Awww! Its Tuesday already! Can someone please freeze time for a moment while I catch up on life? Just kidding…I don’t think we’ll ever catch up. Just gotta keep moving forward! Onward! And onward with our second day of this fantastic series of smoothies. Today I will be going over all of the best smoothie add-ins and why you should add them in. Add-ins are one of my favorite parts of a smoothie. They can take your smoothie from a level 2 to a level 10, both in taste and health. For example: Chunky Monkey meets Fat Elvis. Without the add-ins of this smoothie recipe, it would simply be Banana meets Banana. See? Not fun.
If this is your first time here and you’re wondering what the heck all this smoothie talk is, please, head on over to Day One. You’ll be welcomed with the basics of how to make a smoothie. Or check out Blue-nana Muffin Smoothie. And if that didn’t get you to click the link, thats ok, because this post is better. Add-ins are better. Chunky Monkey meets Fat Elvis is better.
Ok, onward! So, maybe you’re thinking this post is pointless, because what other add-ins are there besides protein powder and spinach. Well, let me tell you my friend. There are millions of add-ins. I am only going over 12 because those are the only good ones that I am aware of. If you know of any great add-ins, please leave them in the comments below!
The Best Smoothie Add-Ins
- Protein Powder (2-4 Tbsp): Protein is such an important macronutrient! Between fats, carbs, and protein, I have the most trouble getting enough protein each day. I have to conciously make sure I am getting some protein in at every meal, otherwise by the days end I will look at MyFitnessPal and see I’ve eaten 70% of my calories in carbs, and 25% in fat, and 5% in protein, which is no bueño for my body. I need at least .5 grams of protein per pound of my body weight in protein each day to feel my best. If I am really good, I can usually get .7-1 gram per pound. One easy way to do that? Smoothies. A scoop of protein powder can help boost the protein content, give the smoothie volume, and create awesome flavor. I usually go with vanilla, because it goes with almost anything, but chocolate is always a great choice too. There are so many different types of powders as well (plant based, whey, etc), so make sure you pick one that suits your needs best!
- Nut Butters (recommend 1-2 Tbsp): not only will nut butters make your smoothie extra creamy, but they contain many vitamins and minerals, fiber, healthy fats and protein. You’ll want to make sure the ingredient list on the jar doesn’t contain added oils and sugars, and is simply made with nuts. Due to the naturally occurring healthy fats, nut butters do contain a higher amount of calories (about 100 per tablespoon), so if you’re trying to create a lower calorie smoothie, scooping in 1/2 cup of peanut butter may not be your best option. Many people have had luck with PB2 in their smoothies, which is simply powdered peanuts, giving you a peanut butter taste with fewer calories.
- Chia Seeds (recommend 1-2 tbsp): This is one of my favorite add-ins! Chia seeds are unique in that they absorb water and become a voluminous gel-like substance that (along with the zinc found in the seeds that help increase the body’s leptin) can help control appetite. Even more importantly, chia seeds are packed with antioxidants (prevents skin damage and slows looks of aging), fiber (helps balance insulin levels), omega-3s (lowers blood pressure, and cholesterol, and inflammation), protein, essential minerals, and lots of vitamins.
- Hemp Seeds (recommend 1-2 Tbsp): Hemp seeds are pretty unique in that they have an ideal ratio of omega-3s and omega-6s (3:1), and contain all of the 9 essential amino acids that our bodies can’t produce. Additionally, hemp seeds are high in protein and are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber (aids in digestion). While hemp seeds give smoothies a rougher texture, the health benefits may well be worth it! Note: hemp seeds are higher in fat, giving them a higher calorie content.
- Flax seeds (recommend 1 Tbsp): This is another one of my favorite ways to get omega-3s and antioxidants! Flax seeds are one of the richest sources of healthy omega-3s in the world. Flax seeds have been said to lower bad cholesterol, help support healthy skin, ahi, and nails, aid in weight loss, reduce menstrual symptoms, and promote digestive health. In a lot of ways, flax seeds and hemp seeds are very similar in their benefits. So, depending on preference, either one would be an excellent choice.
- Avocado (recommend 1/8-1/4 of an avocado): High in healthy fat, avocados provide a creamy and smooth addition to smoothies. I’ve found that pairing them with other denser (or creamier) fruits work best, such as a banana. Avocados can help protect the heart by lowering bad cholesterol, decreasing the risks of certain cancers, and promote anti-aging benefits! Honestly, I think avocados are pretty bad-ass. You can use them for guacamole, top on omelets, make brownies, add to smoothies, and so much more! Regardless if you add this to your smoothie, you should definitely consider adding it to your diet.
- Greens (recommend 1-2 handfuls): This is a no brainer healthy add-in for many smoothie-suers. The nutrition behind leafy greens (which are commonly referred to as a nutritional powerhouse), such as kale and spinach, is amazing. Besides losing weight, a lot of people drink green smoothies for more energy, less cravings, and clearer skin. Leafy greens are packed with vitamins (namely Vitamin K and B), carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin (protect the eyes), and calcium (supports strong bones). If you aren’t adding greens to your smoothies, now is the time. You need to get on this bandwagon. Like yesterday.
- Cocoa (I recommend a huge mound. Jk. About 1-2 Tbsp): If you don’t love chocolate you can just skip this one. But I love, L-O-V-E, LOVE, chocolate. So much, that this add-in should actually be at the top of my list. Apart from being extremely delicious, cocoa actually has some really great benefits, especially when it’s eaten in its most natural, raw form as possible, usually as nibs or powder. First off, cocoa has flavanols and polyphenols, which are antioxidants that help protects the heart from cardiovascular disease, increases blood circulation and flow, reduces the chances of strokes, and helps fight against bad cholesterol. Second, cocoa has large amounts of magnesium which helps us stay energized, lowers blood pressure and can help prevent osteoporosis. But wait- there is so much more! Cocoa actually makes you feel good. It has anandamide, which helps produce a euphoria feeling. I honestly could go on and on about how cocoa is an aphrodisiac, premature aging with all its antioxidants, and help maintain your kidney, liver and pancreas function. But I think its more important to explain how you should be including cocoa into your smoothies, and your diet. Cocoa should be consumed in its natural raw form to reap the benefits. So, adding a chocolate bar or chocolate syrup to your smoothies is not going to deliver as much as adding unsweetened cocoa powder or cocoa nibs would. I know I know I know…those forms aren’t sweetened and are straight up bitter. Try adding some honey! I like using cocoa powder in a lot of my recipes because it allows me to sweeten it to my liking with honey. Plus, as you’ll see below, honey has amazing benefits too! Lastly, you want to be careful of adding anything dairy related to your recipes with cocoa. Dairy is known to inhibit antioxidant absorption, so try opting for almond milk, coconut milk, or other non-dairy options for full benefits!
- Emergen-C (I recommend 1/2 of an Emergen-C packet): My roommate in college introduced me to adding Emergen-C to smoothies and I wish I would have known sooner. This is another one of those add-ins that can bring your smoothie from a 5 to a 10! I am a huge fan of the raspberry flavor, and Ive never had a smoothie that doesn’t taste delicious with it added in. It is packed with immune boosting vitamins, most notably Vitamin C, and creates a fizzy-ish texture that is oh-so-good! If you’ve never given this one a shot, its time to get on it. Id recommend berry, or green smoothies for best results!
- Turmeric (I recommend 1/4-1/2 tsp): Yup, Ive jumped on the turmeric bandwagon. How could I not? Have you read about the benefits? Im going to provide links here and here where you can read up on it. Short version- its an anti-inflammatory, contains compounds called curcuminoids (curcumin is the most important), and is extremely high in antioxidants. It has properties that can do things such as delay/fight diseases, relieve depression, and even fight or cure cancer! Who knew? While turmeric is usually used in things more savory, adding a little to a smoothie with banana, mango, pineapple, or coconut can be quite tasty! If you’re hesitant, just try a tad to start off with.
- Ginger (I recommend 1/2 tsp feshly grated): Ginger is great for a lot of things, but Ive found it most useful for taming nausea (and other stomach discomforts) and aiding in digestion. Because the flavor can be very strong, I recommend using ginger in green smoothies, or orange/carrot based smoothies, which seem to balance the overall taste. I always opt for freshly grated or steeped in water as a tea for adding to smoothies.
- Honey (I recommend 1 tbsp): this is the golden nectar of the earth. And because it is natural, the benefits behind this beautiful sweetener are absolutely amazing. With anti-bacterial, anti fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, honey can fight off allergies and sinus issues, treat wounds and burns, and boosts the immune system to fight sickness and disease. It can sooth throats, treat a hangover, prevent acne, moisturize the skin, and boost energy levels! Try buying honey that is local, raw, and unfiltered, as the majority of store boughten honey is stripped from many of its beneficial properties. You will likely pay more, but sometimes the benefits are well worth it!
And there you have it. These are what I consider the best smoothie add-ins, but with the hundreds of options out there, Im sure Ive missed some. What are your favorite smoothie add-ins? I’d love to hear what other ingredients you add to your smoothies, what types of smoothies they go best with, and if you know the benefits behind those ingredients!