A blended smoothie is a quick and healthy way to start your day. If done right, you’ll meet your daily minimum requirement of fruits and vegetables.
Three Sharp dietitians share their secret ingredients for the perfect blended breakfast or afternoon snack.
Angelea Bruce, RD, certified specialist in oncology nutrition at Sharp HealthCare
My secret smoothie ingredient is old-fashioned oats. I blend 1 to 2 tablespoons of dry oats into every smoothie to add soluble fiber, which helps lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as “bad” cholesterol. As a bonus, it helps give the smoothie a thicker consistency.
Kendra Busalacchi, registered dietitian with Sharp Grossmont Hospital
I use kefir and plain ice for my liquid base. Kefir is a cultured, creamy, more-liquid yogurt loaded with probiotics that are beneficial for digestion and gut health. Unlike yogurt, which only uses a few probiotic bacteria and yeast, kefir is fermented with 10 to 20 different types.
I also like to add healthy fats to every smoothie, such as flaxseed, chia seeds or avocado. The healthy fats provide a feeling of fullness. Flaxseed is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to boost heart health.
Tracey Grant, registered dietitian and program manager with Sharp Rees-Stealy
I like to add cauliflower, zucchini, carrots and sweet potato. They add fiber and volume without a lot of extra calories, and are a great way to thicken a smoothie.
To prep, I chop the fresh vegetables into small pieces — usually about 1/2 inch — then steam until fork tender. Sometimes I freeze them flat on a baking sheet before transferring to a large bag for storage or portion them into single-serving bags and then freeze. The cauliflower and zucchini are neutral in flavor and can be added into pretty much any smoothie.
I also like to add turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and a pinch of ground black pepper. Turmeric, especially combined with black pepper, is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. Cinnamon is known for its antioxidant properties, as well as its ability to aid in healthy blood sugar response. Ginger is good for digestion.
Carrot Cake Shake
Substitute pecan or cashew milk for a delicious, nutty alternative.
Yields 1 shake
1 1/2 cups frozen cooked carrots, cauliflower, zucchini and sweet potato
1/4 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1/4 cup frozen banana
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
A pinch of ground black pepper
1 scoop vanilla-flavored protein powder
1 1/2 cups homemade almond milk
In a high-powered blender, blend all ingredients until smooth. Add more liquid as needed. To serve, top with a few extra shakes of cinnamon.