As a morning starter food, there is no better option that the ready-to-drink (and ready to go, if need be) green smoothie for health, mental prowess and overall energy. But all smoothies are not created equal, and a good quality green smoothie has some very specific requisites. To hold you through the morning hours and until lunch, you have to have a solid liquid meal, meaning that your smoothie has to be as nutritious as it is smooth. Because the smoothie is your breakfast, it will also have to help you detox in the early morning, as your body needs to cleanse all of the waste it generated while it went through its repair cycles during sleep.
Following is the anatomy of a solid morning green smoothie.
Greens. Spinach, kale or both, as well as dandelion greens (bitter alert, but a great detox for your kidneys) are all great options to give your smoothie the component that gives it its name. Greens provide minerals, which are elements that your body needs for many functions, not the least of which is nervous system support, essential for stress management. Grab a handful. The darker the leaf, the more nutrients for your cells.
Antioxidant-rich berries. Blueberries for brain clarity and strawberries for vitamin C – a smoothie will always benefit from a boost of your choice of tart berries that have a ton of age and disease-defying antioxidants.
A main fruit. Let’s face it – dark greens and tart berries are probably not in your top 10 favorite food flavors of all time. Not to worry. A great smoothie has a main fruit, the flavor of which sets the tone for everything else and makes it all come together. Sweet bananas do the trick. Half an apple and half a pear will do as well. Bananas have potassium, while apples have pectin fiber and pears are diuretic.
A protein source. This is where your smoothie can go severely wrong. Many protein powders are made from isolates, which are the isolated protein taken from a food, but that’s not what you want. You want whole food protein sources, and my choice amino-acid food is the nutritional wonder we call bee pollen. All of the amino acids that the human body needs, in ready-to-absorb form (no need to break the protein down), plus vitamins and minerals. Two tablespoons should do.
A good fat. Ground flax seeds for omega-3 fatty acids will be a boost for brain activity and clarity of mind. Two tablespoons.
Water. Enough to top your food should do the trick, but it always depends on your smoothie thickness preference. When I make my smoothies with pectin-rich apples, I add more water for more of a cleansing effect. When I use bananas, I like a thicker, sweeter, shake-like smoothie, so I use less water and may even sub it for organic soy or almond milk.
You can always add supplements like green powders (dehydrated veggies or algaes in powder form), mesquite powder (sweetness and nutrition, goes great with bananas), goji powder (superfood) or hemp seeds (protein). One last thing: Great kitchen tools can make all the difference when it comes to food prep and smoothies are no exception. A high-speed blender like Vitamix is your best option, while a blender-in-a-cup like the Magic Bullet is a quick and easy to-go choice. The compromise? The new Nutri Bullet, with the power of a high-speed blender and the portability of a the Bullet concept. Prices vary, so choose wisely and get your green smoothie morning goodness going – your body and mind will love you for it.