Your Ultimate Guide to Making Nutritious and Healthy Smoothies

Why Smoothies?

Smoothies are light, fruity, and very tasty. You can make any type of smoothie for the occasion or even the time of year.

We all love smoothies; we love them so much we are willing to pay almost $9.62 for our favorite strawberry breeze at Smoothie King. The juice and smoothie industry generates over 2 billion in revenues.

Since I am so excited about health, I will also tell you how to make those same smoothies healthier than any Smoothie King.

More importantly

You can save $$$ by going to the store to buy the ingredients. Then you will have a whole week of smoothies whenever you want to.

Mixing fruits and nuts can give you a sweet and savory combination. Alternatively, you can go with a tart and bitter combination with say a blackberry lemon twist smoothie. There are almost an unlimited amount of flavors.

I especially love smoothies as a way to supplement your body with additional nutrients. If you are looking to gain weight for personal reasons or sports, they provide clean sources of calories.

I am starting my family medicine residency later this year, so I need to make sure I am healthy. Not just making sure I do not get sick but actively taking care of my body and mind. I must be at my best to take care of my patients.

Our bodies are high-performance machines. We must put the premium fuel into our bodies so that we can feel good and be healthy. The best kind of premium fuel we can put into our bodies is wholesome sources of lean meat, whole-grains, dairy, fruits, and vegetables.

No processed cheese snacks or candy made with refined sugar.

If you cannot find it naturally on this planet, you should not be eating it.

Well, I could be wrong maybe humanity has just not discovered the Grand Rice Krispy Tree or the Great Sprite Falls. However, I doubt that

As a physician, I encourage my patients to reduce consumption of high sugar beverages like soda and eating sugary fat-filled foods.

We can replace them with smoothies made from fruits vegetables, grains, and super foods.

The Importance of Snacking Healthy

Why do I want my patients to drink more smoothies less soda?

Sugar, sugar, sugar. It makes you fat & unhealthy.

If there is too much sugar, it affects our blood vessels in a process called glycosylation. Glycosylation damages our blood vessels allowing for fats to stick on to them. If enough of these fats collect, our heart has to pump harder. Eventually, that pump can fail. It can fail because the heart is worn out or that plaque of fat blocks a vessel in your heart or brain.

Do not wait until the pump fails. 

Sugar is not all bad now. There is much sugar in smoothies, yes.

However, that sugar is coming from natural sources. We Americans are overeating of sugar from terrible sources. Too much sugar can lead to chronic health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

These are all preventable conditions as long as you are eating right and making healthy decisions.

Diabetes and heart disease have been on the rise in the United States since the 1960's (during the 1960's was also the time where we saw a massive increase in processed and refined goods). Compared to a century ago today we see heart disease and diabetes on a scale higher than ever.

The next time you get a Big Mac with cheese remember it sticks in your blood vessels, not in your hands.

You want to hear about smoothies, right?

Let me tell you the health benefits of what you put in your smoothie.

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The Health Benefits of Smoothies

Fruits

They are known for their vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. The common vitamins are vitamins A, C, thiamine, riboflavin, and folic acid. Vitamin A is essential for vision and skin maintenance. Vitamin C is used to make collagen, a molecule that gives your hair, bone, and skin strength. Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize the hazardous byproducts our body produces. Eating enough of these can reduce your risk of developing cancers. The fiber in fruit is from the pulp & body. It makes our stool soft. This type of fiber tends to be more soluble forming a gel-like consistency as it passes through the bowel. 

Vegetables

They have soluble fiber as well. They are also full of more minerals. Now minerals are not vitamins. They are sort of like support products that our body needs to make everything goes. You have heard of them before, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. The darker the leafy the vegetable, the better it is for you. For instance, iceberg lettuce is whiter because it is filled with water. It does not have much regarding nutritional value compared to kale. Kale is a dark leafy green full of vitamins antioxidants and all the good stuff. It does not taste as delicious as it should, but I promise it is a superfood. 

Dairy

It is a powerful combination of fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. The most important is calcium, a mineral that makes our muscles contract and bones grow strong. Vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, K, E, thiamine, folic and pantothenic acid are all in milk. Vitamin B12 is essential for digestion and homeostasis. Vitamin K and Folic acid are vital for regulating the quality of your blood. 

Grains/Seeds/Nuts

These give a great texture to any smoothie. The grains are full of plant-based proteins necessary for muscle growth and energy. It is not only the protein that is contributing the power but also the fiber. The fiber in these sources tends to be insoluble. That means it does not get digested but picks up extra sugars as it passes the digestive tract. Also, this type of fiber feeds the good bacteria in our gut. These guys help us with digestion, so we have to keep them happy. 

Step 1: Fruit/Veggie

Single Choices

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    Apples
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    Apricot
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    Banana
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    Beets
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    Cantaloupe
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    Coconut
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    Collard Greens
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    Blackberries
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    Blueberries
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    Berries
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    Cherries
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    Dragon fruit
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    Grapefruit
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    Grape
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    Guava
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    Honeydew
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    Kale
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    Kiwi
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    Mango
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    Melon
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    Nectarines
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    Oranges
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    Papaya
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    Peach
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    Pears
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    Pineapple
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    Pomegranate
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    Raspberry
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    Romaine Lettuce
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    Strawberry
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    Watermelon
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    Wheat grass

Great Combos

  • Apples- Peanut Butter, Cinnamon
  • Banana- Orange, Kale
  • Coconut- Banana, Orange
  • Grapefruit- Guava
  • Guava- Mango
  • Kiwi- Strawberry
  • Mango- Blackberries
  • Melon- Raspberries, Guava
  • Nectarines- Pineapple
  • Oranges- Guava
  • Peach- Mango
  • Strawberry- Blueberries, Blackberries
  • Watermelon- Strawberry

When you pair fruits, try to stick with complementing flavors. For example, keep tropical flavored fruits together. Those include coconuts, pineapple, oranges, guava, melon, and bananas. They are on the sweeter side, but all of them have a unique sweetness about them.

Another thing you can do is to complement opposites. Blackberries are more tart than sweet. Pair up blackberries with a more juicy fruit like strawberries or oranges to get a perfect flavor.

Try to incorporate more greens into your smoothie. Greens are full of calcium, iron, fiber, & vitamin K. The trick is trying to get that bitterness minimized. To do that, mix the kale with sweeter fruit combinations like orange-banana or guava-nectarine. Kale and wheat grass are on the more bitter side while spinach is one of the better tasting greens.

Fruits mix well with both water, juice, and milk. The kind of fruit you choose should guide you to your liquid of choice. Fruits and veggies that are richer in fiber have less water, thus need more liquid.

For instance, a mango has much more fiber in it than a watermelon. Blend them both up. The mango would be more pulp and the melon more liquid. So you would use less water with the watermelon compared to the mango.

Now let's get into the liquids.

Step 2: Pick your favorite water, juice, or milk

Your Choices

Water

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    Ice Water
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    Sparkling
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    Coconut water

Milk

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    Cow milk
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    Almond milk
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    Soy milk
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    Rice milk
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    Hemp milk
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    Coconut milk/ water

Remember to keep dairy to a minimum if one is trying to watch your calories and cholesterol. Instead, reach for plant-based milk sources like rice and almond milk. Alternative sources of milk may have less protein but more vitamins.

Milk will add a nice creaminess to the smoothie. 

Juice

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    Orange juice
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    Apple juice
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    Pear juice
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    Grape juice
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    Pomegranate juice

Check the nutrition facts on the label.  Some drinks have a much sugar per serving as a can of cola.

Step 3. Thickening Agent

Your Choices

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    Almond butter
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    Cashew butter
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    Hazelnut butter
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    Macadamia nut butter
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    Peanut butter
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    Pistachio butter
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    Walnut butter
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    Pumpkin seed butter
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    Sunflower seed butter

Dairy

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    Yogurt
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    Cottage cheese
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    Frozen yogurt
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    Ice cream

Grains

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    Chia seeds
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    Flax seeds
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    Oatmeal
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    Psyllium seed husks

All of these choices will add a richer flavor and thicker texture. Most of these kinds of butter taste amazing with apples or bananas in smoothies. Those fruits will add sweetness. These kinds of butter are rich in unsaturated (good) fats. It helps convert lousy fat to good fat in our bodies. Some of the best ones are omega three oils, polyunsaturated & monounsaturated fats. Again just watch the calories as butter are calorie dense foods. 

Dairy also adds fat to smoothies. Dairy is an excellent combination of protein and calcium for our bodies. Use milk if you want to have a more liquid texture. Use yogurt or Greek yogurt if you want a thicker smoothie.

The other choices are grains that are rich in fiber and minerals. These guys slow down digestion in your gut allowing you to absorb nutrients properly. I like oatmeal the best because it gives me the chance to "chew" my smoothie. Also, it will make you feel full so that you are not reaching for those naughty snacks.

Step 4. A Dash of Spice/Sweetness

Your Choices

Spices/ Herbs

  • Mint
  • Lemongrass
  • Cinnamon
  • Vanilla (extract)
  • Nutmeg
  • Ginger
  • Clove
  • Lemon juice
  • Lime juice

Be careful when using some of these spices. Adding too much can ruin the taste of your smoothie especially using cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.

Adding lemongrass, lime juice, and lemon juice can take taper the sweetness of smoothies with tropical ingredients.

Sweetness

  • Brown sugar
  • Cane sugar
  • Honey
  • Stevia
  • Truvia

These can bring extra sweetness to smoothies. I will use them if you are making a smoothie with any bitter vegetables. There is usually enough sugar in the liquid and fruits, so you do not need to add much more.

Step 5. Superfoods 

Your Choices

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    Acai berries
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    Aloe vera
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    Cacao powder
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    Chia seeds
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    Coconut oil/ butter
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    Wheatgrass powder
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    Fresh sprouts
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    Flaxseed oil
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    Protein powder
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    Goji berries
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    Green powders
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    Wheat germ
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    Hemp seeds
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    Multivitamin powder
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    Probiotic powder
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    Protein Powder (flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry)

These are called superfoods for a reason. How do they get their name? It is because they have more nutrients per serving than other foods. For instance, chia seeds have most of their carbohydrates in the form of fiber! One small spoonful of flaxseed oil can provide you an entire daily serving of omega three fatty acids.
Depending on your goals, you add a superfood to give your smoothie that extra nutritional boost. 

Step 6. Blend up the Ingredients 

This is my favorite part!

It is also by far the easiest.

Make sure all ingredients are cut and measured correctly. Mix everything.

Pour, drink and enjoy!

See what other combinations you can create! I would take one of your favorites from anywhere on the list and stick with it. If you pick peanut butter, one day mix it with bananas and oatmeal. The next day can be with honey, flax seeds, and apples. Keep trying to make new healthy combinations of smoothies each day.

Did I miss your favorite ingredient or do you have a favorite smoothie recipe? Could you leave a comment and let me know?

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