As children, we learned that a staple in every well-balanced diet is a wide variety of daily fruits and vegetables. Still, according to the Centers for Disease Control, most Americans aren’t hitting the right amounts. With the fruit recommendation at a mere 1.5 to 2 cups per day, less than 13% of Americans are hitting that level. Furthermore, less than 10% are eating the 2 to 3 cups of vegetables the CDC thinks they should.
Slacking on these nutritious foods can greatly impact your overall health and could lead to large gaps in your nutrition. So, if you don’t think you’re eating enough of these food categories but you don’t know how to fit the servings into your day, we have a solution — smoothies.
Start With the Base
When you think of healthy smoothies, milk may come to mind, but you don’t have to build your nutritious drink with milk. You can use juice, tea, or plant milk as the beginning of your smoothie, depending on what other ingredients you plan to add. Each choice will give you a different flavor and will pair better with certain fruits, veggies, and proteins, while also providing different nutrients for your body.
Add Sweet Fruit
Including a cup of fruit in one smoothie completes half of your entire daily amount needed, so it’s a smart way to hit your mark. Add in any fruit you like. Just take note of combinations that work with your tastebuds and remember frozen fruit will thicken your smoothie, whereas unfrozen will not. So, if you like your smoothies to be the consistency of a milkshake, frozen might be the way to go. Plus, it can be soothing going down your throat if you’re sick from a cold or recovering from throat cancer treatment or a tonsillectomy.
Whether frozen or unfrozen, the fruit adds sweetness to your smoothie so there’s no need for added sugar or other sweeteners.
Some good fruit choices include bananas, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, and peaches.
Pop in a Bit of Protein
If you don’t get enough protein in your diet, you can easily add this macronutrient to your smoothies by including a scoop of protein powder, some peas, yogurt, tofu, or beans. Another delicious way to add a protein boost is to include a tablespoon of peanut butter or another nut butter in the mix. But if you’re only trying to boost your fruit and vegetable intake, you can skip the protein altogether.
Don’t Forget the Veg
The lowest number of people in compliance with nutritional guidelines is in the amount who eat enough vegetables, so it’s essential to include them in your drink. The best part is that if you don’t like the taste of your veggies, the fruit’s sweetness will drown most of the flavor out. That way, you get the nutrients of your vegetables without the flavor you don’t like.
For example, if you add a handful of raw or frozen spinach to your banana smoothie, you won’t taste the spinach, but you’ll get all the vitamin and mineral benefits from consuming it. When building your smoothies, pay attention to the combinations to create your favorites in the future.
Add a Little Fat and Enjoy
You don’t want to add things like oil to your healthy smoothies, but including nut butter or seeds can add a layer of heart-healthy fats your body needs. Also, consider adding an avocado, which is high in fat and nutrients, but does not have a strong flavor that will overshadow the other flavors in your smoothie.
No matter how you layer your healthy smoothies, the key is to add variety and use them to increase your daily nutrition intake.
Tips provided by Anne Davis.