Smoothies have become all the diet rage, and for good reason: They're an easy way to pack in all the vitamins and minerals you need, they're convenient and most importantly - they're delicious.
Whether you're hoping to make your skin glow, get a boost of energy before a workout or just want some on-the-go sustenance, a smoothie can be your solution. Still, not just any blend will give you the health benefits you might be looking for. Making a smoothie is something of a culinary art, and it requires the right balance of ingredients for optimal consistency as well as nutritional advantages. Next time you're plugging in your blender, follow this guide:
Choose a beneficial base
The base ingredient of your smoothie can be anything from coconut water to juice, and will depend largely on what you're trying to get out of it. If you're trying to pump up the protein pre-exercising or just want to fuel yourself through those long morning meetings, go for low-fat milk or yogurt. Soy milk is a great dairy-free option that still has 8 grams of protein per cup. You could also use yogurt if you want a thicker, creamier consistency, but choose plain over flavored kinds as you'll be adding fruit and other flavorful ingredients anyway.
Fill up on fiber
Berries may become your go-to addition, as just 1 cup is full of satiating fiber and antioxidants that can fight free radicals, protecting cells from damage. Toss a banana into your blend before hitting the treadmill or after your workout for a recovery shake - they're packed with potassium, which is essential for carbohydrate metabolism - and with 4 grams of fiber they have 14 percent of your daily value.
Of course fruit and vegetables provide filling fiber to your blend, but you can always amp it up to keep stomach grumbles at bay between meals. Shape suggested tossing muesli or oats into the blender or on top of your smoothie if you're eating it with a spoon.
Get a variety of vitamins
You might be wary of sipping something green, but spinach and kale contain an impressive amount of vitamins A and K, and they don't have a strong flavor profile when they're pulverized. Plus, 1 cup of kale contributes to strong bones with 9 percent of your daily calcium value. You can easily camouflage the taste of greens with sweet fall fruits like pears and apples.
Adding cara cara oranges, grapefruit or other citrus fruits will give you a healthy dose of vitamin C to boost your immune system.
Don't fear the fats
It might seem counterintuitive to add fats to your healthy smoothie, but the right sources can give you the essential omega-3's that promote healthy cell regeneration, blood circulation and even curb inflammation. If you're considering nuts or seeds, Shape recommended putting 1-2 tablespoons in a coffee grinder to get them to a fine consistency so your blend is as smooth as possible. Walnuts, almonds and pistachios are all great sources of essential fatty acids. You could also use 1 tablespoon all-natural peanut butter or flaxseed oil instead to save time and effort.
If you're replacing breakfast with a powerhouse smoothie, consider adding protein powder, but be wary of products with artificial flavors or a long ingredients list. David kirsch's protein plus meal replacement powder, for example, can keep your appetite under control with a whopping 25 grams of whey protein. As an added bonus, each packet contains 29 bionutrients and 10 grams of omega-3 packed flax seed to boost your brain power while promoting clearer skin, a healthier hair 'do and even stronger nails.
If you're a chocoholic, relish in this smoothie secret: Raw cacao powder or nibs will not only make your blends taste like a decadent dessert, but will also give you a dose of powerful antioxidants. Adding pure inventions green tea extract dietary supplement is another way to reap the perks of antioxidants, which include a more youthful complexion, higher energy, healthier immune system and a well-functioning metabolism.