You’ve probably heard before how important it is to chew your food. A good, thorough chew makes all the nutrients in your meals more easily available for digestion. If you’ve been following my work, you already know that easier digestion = more energy throughout the day!
But let’s be honest. Who has time to chew their food when you are racing out the door in the morning, running late to a post lunch meeting or trying to get the kids to soccer practice or swim lessons after dinner?
If you’re like most people, you probably have to gobble down your food just to keep up with the hectic pace of your daily routine. I know how this is. I too live that hectic lifestyle, with loads of traveling, a growing young family and a strong desire to feed myself and my loved ones well.
That is why for the past few years I have let my blender do the chewing for me by taking a smoothie with me on the road everyday.
What goes into a “great” smoothie?
Anybody can throw a bunch of fruit or vegetables and some water into a blender and end up with a smoothie. That’s what makes them such an amazing way to consume nutrients! But how do you make one that really knocks your socks off?
Here are a few things to consider when you start to craft your own ultimate daily shakes.
1. The Taste
Taste is a pretty big deal, especially for the little ones in your family. If you’re not into bananas, you’re not going to like a banana smoothie. This is your chance to get really creative. What flavours do you love? Chuck them in! See how they complement one another.
You can even learn to hide the flavour of foods your kids don’t like to eat – like leafy greens such as spinach or kale. If you haven’t tried this one yet, do it. Add a cup of spinach to your next smoothie. Include a few blueberries to avoid the green colour and your kids won’t know their eating a healthy does of iron rich greens in their delicious smoothie. Oh Yeah!
To make it easier to enhance the flavour of your next smoothie, here is a list of my top 3 sweet additions and my top 3 savoury additions.
My top 3 smoothie enhancers when going for a sweet taste are: chopped pitted dates, authentic maple syrup (from my wife Suzies maple shack in Quebec. Yes I am a lucky guy) & cinnamon.
My top 3 smoothie enhancers when going for a savoury taste are: fresh lemon juice, grated ginger or ginger powder & chopped celery (celery actually gives savoury smoothies a salty flavour).
Give one or all of them a try and see how they add a flavour punch to your next liquid creation.
2. The Texture
If your smoothie is so thick the whole thing slaps you in the face when you tip the glass for a sip, you’re not going to enjoy it no matter how it tastes. You can avoid the most common smoothie mistakes – shakes that are too runny or too thick – by paying attention to the ratio of liquid to solid ingredients.
You can also incorporate more subtle textures. Throw in some cashews for a creamy shake, chia seeds for a shake with a bit of crunch, frozen berries for an icy kick. Experiment with adding different fibre rich foods (flax seeds, hemp seeds or walnuts etc) until you find a texture combo that works for you.
Sometimes I like a chunky smoothie and only blend it part way. Other times I like a silky smooth shake and blend it a little longer. Mix it up to keep the fun going.
3. The Nutrient Component
The best part of whipping up your own smoothie out of whole, plant-based foods is the incredible treasure trove of nutrients you’ll get from drinking it. If you get the balance of nutrients right in your recipes, you’ll be buzzing with energy all day long. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know what my top power foods are already (hemp seeds are the number one, right?).
In my book The Power of Food I actually reveal 24 of my favourite power foods with loads of detail and amazing recipes for each one. If you don’t have my book yet, you can sign up for my Top 6 Energy Food Video Series to get started with a few of my favourite power foods.
Chuck some of my favourites in your blender and add some of your own! Don’t give up tinkering until your smoothies fire you up like rocket fuel. Oh yeah!
4. The Liquid Base
The liquid you use for your smoothie will make a big difference to the taste, texture, and even how it makes you feel. Of course ordinary filtered or spring water is perfectly fine, but you can give your shake a bit of extra kick by trying one of my favourite smoothie bases.
Coconut water is refreshing, delicious and rich in the electrolytes your cells need to stay charged up all day long.
Herbal tea – the sky’s the limit! There are so many flavours and varieties of tea to choose from! You can use a tea base to add a subtle hint of flavour, enjoy the benefit of a particular herb’s medicinal properties, or get your fix of caffeine without stopping at the Starbucks or Tim Horton’s on your way to work.
Nut milk. You can always try a ready-made nut milk, but you would be amazed how easy it is to make your own and avoid the additives and preservatives that are often found in those products such as carrageenan, which I talked about in last weeks post. All you need is a blender, your nut of choice, some water and a cheese cloth or nut bag to strain out the pulp (or you can leave it in! I love that stuff!)
In my Breakfast Reboot – 14 Day Morning Meal Plan I walk you through how to make several types of my favourite non-dairy milks that even my 2 year old daughter Juliette loves. I also show you a creative way to use the pulp when done. Check it out here if you re ready to take your health to the next level.
Seed milk. Like nut milk, you can make your own seed milk by throwing water and seeds into the blender. I often add one part hemp seeds to three parts water for a smoothie base, and I don’t even strain it. I love the crunchy, nutty goodness of a hemp milk based smoothie plus all the amazing complete protein, essential fatty acids and great carbohydrates that keep me fuelled all day long.
Fresh juice. Using fruit juice is a good way to boost the sweetness and flavour of a smoothie. Whenever possible, try to use fresh, organic, unsweetened fruit juices with no additives, artificial flavours or preservatives. Or better yet, do your own juicing!
Making the Ultimate Smoothie
Step 1: Pick your tastes
Step 2: What’s the texture objective
Step 3: What types of nutrients are you looking for?
Step 4: Pick a base
Blend it all together and voila, you have yourself one of the healthiest ways to consume your daily nutrients. Not only do smoothies allow you to maintain your hectic daily routine, but they provide you with loads of energy (thanks to the easement of digestion due to the breaking down of nutrients that occurs during the blending process).
Easier digestion = more energy for you and less internal inflammation!
Have I got you all fired up about smoothies yet? If so, great! Get into your kitchen and start blending. If you still need convincing, check out some of the most popular Power of Food smoothie recipes to get you going.
Do you have a smoothie tip you feel I need to know or want to share with your fellow Power of Foodies? Let me know below in
the comment section. I would love to hear from you!
AND to help get you motivated to kick start your next smoothie creation, share a picture of your latest blended goodness on my Power of Food Facebook Fanpage and I will send you, via mail (yup, you read that right, mail), a special 3 pack sample kit of my new food topping Ra Energy, including naturally sweet & garlic flavours. Happy posting!
ps. If you are looking for a kick-butt blender to go with your kick-butt smoothies here are two options I recommend.
Blender option #1: The Nutri Bullet
At $150, the Nutri Bullet is the best mini blender on the market. This is because it actually breaks the cell walls of food down to ensure you get the most out of your smoothies.
The Nutri Bullet is an ideal option if you are just starting out with smoothies or, like me, spend a lot of time on the road and need something you can travel with.
If you are already a smoothie connoisseur, I highly recommend skipping over the entire range of blender options under $500 and get right to the big boys. My favourite for years has been my Vitamix blender.
Blender option #2: The Vitamix
You can go for the professional grade Vitamix blender at over $800, but the one I use is the turbo-blend ($539). It has variable speed options that allow for more creativity especially when playing with textures. It also is awesome for making soups, salsas, nut butters and so much more. Check it out.
Do you have a particular blender that works great for you? Let me know below in the comments.