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Nutrition, Smoothies

Smoothies are apparently very trendy these days and everyone talks about it. I have to admit, I bought into it for a good reason- the nutrional and health benefits they deliver if you follow some basic guidelines that I want to share with you.

Hardly a day goes by where I don’t have a smoothie. If I am in the middle of a hard training block, I even have one before and after training as a pre and post workout snack. For me a smoothie is a complete meal but there are a few things to consider before you start throwing random things in your blender.

As a general rule I don’t think there is a golden recipe for the “perfect smoothie”, I think it always depends on what you want to achieve and when you consume your drink. Say someone who is interested in losing weight might need other ingredients as someone who trains and burns a lot of calories.

Let me share some of my  basic guidelines that you can follow to get started.

The right equipment

997c7f92-ddaa-4876-b1e2-43e069e8e7ab.jpg.w480Ok one thing upfront. If you want to get serious with making smoothies, you have to invest in a good blender and hands down, they are usually quite expensive. But if you are like me who use the blender every day, it is definitely worth the investment.

I personally can recommend two blenders that I have used over the last 2 years. The Vitamix 5200 Standard and the Froothie Optimum 9400. They are top notch quality and come with a great warranty and support. The Vitamix is the top end one but slightly more expensive than the Optimum. There are different models but I would rather stick with the standard model.
The price usually ranges between €400 – €600.

 

The ingredients: Follow a layer principal

I have a rule of thumb when it comes to what I throw into my smoothie. I follow a layer principal. The base layer is the core of each smoothie and should always consist of leafy green vegetables and wild herbs. I put them in first and then top them up with a little bit of filtered water and fresh squeezed lemon juice.

My greens usually vary, depending on what’s available and in season at the moment. I always prefer to use local produce or greens and herbs that we grow in the garden.

Here are my personal favourite choices:

  • Green cabbage (Grühnkohl)
  • Spinach
  • Silverbeet (Mangold)
  • Beetroot leaves (Rote Beete Blätter)
  • Wild herbs such as: Mint (Minze), ground elder (Girsch), dandeloin (Löwenzahn),
    checkweed (Vogelmire), lady’s mantles (Frauenmantel), cress (Kresse), berry leaves (Beerenblätter), stinging nettle ( Brennessel)

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Optionally I sometimes add some more vegetables to it such as

  • Beetroot
  • Avocado
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Ginger

Note: If you like your smoothie to be creamier opt for the avocado. A small or half an avocado will do it.

The Middle Layer

That where your fruits go. The amount of fruits I put into my smoothie varies. A general rule of thumb is to use 1-2 pieces. In the morning I prefer only a little amount of fruits or no fruits at all (1 piece) and use more vegetables instead. If I have a smoothie after my training, I add more fruits (2-3 pieces) to help refilling my depleted glycogen stores.

Here is a list of my favourite fruits

  • Berries (my #1 choice)
  • Apple
  • Lemon (squeeze in half a lemon on top of your greens)
  • Dates
  • Cherries or Cherry concentrate (a perfect choice after a hard workout)

IMG_7957

The Top Layer

This is where I add all my healthy fats and proteins, using mainly nuts and seeds. Here is a list of my favourite choices

  • Buckwheat groats
  • Flax seeds (the king for Omega 3)
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds (great protein source)
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Cacao nibs
  • Plant based protein powder

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Recommendation: Make sure you soak and sprout your nuts and seeds. This makes a huge difference in terms of digestion and nutritional value. For the protein powder I can recommend to use a high quality plant based product. I personally use SUN WARRIOR, which is made of sprouted and fermented brown rice.

Last but not least you need to add water. I always try to stick with clear water, preferable filtered water. This is important! If possible try to get high quality filtered water.

Sometimes I add some almond milk to it as well but this is not really necessary. If you want to, try to make your own almond milk. Here is the recipe that I posted previously.

Things to avoid

I always try to stick with “natural” whole food ingredients and avoid the following things.

  • Any dairy products (milk, yoghurt, etc.)
  • Fruit juices
  • Refined sugars or other artificial sweeteners (this includes agave and stevia)
  • Vegan milks packed with artificial ingredients (unless I make my own)

Conclusion

I would recommend anyone who starts out with making smoothies to don’t over complicate things. Don’t worry too much about superfoods or any other fancy incredients. Your main incredients should always be LEAFY GREENS, HERBS, a FRUIT and WATER. Greens trump over Fruits! Nuts, seeds and protein powder are a nice addition but not necessary to get started. It also doesn’t matter too much if you don’t have certain incredients at home. Just stick to what you have available. Also make sure to use products that are in season. Rather than buying spinach from overseas use something that’s locally available. Your incredients might vary depending on the season and what’s currently available.

Also I want to point out that a smoothie is an additional meal. It can replace your breakfast e.g. but don’t make the mistake to just drink smoothies and forget to eat “real solid meals”. Also take your time when you drink your smoothie. Rather than drinking it down in one go, chew it first in your mouth. Remember, digestion starts in the mouth. When consuming a smoothie, swish it around your mouth and get your digestive juices flowing.

When it comes to training, a smoothie is a great pre and post workout snack as it’s easy on your digestion and provides you instantly with energy. After the training it’s important to refill your glycogen stores and fight of the free radicals in your body. That’s when you want something that is easy to digest and limits the stress on your body. 

Go out and experience, don’t limit yourself and have some fun. Take your time and don’t give up to quickly. At the beginning it might take some time for your taste buds to adjust. This will easy up and after a while you will become accustom and start graving it! I wasn’t a big fan at the start, as I couldn’t stand the bitter taste but I got used to it pretty quickly. Now I can’t go without it. 

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