I remember going to Jamba Juice in high school when I first got into the big smoothie craze, and every time they'd ask me if I wanted a "boost," I'd think "HECK no!" I had no idea what a the boosts really did, but I didn't want anything to mess with the taste of my Pink Starburst smoothie from the secret menu. But that was when I viewed smoothies as a sweet treat and less of a nutritious meal.
My approach to smoothies now is so different — I'm always thinking about what I can throw in there to enhance the nutritional profile of my favorite blends. They usually fall into a few categories: nuts and seeds, protein additions, greens, and supplement powders. Here's a quick look at all of those with some notes about my favorites.
Nuts and Seeds
They're not just for salads! Add some hearty nuts and seeds to your smoothie to amplify its nutrients (macro and micro!).
- Chia Seeds. Great to add fiber, protein, magnesium, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Flax Seeds. Up your fiber and omega-3s with about half the calories of chia.
- Almonds. Adding whole almonds to your smoothie increases the healthy fats, protein, and fiber — and sometimes adds a nice texture to your shake.
There are so many ways to add protein to your smoothie without supplements (but those are great, too — we'll get to that later). No matter your dietary restrictions, there's a way to add some extrasatiating, muscle-fueling protein to your favorite frosty blend. It'll help make your smoothie feel more filling, which is great if you're making it into a meal.
- Greek Yogurt. Or plain. Or Icelandic. Whatever you choose, you'll be adding a creamy base for your shake with probiotics and protein.
- Cottage Cheese. One of my favorite ways to make a smoothie creamier! I love making a strawberries 'n' cream protein smoothie or high-protein mango lassi with cottage cheese.
- Tofu. Tofu adds a thickness that makes a smoothie taste like a milkshake. If you're looking for plant-based protein, this brings in a ton!
- Beans. Can't do dairy or soy? Try beans! Yes, seriously. Beans add not only protein, but fiber as well. And the taste is super mild and takes on whatever fruit you've thrown in there.
Toss some leafy greens (or cruciferous veggies!) into the blender to add tons of healthy fiber and vitamins.
- Kale. It's one of the most popular smoothie add-ins (perhaps because it's the only way some people can tolerate kale). You'll add fiber, calcium, antioxidants, and vitamins to your blend with just a handful of leaves.
- Spinach. Arguably the mildest tasting green, it's my favorite of the bunch. You'll get similar nutritional value to kale, but with less of that "green" taste.
- Broccoli. Stay with me: broccoli can actually be pretty darn good in a smoothie. It's got tons of fiber and will help your digestion.
- Cauliflower. If you want to mix it up (or ditch the banana), try cauliflower — it's not a green, technically, but it'll certainly add nutrition!
Supplements and Powders
Lately it seems like there's always a new tincture, dust, or powder to add to your drinks, right? Well, some of them are pretty cool — and some of them taste great, too! Here are a just a few to check out.
- Protein Powder. I'd be remiss to skip protein powder. It's such a simple way to amplify nutrition — I always have a tub of my favorite (OK, maybe like four or five tubs) on hand for smoothies, shakes, and more.
- Collagen. Want the extra protein but don't want to change the taste? Collagen is for you. It's great for your hair, skin, nails, and gut health, too.
- Maca Powder. For an energy boost and balanced hormones, add maca to your smoothie. It's a little earthy, so try pairing it with cocoa in a chocolaty smoothie or with a nut butter.