The Right Way to Make a Superfood Smoothie

Erica Jones MHS Non-Toxic Lifestyle, Recipes Leave a Comment

by Erica Jones MHS

Superfood Smoothies

Smoothies are one of the quickest and easiest on the go options, especially when you’re cleaning up your diet. You can get a low calorie nutrient dense meal and you can drink it too. While superfood is quite the buzz word right now, what actually qualifies a food to be super? And how can you incorporate those into a smoothie that is healthy, filling… and delicious?  

Well keep reading because I’m gonna share some of my top superfood smoothie recipes and what makes them great.

What is a superfood?

Basically superfoods are highly nutritious foods that are vitamin and mineral dense. They often contain healthy fats, antioxidants or phytochemicals, all of which have lots of health benefits.  Most importantly they are whole and unprocessed, mostly from plants! (1).

In my opinion, foods should be organic if they want to be on the super list.  Anything grown in pesticides cancels out the nutrient value. That means something like green tea, which is loaded with polyphenols and antioxidants becomes toxic if it has been highly chemically treated.  

I’ll start out by sharing the six steps to making great smoothies. These are the building blocks. Change it up however you like to find your perfect combo.  Or if you’re stumped for ideas keep reading because I’m going to share eight of my favorite superfood smoothie recipes too!

Liquid Base

First you’ll want to start with a healthy liquid.  Juices (and even conventional cow’s milk) is way too sugary and can be acidic to the body.  Some of my favorite options are nut milks and you can easily make your own nutrient dense dairy free milk pretty easily at home.

Nut Milk Recipe

Ingredients

  • ½ cup of raw and unsalted nuts
  • 3 cups of water for soaking
  • 2 cups of water for blending
  • 1 date for sweetness (optional)

Instructions

  1. Soak the nuts and date in 3 cups of water overnight.  12 hours is ideal!
  2. Drain that water and add the softened nuts and date to 2 cups of water.
  3. Blend in a high speed blender for a minute or two.  
  4. Using a piece of muslin or cheesecloth, strain the mixture into a pitcher and store in the fridge!

Although it may seem daunting, once you make nut milk for yourself and see how simple it is, you’ll never buy it from the store again. Since they have a fairly short shelf life (a week in the fridge) store bought nut milk often contains a lot of preservatives and fillers, none of which are very healthy.  If you want to purchase nut milk for convenience, the brand MALK is an organic almond milk brand I like with clean ingredients.

Here are some great options for your homemade plant based milk!

  • Cashew Milk

Cashews are full of vitamins like E, K and B6 as well as minerals like copper, zinc and magnesium (2). Like all the nuts listed they have no sugars and low carbs, so they make a great option if you are trying to keep those to a minimum.  Cashew milk is usually very creamy and thick.

  • Almond Milk

High in fiber, vitamin E and riboflavin, almonds are a nutritionally dense nut (3).  Their mildly sweet flavor makes great milk and they contain more calcium than cow’s milk! The only downside is that they require so much water to grow, so they aren’t the most environmentally sustainable choice.

  • Coconut Milk  

This will give you the most bang for your buck.  As you can replace the ½ cup of nuts with shredded coconut instead. It is packed with healthy fats, potassium and is also naturally sweet.  If you’re just starting to make the transition to plant-based milks, coconut is a tasty way to begin.

  • Brazil Nut Milk

Another nut that is rich in healthy fats is the brazil nut.  It is also one of the richest sources of selenium you can get, a mineral that is crucial to keeping your mood and anxiety levels stable (4).

Fruit

Okay once you’ve chosen your base liquid, you’ll want to throw in some fruit for flavor, vitamins and sweetness!  I’m not a fan of high sugar fruits like pineapple and banana as your main star, but rather more low glycemic fruits that won’t spike your blood sugar and leave you crashing in a few hours. Especially if you’re on the keto diet, low sugar fruits like berries are the way to go.

  • Berries

Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries are full of antioxidants, vitamins and phytochemicals- the compounds that give fruits their vibrant color (1). They are low in sugar and make an excellent choice for smoothies.

  • Green Apples

Lower in sugar than all the other fruits, but high in fiber and pectin which are incredibly healing to the gut, green apples will add sweetness and flavor to your smoothie without overpowering it.

  • Citrus

While they can be pretty pulpy and seedy when blended, citrus fruits can be juiced first and then added to your superfood smoothie to add a bright and tropical tone promoting your body’s natural detox pathways.  Think lemon, grapefruit or lime. Oranges are too high in sugar.

Vegetables

Okay I know what you’re thinking, vegetables in my smoothie?  How does that work?! Well remember that superfood smoothies should be like a complete meal, packing a punch with nutrient dense ingredients as well as fiber, fat and protein. Here are some vegetables that will blend well with fruits and help you meet your daily veggie count.

  • Leafy Greens

These are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich, but without the added sugar of fruit.  Greens like kale, spinach and collards will seriously upgrade your smoothie. I find that spinach has the most undetectable taste followed by kale and then collards.

  • Cauliflower

Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli have numerous health benefits. The advantage of adding foods like this to a smoothie is that you can consume them in their raw form (preserving the vitamins and minerals that can be denatured in cooking). Plus, if you’re not a huge fan of these veggies in the first place you can throw them in a smoothie and not really notice the taste – especially with cauliflower that has a more mild flavor.  

  • Sweet Potato

If you’re into food prep, peel and roast some sweet potatoes, cut them into fourths and freeze them.  Sweet potatoes make a nice fall-inspired addition and are packed with vitamin B12 and riboflavin. Keep reading for a fall-spice smoothie that includes sweet potato.

Fats

Fat is not the enemy! In fact, good healthy fats can actually lower LDLs while increasing good cholesterol, staving off heart disease (5). Fats in your superfood smoothies will keep you satisfied for longer while giving you a lasting source of energy.

  • Avocado

At 77% fat content, avocados are packed with oleic acid, the same compound in heart-healthy olive oil. They are also full of fiber and potassium, more in fact than bananas, and without the sugar!

  • Coconut Butter

Everyone knows about the benefits of coconut oil, but coconut butter is even better.  It includes fiber as well as healthy fats, plus lauric acid which is a huge immunity booster (6).

  • Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are packed with omega-three fatty acids and are a great source of healthy fat. They are also full of fiber which promotes a healthy digestive system and keeps things “moving.” Since many aspects of health are affected by the gut (autoimmune issues, hormone imbalance, immune system function), it’s a good idea to support gut health whenever possible. This is just another reason why I love chia seeds.

Protein

This is what makes your superfood smoothie complete.  You need some protein in your smoothie to balance out the sugar and fiber and really turn it into a long lasting meal replacement.  That said, beware of most protein powders as they often contain tons of fillers, sugar and junk. Here are some of the powders I recommend most.

  • Undenatured Whey

Whey is a milk protein, but in order to actually be superfood worthy, it must be undenatured and concentrated, preferably from grass fed cows.  Whey cool and PaleoMeal are two of my favorites and they are absolutely delicious!

  • Collagen

Bone broth is a very hot topic right now, and although it would definitely not be a yummy liquid base you can get all the benefits in a smoothie by using a collagen powder.  Packed with protein, amino acids and collagen (hello beautiful, ageless skin) I highly recommend this as your protein powder. For a protein powder that we love to use, try the Bone Broth Collagen on our supplements page.

  • Hemp

If you want a plant-based option, try hemp protein.  It has all nine essential amino acids which makes it a complete protein and superfood.  Nutiva brand is what I recommend. It’s organic, non-gmo, very gently processed AND comes in a BPA-free container.  

Sweetener

Sweeteners are totally optional in superfood smoothies and honestly if you have a semi-sweet nut milk, protein powder and fruit, you probably won’t need one! However if you’re used to getting super sweet smoothies like the ones from most chain stores, low sugar smoothies might taste a little weird at first. If you do want a sweeter smoothie, try these options instead of sugar!

  • Stevia

If you want a sweet taste without the extra carbs that come from the other options below, you should try Stevia. It’s 40 times sweeter than sugar, but without the disadvantages that come from adding table sugar to your diet. But since it’s so sweet, a little goes a very long way. I recommend 1 to 2 drops in your superfood smoothie.

  • Raw honey

Raw honey is a serious superfood, especially when it is sourced locally. Those bees will be feeding from your region’s flowers and therefore provide immune boosting anti allergy compounds in their honey.

  • Dates

Dates are not only low glycemic and deliciously creamy additions to your superfood smoothies, but they also have high nutritional content. You’ll find vitamin B6, magnesium and even protein in dates (7)!

  • Frozen Bananas

While I don’t use bananas as a main ingredient in smoothies because of their sugar content, cutting them in half or fourths and freezing them to throw in your smoothie is a great way to add creamy sweetness and a little potassium kick.

Extra Additions

Now, you can combine the ingredients above and still come out with a healthy and delicious superfood smoothie.  But if you want to go the extra mile and make something uber healthy, think about adding some extras.  

  • Probiotics

Probiotics are all the rage right now, but for good reason.  Many of us are lacking in good gut bacteria due to the overuse of antibiotics, chlorine in our water and processed foods.  Adding some probiotics to your smoothies are a great way to get them in your diet. Especially since often you’re pairing them with prebiotics like leafy greens.  Prebiotics make them more digestible.

  • Maca or Medicinal Mushroom Powders

Maca is a supplement that can increase energy and vitality, definitely known in the health world as a superfood.  Powdered medicinal mushrooms like reishi and chaga are also great smoothie additions that can improve immunity and energy levels.

  • Herbs like Turmeric, Basil, Ginger or Mint

One of my favorite ways to get herbs into my diet is in my smoothies.  They pack in the flavor and have so many health benefits too!

Okay now that we’ve got  some of the basics down, let’s move onto the fun stuff.  How to combine some of these ingredients into some delicious and healthy smoothie recipes.

Healthy Smoothie Recipes 

1.Spicy Fall Superfood Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cashew milk
  • ½ cup frozen cauliflower
  • ¼ frozen sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut butter
  • 1 scoop vanilla or unflavored protein powder
  • 1 date
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp ginger powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon

Blend and enjoy! The real superstars of the this smoothie are the turmeric and ginger.  They add spicy fall flavors to this superfood smoothie and are anti-inflammatory, immune boosting and digestive soothing herbs on top of that.

2.Classic Green Superfood Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • ½ green apple
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1 small handful of kale
  • ½ avocado
  • 1 scoop of collagen powder
  • ½  frozen banana or stevia to taste

Vibrantly green and full of healthy fats and proteins, this is a great everyday breakfast smoothie recipe.  The greens can be strong but the avocado and banana add a creamy sweetness.

3.Very Berry Superfood Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • Handful of frozen blueberries
  • Handful of frozen raspberries
  • Handful of frozen blackberries
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut butter
  • 1 scoop of hemp protein powder
  • 1 tsp raw honey (optional) or stevia to taste
  • Juice from half a lemon

This brightly colored berry smoothie is full of beauty enhancing antioxidants and the fruits will give you a delicious flavor that doesn’t need any extra sweeteners.

4. Strawberry Chocolate Almond Superfood Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • Handful of frozen strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon of almond butter
  • 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder
  • 1 date

If you don’t have a chocolate protein powder you can use undenatured plain whey or collagen powder and then add a tablespoon of cacao instead.  Cacao is a superfood high in magnesium, polyphenols and other happiness boosting phytochemicals.

5. Tropical Fruit Superfood Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 sliced and peeled kiwi
  • ¼ cup of cubed papaya
  • ⅛ cup of frozen cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon coconut butter
  • 1 scoop collagen
  • ¼ frozen banana
  • Juice of half a lime

The stars of this superfood smoothie are the kiwi and papaya. They give it an exotic flavor without all the added sugar of other tropical fruits. Kiwi is packed with potassium and vitamin C, as is papaya.  But papaya also has digestive enzymes like bromelain to support stomach and gut health.

6. Green Tea Pick Me Up Superfood Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of brazil nut milk
  • ½ green apple
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • ½ avocado
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 2 tsp matcha powder
  • 1 tsp of raw local honey or stevia to taste
  • Cinnamon to sprinkle on top

One of my favorite green superfood smoothie recipes, this one makes a great breakfast replacement. Seriously, skip the coffee and add your morning caffeine to this smoothie instead.  

It’s a full on meal replacement but the matcha is what makes this one truly worthy of being called a superfood. Matcha is made from powdered green tea leaves, so you’ll be getting all the nutritional value of green tea in a more highly concentrated, whole herb form.

7. Strawberry Grapefruit Superfood Smoothie

Ingredients

  • ½ cup of purified water
  • ½ cup of fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1 handful of frozen strawberries
  • ¼ cup of chia seeds
  • 1 scoop of collagen powder
  • 1 date (optional)

The grapefruit juice in this smoothie adds a little tang and boosts detoxification, while the strawberries keep it sweet.  This is great smoothie recipe for a hot day or if you feel like something a little lighter on your digestion.

8.  Hydrating Watermelon Mint Superfood Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of coconut water
  • 1 cup of cubed watermelon (seeds optional)
  • ½ cup of frozen cauliflower
  • ¼ cup of chia seeds
  • 1 scoop collagen powder (optional)
  • 1 small handful of fresh mint
  • Stevia to taste (optional)

Watermelon is a low sugar fruit that is very high in electrolytes and water content. The addition of coconut water makes this superfood smoothie extra hydrating.  

Mint is also cooling and very soothing to your digestion, so if you’re looking for a snack that will keep you cool and hydrated after a workout or on a hot day, look no further than this watermelon and mint smoothie.

9. Spicy Beet Superfood Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 handful of frozen strawberries
  • 1 small beet, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut butter
  • 1 scoop collagen protein
  • 1 small knob of peeled ginger

Now if you’re just getting into smoothies, you might not have a taste for beets.  But give it a try, as they are definitely worth including in your recipes, especially in superfood smoothies for weight loss.

Beets are high in antioxidants, low in calories and super detoxifying (8). The ginger in this recipe spices things up, increases digestive power and gets circulation going.  It’s also a superb immune booster, so if you feel a cold coming on, try this recipe!

To wrap things up, you’ll notice that almost all of these superfood smoothie recipes contain some combo of six basic ingredients: a liquid base, fruit, veggie, fat, protein and a sweetener.  Some have extras like herbs, spices, cacao or green tea.

If you stick with that general formula, you can’t really go wrong and creating your own recipes so much fun!  I’d love to know what you think about these recipes? Or if you have other ideas to add? Leave a comment and share your smoothie experiments with us!

Sources

  1. Live Science (2015).  What are superfoods? Retrieved from: https://www.livescience.com/34693-superfoods.html
  2. Healthline (2015).  Are Cashews Good for You?  Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/are-cashews-good-for-you#1
  3. Live Science (2017). Almonds: Nutrition and Health Benefits. Retrieved from: https://www.livescience.com/51627-almonds-nutrition.html
  4. BBC Good Food (2018). The Health Benefits of Brazil Nuts. Retrieved from: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-brazil-nuts
  5. Healthline (2017). 10 High Fat Foods That Are Actually Super Healthy. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-super-healthy-high-fat-foods
  6. Dr. Axe (2017). Coconut Butter- The Better, Healthier, Butter? Retrieved from: https://draxe.com/coconut-butter/
  7. Healthline (2018). 8 Proven Health Benefits of Dates. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-dates
  8. Everyday Health (2018).  What Health Benefits Do Beets Provide? Retrieved from: https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/diet/beets-nutrition-benefits-types-how-cook-more/
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