After my whole rant on juice, you might have already gone out and bought yourself a shiny new blender to jumpstart your new smoothie habit. But before you get all trigger-happy on that baby, listen up because what you put in that blender matters. 

Why? Well, let’s just say that not all smoothies are created equal. Have you ever seen the nutrition facts for those smoothies at your local smoothie bar? Maybe it’s just me, but some of those numbers look like they belong to a milkshake, not a smoothie! (Okay, that might be a bit hyperbolic, but you catch my drift.) 

Point is, while smoothies can be an excellent way to take in the vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber that we need, they can also be a hidden way for excess calories and sugar to sneak into the diet.
 
That’s why NC is here to help you build a better smoothie.

Let’s start with the liquid base. We want to try and avoid anything that is innately high in fat or sugar so we can add other delicious goodness down the road. So what do I recommend?
-    Nut/seed milks (preferably the unsweetened versions)
-    Low fat coconut milk
-    Low fat or skim milk
-    Low fat or nonfat yogurt
-    Kefir (you may or may not be learning more about this ingredient in an upcoming post…just saying)

Once we’ve got the base for our smoothie figured out, we can move on to our creamy component because what’s a smoothie if it’s not creamy? (A pretty lame smoothie, in my opinion.) Our contenders are:
-    Banana (fresh or frozen)
-    Avocado
-    Oats
-    Silken tofu
-    Zucchini (trust me, it works!)
-    Ice cubes

Now, because most of us like our smoothies to be on the sweeter side, let’s discuss how to do that. The goal is to keep ingredients as natural as possible and portions in check so that the sugar content of our smoothie doesn’t skyrocket. So what are the options?
-    Fruit (frozen fruit is totally fine)
-    Dates (so deliciously sweet, 1 or 2 should do the trick)
-    Honey or maple syrup if you really need that extra sweet boost!

While everything we’ve added so far is nutrient-rich, let’s not forget about our vegetables, which will only add even more healthy goodness. Pick one or two leafy greens and add in a bunch. It will not only taste delicious, but it will also do wonders for your body!

Now, let’s round out our smoothie with some healthy fat, fiber, and protein. Here are our key players:
-    Nuts/seeds or nut/seed butters
-    Chia seeds
-    Flaxseeds (make sure they’re ground!)
-    Psyllium husk (great source of fiber…I get mine from the Whole Body section at Whole Foods)

Finally, let’s play with some flavor. Adding in herbs and spices can amp up the volume of a smoothie, but it is definitely optional! (I do realize that this whole exercise is optional. You can never make a smoothie in your life and I’d still be your friend.) But, if you do choose to experiment, here are some ingredients I’d recommend you try:
-    Cinnamon
-    Nutmeg
-    Ginger
-    Mint
-    Basil
-    Cilantro

Okay, I’m pretty sure we’ve covered everything, so pull out that blender and have some fun. I’m actually going to get mine too and play around with some recipes myself. Of course, they will be coming your way shortly, so stay tuned!

- NC

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