Nutrition Know-How: Building the Perfect Smoothie

April 25, 2018

Performance Nutrition Specialist Lee Hyrkas tells us how the perfect smoothie can aid recovery and enhance your training

Smoothies are a great way to incorporate more fruits, vegetables and nutrients into your meal plan. Further, smoothies are digested quickly, making them an excellent choice pre- or post-exercise. Additionally, smoothies can be used as a convenient meal replacement or breakfast on the go. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ingreident combinations. Use the simple steps below to build your own custom creation.

Building a Meal Replacement/Recovery Smoothie:

Step 1: Choose a liquid. Milk, yogurt, Kefir, almond milk and soy milk are popular favorites, and you can also use 100 percent fruit juice. Add ~8-10 oz. of liquid to your smoothie. Dairy products (milk, yogurt, Kefir, etc.) and soy milk provide a boost of protein to the smoothie.

Step 2: Add 1-2 cups of fruit and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables provide our body with antioxidants. Antioxidants play an important role in boosting the immune system and may speed up recovery from exercise. Fruits and vegetables are also a great source of quality carbohydrates. Vegetables that can be easily masked in smoothies include baby spinach, kale, small amounts of carrots or riced cauliflower and even chickpeas.

Step 3: Include a protein source. Here are some of my personal favorites: ~1/2 - 1 cup Greek or regular yogurt, 8-10 oz. milk or soy milk, 8-10 oz. Kefir yogurt, 1/2 - 3/4 cup cottage cheese, 1/2 - 1 scoop protein powder, 1/4 cup nuts or seeds, 1-2 Tbsp. nut butters, 1/4 - 1/2 cup cooked beans, 1/2 cup pasteurized liquid egg whites and 3-4 oz. silken tofu. Adding a protein-rich food to your shake may help you feel full longer. Additionally, protein is important for building and repairing muscle tissue.     

Step 4 (optional):  Incorporate a serving of healthy fat into your shake. Several of my clients enjoy using avocados, nuts, nut butters, flaxseeds and chia seeds. A serving is equivalent to 1/4 avocado, 10 nuts, 1 Tbsp. nut butter, 1 Tbsp. flaxseeds or 1 Tbsp. chia seeds.

Step 5: Blend ingredients until desired consistency is achieved. Ice cubes (~2-4 cubes) can be added to make a thicker shake. If you are looking for a nutrition boost, 3-4 frozen cauliflower florets can be used in place of ice.  

Additional add-ins (optional): 1-2 Tbsp. tart cherry juice concentrate, 1/4 cup uncooked oatmeal, 2-4 Tbsp. almond flour, 2-4 Tbsp. coconut flour, 1/4-1/2 cup pumpkin puree, 1/4 cup cooked beans, 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa or cocoa nibs. 

Smoothie Ideas

PB & J Smoothie
*1/2 cup milk or vanilla almond milk
*1 cup water
*1-2 Tbsp. peanut or powdered PB
*1 cup frozen strawberries 
*1 Tbsp. chia seeds
*1 handful baby spinach

Purple Power Smoothie
*1 cup blueberry kefir  
*1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
*1/2 banana, sliced and frozen 
*3/4 cup blueberries 
*1/4 cup canned beets
*1 cup baby spinach 
*2-4 oz. water

Orange Creamsicle®
*1/2 or 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
*1 large orange or 2 clementine
*1/2 banana – sliced and frozen
*1/2 cup 100% orange juice
*1 fruit cup in juice or water
*1 tsp. vanilla extract
*Blend well.

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