A green smoothie is sitting on the table.

What Should I Put in My Smoothie?

Twigs From the Nest: Our holistic nutritionist answers client’s most common questions.

The Spring + Summer Smoothie
It’s smoothie season. Otherwise known as healthy shake season. It certainly is a delightful way to grab a meal and go, usually for breakfast. I actually like my smoothie as an afternoon snack between 3 and 4 pm or as a weekend lunch/snack. Anytime you’re craving an easy meal, just pull out your blender. Smoothies make us all happy!

Staying Full + Balanced
In my opinion, the smoothie should be reliably delicious and should satisfy hunger for a good 3 to 4 hours if it’s a meal replacement (or 2ish hours as a snack). It should easily hold you until your next scheduled eating time. Smoothies or shakes should give you energy and help you feel balanced.

The Great Shake Formula
There is a formula for a delicious shake. It’s all about a solid base, THEN the worker bee ingredients, THEN the pizzazz. Let’s break it down.

The Base
Pick your smoothie base. Some type of milk, yogurt or water. Water is best in warmer weather. It creates a crisper cleaner taste. Nut milks are creamy and dreamy and delicious. I prefer unsweetened almond milk because there is a lot of calcium (1 cup unsweetened almond milk = 470mg or 35% DV, which is quite a bit more than regular cow’s milk, with 309mg for the same amount). And it’s a good source of bioavailable calcium for healthy bones.

Other great options include unsweetened coconut milk and other nut milks. Make sure there aren’t a lot of extra ingredients in the ‘milk’ you choose. Greek yogurt is a good base, if you don’t react to cow’s milk and can tolerate it. Greek yogurt will give you a good amount of protein (1 cup = 17g protein).

The Worker Bee Ingredients
These are the ingredients that create your fullness, energy and balance. You need enough carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats to keep you going until you eat again.

Carbs: Use fresh or frozen fruit – you probably don’t need more than 1 cup of berries OR 1 banana or the equivalent of 1 cup of fruit total. We want deliciousness, vitamins and phytonutrients, but not TOO much sugar. Mix and match your favorite fruits: banana and strawberries is my fave. Add in a handful of spinach or spring mix, or 2 leaves (without stem) of small chopped kale. It adds a beautiful green tint, some excellent vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients, and you can’t taste it!

Protein: For a meal replacement shake, you’ll need about 22 to 25g of protein. To reach 25g of protein, you might need to combine food sources. Actually, that’s part of the fun! You could obtain that with your favorite protein powder (2 scoops = 26g of protein, depending on the kind, check the back of the package), collagen peptides (2 scoops = 22g of protein), Greek yogurt (1 cup = 17g of protein), peanut butter (2 tbsp = 8g of protein), almond butter (2 tbsp = 7g of protein), Hemp hearts/seeds (2 tbsp = 6g of protein), walnuts (1 ounce = 4g of protein), silken tofu (½ cup = 8g of protein).

Fats: Healthy fats come with the base and protein choices. If you choose nuts/nut milks and/or seeds as part of your base or protein mix, you’ll get some nice healthy fats as well. I do like to add some frozen avocado pieces to my smoothie to give myself extra balance and satisfaction.

The Pizazz
One teaspoon of cocoa powder, a couple of shakes of cinnamon (the best spice for blood sugar balancing), a teaspoon of maple syrup or honey, vanilla or almond extract all add yumminess to your drink!

Finding YOUR Recipe
Just like everything at Healthy Nest, your shake recipe is pretty personalized to your needs. How hungry are you? You can add more protein to make your fuller longer. How long does the shake need to ‘hold’ you for? Add more fats for longer balance. What are your nutrition goals? Looking for more muscle? Really pay attention to hitting higher protein. What type of shake do you like? Are you a chocoholic? Add cocoa powder for the chocolate flavor and antioxidants.

Our Favorite Spring + Summer Smoothie Recipes

Cherry Almond Love Smoothie
2 leaves of kale (stems removed)
1 cup almond milk
2 tbsp almond nut butter
2 tbsp hemp hearts or 1 scoop protein
1/2 cup frozen cherries
1/2 tsp almond extract
A couple of shakes of cinnamon (to taste)
2 scoop protein powder (optional)

Blend and enjoy.

Green Peach Smoothie
1 handful of baby spinach
1 cup almond/nut milk
¼ cup frozen peaches
½ tsp. vanilla extract
A couple of shakes of cinnamon
small pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp hemp heart/seed
2 scoops collagen peptides

Blend and enjoy.

Snickers Smoothie
Handful of greens
1 tsp cocoa powder OR 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder
1-2 scoops of collagen powder
1 banana
2 tbsp hemp hearts
1 tbsp peanut butter
¼ tsp cinnamon

Blend and enjoy.

I hope that helps demystifying smoothies and shakes. Experiment and enjoy!