Smoothies are a quick, easy and versatile way to enjoy a pre- or post-workout meal. But if you aren’t careful, they can quickly become calorie bombs if you overdo it on added sugar and calorie-dense fats. That’s why it’s always a good idea to pay attention to portion size and add protein for satiety.
To make your smoothie even more nutritious, try incorporating the following ingredients, which help with everything from boosting performance in the gym to keeping your immune system strong.
While they make a great snack, try tossing the frozen soybeans into smoothies for a creamier consistency, says Anne Mauney, RD. A quarter cup adds 4 grams of protein and 1.5 grams of fiber, which helps keep you feeling full.
“Beets are a great, nutrient-dense vegetable to add to your smoothie,” says registered dietitian and chef Jessica Swift. They’re rich in vitamin C and nitrates, substances that can improve blood flow — and athletic performance. Pro tip: Get pre-cooked beets, available in the refrigerated section at the grocery store, to eliminate time-consuming prep.
The fermented yogurt-like drink “is a great way to mix it up from traditional milk, and I love that it has probiotic qualities that promote good gut health,” says Mauney. Opt for unflavored or unsweetened kefir to reduce the sugar content — the addition of fruit in your smoothie makes it sweet enough, notes Mauney.
This cancer-fighting veggie has a sneaky way of blending in unnoticed and gives smoothies a thicker texture without having to use ice. Fresh or frozen cauliflower works, but buying a bag of frozen cauliflower rice is a great way to save time, says Mauney.
If you can’t have nut butter due to an allergy, you don’t have to miss out on adding the healthful, satiating source of fat to the mix. Just dollop in tahini, a sesame seed paste. “It adds a nice source of protein and fiber,” says Swift.
Oat milk is a trendy alternative milk gaining popularity in coffee shops. One cup contains 130 calories, 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and is a good source of vitamin D and calcium, says Swift. Switch your usual milk for oat milk, which has a subtle, creamy taste.
These seeds add a subtle nutty taste and a 1-ounce serving has more protein and fewer carbs than chia and flax. “Hemp seeds are packed with healthy fat and can be a nice way to mix it up from nuts,” says Mauney. Toss them into the blender or use them as a topping.
This root is bursting with anti-inflammatory properties, says Mauney. One of her favorite smoothies to whip up is a Turmeric Ginger Smoothie. She uses fresh turmeric (though you can also use powdered), along with pineapple for a tropical twist. Or try this mango-mandarin smoothie with turmeric that contains just four ingredients.
Mauney recommends putting fresh avocado into your smoothie. “It’s a great source of healthy fat, so it will give the drink more staying power,” she says. It creates a thick texture and you can’t taste it, notes Mauney.