Custom Smoothies

Water is best, but sometimes you’re just in the mood for something… well, less boring.

Tired of searching through recipes trying to find one that includes the ingredients you already have to work with? Or making an extra trip to the store for just an item or two?

Just use this recipe template and use ingredients to suit your tastes or availability.

1 Cup liquid

1 Cup fruit

Variable bonus ingredients (anywhere from 1 tsp to a few Tbsps)

Suggested liquids:

* Fruit juice – orange, pineapple, apple, grape, Trader Joe’s Green Juice, or strong-flavored ones such as cranberry, pomegranate, cherry or other berry juices)

* Vegetable juice – carrot and cucumber being some of the mildest and sweetest

* Milk – cow, soy, coconut, rice, almond or other nut milks, or hemp milk (which isn’t my favorite – its mild bitterness often clashes with other flavors)

* Fruits with a really high water content – grapes or melons.

* Yogurt or kefir, depending on consistency. Some yogurts can be runny enough to use a whole cup as a liquid. Others have to be combined with juice or milk in order to be thin enough blend properly.

* Juice concentrates

* Plain ol’ water. Great to use when there are strong ingredients present, such as juice concentrate, high-antioxidant fruit juices (especially red or purple berry juices) or nuts which combine with the water to form a nutmilk base, such as in my Vegan Pineapple Upside-down Smoothie.

Fruit suggestions:

Frozen fruit is best to make smoothies cold and thick, but you can use some canned or fresh, especially if they’ve been refrigerated, if other ingredients are frozen. Using ice can cool things down, too, but if ice waters down flavors too much for your liking, you may need to use stronger flavors to compensate. Bananas are a favorite ingredient in many smoothie recipes because they add natural sweetness and thickness, but if you have allergies or simply don’t like bananas, there are other things you can add to thicken and sweeten.

Add-in suggestions:

These bonus ingredients are typically more about boosting the nutrition than about adding flavor, and most of them also affect the texture of your creation, so how much to use basically comes down to personal preference.

* Almond meal, flax seed oil, ground flaxseed, coconut oil, wheat germ

* Various protein powders (soy, whey, glutamine, egg albumin, gluten flour, combination powders by companies such as RAW, or Branched Chain Amino Acids – careful; BCAAs are bitter)

* Psyllium seed husks, Benefiber-type fiber boosts, oat bran

* A few leafy green leaves (spinach, kale, chard etc.), supplement powder (such as Trader Joe’s Red or Green drink powders)

* Agave syrup, honey, molasses, maple syrup, stevia, organic cane sugar (but go easy on these – they may be more natural, but they’re still low-nutrient sugars)

* Spices, vanilla or almond extract, orange oil.

A word about nutrition

You’ll notice they’re sort of grouped by function – fats, proteins, fiber, nutrients, sweeteners, and flavorings. One of the advantages of fats, proteins and fiber, aside from satiety (i.e. making you feel fuller, longer) is that it slows the digestion of the fruit sugars to prevent your blood sugar from spiking. This is good news not just for diabetics, but for everyone, because it prevents the very thing that causes Type-II diabetes. When blood sugar spikes, the body sends out an insulin spike to compensate. If blood sugar gets or stays too high too often, cells start becoming resistant to insulin. If you continue to eat in ways that overload the blood with sugar, the pancreas will keep sending those insulin floods… only it takes more and more insulin as the cells become less and less sensitive.

The best way to sidestep this vicious cycle is to prevent it. Protein, fiber and fat slow sugar absorption so that the glycemic load in the blood stays manageable for the pancreas and for the cells receiving this energy source. Not to mention that it prevents the blood sugar from crashing due to an insulin spike.

In the (hopefully near) future, I’ll be putting up pages for the different macronutrients to talk about the powerful effects that happen in the body from ingesting different types of fiber, protein, fats and carbs.

It’s also important to note that I haven’t included artificial sweeteners such as sucralose (Splenda), acesulfame potassium (Sunnett, Sweet One) or aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal). I believe them to be particularly sinister additions to the list of toxic food additives we’re encouraged to consume regularly by the food companies. The idea behind smoothies is to promote your health, so it makes zero sense to add ingredients that are purely destructive.

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