Who doesn’t love a good smoothie? For me, they are the perfect breakfast on the run because I can make them quickly and take them in my on-the-go cup to drink during my morning commute. Also, you can prep your fruits and veggies ahead, so it’s even faster to mix up in the blender. And to make it even better, I like to toss in one of my favorite smoothie boosters for some extra flavor or to amp up the nutrition.
Read about my favorites here!! I always keep these on hand to use in my smoothies or even yogurt bowls!
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The basic smoothie formula
Of course, you need to start with your basic smoothie first. My smoothie recipe starts by combining fruits, veggies, plant-based dairy and usually Greek yogurt though if you prefer a vegan smoothie, then silken or soft tofu works well.
Fruits and Veggies
The combinations are truly limitless here but, I am a huge fan of using beets, berries, spinach, kale, banana and green apple in different combinations. Pick your favorite fruits and start there. The banana is a nice addition because it adds a bit of natural sweetness to the smoothie. The fruits and veggies add fiber, antioxidants and micronutrients to my smoothie and adding the veggies helps me get a jump on getting in plenty of veggies each the day.
You can use any liquid here, even water or juice. I like to use plant-based milk because it adds protein and other necessary micronutrients my body needs. My favorite plant-based milks for my smoothie are almond, coconut or a combination of them. You can even use regular milk if that is your preference.
Greek yogurt or tofu
This ingredient is all about texture and satiety. Both of these ingredients boost the protein of the smoothie while also making it creamier, almost milkshake-like which I really enjoy. The tofu is totally neutral in flavor whereas the yogurt has a bit of “tang” to it. I find that the smoothie is much thicker and creamier with the tofu and that the flavor of the fruits and veggies really shine through.
The market is flooded with ingredients you can add to your smoothies!! And all of the them claim to have an added benefit to justify adding them. But how do you know which claims to trust and which additives are safe? My typical guideline is to look to see which have been researched, so that I at least know they are safe to consume. Scientific research on many additives or supplements if often limited in scope if it exists at all.
But, as far as research goes, these five smoothie boosters have more scientific evidence than many others to back up the health claims associated with them.
Remember, always be cautious of any health claim that sounds TOO good to be true.
Maca is a root vegetable found in Peru and grown high up in the Andes mountains in cold conditions. It grows in dirt similar to potatoes though it is in the same family of cruciferous vegetables as broccoli and cauliflower. It comes in black, red and white and each is is said to have slightly different properties.
In Peru it has been around for ages and is used in cooking and as a natural medicine. It is also called Peruvian ginseng and can be used to increase sexual drive and energy. It does have a strong flavor, a bit bitter, which is why I prefer to mix mine into my smoothie.
Research on maca as a natural medicine has only begun, so much of the evidence about its medicinal uses is limited. However, it also contributes to nutrition and provides many different micronutrients such as vitamin C, copper, iron, potassium and much more.
My main interest in maca lately has been using it as a way to alleviate some of the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. In several early studies, maca has been shown to improve some menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and interrupted sleep.
It is also thought that the flavonoids in maca help to increase mood and that the root when applied to the skin may prevent sunburn.
Of course, more scientific study is definitely warranted to back-up many of these benefits. This supplement appears to be safe to consume and it has been used for many years in Peru as a food and natural medicine. I typically add ½ – 1 teaspoon of maca to a smoothie. However, it also works to mix it into your morning oatmeal or hot cereal.
This sour fruit from the Amazon rainforest is typically red in color and looks a bit like a small plum.
The flavor is extremely tart thus the fruit is typically not eaten whole, but rather prepared in a juice or smoothie. Often the powdered form of this fruit is used to mix into smoothies and yogurt.
It contains a high amount of many different nutrients but is most associated with a super high level of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps your skin repair itself through its role in collagen production and vitamin C improves your body’s ability to fight off infections.
As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C also protects your cells from damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress, both of which can lead to the development of chronic diseases.
Flax, also called linseed has been around for ages. It has a long history as providing health benefits. You can buy the seeds or a ground form, often called flax meal. It is best to use the powder form or to grind up the seeds if you decide to use flax so that your body is able to receive the benefits from the flax. The whole seeds are likely to not be digested by the body.
I am a huge fan of flax. I have used it for years primarily as a source of omega-3 fatty acids. Out of all these smoothie boosters, flax probably has had the most research done on it. So many of the health claims associated with flax have been backed up by scientific study.
In addition to being a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, flax also contains high-quality protein, and is an excellent source of fiber. Furthermore, lignans, plant-compound with antioxidant and estrogen properties, that are found in flax may prevent cancer.
You can also add flax to baked goods, yogurt, cereal and soups. It makes a great egg substitute in baking and cooking. Simply mix 1 part flax with 4 parts water and allow it to sit for 15 minutes.
I’ve written about this South American-Peruvian fruit before. It’s one of my favorites. It has this delicious butterscotch-like flavor to it and the flesh is a beautiful yellow color. The texture is kind of different, similar to a boiled egg yolk, so it is typically eaten pureed into smoothies, custard or even ice cream. In the US you may find pulp in the freezer section of a Latin American grocery store but more commonly it is found in the US in a powdered form.
What’s awesome about lucuma is that it can be used as a sweetener and has a pretty low glycemic index, meaning that it has less of an effect on blood sugar levels than regular sweeteners. This benefit may be good for those such as diabetics or any one else trying to monitor their blood glucose levels. Though I recommend checking with a doctor to make sure it’s ok before beginning to use it regularly.
Lucuma also contains antioxidants which comes from various components it contains including vitamin C, carotenoids, which also give it a yellow color, and polyphenols.
Use the powder to add a bit of sweetness and caramel-butterscotch flavor to your smoothie!
It is said to be “…one of the healthiest foods on the planet.” Chia seeds are nutrient dense and contain a powerful nutrient punch for a small amount of calories making it a great smoothie booster. Some of the nutrition it provides include: protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and more.
Chia contains many nutrients necessary for the development and maintenance of bone, including protein, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Chia contains antioxidants as well which works to prevent chronic disease and protect the body from free radicals.
They also contain an ingredient that swells up to form a gel when added to liquid. And while they blend up in a smoothie, they help to thicken it up, adding a bit of texture.
I even like a smoothie in the afternoon as a snack if I have the munchies or I am craving something sweet. They contain that winning combination of protein, fat and carbohydrates that provide me with lots of energy and also staying power to keep my hunger at bay!
What about you? Do you have a favorite smoothie combination? What are your top smoothie boosters? Tell me all about it in the comments! I want to know.
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