December 24, 2015

9 Nutritious Additions to Spice Up Your Daily Smoothies

Smoothies are a great way to give yourself a pitcher of nutrition! There are so many fruits and vegetables that you can fill it with. With so many great combinations of ingredients, you can easily create a custom treat for yourself. Over the course of my family's smoothie adventures, I have discovered some great lesser known ingredients that pack a major punch and boost to the nutrition level of your breakfast (or lunch and dinner) treat--some are even on the superfoods list! These are the perfect additions to spice up your regular daily smoothies into high nutrition super drinks!
Nutritious Additions to Spice Up Daily Smoothies

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I have little boys with various levels of pickyness, who happen to adore smoothies. I love to try to find ways of amping up the nutrition I pack into the smoothies! It's an easy way to give them the good stuff they might otherwise turn their noses up at. Here are my top nine go-to additions beyond the normally expected smoothie ingredients!

1. Coconut Oil (organic)

I am sure by now you know the incredible, awesome, fantabulous benefits of adding coconut oil to your daily diet. It's called one of the superfoods for good reason! (google it!) I love the organic brand Carrington Farms AND the Kirkland brand that I can pick up at Costco. It's got the best coconut smell, and it lasts until...well until it's empty! I use it for everything--including my smoothies! Some people might not think of adding it to smoothies, because it is usually in solid form. Not only that, but when it gets cold it seems to stay hard. Not ideal for adding to a smoothie with cold and sometimes frozen ingredients. So what do I do? 

I keep my coconut oil in the pantry and that keeps it in a nice semi-solid state that works well for use in smoothies. I also don't like to add the coconut oil until I have everything else blended up, because it seems to mix a lot better that way. I typically like to add about 2 Tblsp to a pitcher of smoothie. It adds not only an incredible punch of nutrition, but also a delightful hint of coconut flavor.

I only recently started adding this to our smoothies, thanks to a suggestion by my dad and wow! It's a GREAT addition to our smoothies, not just for the flavor, but because of the high concentrate of good minerals and vitamins--did you know it has more potassium in it than a banana? And that's just ONE of the awesome minerals contained in this clear liquid! Add in the electrolytes and bioactive enzymes and you really can't NOT try this one out! I also love that adding one 11 oz carton takes care of pretty much all the liquid I need for my pitcher of smoothie. I use the Vita Coco brand, which comes in a nice case at Costco. As long as you get a good quality coconut water, I don't think the brand really matters.

3. Spirulina powder (organic)

Now this is one of my add-ins that really is a lesser known ingredient. Spirulina is a micro-algae that has been used as a nutritional supplement for centuries--and another one of those "superfoods" that people really should consider. If you have ever purchased a green smoothie--especially one from grocery stores--chances are it has spirulina in it! According to the FDA, Spirulina contains significant amounts of calcium, niacin, potassium, magnesium, B vitamins and iron. It also has essential amino acids (compounds that are the building blocks of proteins). In fact, protein makes up about 60 to 70 percent of Spirulina's dry weight. ("Spirulina: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits"

One of the better brands for spirulina (because you REALLY want to make sure you have a high quality brand due to it coming from the ocean where toxins are possible), is Nutrex because it's from Hawaii--one of the few US suppliers for spirulina. I usually add just 1-2 tsp of spirulina powder to my smoothies because it's rather bitter. The boys like watching it turn our berry smoothies purple! I also suggest going with chlorella as well. It's another algae, that is known for helping pull out heavy metals from the body, and is used as a supplement for cancer patients to help deal with radiation treatments (among a host of other things!) A lot of green smoothies you buy at the store have BOTH of these algaes in them.

4. Flax Seed (organic)

Here is another one of those superfoods that I am sure you already KNOW is good for you. Everyone knows how awesome it is for the digestive system, but in general it is known to improve overall health and prevent disease. Flax seed is just awesome and it's one of the definite additions to our smoothies. Sometimes I will grind my seeds in my coffee grinder before putting them into my smoothies, and other times I will use my already ground flax seed powder. I like to add 2-3 tablespoons to my pitchers of smoothie.

5. Milk Thistle Seed Powder (organic)

Now this is one that I'm sure you are probably not very familiar with. But I urge you to do some research on the nutritional benefits of milk thistle--especially in regards to how it helps your liver health (and diabetes!)! Because I have a son who has issues with digestive stuff, I like to add milk thistle seed powder to help maintain a healthy digestive system and take care of our livers. I add about 1-2 tsp in every pitcher and we never notice any taste issues at all because it blends in so nicely.

6. Chia Seed

Chia seed is one of those known superfoods that is popping up everywhere these days! It's no surprise that I add a generous amount of this too! It also is a thickener which helps when you have a very "juicy" smoothie. I order mine bulk from various organic brand companies. I like to use about 1/8 cup in my smoothie, and I add it near the end and let it mix up very well to spread it around. A big power punch for my boys systems!

7. Maca (Ground)

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Here is another one of those lesser known, yet incredibly fabulous, herbs that you should consider for your smoothies! Maca is primarily cultivated in the central highlands of Peru, looks like a large radish, has a sweet, tangy taste, and an aroma similar to that of butterscotch. Maca root is commonly known to provide nutrients that nourish the endocrine system and is traditionally considered to be anti-fatigue, aphrodisiac, nutritive, immuno-stimulant, steroidal and tonic.("Maca Root: Health Benefits and Side Effects") It's just a great herb to consider adding to your diet! I would add about 1 tsp to a pitcher of smoothie. My mom especially likes to use this one in her smoothies!

8. Cinnamon (organic)

I love cinnamon. It's my most favorite spice and I find ways to add it into all sorts of things--and yes, smoothies is one of those ways! I love the bit of flavor that it adds--AND cinnamon is a very healthy addition to your smoothie! Did you know cinnamon is commonly known to lower blood sugar in diabetics? Or that it may be reduce inflammation and have anti-oxidant effects? (look it up!) I make sure an add 1 tsp to my smoothie...but not much more, because it will change the taste.

9. Elderberry Syrup

I make my own elderberry syrup to help keep our immune systems strong through the year. It is very very easy to make--the most basic recipe is elderberries, honey and water! I have adapted my recipe to include whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, and grated ginger too--so it's extra good for you! I use my elderberry syrup in every single smoothie I make! It adds a kick of flavor, so it tastes great--and the nutritional benefits already in the elderberry syrup contribute to the goodness of the smoothie! I like to add about 1/4 cup or so to any smoothie...more if someone has a cold! If you don't think making it on your own will be a good fit for you, I recommend the Nature's Way Organic Sambucus Elderberry Syrup you can find at some stores with health food sections.

I hope this has given you some new ideas of ways to incorporate more nutrition into the already awesome smoothies you are making! Don't forget that you can also add some more common extras like whey protein, hemp protein powder, raw honey, nut butters, kefir...go beyond the dairy, fruits and vegetables! Give your smoothies a nutrition punch!
9 Nutritious Additions to Spice Up Your Daily Smoothie
A pitcher full of goodness to be shared with my boys!


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