Soymilk, banana, and Kitchen Sink nut butter smoothie

Smoothie Construction

The addition of a Vitamix to my household has definitely changed my breakfast habits for the better. Dare I say, the Vitamix has become a full fledged member of the family? I do.

For those unfamiliar with the Vitamix, it’s a high-powered blender (and by high-powered, I mean, it boasts a 2 horsepower motor). I argued with myself for years that it couldn’t be much different from a regular blender. I was wrong. Every Vitamix owner I’ve ever encountered will tell you that it’s unlike any other blender on the market. It doesn’t just “blend.” It can completely liquify everything I’ve ever thrown in it – entire apples, nuts, seeds, you name it. No chunks. No bits. Smooth, luscious liquid, ready for slurping with a straw.

I’ve got the Vitamix 5200 model, which I bought as a package at my local Costco. They don’t always carry it – but when they do, it’s a rare chance to get sub-retail pricing. These things don’t go “on sale.” Yes, $500 is a lot to spend on a blender, but like I said – it’s so much more than a blender. It has replaced my old blender, my food processor, AND my juicer. Heck, it even kneads dough (but I love my bread machine too much to give it up!)

For the first few weeks of Vitamix ownership, I relied on recipes to make my morning smoothies. As time went on, though, I came up with a blueprint for smoothie-building that I now use every day. I drink smoothies for 2 reasons:

1) They’re fast and portable. (Breakfast while driving to work, anyone?!)

2) They’re a delicious way for me to sneak in nutrition from foods I don’t like to eat. (Sneaky sneaky!)

If you’ve thought about incorporating smoothies into your daily routine, I highly recommend it! While any blender can make a smoothie, less powerful blenders will not be able to liquify all of the ingredients I recommend (which can result in clumps or chunks of food in your smoothie). No harm, no foul, though – don’t let that stop you from trying if you haven’t invested in a high-powered blender yet!

My smoothie blueprint has a few components. To build a perfect smoothie, blend up one or two items from each category and, voila! For best blending results, add liquids and heavy solids first, then powders, then greens. This gives the most intense blending to those heavier foods, and allows you to use the tamper to push the lighter powders and greens down into the mix as things get going. Also, be sure that you have one frozen component in your mix. If you aren’t using frozen fruit or another frozen item, just add 4 or 5 ice cubes on top. This prevents the smoothie from warming due to the high power of the blender. Blend for 30 seconds on high power, or until everything looks smooth. Adjust the amount of liquid to your consistency preferences; I tend to always start with 1C liquid, and if it looks a little too thick, I just add a few tablespoons of water as it is blending.

Components (choose 1 or more from each category – makes 1 large 32oz serving or 2 small 16oz servings):

Liquid Base (1 cup): milk (dairy or non-dairy) such as soymilk, almond milk, or hemp milk, coconut water, tart cherry juice, other fruit juice, water, etc. Or, mix and match (I like to do 3/4C milk and 1/4C tart cherry juice).

Fruit & Veg Base: 1 ripe banana and 1 carrot

Protein: 1/4 cup powder (such as Vega, hemp protein powder, soy protein powder, whey protein powder, etc), or 1/2 block silken tofu

Green Powder (1 tsp): spirulina or Veggie Magma

Healthy fat (1 tbsp): peanut butter, almond butter, hazelnut butter, or powdered peanut butter (such as PB2), or 1/2 of an avocado

Nuts & Seeds (handful): mixed nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds

Fruits (1 cup): fresh or frozen strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, apple, pear, kiwi, peach, plum, melon, etc.

Greens (1-2 handfuls): raw baby spinach, chard, kale, collards, or other leafy greens

Sweetener (optional): 1-2 pitted dates or 1 tsp agave nectar

In most cases, I do not use additional sweetener. If my banana is not quite ripe, I’ll add a couple dates to the mix, but otherwise, there tends to be plenty of sweetness from the fruit. Some stronger greens like chard or collards may benefit from a little bit more sweetness to offset the bitter flavor.

I try to mix up my choices from each category. If I used a canister of hemp protein powder this month, then next month I’ll use a rice protein powder. If I used kale as my main green this week, I’ll use spinach next week and chard the week after that. If I used pumpkin seeds this month, I’ll use sunflower seeds next month. I try to limit my use of soymilk, since I eat tofu once or twice a week and don’t want to overdo it on the soy. (Unsweetened vanilla almond milk is my current favorite liquid base, as it’s low calorie and delicious. I don’t mind its low protein count because I add protein powder to my smoothies).

If I’m going for a flavor theme, I might skip a category, but for my usual breakfast smoothie, I try to hit all of the bases for nutrition purposes. I also try to pair up things that nutritionally work well together. For example, pumpkin and sunflower seeds are good sources of iron, and Vitamin C helps with iron absorption – so I try to mix high-C fruits with pumpkin seeds.

Avocados and silken tofu add the most wonderful creamy texture to a smoothie. Try one or the other and see for yourself!

I usually have my smoothies for breakfast, though sometimes have them for lunch instead. I’ll also whip up a smoothie as a late-afternoon snack if I’m feeling tired. I experience a noticeable dip in my energy levels if I go 2 or 3 days without a smoothie. It’s such an easy way to pack in nutrition! I do take a multivitamin a few days per week, but I prefer to get as much nutrition as possible from real food. I’m not a whole-foods saint, but smoothies improve my chances quite a bit.

Lastly, when it comes to choosing produce, I try to go for organic produce for anything I would eat the skins of. So, I do not buy organic bananas or avocados most of the time, but I do buy organic greens, carrots, berries, apples, etc.

And there you have it! My smoothie blueprint! What are your favorite smoothie combos?

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