Health // July 29, 2013

Ahh, smoothies. Who doesn’t have a huge Pinterest board dedicated to healthy “belly busting” smoothies? (No, just me?) Smoothies are a great low-fat way to start your day, a delicious pick-me-up after a workout, or a guilt-free treat at the end of the day. I love collecting new recipes, trying different combinations and reading about the benefits of certain ingredients. But how do you get started? What stuff do you pick to put in your smoothies, and what is healthy? If you aren’t a wiz at mixing up perfect drinks, don’t worry. Here are some smoothie tips to get you started:

1. Avoid the Sugar Rush

We all love the sweet taste of Jamba Juice, but be careful. Those smoothies taste so good because they mix in ice cream, frozen yogurt and plenty of other sweeteners, which add a lot calories from sugar. Instead of adding those ingredients, try a mix of frozen and fresh fruit (the riper the better) to add natural sugar and sweetness. If you simply must have some extra sweet in your smoothie, try adding some natural raw honey (which has great added health benefits) or some stevia.

2. Give It A Boost

Any smoothie base can pack an added punch with the addition of veggies. I will often add a few handfuls of spinach or kale, or a mixture of both, to my smoothie along with chia or flax seeds and spirulina to pack in some extra nutrition and a serving of veggies in the morning. These keep me fuller, boost metabolism and cell health and provide added nutrients. Don’t be alarmed at the color: adding spinach, kale and spirulina will turn your smoothie a murky dark green, but I promise it will still taste delicious.

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3. Serve It Up

Keep track of how much you are consuming -- many recipes make enough for 2 two or more servings. I typically have an 8-ounce smoothie in the morning for breakfast. But you can grab a portable water bottle and drink up throughout the day.

Admittedly, I have developed a smoothie formula and pretty much stick to it. It consists of spinach + 2 types of fresh fruit a handful of frozen fruit + almond milk + natural juice +chia + spirulina. Since I have the smoothies for breakfast, the veggies, fruit and protein kickstart my day and keep me plenty full until lunch. But there are so many different recipes out there that can aid in your specific health goals. Here are some of my favorites:

Tropical Paradise Detox Smoothie:

With pineapple, mango and raspberries, this smoothie will make you feel like you’re on vacation! It is also perfect for summer, as the tropical fruits are more plentiful and riper in-store. It’s full of antioxidants, powerful inflammation fighting properties, and coconut water with replenishing electrolytes. The combination is perfect after a workout or at the end of the day. Of course, you can add some chia or flax seeds and have it for breakfast as well.

1 cup ripe pineapple

1 mango

1  cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)

½ cup natural orange juice

1 cup coconut water 

Power Green Smoothie:

This smoothie is one of my absolute favorites and is the basis of most of my smoothies that I make during the week. You can use just about any fruit here, but this recipe has some that will taste great and pack some vitamins to kick off your day. The secret here is the greens. I usually prefer spinach to kale, but I decided to go with a combo here to get all of their added nutrients: Calcium and vitamins A, C, and K and even iron. Add that to the vitamin C-rich fruits kiwis and strawberries, and Vitamin A-rich peaches for a complete nutrient boost. Green tea adds antioxidants without any extra calories, and the almond milk and chia seeds add hunger-fighting protein and much needed Omega-3s. Spirulina, is a natural algae (yes, like that green stuff) and has a lot of amino acids, which help to restore and repair cells.

1 cup spinach

1  cup kale leaves (stems removed)

1 peach

2 kiwis

1 cup strawberries

½ cup almond milk (natural or vanilla if you prefer extra sweetness)

1 cup brewed green tea (chilled)

2-3 tsp chia seeds

1 heaping tsp spirulina powder

Ultimate Energy Power Smoothie:

If you need a little more pep in your smoothie, here’s a recipe that will do the trick. Packed with protein and fiber, this smoothie will keep you full and going strong. This smoothie is also great as a light dinner or after-workout snack.

1 cup strawberries

½ cup rolled oats

½ cup natural almond butter (can use natural peanut butter)

1 Tbsp raw honey

1 cup almond milk

2-3 tsps flax seeds

Antioxidant Supercharge Smoothie:

We all know that antioxidants are good for you, and here’s why: Antioxidants nullify potentially harmful waste products produced by cells known as “free radicals.” These little buggers float around your cells and can potentially cause damage to cellular structures and processes. Antioxidants help eliminate free radicals and have been linked to helping prevent cancer and heart disease. They also have been linked to anti-aging processes and other health benefits. This smoothie is jam packed with antioxidants found in berries, green tea and pomegranates.

1 cup blackberries

1 cup blueberries

1 cup raspberries

1/2 cup pomegranate juice

3/4 cup brewed green tea (chilled)

1-2 Tbsp chia seeds

Power C Smoothie:

Skip pounding the vitamin C supplements when you feel a cold coming on and drink one of these Power C smoothies once a week to keep your immune system going strong. Vitamin C is also linked to lung function (important to note if you live in a smoggy city like LA). Additionally, vitamin C is an antioxidant and is important in the normal functions of the body. Taking a supplement is good, but getting nutrients through food guarantees the maximum amount of absorption by the body. This smoothie is chalk full of vitamin C with kale (one cup has 56% your recommended amount of vitamin C) and some of the highest sources of vitamin C including strawberries, oranges and kiwis. Add some natural orange and guava juice with flax seeds to boost your immune system, metabolism and regulate hydration.

1 cup kale

1 cup strawberries

1 orange

2 kiwis

1/2 cup orange juice

1 cup almond milk

2-3 Tbsp flax seeds

These recipes all have great benefits and will supercharge your nutrition. But there are countless other great ingredients and recipes out there including other fruits and vegetables that can meet your specific health needs. Evaluate when and why you want to start drinking smoothies. Is is a meal replacement, to help lose weight, to get extra nutrients, or a quick snack after a workout? Take a look and see what types of foods will serve you best and make your own great-tasting combinations.

What are your favorite smoothies? Tweet us your questions or tips @MadeWomanMag!

Published in Health