If you’re looking to up your vegetable and fruit intake, smoothies and smoothie bowls are a one-stop-shop for starting your day with 2-4 servings. Smoothies can sometimes veer into all-fruit combos, which are delicious, but can have way more sugar than we necessarily want first thing in the morning. One key way to keeping your blood sugar balanced is by adding more vegetables (along with a little protein and fat) and slightly less fruit into the mix. The vegetables add fiber, vitamins, and minerals to mitigate those natural sugars, while adding plenty of antioxidants too.
The downside of adding more vegetables to the mix is that they can mess with the sweet and creamy vibes that make a smoothie great. To avoid things getting too vegetal here are some essential tips for packing your morning smoothie with vegetables without sacrificing flavor.
The best way to make nutrient-dense vegetables more palatable and less noticeable in smoothies is to freeze them. I use frozen spinach in almost all my smoothies. Frozen and extremely cold foods have a duller flavor, so use this to your advantage — some of the vegetables mentioned below go virtually undetected when frozen.
Another great perk of using frozen foods is that they’re often cheaper than fresh (even for organic) and are picked at their peak ripeness, meaning that they retain most of their vital nutrients. So stock your freezer with the following frozen veg and you’re halfway there.
Spinach + Kale
Everyone knows these two, right? I recommend buying organic frozen chopped spinach and kale and keeping a few bags on hand. When combined with a little sweetness, you can get away with 1 to 2 cups of the green stuff without it being too in-your-face.
For something bright and refreshing, I love spinach, banana, matcha powder, ginger, and lemon blended with water or coconut water for a super energizing morning elixir.
This one is my current fave. Zucchini is harder to find in the frozen food section, so I buy fresh, cut into small chunks and freeze on a parchment-lined tray. Once frozen, I transfer them to a bag to dig into all week.
When frozen it’s completely tasteless but still packed with vitamin C and potassium, and lends a creaminess when blended.
Try adding ½ cup chopped and frozen zucchini in a blender with some spinach, pineapple, banana, and coconut milk for a green piña colada vibe.
Frozen cauliflower is an amazing way to bulk up your smoothies with cruciferous vegetables (the same family as broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage — all of which are high in vitamins A and C, folic acid, and fibre), without any overpowering taste. They also mimic the creaminess of bananas when blended well, making them perfect for thicker smoothie bowls. Just be sure to drink it within a half hour of blending, as its natural sulfur flavor can come out at room temp.
Try blending ½ cup chopped and frozen cauliflower with a cup of blueberries, a quarter of an avocado, almond milk, almond butter, vanilla powder or extract, and cinnamon for a creamy and nutritionally amazing smoothie.
A great way to save avocados that are slightly overripe? Freeze them or pop them into a smoothie as is. Their creaminess is unparalleled and their healthy fats are one of the essential components to creating a satisfying smoothie that will keep you full till lunchtime. You don’t need a lot to reap the benefits, anywhere from one quarter to a half of an avocado is great.
Go for a tropical green blend with a combination of avocado, spinach, mango, banana, and basil.
These nutritionally-dense superstars bring all the antioxidant benefits of leafy greens, plus they add beautiful, bright flavor. Some easy additions include parsley, basil, and mint.
Combine fresh mint leaves with coconut milk, dates, cacao, avocado, and courgette for a veggie-packed mint chocolate treat.
These guys are tricky, but it’s totally possible to add beets to smoothie and not have it taste all beet-y. These don’t need to be frozen either, one small (or half a medium) steamed or roasted and peeled beet straight out of the fridge is fine.
Complement their sweet and earthy flavor with the sweetness of strawberries, coconut milk or yogurt, vanilla, zucchini, almond butter, and a splash of lemon juice to give everything a lift.
I’m talking about foods and spices that aren’t fruit, but provide a natural sweetness without a ton of sugar. These allow you to use less fruit, while still providing the sweet flavor that will mask even the darkest of greens.
- Vanilla powder or a pure vanilla extract: Start with a very small amount and work up from there. Extracts in particular can overpower a smoothie.
- Cinnamon: It helps balance blood sugar, too.
- Cardamom: Another small doses add-in, potent and delicious paired with cinnamon.
- Coconut milk: Naturally creamy and slightly sweet, coconut milk also provides the healthy fat component in a smoothie. Look for cans of organic, guar gum-free coconut milk (ideally, the only ingredients should be coconut and water). The texture can be thick, so I combine 1 400mL can with 250mL of filtered water and keep it in a jar in my fridge to use throughout the week. I start with a half a cup in smoothie bowls and add a little water as needed to blend.
And don’t forget to mix the vegetables, herbs, and spices with your fruit favourites to create flavour combinations you love. I try to aim for 1 to 2 servings of fruit per smoothie.
Originally written for Inspire by Psycle London