Who doesn’t love smoothies? They’re easy, delicious, and they’re so darn good for you when you leave out added sugars and animal products. Plus, smoothies are the sneakiest way to get many of your fruits and veggies into one single meal. For anyone who’s new to eating a plant-based diet, smoothies are a lifesaver and will quickly become a staple in any vegan’s kitchen in no time.
If you’re bored with your current smoothie rotation or up for trying new things, try some new ingredients to make a smoothie with. Though you can use regular fruit, nondairy milk, and ice, why not try some more unique and healthier ingredients in your smoothie to optimize the flavor? Plus, these ingredients will give you more energy, vitality, more nutrients, and might even help your skin, hair, and nails too. Beauty and nutrition in a glass? Drink up!
1. Frozen Kale
Using frozen greens in a smoothie is great because they have a milder taste than fresh greens and they create a thicker smoothie, more like the consistency of soft-serve that you can eat with a spoon. Plus, frozen greens are also much less expensive, you never have to worry about them going bad, and since they’re frozen at peak harvest, they’re possibly more nutritious than fresh greens. Frozen spinach is great for smoothie, but next time try using frozen kale for more antioxidants, iron, and magnesium.
2. Frozen Acai Pulp
Instead of blueberries, use some acai puree pulp that comes in frozen packets at the supermarket. Blueberries are great and make an awesome ingredient for smoothies, but when it comes to nutrition, acai wins every time. Acai has nearly eight times the antioxidants of blueberries, no sugar, it has omega 3 fatty acids, more protein, and it’s been linked to a host of health benefits. It’s great for digestion, your skin, and your heart. Just go for the unsweetened variety by Sambazon to avoid added sweeteners. You can use one whole pack or use half a pack like I do to make the packs last longer.
3. Avocado Slices
If you were a former yogurt lover who doesn’t want to buy pricey non-dairy yogurt, use avocado in your smoothies. Just a couple slices is all you need to get rich, thick texture that’s just like pudding and so nutritious for you. I promise you’ll never taste it! You can even freeze the slices so they’ll keep longer, too. Avocados may help lower gastrointestinal inflammation, improve heart health, and keep you full a long time. Sure they’re high in fat, but they’re healthy fats that are awesome for your heart and skin. If you’re concerned with calories, just keep it to 1/4 – 1/2 of a fruit and you’ll be fine.
4. Chia Seeds
You might already be using chia in a smoothie, but chia seeds just can’t be left out of this list. With all the amazing benefits chia seeds have, why not just go ahead and add a tablespoon to your next smoothie recipe? If you let your smoothie sit 10- 20 minutes in the freezer before drinking it, the chia will thicken it up even more and the freezer will keep it nice and cool without it becoming watered down.
5. Peppermint Tea Leaves
Alright, so you might think I’m crazy here, but trust me. I’ve been making green smoothies about eight years and this is one of my favorite tips to give you. Using just 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint leaves from an opened tea bag or fresh mint leaves will give your smoothies a delightful, refreshing and minty taste. Peppermint pairs great with cacao powder for a mint chocolate chip taste or you can even leave out the cacao and add vanilla for a minty vanilla smoothie too. Peppermint is great for improving focus, helping digestion, relieving headaches, and fighting off stress.
6. Baby Carrots
Like your smoothies sweet? Me too, but I always try to use more veggies than I do fruits in a smoothie. This helps stabilize your blood sugar a bit better and it ensures you’re getting in more of the veggies you need each day. Baby carrots are inexpensive, delicious, and they create a yummy, sweet smoothie. Pair them with some greens, a touch of almond butter, ice, berries, liquid stevia, cinnamon, and cacao powder and you’ll see what I mean. Carrots are full of a type of fiber known as pectin that keeps you fuller longer and improves digestion. They’re also a top source of Vitamin A to keep your skin in good shape and a great source of Vitamin C.
If you’re not already a maca fan, it’s time you get on board. What are you waiting for? Maca is so delicious. It’s creamy, has a resemblance to butterscotch and caramel, and it’s great for giving you energy and improving your hormones. I also find it helps tame stress and anxious jitters. Since maca is a high-fiber source of low-glycemic carbohydrates, it helps give your smoothie a nice body and will help you stay fuller longer. Plus, it contains 20 different amino acids, making it an awesome source of protein. One teaspoons is great for newbies while more advanced users can use up to a tablespoon or two a day.
8. Vegan Protein Powder
Vegan protein powder is all the rage and it’s no wonder: in the protein crazed world we live in, it’s become a staple for many people’s diets, mine included. Using a no-sugar-added vegan protein powder will ensure you stay fuller longer and it will keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day. I also find it helps thicken a smoothie quite nicely and gives it a better flavor. There are nearly fifty or more different protein powders on the market that cater to vegans, so pick up some sample packs online or at Whole Foods and try some out to see which ones you like the most.
9. Frozen Green Peas
Frozen green peas are a great source of protein, naturally sweet, and extremely high in fiber. I like using frozen versus fresh for the consistency, ease of use, and milder flavor. Add in about 1/4 cup to your smoothie and I promise you’ll never taste them. They give smoothies a really creamy, sweet taste and they’ll help keep you fuller longer. Best of all, they’ll keep your digestive system humming along quite nicely, all in the form of a yummy smoothie.
10. Vanilla Extract
While it may not be a superfood, it will take your smoothies up about 10 notches at least. I like using alcohol-free vanilla extract since it has a better flavor (and no alcohol obviously.) You can also make your own at home very inexpensively. Vanilla adds a rich, sweet taste with no sugar and helps optimize the flavor of ingredients like cacao and maca. Use about one teaspoon per smoothie and you’ll see what I mean!
Other great ingredients to add to your smoothie are: spirulina, a greens powder, goji berries, flax seeds, cacao, and any frozen veggie or fresh veggie you want. Feel free to add in any other fruits you like too. What’s your favorite ingredients to make a super smoothie?