat, and smoothies are no exception. Start with either one ripe banana or 1 cup of fruit, using any combination of berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), melons (watermelons, cantaloupes, honeydew melons), pitted fruits (peaches, mangoes, cherries), or citruses (oranges, limes, grapefruits) you like. Add in a few handfuls of leafy greens, like spinach or kale, or up to 1 cup of other vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, or even pumpkin puree.
Give It Some Juice
The only way those fruits and vegetables will blend is if liquid is added to thin them out. While adding plain water keeps the calorie count low, it does little in the way of giving your breakfast flavor or nutritional value. Try adding low-sugar orange, grapefruit, or apple juice for flavor and a boost of vitamin C. Add green tea for a small hit of caffeine. For added protein, try using either dairy milk or a non-dairy variety like soy, hemp, or pea milk. (Be aware that nut-based milks like almond, cashew, and coconut tend to either completely lack or be extremely low in protein.) Start with ½ cup of the liquid of your choice, adding 1 tablespoon more at a time as needed to reach your desired level of thickness.
Throw in the Protein
Protein helps you feel fuller for longer, so if you’re not using a protein-rich liquid or you just want more protein in your smoothie, add ¼ – ½ cup Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, or 1 tablespoon of almond or peanut butter. These are all thickeners, so add more liquid to your smoothie 1 tablespoon at a time until your desired thickness is reached. For lots of protein that won’t thicken your smoothie, add 1 scoop of protein powder.
Sweeten It Up
Some vegetables overpower fruit flavors, so if you’re not a fan of the taste of vegetables but still want their nutritional value, add a natural sweetener to help mask the veggies. Try 1 tablespoon of honey, agave nectar, or molasses or add a few dates for a subtle sweetness.
Add Some Pizazz
Make your smoothie more interesting by adding different spices and herbs that bring out the flavors of the fruits and vegetables. Try 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon or ginger to complement smoothies with peach, pear, apple, pumpkin, squash, or tangerine flavors. Basil and mint pair well with strawberry-, watermelon-, citrus-, or mango-based smoothies. Add a splash of vanilla extract to give any smoothie a more dessert-like flavor profile.
Tip to Try: Make smoothie assembly even easier by creating a “smoothie bag” the night before. In a quart-sized, resealable plastic bag, add all the ingredients for your smoothie except the liquid. Store in the refrigerator or freezer and simply dump the bag’s contents into the blender along with your liquid when you’re ready for breakfast.
Helpful Hint: Freeze the fruit juice or green tea of your choice in ice cube trays. When you’re ready to make your smoothie, pop those flavored cubes into the blender instead of plain ice. Now as your smoothie melts, it won’t get watered down.
Give Yourself a Boost!
The immune system is always learning and evolving; every time the body gets sick, the immune system learns how to more efficiently identify and battle what got it sick in the first place, whether that be bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. If you’re prone to common colds, asthma, or seasonal allergies, then you may want to give these natural immune system boosters a try. Many of these boosters come in liquid, pill, and powder forms, so go for whichever version fits your needs. As always, consult your doctor before consuming anything intended for medical purposes.
Local Bee Pollen or Raw Honey: If you’re a seasonal allergy sufferer, this might be the natural remedy you’ve been looking for! Local bees make honey and collect pollen from the local flowers that cause your seasonal allergies. Eating local bee pollen or raw honey can naturally build up the body’s resistance to those allergens.
Ginger: Asthma suffers looking for more natural treatment may want to consider taking ginger! Studies show the root can suppress the Th2-mediated immune response, which when overactive causes conditions like asthma.
Probiotics: If you seem to catch a cold every few months, try taking probiotics! While probiotics have been shown to aid in digestive health, studies show that certain strains of good bacteria, such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium animalis, can reduce the severity and length of upper respiratory tract infections.
Health Life – May-June 2017
Smooth-ie Moves: Build the Perfect On-the-Go Breakfast
Written by: Anna Limoges