Tuesday, 17 November 2015

4 Easy Breakfast Smoothies To Fit In Your Busy Schedule

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It has been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it is also the most frequently skipped. Time is likely the #1 reason why people skip breakfast, with today's busy lifestyle it is easy to run out of the door without getting in a meal.

Starting the day off with a nutrient-rich breakfast is essential for good health and brain-power throughout the rest of the day. Including a balanced breakfast can help with concentration at work and school, a recent study claims children who eat breakfast score higher on tests. Other benefits include boosting metabolism, keeping you from over-eating later in the day and is a great opportunity to include a meatless meal in your day while getting in much-needed fruits and vegetables. My favorite way to do this is with a morning smoothie. It can be as simple or as complicated as you wish or have time for.

Getting In Your 8-10 Serving of Fruit & Vegetables Each Day
The Canada Food Guide recommends adults get between 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. I try to include some type of vegetable into every smoothie. Not only for myself, but also because I share my morning smoothie with my parrot. My parrot is a picky eater, she loves fruit but hates vegetables. This is often the case with children, making a morning smoothie a great way to get in those vegetables for them as well.

Some of my favourite vegetables to include in smoothies are organic spinach, kale, beets, and carrot juice. Fresh spinach has a very mild taste and can be added to any smoothie recipe. Although fresh greens are best, they do spoil easy. I have a solution to always have greens available. Purchase a bag of pre-washed organic greens (spinach, kale, or a combination of greens) and freeze it. You can put the bag right in the freezer and take what you need each day. You can also buy already frozen greens. 

Frozen fruit is another essential to have on hand. Berries, mangoes, and pineapples are a few fruits I always like to have available in my freezer. Bananas are another great ingredient that can be added fresh or frozen. If you buy a bunch of bananas and don't have time to use them all, you can peel them and freeze them in an airtight container. Frozen bananas are great to help thicken and can also be used to make a milkshake-like chocolate smoothie.

Variety is Key
A variety of different liquids can be used in your breakfast smoothies, depending on your preferences.  I like to use of a dairy-free milk and a combination of fruit and carrot juice (when appropriate). For dairy-free milk substitutes, the ones I use most often are either soy or almond beverage. Soy is high in protein and essential nutrients, my favourite is Silk Vanilla which provides 6g of protein per cup and is relatively low in sugar. Unsweetened almond, coconut or cashew milk are good options as they adds creaminess without much taste. 

Ideally, a fruit juice free of added sugars and preservatives should be used. If sugar is a concern for you, diluting fruit juice with some water can help keep blood sugar levels balanced. I like to combine fruit juice and carrot juice. Carrot juice has less sugar than fruit juice and a nice level of sweetness without being an over-powering flavour. It is also very high in Vitamin A, something most fruits contain very little of.

Coconut water is a nice addition that contains valuable electrolytes and can be substituted for half of the juice in a smoothie.

Making a Good Thing Even Better
There are a few other ingredients I add frequently to my smoothies to make them more filling and balanced.

Shelled hemp seeds can be included to add protein, iron, and healthy fats. Another good option for fats is Udo's Oil. I have been using Udo's Oil for over 5 years. It is a balanced source of Omega 3, 6, and 9. It can be found at health food stores. Chia seeds are another great add in that contain calcium, fibre, protein and Omega 3 fatty acids. If using chia seeds, it is ideal to consume the smoothie immediately as chia seeds thicken significantly once they absorb liquids. There should always be a source of fatty acids in every smoothie as it helps the body to absorb nutrients.

A tablespoon or two of oatmeal can be added to add fibre and whole grains. Keep in mind too much oatmeal can change the consistency of a smoothie and make it gritty if your blender isn't very powerful. Oatmeal also helps balance blood sugar.

Dairy-free yogurt alternatives can be added in any recipe. These yogurts are available at health food stores or most supermarkets. There are soy-based, almond, and coconut dairy-free yogurts that are rich in probiotics (which help with digestion.)

Hemp protein is another great addition. I use hemp protein most often because it doesn't alter the taste much, has a high fibre content, is a good source of iron, and has an impressive amino acid profile for a plant-based protein. 

smoothies, kale, healthy, spinach, apple, orange, lemon

4 Smoothie Recipes

All personal recipes. From most time-consuming to easier to prepare

(Apple, Beet, Carrot)

  • 1 apple (washed well and cut, omit core/seeds. I like organic Macintosh or Gala)
  • 1 small beet, or 1/2 a large (peeled)
  • Juice of half of a lemon (remove seeds if possible)
  • 1/2 cup of strawberries or raspberries  (frozen)
  • A handful of spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2" chunk of fresh ginger (peeled) *if you really like ginger, feel free to increase
  • 1/2 cup of fruit juice (orange, apple, mango, or combo)
  • 1/2 cup of carrot juice
  • 1/2 cup of dairy-free milk 
  • Optional Add-Ins: 1 Tablespoon of hemp protein/1 Tablespoon oatmeal/1 Tablespoon hemp seeds (or substitute chia or Udo's Oil)
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Makes 2 servings.

This is my current favourite breakfast smoothie. The ingredients complement each other very well. Ginger is great anti-inflammatory and adds a little kick to the smoothie. If you dislike ginger or beets, they can be omitted, but I recommend first trying it with them. 
Another option to make this smoothie is replace the apple with an orange (peeled) and the strawberries with mango chunks. 


Tropical Twist

  • 1 cup of mango chunks (fresh or frozen) *can use 1/2C Mango & 1/2C Pineapple
  • 1/2-1 banana (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 avocado with pit and peel removed
  • 1 kiwi (peeled)
  • Handful of spinach 
  • 1/2 cup of dairy-free milk of your choice
  • 1/2 cup of carrot juice
  • 1/2 cup orange, mango, or pineapple juice
  • Optional Add-Ins: 1 Tablespoon of hemp protein/1 Tablespoon oatmeal/1 Tablespoon hemp seeds (or substitute chia or Udo's Oil)
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Makes 2 servings.

Surprisingly tasty and kid-friendly option. The addition of avocado makes it creamy and filling. If you happen to have a parrot, please don't share this smoothie as avocados are toxic for them.


Berry Banana

  • 1 cup any frozen berries (your choice or combination)
  • 1 banana (fresh or frozen)
  • Handful of spinach
  • 3/4 cup apple or orange juice
  • 3/4 cup dairy-free milk of your choice
  • Optional Add-Ins: 1/2 cup strawberry dairy-free yogurt, 1 Tablespoon of hemp protein/1 Tablespoon oatmeal/1 Tablespoon hemp seeds (or substitute chia or Udo's Oil)
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Makes 2 servings.

A classic, quick and easy recipe, it can be made with very little time available. Kids will love this smoothie.


Guilt-free Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter (almond butter can be substituted)
  • 1 cup of dairy-free milk
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • Optional Add-Ins: sprinkle of cinnamon, handful of spinach, 1/2 cup vanilla or chocolate dairy-free yogurt, 1 Tablespoon of hemp or vanilla/chocolate vegan protein/1 Tablespoon oatmeal/1 Tablespoon hemp seeds (or substitute chia or Udo's Oil)
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Makes 1 servings. 

Great if you are craving chocolate or sweets. You can adjust the amount of dairy-free milk used to make it thicker or thinner. Healthy and delicious alternative to a milkshake.


A smoothie in the morning is ideal as it is versatile, can be made quickly and can be taken with you if you are crunched for time. Something I do to save time is to prepare some of the ingredients for the night before and store them in the fridge in my blender. I use the The Nutri Ninja and highly recommend it. It has a powerful motor and is a good value at around $100 for the 900 watt model. It  can be found at Walmart and Canadian Tire. Fresh fruits and vegetables, protein, seeds and oatmeal can be prepared the night before. Then in the morning you simply add whatever liquids you are using and the frozen ingredients. I wouldn't recommend adding the frozen fruits or vegetables until you are ready to blend. 


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