Two chocolate smoothies with a banana

Smoothie shakedown

We’re in the midst of summer, and smoothies are one of my favorite breakfasts to beat this South Carolina heat. Unlike juicing, smoothies contain whole fruits and vegetables, meaning the fiber is still intact.

Read the article on juicing for more on the importance of fiber.

Speaking of vegetables, smoothies are one of the only ways I am able to easily get my veggies at breakfast. Add green leafy vegetables to your smoothies whenever possible. Studies have shown that the blender breaks down greens further than when we chew our food, so we are actually able to absorb more nutrients.

Smoothies are a great option for those who aren’t big breakfast eaters and those who are sick. Sometimes it’s easier to drink something versus eat something in those situations.

Smoothies can also be helpful to those trying to gain weight or athletes trying to fit in enough calories. When made properly, smoothies are chock-full of vitamins, minerals and other helpful nutrients.

Some of my favorite ingredients:

  • Cocoa powder: For that delicious, chocolaty taste without the sugar but with 2 grams of fiber per tablespoon and some great antioxidants called flavonoids.
  • Silken/soft tofu: I know it sounds scary but hear me out. Many people use yogurt as a thickener, but this tends to make the smoothie sour. When it’s sour, we add more fruit or juice to sweeten it back up, which can spike the sugar content. Tofu doesn’t contain any sugar or cholesterol like yogurt. It’s still got calcium and protein, and it is also a great source of iron and potassium. Tofu will make for a creamier smoothie and it will absorb the other flavors – so, I can promise, you’ll never know it’s there.
  • Tea or coffee: Switch your recipes up by experimenting with coffee and green or hibiscus tea as the liquid. Once again, sugar-free and packed with antioxidants. Just make sure to let them cool in the refrigerator before using them in a smoothie. See one of my favorite recipes for a healthy frozen mocha below.
  • Unsweetened vanilla almond milk: Tried it but not a big fan? Give it one more chance in a smoothie. Unsweetened almond milk has 30 calories per cup versus skim milk which has 80 calories. Juices are a no-no with between 100-150 calories per cup. Vanilla almond milk adds a nice sweetness without the sugar.

However, be wary of the smoothies made at restaurants or sold in the grocery store; most of them have way more sugar than one meal should contain. The trick with smoothies is to still try to make it a well-rounded meal. Check out a few of the recipes below to see what I mean. Ideally, smoothies should not contain more than 1-2 servings of fruit.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1 frozen banana

3 heaping Tablespoons canned pumpkin

2 heaping tablespoons pecan pieces

1/5 block silken tofu

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 - 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

This is my favorite smoothie to date. It packs 7 grams of fiber, ¼ of daily potassium needs, and 155percent Vitamin A! Notice there is only 1 serving of fruit used, pumpkin as the vegetable, and spices to add flavor without extra sugar. The tofu and pecans are excellent sources of both protein and heart healthy fat. It’s sure to keep you full until lunchtime!

Mocha Madness

1 frozen banana

2 Tablespoons slivered almonds (or walnuts)

1 Tablespoon cocoa powder

1/4 cup frozen spinach

1/5 block silken tofu

1/2 cup cold coffee

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

It’s a glass of frappuccino-like deliciousness. Using cocoa powder will make the smoothie dark brown, so it’s a great way to mask the leafy greens if you or your family members don’t care for a green-colored smoothie. I go for the spinach because I can’t taste it with all the other strong flavors. Using frozen fruits and vegetables eliminates the need to use ice so when the smoothie starts to melt it isn’t water down.

Post your smoothie picture! Use the hashtag #KerriSmoothie. Cheers!