8 Ingredients for Super Healthy Smoothies
The New Year is typically the time when many Americans make a resolution to eat healthier, but why not eat healthy all year round? Sure, it’s easy to say, but lack of time and other factors can sometimes keep this dream from becoming a reality. This is where smoothies come in. Not only are they delicious, but they can be extremely healthy, quick to make, and store in the refrigerator well for an afternoon snack at work or on the go. Personally, I love to have a smoothie for breakfast. The tangy and sweet flavors are a wonderful treat for getting up, and the portion that I don’t drink gets stored in a wide mouth water bottle in the fridge for a quick afternoon pick me up.
Sure, store bought smoothies are great and full of vitamins, but they may also have extra preservatives to keep them fresh, which isn’t always bad. But when you have time to buy fresh or frozen fruits and blend them yourself you might find a world of difference when it comes to taste. There are a few ingredients that can be added to your smoothie to give you an extra healthy bonus. Some of them may be new to your food routine, but I promise they’re worth trying at least once.
Pomegranate Juice - Pomegranates have become popular in every variety over the last year or so. Their tangy and tart taste is refreshing and crisp (think unsweetened blueberry or cranberry juice). This might be one of the safest additions to your smoothie if you are at the beginning stages of adding antioxidant packed ingredients.
Vanilla Kefir - Kefir is a fermented milk drink that is made with kefir grains. It has the consistency of very smooth, light, milky yogurt and contains probiotics (which aids in digestion). It can be found near the yogurt in specialty or health food stores. Although kefir may not be your first choice to eat by itself, adding it to your smoothie will enhance the flavor and the nutritional value by leaps and bounds.
Kombucha - Kombucha has been gaining popularity with foodies and health nuts alike over the past year or so. It is technically a fermented type of either black or green tea that can be made at home or purchased at specialty stores or even online. The drink is slightly carbonated which will give your smoothie a little healthy fizzle. The “SCOBY” (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) that is used to make Kombucha infuses the drink with B vitamins and antioxidants, along with the already numerous antioxidants in tea.
Ginger - Ginger may not be the first ingredient you think to add when making your smoothie in the morning, but it may be time to think again. Ginger is one of the healthiest foods in the world, and has a handful of benefits without negative side effects. First, ginger is known to sooth the gastrointestinal tract, and is therefore used to prevent nausea and vomiting, especially in pregnant women. Ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties which make it a worthwhile spice to add to your smoothie or other food after a workout.
Papaya - Papaya is traditionally an exotic fruit that can now be found in super markets year round, although their peak season is in the summer and fall. Shaped like a pear, with the consistency of butter, papaya was once called "the fruit of angels". Like other orange fruits and vegetables, papaya is extremely high in vitamin C and certain to bring the taste of the tropics to your smoothies when added to oranges and bananas.
Cacao Powder - We all know that chocolate is extremely good for you when you eat the right kind (high in cacao and bitter in taste), and when it is mixed with peanut butter and a banana it is super delicious. Cacao powder is naturally sugar free and grows on the Ivory Coast. Cacao powder, along with cacao nibs (small solid pieces of cacao) are superfoods which means it is a nutrient rich food that is considered extremely beneficial for health and well being.
Bananas - Bananas are extremely healthy and relatively low in calories. They have high levels of potassium and promote cardiovascular health which helps maintain normal blood pressure and heart function. We like to use bananas in our smoothies to keep the texture thick and fluffy instead of runny.
Pumpkin, Flax and Chia Seeds - Pumpkin madness is still alive and well, and we don’t like to waste any part of this seasonal beauty if at all possible. The carved pumpkins may be past their prime, but there’s a chance you can still find pumpkin seeds and canned pumpkin lingering on store shelves. Paired with some vanilla yogurt and our pumpkin pie and chai baking spices, this festive combination will be sure to spice up your day.
You may recognize the name flax seed from the oil that is extracted from the seed and bottled. This seed is full of fiber and omega 3 fatty acids, which are “good” fats that promote heart health. Flax seeds have also been shown to have positive effects when used by those who are afflicted with cancer.
Chia seeds, In addition to being high in omega-3 and antioxidants, also have more fiber than bran flakes and more calcium than 2% milk. They were originally a main component of Mayan and Aztec diets, because it is reported that just one tablespoon of Chia Seeds could sustain the body for 24 hours.
As you can see, smoothies can be much more than just a mix of fruits and vegetables. Their versatility makes them a great choice for breakfast or a much needed afternoon boost and their flavors can be mixed almost endlessly.
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