Everybody loves smoothies. I mean, who wants to eat just plain produce, right? Well, I do, but lots of people find nature’s packaging and processing of fruit and vegetables to be lacking. Or maybe vegetables aren’t sweet enough, and the fiber in fruit just ruins the customer experience of that sugar rush. Consequently, health nuts around the world have embraced smoothies as their protocol to consume all the good nutrition needed for the day in one fell swoop.
But there’s a problem.
Smoothies almost always have way too much sugar in them. We separate the fruit sugar from its fiber which decreases absorption time causing an insulin spike and a host of other issues that would not have been accompanied by eating the whole fruit. And we often use fruit juice in smoothies. Fruit juice is usually void of its enzymes too, but a slow juice press can solve this issue. Many of the healthier and nuttier health nuts throw in chia seeds, kale, spinach, and other great stuff, but the base is generally fruit juice which is, in fact, a refined sugar!
Let me repeat that statement for maximum effect.
Fruit juice is refined sugar.
This does not include cranberry, lemon, or lime juice, but most do not use these as a smoothie base.
In all my travels I’ve only come across a couple of restaurants that offer healthy smoothies, Cafe Gratitude in California and Loving it Live of Atlanta. They’re pretty good smoothies too, but they lack bite.
Bite? Yes, bite. A smoothie should fight back a little. The sweetness may feed some unsavory characters in your gut, but a good bite will correct that. Let’s get more into the bite and the sweetness issue.
It is better to sweeten a smoothie with whole fruit and use water, coconut water, or moisture-rich fruits like pineapple or watermelon. Produce should be blended on the lowest setting that can get the job done. A Vitamix will kill most of the enzymes when blending raw food at high speeds. Adding the bite is about finding the right antimicrobial herbs. We want to feed the good guys, the flora that flourishes in an ecosystem built on vegetables, herbs, and fruit. Feed your guys bad food and you get bad guys. Sugar is bad, herbs that kill pathogens are great. I like cayenne, turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon. Some have managed to work in garlic for a tasty treat though I am yet to be able to mimic such a feat. The only thing harder to make work in my smoothies is collard greens. For the life of me, I cannot make collards work!
Here are four smoothie recipes that don’t just nourish, but they also heal and help balance the gut. And these smoothies know how to wake up the senses, so they’re a great morning addition to your routine.
For a lot of the ingredients listed we have done an article on the benefits of them, so check out the links within the recipes if you’re curious. I make my smoothies to fill up a Vitamix, maybe 60 ounces or so. It makes about four glasses, or close to 8 cups.
If my kidneys are feeling sluggish, or I think I’m fighting a virus, this is my go-to smoothie. I love tart; get ready to pucker.
- Frozen cranberries
- Frozen raspberries
- Frozen tart cherries
- One whole, fresh pineapple
Peel and chop up a fresh pineapple, discard peels. Put in the pineapple with the core, blend it slowly until it’s liquid. The core of the pineapple is the healthiest part of the pineapple, but you need a powerful blender to make it work. Throw in equal parts frozen berries and cherries until the smoothie blends to the desired thickness. I do a small handful of each, and add more of whichever berry I’m feeling most, just enough to get the smoothie as thick as I want. You may need to turn up the speed, just try not to let the blades get too fast to where they can damage enzymes, which is to say blend as slow as you can to get the job done. I tend to blend it fast for a bit at the end just to get the cinnamon all the way. Now that I’m thinking about it, when it’s the bark, I need to put the cinnamon in with the ice and do a higher speed there.
The finishing touch is your turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon. I add chunks of ginger and turmeric and I break off a piece of cinnamon stick, all about a half inch in size, and throw them in. This is up to you though because these spices are strong. That goes for all of the recipes here. Mix in just enough to stretch your taste buds and build up to more.
Phat Raspberry Zinger
This smoothie is all about the beneficial fats. And the zing of course.
- Frozen raspberries
- Frozen tart cherries
- Young coconut (how to open a coconut, and if you’re stranded on an island, like a pro, like a ninja, old school, and here’s how I do it:
I use the water from a whole, fresh young coconut, and I scoop out some meat. How much I scoop depends on the difficulty and my patience at the time. I’ve also used a can of coconut milk before, and that tastes good too, but I like fresh and unprocessed coconut whenever I have the patience. Use a ripe avocado and fresh berries/cherries with ice or frozen berries/cherries.
I put in the liquid first, fresh fruit second, and frozen third, with the herbs last. As before, zing it to taste – I like a nice chunk of ginger and turmeric, lots of cinnamon, and I tend to do about 10 raspberries and 10 cherries or so.
Sweet, Sharp, & Spicy
This one is weird, but I love it.
- Whole pineapple or 1 can coconut milk
- Sweet potato
- Allspice? Clove? Curry?
Obviously, this is a very different smoothie depending on whether or not you go coconut or pineapple. As usual, add all spices to taste and kick up the spicy as high as you can to reap the most health benefits.
Enzymatic Tropical Heat
This smoothie is an excellent meal for detoxification and healing. You’ll likely get more enzymatic activity from this smoothie than a bottle of $50 enzyme pills.
- Fresh pineapple
- Papaya seeds
- Papaya leaves? (I have not tried this, but if anyone is able to, please let me know if it works!)
- Coconut (use whole, canned, flakes, whatever you have to add coconut flavor)
What you freeze can significantly alter the flavor of a smoothie. I will freeze banana, mango, and orange chunks for this one, or use all fresh and add a little ice to thicken it. Sometimes I just leave it un-iced; the fruit makes it pretty thick. The papaya seeds should be dried and crushed. Trying to blend them at a high enough speed when they are wet and pliable will kill the enzymes. Enzymes are why we want papaya seeds in here, and they add some spice too. It’s a little funky to me though; it takes some tweaking and getting used to for some.
All of these recipes are an attempt to get you to spice up your smoothies. More flavor with less sugar. More health benefit, less pretending. So mix it up. Experiment, and don’t be afraid to make something awful. Check out Detox Cheap and Easy Without Fasting – Recipes Included and implement the salad and cranberry lemonade, and you’ve basically got my diet. Also, check out this list of articles.
- 8 Easy Steps to Health
- Total Nutrition – Make your own Homemade Multivitamin and Mineral Formula
- Things Health Nuts Do With Their Food
- Mulberries and Mulberry Recipes
- Powerfully Healing Raspberry Cream Smoothie Recipe