A year and a half after posting the Perfect Smoothie Formula (and probably three years after I started using it), the smoothie is still an everyday habit of mine. Even when I’m sick of smoothies, my wife still wants hers, so we make ’em. And vice versa.
I have to be honest; I don’t change it up too much. Even with the limitless possibilities afforded by the formula, it’s pretty much the same most days: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and banana are the mainstay ingredients, augmented by a rotating cast of characters like whatever protein powder I like at the time, a green vegetable, a combination of seeds and nut butters, and sometimes virgin coconut oil or an omega blend.
But over time, I do discover new ways to get just a little more nutrition from my daily smoothie, or a way to make it a little quicker to prepare (because when you’re putting 15 different ingredients in and it’s every single day, it adds up to a lot of time).
And that’s what today’s post is about. Below are five biggest changes I’ve made to my smoothies over the past few months. I hope you’ll be able to use one or two of them in your own. And if you’re still not making smoothies, I highly recommend you check out the formula and get started. Like, today.
Here we go …
1. Include raw pumpkin seeds as a terrific source of iron and protein.
I stole this idea from Rich Roll, who I believe mentioned it in his book Finding Ultra. I use about a tablespoon or two of pumpkins seeds (without shells) per smoothie; any more and the taste is too strong. I grind them into a powder in the Blendtec before adding any wet ingredients, but if your blender won’t do this, you could probably grind up a bunch in advance in a food processor or coffee grinder and then store the powder in the fridge or a few days.
I do the same with flax seeds and chia seeds, which brings me to tip #2, a huge time-saver …
2. At the beginning of the week, divide all your dry ingredients into single-serving containers.
Over the years, I’ve added a lot of dry ingredients to my smoothie. I usually use at least two kinds of protein powder (hemp, rice, and pea make for a good amino acid blend), the aforementioned pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds (about a tablespoon each per smoothie) and often a superfood powder or two (Navitas Naturals makes some really good ones).
Needless to say, this is a lot. When you have to reach for, open, scoop from, and close seven different containers just to get the base for your smoothie, it takes way too long.
Finally, the solution hit me: buy 6 little Rubbermaid containers, and once each week, load them up with all the dry ingredients. Then each day, just dump one into the blender to grind up before adding the wet ingredients. I store mine in the refrigerator since the chia seeds say to do so; otherwise the pantry should be fine.
3. Chop and freeze your fruit and vegetable scraps to throw in your smoothie later.
In my house, we produce a lot of broccoli stems, strawberry tops, and leafy greens that are approaching their end. They used to go to waste (compost at best), but once we got the Blendtec we started a container in the freezer for each one. Each day when we add frozen fruit to the smoothie, we also add a handful of these things.
I’ve always been a fan of getting some greens in my smoothie, but I never consistently did it until we started keeping these frozen scraps on hand. Even with something like spinach, which works fine when it’s fresh, I find that I more consistently have it on hand this way since it keeps so much longer in the freezer. I also think frozen vegetables are a little less flavorful than fresh, a good thing when they’re going in a smoothie.
4. Buy the brown, spotted bananas (at a discount!) and peel and freeze them.
The fruitarians and 30 Bananas a Day crowd always talk about their “dinosaur weiners” — the brown, spotted bananas that look to be a little past their prime (and how archaeologists universally agree that dinosaur dongs looked). Apparently though, this is when bananas offer the most nutrition — so when you’re getting them at a discount and freezing them, it’s a double score!
It’s much easier to peel them before they’re frozen than it is after. But if they’re really ripe, you’ll need to keep them separated so they don’t stick together once they freeze. Just lie them on a tray on some parchment paper in the freezer, then once they’ve frozen, you can transfer them to a bag or container and use them one at a time as needed in your smoothie.
5. Pick one superfood each day to add.
I know, I’m over the word “superfood” too. But I don’t really have a better word for “fruit or vegetable with some amazing nutritional properties that you never really find an excuse to eat otherwise, especially not raw,” so superfood it is.
A little bit of ginger is great (not to mention cheap); so is almost any dried or fresh berry (except poison ones), cacao nibs, dried or brewed tea, hemp seeds, chlorella … the list goes on and on and depends largely on your nutritional philosophy. But the point is that the smoothie is such an excellent vehicle for delivering the foods that are normally tough to find a place for in your diet, and just picking one and rotating every week or two can add a lot of nutrition, variety, and fun to what you eat.
What’s your best smoothie tip?
So that, friends, is the state of my smoothie-making, and I hope you’ve found a tip here you can use to make your own smoothies healthier or easier.
Now, I’d like to hear from you. You see, my friend Pete is a fellow vegan, runner, and smoothie nut, and he and his family came to visit us in Asheville a few weeks ago. I figured that since he reads No Meat Athlete and also uses a Blendtec, he probably made smoothies the same way I did. But when he made one for us, he used completely different stuff and it tasted completely different, in its own good way (that’s where I got the ginger idea).
Now I’m wondering if there aren’t as many different smoothie approaches as their are people who drink them. I hope you’ll share your own favorite smoothie tip in the comments, so that we can all benefit from it and give it a try.