10 Healthy Foods Nutritionists Always Add to Their Smoothies
We asked nutritionists for their must-have smoothie ingredients.
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Ingredients for Healthy Smoothies
One of the easiest breakfast or snacks that you can whip up in five minutes is a smoothie. It’s certainly a go-to breakfast option for many registered dietitians nutritionists (RDN). We asked 10 RDNs their absolute must-have smoothie ingredient for some inspiration when you blend your next smoothie.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, Food Network contributor and author of Healthy Quick & Easy Smoothies puts chia seeds in all her smoothies. "A few sprinkles of chia adds fiber, calcium and inflammation fighting omega-3 fats" says White. "I also use chia to help thicken my smoothies, plus adding them to drinks is an effortless way to make them a regular fixture in your diet."
Katie Sullivan Morford, MS RD author of Rise & Shine: Better Breakfasts for Busy Mornings likes to get a serving of vegetables in her smoothie. That is why she adds cauliflower florets which help boost her intake of vitamin C and plant-rich phytochemicals, which are protective against free radicals. Plus, "cauliflower is low in calories."
Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club opts for frozen riced cauliflower which "adds creaminess and decreases the amount of ice you need so your smoothie isn't watered down. It's a great way to feature veggies in your breakfast without the need to cook them. There's no cauliflower taste either, it takes on the flavor of the other ingredients."
Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN author of Read It Before You Eat It, and nutrition partner with Almond Breeze enjoys almond milk in her smoothies. "I like knowing that with Almond Breeze almond milk that I’m getting an excellent source of calcium and vitamin E, and that I can store shelf stable Almond Breeze in my pantry for up to one year without opening it so that I have almond milk at my fingertips for last minute smoothies, stews or baked goods."
Frozen Bananas and Wild Blueberries
Many dietitians like to add frozen fruit to smoothies including Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, owner of Better is the New Perfect. Her favorite combo is frozen sliced bananas and frozen wild blueberries, which supply fiber, potassium and beneficial plant compounds called phytonutrients, along with great taste. Plus, Ward says, "frozen fruit makes smoothies thicker and frothier without using ice, which dilutes the flavor."
"One thing I always like to add to my smoothies is baby spinach as it’s an easy way to get in greens (hello vitamins and minerals)," says Dixya Bhattarai, MS, RD/LD culinary dietitian at Food, Pleasure, and Health. "Spinach is really mild in flavor and texture compared to other greens so it tends to work well with most smoothies." Bhattarai’s favorite is in a tropical green smoothie with frozen mango, pineapple, baby spinach, milk or yogurt, and flax meal.
"I always add plain or vanilla Greek yogurt to smoothies," Liz Weiss, MS, RDN founder of Liz's Healthy Table podcast and blog. "I use whatever we have on hand — full fat, low fat or reduced fat — and I add Greek yogurt for its natural creaminess and stellar nutrient profile." Weiss explains that Greek yogurt turns smoothies from thin and wimpy to thick and satisfying, and compared to regular yogurt, it has about double the protein. Yogurt also provides calcium for strong bones and good-for-you bacteria for gut health.
Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD owner of Nutrition Now Counseling always adds pure maple syrup as a sweetener to her smoothie. "Pure maple syrup adds natural sweetness along with natural antioxidants and prebiotics that may other sweetener options don’t offer."
"I love adding avocado to my smoothies!" exclaims Allison Schaaf, MS, RDN, LDN, founder of PrepDish.com. "It adds a rich, creamy texture that I just love and it will easily take on the flavor of whatever other ingredients are in the smoothie." Schaaf says that from a nutrition standpoint, the healthy fats and fiber helps keep her full for longer.
Carrie Gabriel MS, RDN, owner of Steps2Nutrition loves adding fresh ginger root chunks to her smoothie. "I like to add about a thumb-size piece to all my smoothies for two major reasons," says Gabriel. "Ginger is known for aiding in digestive issues and inflammation. Plus, I like the warming feeling it gives my stomach and the slightly spicy kick it adds to any smoothie." Gabriel’s favorite smoothie blend is mixed greens, ginger and frozen pineapple.
If you’re a chocolate-lover, Leanne Ray, MS, RDN recipe creator at LeanneRay.com has a way to satisfy your craving in your smoothies: cacao powder. Ray says, "It adds a wonderful deep chocolate flavor without any added sugar." Plus, "most people don't realize how nutritious it is with 2 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein per tablespoon. It's rich in heart-healthy polyphenols and also contains a bit of iron and potassium."