10 Smoothie Must-Haves
Building the ultimate antioxidant-packed smoothie is a cinch when you have these star ingredients on hand.
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What's the key to totally yummy, antioxidant-packed smoothies in a hurry? These super-healthy superfood staples — favorites of Tess Masters, author of The Blender Girl — and, of course, an awesome blender.
Super powers: Powders or liquids that contain spirulina, chlorella or wheatgrass are all concentrated sources of chlorophyll, which gives leafy greens their color and health-promoting powers, and may help balance acidity in your stomach for better digestion — and even fight bad breath. Plays well with: Fresh mint helps brighten the earthy, grassy flavor. (Add a cup of fresh spinach to just about any smoothie; it is much milder and easily masked by fruit).
Super powers: It's low in calories and high in electrolytes, which help dehydration (especially after a hot and sweaty workout). Insider tip: Powdered (dehydrated) versions are typically cheaper per serving.
Dried Goji Berries
Super powers: They are high in essential amino acids and full of minerals and antioxidants. Plays well with: Sweet citrus (oranges, tangerines) and strawberries help balance their tart, sometimes bitter flavor.
Unflavored, Unsweetened Protein Powder
Super powers: Protein powder adds stick-to-your-ribs staying power to pretty much any smoothie for relatively few calories (hello, breakfast; goodbye, 11am hunger pangs). Insider tip: Your body can't effeciently utilize more than 30 grams at a time, and more than one scoop often ends up tasting chalky anyway. For vegans or vegetarians, Tess' favorite kind is hemp.
Super powers: Low in sugar, but rich in amino acids and Omegas 3, 6 and 9, acai can be found in pureed form (check your freezer section) or as a powder. Plays well with: Ingredients that add creamy sweetness will help tease out its earthy, berry-chocolate taste — think bananas, dates, berries, nut milks.
Super powers: For a calcium- and iron-packed chocolate fix, cacao has twice as many antioxidants as acai. Proceed with caution: It is a stimulant that can keep you up at night but also claims the title as highest-magnesium food. Insider tip: Use the powdered form for a smoother consistency (nibs can end up tasting gritty in smoothies), or sub in less-pricey unsweetened cocoa powder.
Super powers: Chia seeds are an impressive blend of antioxidants, Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber (3 grams per tablespoon!), protein and calcium; they absorb liquid for a thick, gel-like consistency. Plays well with: Sweet-tart berries (blueberries, cherries, cranberries) and pomegranates blend well with the subtle nutty flavor of chia seeds.
Super powers: Raw honey, maple syrup, blackstrap molasses, yacon syrup, dates and coconut sugar offer more nutritional bang per calorie compared to regular white sugar. Insider tip: Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s calorie-free. Tess likes alcohol-free liquid stevia for those watching their calorie intake.
Avocado (Keep a Few in the Fridge!)
Super powers: Avocados help balance acidic foods in your stomach, and they're loaded with healthy fats and protein. Avocados also contain the magical antioxidant glutathione that helps neutralize free radicals, and they add beautiful, creamy consistency without altering flavor. Plays well with: Add avocado to just about everything in small amounts.