In recognition of National Nutrition Month, Purely Inspired will be featuring stories this March that will coincide with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual campaign that invites people to learn about making informed choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits.
The Purely Inspired, brand wants to empower you to ‘Do What Makes You Feel Good.’ That’s why we’re in complete agreement with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and health. We are all unique with different bodies, goals, backgrounds, and tastes, and our individual health and nutrition journeys should reflect that truth.
For those of you who are eager to start your healthy eating journey this month, we’ll be cheering you on every step of the way. We know that it’s the first small step that can sometimes be the hardest, but once you get going, we’re confident that you’ll be celebrating your simple wins in no time, and enjoying your guilty pleasures guilt-free once again.
Smoothie Additions For An Extra Nutritious Kick
For those of us who have busy lives and are always on the go, eating healthy can definitely be a challenge sometimes. That’s why it’s important for us to plan ahead and make sure that we’re fueling our bodies with all of the nutrients that we need to function at a high level each and every day. By incorporating smoothies into our daily regimen we’ll be able to include more healthy foods into our diet.
All we need to make a basic smoothie is a blender and two essential ingredients – a base and a liquid. Using liquids such as water or unsweetened coconut or almond milk instead of whole milk or fruit juices like orange juice will allow us to eliminate unnecessary sugar and calories from our diets. Then we can add in fibrous foods like spinach or other leafy greens, frozen fruits and vegetables or fresh fruits and vegetables, and we can top everything off with our favorite nutrition mix-ins such as protein powder, collagen, or turmeric. Then it’s time for our blenders to get to work. So, let’s take a closer look at some key smoothie additions that are sure to deliver an extra nutritious kick.
Since fruit is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, fruit smoothies offer us a way to pack in all of the nutrients of our favorite produce into one drinkable cup. Some delicious and nutritious fruits that we can add to our smoothies are:
Bananas: Bananas are a smoothie mainstay. One medium-sized banana has 9% of our recommended daily intake (RDI) of potassium, 33% of our RDI of vitamin B6, and 11% of our RDI of vitamin C. Bananas also contain a fair amount of fiber. While we can use either fresh or frozen bananas for our banana smoothies, bananas have the ability to turn our smoothies into thick and creamy ones when they’re blended frozen.
Berries: Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries all add a sweet and tart flavor to our berry smoothies, and their fiber helps us stay full. While berries in general are among the healthiest foods on earth, blueberries in particular are a superfood. Blueberries also happen to be high in both potassium and vitamin C.
Mangoes: Sweet, refreshing, and delicious, mangoes are high in fiber, and is a great source of vitamin A and vitamin C. Mangoes also contain folate, B6, iron, zinc, and vitamin E.
Peaches: One medium-sized peach offers 17% of the RDI of vitamin C, 10% of the RDI of vitamin A, and 8% of the RDI of potassium. A medium-sized peach also has 14 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, and less than one gram of fat.
Pineapples: This sweet and juicy tropical fruit is a nutrition all-star. One cup of pineapple chunks offers 131% of the RDI of vitamin C, 76% of the RDI of manganese, and 9% of the RDI of vitamin B6, copper, and thiamin.
Apples: Apples come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and flavors, and contain vitamins, dietary fiber, and a range of other nutrients. Apples are a good source of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, carbohydrates, and energy.
It’s also a good idea for us to get into the habit of always keeping frozen bananas, blueberries, or strawberries in the freezer so we can make fruit smoothies at a moment’s notice. And if we don’t have any frozen fruit available, we can also use fresh fruit and ice cubes in order to make sure that the final product still has that cool, icy consistency.
Studies show that most Americans struggle to eat the recommended three-to-five servings of vegetables a day. Smoothies are an easy way for us to increase our overall vegetable consumption, especially since we can’t taste them as much when they’re mixed in our smoothies. Here are some of the best vegetables for us to add to our green smoothies:
Spinach: For those of us who usually buy bagged spinach as part of our weekly grocery order, we can start adding it to our smoothies, as well. Spinach is nutrient-rich and also blends up nicely so we don’t have to worry about any chunks in our smoothies. And possibly best of all, as long as we add enough fruit to the mix, chances are that the spinach flavor will fade to the background and we won’t even taste it.
Kale: Kale is considered a nutrition superstar due to the amounts of vitamins A, K, B6, and C, calcium, potassium, copper, and manganese that it contains. Kale also contains fiber and and is a good source of iron. While the flavor of raw kale is strong on its own, when mixed with other ingredients it gets mellowed out a bit.
Beet Greens: While spinach and kale are probably the two most popular choices for green smoothies, beet greens are another good option to try. Beet greens are not as bitter as kale, and just about any sweet fruit hides their flavor. Two cups of chopped beet greens offer 160% of the RDI of vitamin A, 253% of the RDI of vitamin K, and 25% of the RDI of vitamin C.
Lettuce: Romaine lettuce is another good alternative for green smoothies as it adds 10 calories per cup with 66% of the RDI of vitamin A, 22% of the RDI of vitamin C, and 2% of the RDI of calcium. However, since romaine lettuce isn’t as nutritionally dense as other leafy greens like spinach and kale, it may be a good idea for us to add more than a few cups of chopped romaine lettuce into our blender.
Avocadoes: Adding a ripe avocado to a green smoothie is a great way to make it extra creamy. In addition to enhancing the color of green smoothies, avocadoes also provide healthy fats, potassium, fiber, and lots of B vitamins. The avocado taste is also masked when mixed with tropical fruits.
Protein is vital to cell growth, building muscle, and repairing tissue. Protein smoothies usually start with one fruit or vegetable and a liquid, as well as a major protein source. Here are some of the best protein options for smoothies:
Protein Powder: When using protein powder, it’s important to keep an eye on the labels and make sure that there are no added or artificial sweeteners. While whey protein and pea protein are two of the most popular protein powder options out there, they’re not the only ones. There’s also almond protein, peanut protein, hemp protein, egg white protein, soy protein, brown rice protein, and several other proteins. As a rule of thumb, when it comes to protein powders, simple ingredient lists are best.
Greek Yogurt: Plain Greek yogurt is a good alternative to protein powders as plain Greek yogurt has almost double the protein of other yogurts. Greek yogurt is also a great way to boost our protein levels without having to eat heavy foods like meat. An average serving of Greek yogurt has anywhere from 12 to 17 grams of protein depending on the brand. For fewer calories, make sure to choose nonfat or 1% plain yogurt.
Cottage Cheese: Ounce for ounce, cottage cheese has about as much protein as protein-superstar Greek yogurt. One cup of full-fat cottage cheese also delivers 40% of our daily vitamin B12 needs, about half a day’s phosphorous, and 40% of our daily selenium. The only downside is that cottage cheese does have a lot of salt, however. When choosing cottage cheese, it’s important for us to be mindful that real cottage cheese has only four ingredients – milk, culture or acid, cream, and salt, while both flavored and lower-fat versions have other additives like sweeteners, stabilizers, thickeners, and preservatives.
Nuts and Nut Butters: Most smoothies provide carbohydrates and protein, but lack fat, which helps slow down digestion and allows us to stay fuller longer. Nut butters, nuts, and seeds provide both protein and fat. Natural peanut butter or natural almond butter with all peanuts or almonds and no fillers is an excellent source of protein. However, it’s important to keep in mind that while nuts and nut butters are a great source of protein and fat, they’re also high in calories. So, we’ll want to be mindful of the amount of nuts and/or nut butters that we add to our protein smoothies.