As delicious and good-for-you as smoothies can be, it’s possible to make them even better with some interesting add-ins that intensify flavor and boost nutrition. Customize smoothies to suit your needs by mixing one or more of the following surprisingly nutritious ingredients with your favorite drink for meals and snacks.
With double the protein of regular yogurt, going Greek has some serious benefits. Add a half-cup of the fat-free plain variety to smoothies for 10 grams of protein, and more calcium, too.
Wondering whether it’s worth it to hop on the protein powder train? Whey and soy powders provide essential amino acids your body needs to repair and build lean tissue including muscle. It’s also an easy way to include the 20 to 30 grams of high-quality protein experts suggest at every meal.
Oats fill you up and can help give you the energy to stay active and take on the day. Add oats at home, or when you’re out, mix in a Quaker Whole Grains Boost at Jamba Juice for additional fiber and at least 16 grams of whole grains – one of the three to five suggested daily servings of whole grains.
Tiny but mighty chia seeds supply alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which your body can’t produce and must get from food. A diet rich in ALA is linked to a lower risk for cardiovascular disease. Chia seeds also supply fiber to slightly thicken smoothies and also aid in digestion.
Tis the season! Pumpkin is bursting with beta-carotene, a pigment that provides a bright orange hue, acts as a powerful antioxidant to protect cells and serves as the raw material for vitamin A production in the body. One-quarter cup of pumpkin puree provides two grams of fiber for 20 calories, a nutritional bargain. No pumpkin? Cooked sweet potato will do.
Nuts and nut butters:
Nuts and nut butters in smoothies do more than make for creamier drinks. For example, 1 ounce (about 24 kernels) of whole almonds, or 2 tablespoons almond butter, provides nearly half your daily quota for vitamin E, a cellular bodyguard that does battle with damaging forms of oxygen in your body. Sunflower seeds and sunflower butter are also rich in vitamin E; peanuts and peanut butter have less.
Avocados may be relatively high in fat, but nearly all of it is unsaturated, the type that helps your heart and makes your skin glow. For the 130 calories in half an avocado, you get nearly 17% of your daily folate needs, as much potassium as a small banana, four grams of fiber and a creamier smoothie.
Four tablespoons of cottage cheese contributes seven grams of protein and only 40 calories to smoothies. Cottage cheese is rich in leucine; an amino acid that experts say stimulates muscle production, which tends to drop off with age. If you don’t like the taste of cottage cheese, don’t worry. Once it’s blended, you won’t even know it’s there.
Unsweetened cocoa powder: Cocoa powder is a source of flavanols; plant compounds linked to lower blood pressure and reduced risk of heart disease. Cocoa also contains feel-good compounds that may elevate your mood. At 12 calories, a mere tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder is enough to infuse your smoothie with a bold flavor. For the most flavanols, choose cocoa that has not undergone Dutch processing.