These 3 different smoothies are full of nutrients, flavor, and so filling that you will love incorporating them into your daily routine! I’m sharing with you all the reasons why these smoothies are a great way to start your day, and naturally balance your hormones to set you up for success for living your most vibrant life.
Let’s talk healthy breakfasts
Alright you guys. Super pumped about this post today. I am unleashing one of my best pieces of nutrition knowledge and advice for all you, and I hope it’s helpful!
As a nutritionist, I work with several clients who are just confused about food combinations. They know that eating a handful of berries is better for them than eating a chocolate chip cookie, duh, but are still missing the piece of how your body can actually use food in the most effective way. Is eating fruit for breakfast a good way to start your day? How about yogurt or oatmeal with a side of fruit? How about a quick bar that is packed with protein?
I get these questions often, especially when we discuss quick and easy breakfasts. As much as I love my eggs and I want others to eat them all the time, it’s not always practical nor is it enjoyable for everyone! This is where smoothies come in…..
Reasons why I love smoothies
Easy to make, portable, nutrient dense, yummy, and keeps me full for several hours. Let’s just start there. But before we dive into these great qualities, we also need to have a warning. Not all smoothies are created equal.
Typical store-bought or cafe bought smoothies can be LOADED with sugar in the form of several servings of fruit (or even additional sugar). These can wreak havoc on your health and your blood sugar, especially when it’s how we start our day. Even smoothies we make at home can be loaded with sugar! Let’s talk about how to make these properly.
What should a smoothie include?
Last year, I was introduced to the book, Body Love, by Kelly LeVeque. I immediately latched on to her approach to every meal, including what she calls the “Fab 4”: protein, fiber, fat, and greens. When we eat meals that include these 4 elements, we elongate our blood sugar curve, rather than creating steep increases and drastic drops that cause us to feel sluggish, low in energy, AND STILL HUNGRY!!
When looking at these 4 elements in a smoothie, it’s going to look like this:
-Protein: high quality protein powder or collagen. Some of my favorites include Vital Proteins Collagen, Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel or Vanilla Whey Protein, Life’s Abundance (plant based/Vegan blend), or Garden of Life’s Whey Protein.
-Fat: Healthy fats and there are so many options for a smoothie! Blend in any nut butter, coconut oil, hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, avocado, or MCT oil
-Fiber: fantastic sources of fiber in a smoothie include chia seeds, acacia fiber, flax seeds, or even frozen cauliflower rice
-Greens: I usually add in spinach or kale to my smoothies, but if you can also mix in fresh herbs like basil or other greens such as swiss chard or even dandelion greens (will have more of a bitter taste).
Other elements of a smoothie include the liquid base; I always choose a dairy free milk, my personal favorites are my homemade cashew milk, or Good Karma Flax milk. You can also use almond milk, coconut milk, etc. I also include fruit in a small amount, usually less than 1/2 cup. You’ll see why when you read below!
How does this balance my hormones?
Anytime we consume a meal with carbohydrates (pretty much every meal), they break down into blood sugar. The only exception is fiber. Blood sugar will be counted as the amount of carbs in a meal, minus fiber. For example, a serving of broccoli has 6 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of fiber (total net carbs would equal 2). Contrast this to a serving of orange juice which has 28 g of carbohydrates and less than 1 g of fiber leading to a 27 g of net carbs.
Insulin is released into the blood stream by the pancreas to transport blood sugar to your liver cells (for fuel), muscles, or fat cells (last place it gets deposited if we don’t need it in the other places). The more carbohydrates in a meal, the steeper the increase in blood sugar, and steeper the crash. Dips and crashes in blood sugar come with strong and difficult to control cravings for more carbohydrates. If you eat unbalanced meals loaded with carbohydrates, your blood sugar quickly rises and falls within 3 hours, leaving your body low in sugar AND YOU DEVOID OF ENERGY.
When we make our blood sugar curve less steep and elongated, we feel fuller longer and avoid the overuse of many hormones. This also allows us to burn fat in between meals and while sleeping, because we don’t have excess insulin in our blood.
Nutrients such as protein, fat, fiber, and greens specifically work beautifully together to elongate our blood sugar curve. They keep us full longer, and satisfied until our next meal. Protein, fat, and fiber also produce the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK) in our gut. CCK helps to improve digestion, slows down the emptying of food from our stomachs, and increases the sensation of fullness (satiety). Leptin, also referred to as the “satiety” hormone, sends signals to your brain that you are full. You want not only an increase in leptin after a meal, but you also want the brain signaling to work well too! This happens when we eat a high protein and high healthy fat meal.
I’ve included 3 smoothies in the recipes below. The Chunky Monkey (my personal favorite), The Lean and Green, and the Creamy Berry. These are all lower in sugar (not overly sweet with very little fruit), remember: we are trying to control our blood sugar curve!
The good news, they are still super tasty and will leave you full for hours! Normally, I enjoy my smoothie around 10am, and don’t eat again until 2-3pm.
You can also make a few swaps or additions in these recipes. For example, choose your favorite berry or a mixture of berries. In the lean and green, you can swap out the kiwi for another fruit like pineapple, mango, or apple. You can also swap chia seeds for hemp seeds or acacia fiber and visa versa. Use your favorite nut butter in the chunky monkey, my personal favorite is cashew butter. Also, the chunky monkey tastes delicious with a splash of coffee or espresso if you love a mocha taste. You get the idea!
Hormone Balancing Smoothies
Chunky Monkey Smoothie
- 1.5 cups dairy-free milk*
- 1/2 large banana
- 1 tbsp cashew butter
- 1 serving (scoop) unflavored collagen peptides
- 1 tbsp cacao powder
- 2 tsp maca powder (optional)
- 2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
- 2 tbsp chia seeds or acacia fiber
- 2 handfuls spinach leaves (about 2 cups)
- 1 1/4 cup dairy-free milk
- 1/4 cup berries (any mixture of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.)
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 serving vanilla protein powder**
- 2 tbsp walnuts***
- 2/3 cup frozen cauliflower rice
- 2 handfuls spinach leaves
Lean and Green
- 1 1/4 cup dairy-free milk
- 1/3 cup diced zucchini
- 1/4 large avocado
- 1/4 cup diced kiwi
- 3 tbsp hemp seeds
- 1 serving vanilla protein powder
- 2 handfuls chopped kale leaves
Place ingredients for whichever smoothie you choose into your blender. Do this in the order they are listed in the ingredients section. Blend until smooth (you may need to pause halfway and scrape down the sides), this could take 2-3 minutes. If smoothie is too thick to your liking, add in additional milk by 1/4 cup.
*This can be any dairy-free milk: almond milk, cashew milk, flax milk, walnut milk, coconut milk, etc.
**Look in the above post for my recommendations of protein powder.
***You can also swap in another nut such as almonds, pecans, etc. Or even walnut butter.