Smoothies are fun and convenient to make and drink. They make a great breakfast you can take on the run, and you can add almost any assortment of ingredients to them. Many smoothie recipes incorporate a lot of fruit, because fruit sweetens the drink, adds great flavor, and contains vitamins and minerals.
However, fruit can also contain a lot of sugar – fructose and glucose, and when it is drank rather quickly in a liquid form, these sugars can enter the bloodstream rapidly, causing a rise in blood glucose levels. This may contribute to inflammation, high insulin levels and hunger later on.
There are three “secret” ingredients that can be added to smoothies to slow this sugar rush: protein, fat and fiber. Adding one or all three of these can help the smoothie to stick with you longer, reduce the glycemic load of the drink, and even improve the absorption of nutrients.
Here are my favorites:
1.) Nut butter. This can be peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter. Nut butters add fat and protein, and a modest amount of fiber. They can also add creaminess to the smoothie.
2.) Chia seeds. These tiny seeds have a very neutral taste and well when added to liquid so they can help to thicken a smoothie. They are high in fiber and beneficial fats.
3.) Flax or flaxseed meal. Again, a great sources of omega fatty acids and fiber. Also, flaxseeds may reduce your risk of certain cancers.
4.) Plant-based protein powder. I like an unsweetened protein powder, without soy. A combination of rice and pea protein is easy to digest. My local health food store carries their own house blend that includes medicinal mushrooms!
5.) Nuts. Cashews add a wonderful texture and pie-crust-like flavor to smoothies. Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium and also add a curiously peanut-butter flavor. Almonds are great as well. Fat and protein!
6.) Avocado. Adds fat, fiber and a whole lot of smoothness.
Try adding these ingredients to your next smoothie for great taste, texture, improved nutrition and to balance the release of sugars into your system!