This week a close friend of mine asked me a few questions about juicing, smoothies, and smoothie recipes in her quest to get started on making them regularly. It then occurred to me that this smoothie recipe information may be helpful to share with readers too!
My smoothie recipes all begin with organic ingredients. To me, at least, it defeats the purpose of trying to fuel the body with the wonderful vitamins and nutrients in fruits and vegetables if that means also consuming toxic pesticides.
As for the produce, you can use fresh fruits and vegetables or frozen ones in your smoothie recipes. Fresh is best, although we use mainly frozen produce because most of the year it’s simply more economically efficient to do so.
Liquids: Juicing often does not require an added base such as water or milk, because the fruits and vegetables create liquid juices on their own. If you are going for a thicker smoothie, you may want to add a half a cup of a base liquid. When I make smoothie recipes at home for my children I use organic milk, though for myself I often use water. Organic milk provides protein and calcium, which is particularly helpful for a breakfast smoothie.
Sometimes, depending on the items I plan to add, I’ll even use green tea or coffee as my base liquid for my smoothie. Both are loaded with antioxidants that have powerful, positive, and proven effects on the body.
Other great options for juicing include aloe vera and coconut water. Though somewhat sour in taste, aloe vera is known to have tremendous health benefits. It may purify the blood, improve endurance, reduce inflammation, ease joint and muscle pain, soothe the digestive system, lower cholesterol, prevent kidney stones, and stop Candida growth. Coconut water is loaded with electrolytes and minerals that replenish and hydrate the body.
Base: To give my smoothie recipes the desired thickness, I typically start with a banana or half an avocado. Bananas have a stronger flavor while you generally can’t taste the avocado once other fruits and vegetables have been added. It hides really well, which makes it a great option for parents to include in the smoothies of picky eaters. Bananas have been known to help reduce swelling, protect against type-2 diabetes, support the nervous system, and assist in the production of white blood cells. Avocados can aid in weight management, support cardiovascular health, support liver health, keep eyes healthy, protect the skin, boost cognitive abilities, regulate blood sugar levels, reduce risk of diabetes, treat osteoarthritis, and enhance the absorption of nutrients in the body.
Another option for a smoothie base is an organic nut butter, such as peanut butter or almond butter. Nut butters are high in protein, healthy fats, and phytochemicals. Organic yogurt makes a great base too for it’s thicker consistency. Yogurt also provides protein, calcium, and natural probiotics. Just keep an eye on your portion size when adding these bases so that your smoothie does not become too full of fat.
Protein Powder: If one of the goals of your smoothie recipe is getting protein, you may want to consider adding an organic protein powder. I prefer ones derived from hemp, which you can find both at local stores and online here. We are only just beginning to learn about the amazing health benefits of hemp, including being rich in essential fatty acids that have cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory properties.
Green Leafy Vegetables: It’s important to make sure that you include plenty of vegetables in your juice or smoothie recipe. Spinach and kale are my personal favorites, again because they hide really well, letting the other flavors take over. They’re also loaded with phytonutrients and help to maintain healthy skin, hair and strong bones. They’re also strong sources of iron, potassium and magnesium. They both aid in proper digestion, regulate blood sugar levels, and lower the risk for both cancer and heart disease.
Other Vegetables: There are other veggies that work great in a juice blend, including beets, carrots, celery, and cucumbers. Beets may help to fight anemia, gastrointestinal issues, kidney disorders, gall bladder disorders, and heart disease. They may also help improve blood circulation, aid in skin care, reduce respiratory concerns, prevent cataracts, and fight macular degeneration. Carrots can aid in boosting the immune system, improving digestion, increasing cardiovascular health, detoxifying the body, improving oral health, warding off certain cancers, improving vision, improving complexion, and reducing the signs of premature aging. Celery supports the digestive tract and cardiovascular system, while cucumbers can help flush out toxins from the body.
Berries: Berries are my favorite item to add to a smoothie recipe. Berries contain powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, as well as phytonutrients, dietary fiber and vitamins C, A and E. We use acai, blueberries, blackberries, grapes, strawberries and raspberries frequently.
Blueberries can benefit the nervous system, cardiovascular system, digestive system, aid in muscle recovery, and support brain health. They can help regulate blood sugars, reduce high HDL cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, and lower triglycerides. Blueberries have even been shown to improve memory. Cranberries have a powerful ability to protect and heal urinary tract, bladder, and kidney infections, as well as prevent cardiovascular disease and increase levels of good bacteria in the digestive tract. Grapes contain antioxidants known as polyphenols, which may slow or prevent many types of cancer. Strawberries support cardiovascular health and vision-related issues. Raspberries are high in ellagic acid, a compound that helps to prevent cancerous growths. They also contain a compound called raspberry ketone, which has been shown to increase the metabolism of fat cells and improve blood sugar regulation. Raspberries have the most potent taste when blended in a smoothie, so when we use those we reduce the amount added compared to the other berries.
Citrus fruits: Both the sweet and tart citrus fruits are are high in vitamin C, flavonoids, folate and thiamin. Oranges and tangerines are fantastic options for juicing, while a squeeze or two of lemon, lime or grapefruit can give a fantastic flavor to a juice as well as offset the sweetness from berries and other fruits.
Other fruits: Other fiber-filled fruits that work well in juicing an smoothies are apples, cantaloupe, guavas, honeydew, kiwi, mangoes, peaches, pomegranate seeds, pineapples, and watermelon. Apples are fantastic for juicing, though you should keep the skin on the apple when you put it in the blender to retain its fiber content. Guavas are considered a top antioxidant food, and are loaded with vitamin C, vitamin A, lycopene, potassium, and fiber. A one-cup serving of Kiwi provides over 200% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C, and is a natural immune booster. Filled with antioxidants, mangoes have more than 20 vitamins and minerals. Pomegranates are packed antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. Peaches contain calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese, phosphorous, zinc, and copper. Pineapples are one of the best sources of vitamin C on the planet, and contain bromelain, a powerful anti-inflammatory enzyme. Watermelon has significant levels of vitamins A, B6 and C, lycopene, antioxidants and amino acids.
When my son was recovering from a digestive disorder, we used papaya in his smoothie recipes and detox juices as often as possible. Papaya contains an enzyme that helps the body to more easily digest proteins. They’re also an excellent source of B vitamins, vitamin C, antioxidants, flavonoids, potassium, copper, and magnesium.
Spices and Extracts: Adding a bit of cinnamon, ginger, turmeric or vanilla can enhance both the flavor and the health benefits of your juice of smoothie. Ginger is a known anti-inflammatory, painkiller and immune booster. Cinnamon also has anti-inflammatory properties that may help to treat muscle spasms, nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and colds. Cinnamon can help to regulate blood sugar. Vanilla is a natural mood enhancer that can enhance brain health. Turmeric (also known as curcumin) has been used for generations for its potential as an anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, antioxidant, antiseptic, anti-cancer, anti-depressant, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-microbial. It has been known to help regulate blood sugar, purifiy the blood, heal wounds, improve liver function, prevent cognitive disease, and support the circulatory, digestive and respiratory systems.
By the way, here are a few of my favorite juice and smoothie recipes:
What you add to your juice or smoothie will be based on both your personal tastes and your dietary needs. Consider varying your ingredients to get more nutritional benefits. Now tell me, what’s in your favorite juice or smoothie recipe?
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