I have a new tradition. Making a smoothie each day as a mid-morning snack or an afternoon treat has become a ritual for me over the last few months, and I don't think I could ever go back to our pre-blender days. (We didn't even buy a fancy one--just this cute, inexpensive, single-serving red blender from Target.) I have a very fast metabolism and snacks are important for me, and I've discovered that smoothies make for an ideal mid-day boost.
In their most simple form, smoothies are healthy and delicious and cover several of the food groups all at once. I start with a few scoops of plain yogurt, frozen fruit (usually strawberries and blueberries), half of a fresh banana, and orange juice. But the wonderful thing about smoothies is that they can so easily be packed with all kinds of additional good-for-you nutrients and health foods. I've figured out how to turn a basic smoothie into a superfood by throwing in some pretty powerful mix-ins.
Flax seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, and I recently discovered that you should try to use ground flax seeds as opposed to whole (which I used to use) because the body can digest these more easily. I add a tablespoon or two. Throwing in a handful of rolled oats is a good way to get additional grains in my diet. I eat steel cut oats when I'm making oatmeal, but rolled oats blend up easily and so they are great for smoothies. I'd heard a lot about chia seeds but only recently bought them and began using them. Unlike flax seeds, they don't need to be ground up for us to digest them properly, and they have sort of a poppy seed-like texture that is quite pleasant. Chia seeds have more antioxidants than blueberries, and are another wonderful source of omega-3s. Additionally, there is some quality about them that causes the smoothie to thicken a little bit when they're blended in.
Adding grapeseed oil (a tablespoon or two) to my smoothies is a more recent trick. This might seem quite odd or even repulsive to you! But I don't even notice either the taste or the texture of the oil in my smoothies--grapeseed oil is very light in flavor and consistency, so it's totally masked. Grapeseed oil is full of healthy fats and omega-3s and 6s, and is also a very good source of vitamin E. Great for your heart, your skin, and your overall health.
Another trick I have is to toss in a good-sized handful of raw baby spinach. I do this after the smoothie has been fully blended with everything else. We all know how good spinach is for us, especially when raw, and I had a theory that I wouldn't even taste the spinach because the fruit and its acidity would be over-powering. I was right. I know it seems weird to add vegetables to a fruit smoothie, but it comes at no cost! Only benefit.
That's all there is to it! Would you try any of these mix-ins? Do you have any other ideas?