03 May Power Smoothies
Vegan Smoothies that Boost Health, Wellness and Beauty!
It used to be that smoothies were just glorified milkshakes, with a banana thrown in to replace a sugary, artificially flavoured syrup. Not any more … these days, vegan smoothies can be full of more goodness than you could imagine. It all depends on the ingredients you use.
Yep, a smoothie can be the perfect opportunity to enjoy a complete breakfast on the run, receive your RDI of essential nutrients, add some pep to your afternoon or even achieve the glowing skin you’ve always wanted.
GV’s Publisher Catherine Carr likes to add a knob of ginger to her daily smoothie, as it provides the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant boost she needs as a sufferer of Hashimoto’s disease. Beauty and lifestyle director Shonagh, on the other hand, adds a frozen Birdseye chilli and a sprig of fresh rosemary to hers, saying the chilli gives her metabolism a boost and beats a cup of coffee in the morning, while the rosemary has purifying and detoxifying benefits. There’s so much that you can do with the humble smoothie, to ensure it is a healthy dietary addition to your day.
We asked the experts for their top tweaks to make your next vegan smoothie the best you’ve ever had.
What’s best milk to use as a base? Any of the plant milks or fruit juice?
“My top picks are rice milk, coconut water or a nut-based milk,” says Nutritional Biochemist, author and speaker, Dr. Libby Weaver. “They all have different flavours, so experiment and see which one you prefer. It’s best to avoid fruit juice as this is concentrated in sugars —instead use some fresh or frozen berries or another piece of fruit to sweeten your smoothie. This will contribute less sugar and you’ll retain the fibre from the fruit too, which helps to keep us feeling fuller for longer.” Nutritionist, skin care expert, author and yoga teacher, Fiona Tuck adds: “Different milks have different benefits and vary considerably in calories. If you are using sweeter fruits then opt for unsweetened plant milk or even plain filtered water, to keep the sugar content down. If the smoothie is replacing a meal, a richer milk will serve you well, like coconut milk or cream, which are energy dense.”
Why should we add a supplement powder to our smoothie ?
“It’s an easy way to get a boost of nutrients and it makes the process of becoming healthier much easier,” says Nutritionist Cinzia Cozzolini. Tuck agrees, adding, “Smoothies are a wonderful way to up the nutrients intake in our diet and are easy to digest and absorb. Most people are simply not eating enough fruit and vegetables, so adding supplements can be a wonderful way to really increase the nutrient value of the smoothie and can also provide valuable prebiotic fibre to support healthy gut function and probiotic efficacy.”
What shouldn’t we add to our smoothie?
“Some raw foods, such as kale, can be hard to digest and absorb and are better eaten lightly cooked rather than used as a smoothie ingredient,” advises Tuck, adding that not all supplements are created equal, so shop discerningly. “Many contain synthetic vitamins, flavours, gums and artificial additives. Look for naturally derived powders that use ethically sourced ingredients, pure extraction processes to retain nutrient value and use vegan friendly bioavailable ingredients.”
What are the best ingredients for a breakfast smoothie?
“It is good to include protein at breakfast time to maintain energy and blood sugar levels and to keep you feeling full,” advises Tuck. “Choose from vegan protein powders, nut butter, almond milk, chia seeds.” Dr. Libby adds: “Starting the day with a green smoothie is a fantastic way to help ensure you get your minimum daily quota of vegetables. Including some banana or berries will help to mask the taste if this is something you find challenging, and you may find that as you include more greens in your way of eating, your preference or craving for sweet foods diminishes. Adding a source of fat to the smoothie can help to make it more sustaining (think more stable energy levels across the morning), so try adding some nuts or seeds, such as flaxseeds, which provide essential omega-3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory in nature.”
What should we add to our smoothie after a workout?
“It is recommended that a protein source is consumed within half hour of exercise,” says Cozzolini. “This helps you build tone and muscle. Try adding a scoop of protein powder to your regular smoothie post exercise.” Tuck suggests adding carbs, too. “Carbohydrate and protein are important, so look to add banana, raw cacao (magnesium), flexibility powder and almond milk.” Dr. Libby recommends, “adding some nut butter to increase the protein content, or some chia seeds for a thicker smoothie. You can also top a smoothie with some homemade muesli, made with a variety of nuts and seeds. I also like to add some berries for an antioxidant boost post-workout.”
What works best for a 3pm pick-up?
“Mid-afternoon tends to be that time when people start to crave chocolate and other sweets,” notes Dr. Libby. “Adding some cacao to your smoothie can be a wonderful way to enjoy that chocolate-y flavour, without the other less-nourishing ingredients that tend to be in commercial chocolates. Cacao does contain some caffeine, so if you are sensitive to this, opt for carob powder instead.” Cozzolini agrees and in true Italian style, suggests adding “a shot of espresso coffee to give it an extra kick of energy!” Tuck adds: “Our energy levels can often slump mid-afternoon if we do not include a good quality protein at lunch time or if our magnesium levels are low. Include greens to boost magnesium levels.”
What can we use to improve digestion?
“Chia seeds can provide fibre and are gentle on the tummy,” says Tuck. “Look for low sugar berries such as blue berries and choose a supplement to support gut health.” “Turmeric is a great ingredient to help with digestion,” says Cozzolini, while Dr. Libby advises those with poor digestion eat their smoothies instead. “If you struggle with poor digestion, try a smoothie bowl (a thicker smoothie that you can eat with a spoon). This tends to slow down how quickly we consume the smoothie, which can be easier on our digestive system than if we down a big smoothie really quickly. Also pay attention to the types of ingredients that are problematic (or not) for you – it’s highly individualised, so your body will be your best barometer.”
What’s a great elixir for glowing skin?
“Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, which help to protect our skin against damage from free radicals, so both fresh and frozen blueberries are a great option for smoothies,” suggest Dr. Libby. “I also like to add a handful almonds to a smoothie as these are rich in nourishing fats and vitamin E, which your skin loves!” Tuck concurs, adding, “Good fats, fibre and antioxidants are essential for healthy glowing skin. Add flaxseeds for essential fatty acids, berries for antioxidants and mango for vitamin A, an important vitamin for healthy skin.
What about all-over wellness and energy?
“All leafy greens are superstars nutritionally,” says Dr. Libby, “and most people don’t get enough these days. Adding spinach, dandelion or other leafy greens – particularly those that are a darker green – to your smoothie is an easy way to amp up your intake, which can do wonders for your overall health and energy. Iron deficiency causes fatigue and is quite common among women of menstruation age, so to maximise absorption of the iron from the leafy greens, try including some strawberries with these in your smoothie – strawberries are rich in vitamin C, which enhances the absorption of plant-based iron. Tuck adds: “A greens blend delivers additional sprouted nutrients, minerals and alkalinity. Try blending a chopped nectarine for antioxidants, a frozen banana, chia seeds for additional fibre and flaxseeds in the plant milk of your choice.”
Gently Vegan’s Top Picks for Smoothie Supplements
Vita-sol Whole Food Powders, $59, vita-sol.com Available in three varieties – Flexibility (to support muscles and joints as well as bones, hair and skin), Infinity (cell support for healthy ageing) and Purity (for healthy liver and gut support), these are free from artificial sweeteners, synthetic ingredients, chemicals, pesticides or mass production processes. They are created by nutritional experts to deliver the best quality in nutritional support.
Bio Blends by Dr. Libby Organic Daily Greens and Radiant Reds, from $59.95, bioblends.com A nutrient-dense blend of plants, this 100 per cent plant powder contains a powerhouse of nutrients and antioxidants and is free from gluten, dairy, soy, preservatives, sweeteners, artificial flavours and colours and GMOs.
Smoothie Bombs, $12.95, thesmoothiebombs.com These pre-portioned sachets come in five variants – The Transformer Super Greens, The Lover Super Berries, The Defender Golden Chai, The Motivator Raw Cacao and The Warrior Peanut Butter. Each is low in kilojoules and made from organic, wholefood ingredients.
The Beauty Chef Glow Advanced Inner Beauty Powder, $59.99, thebeautychef.com Designed to support skin radiance and good gut health, this powder contains 24 Certified Organic, bio-fermented and probiotic superfoods.
KORA ORGANICS Noni Glow Skin Food Supplement, from $19.95, koraorganics.com With Miranda Kerr’s go-to organic noni extract, as well as acai, blueberry and Matcha green tea, this nutrient dense supplement is free from sugar, preservatives and artificial colours and flavours. Add a sachet a day to help support skin health.
The Super Elixir, from $49, welleco.com.au Two words: Elle McPherson. At 52, she looks better than ever. Chalk it up to clean living, regular exercise and an alkalised body, the latter of which she attributes to this powder. With 45 alkalising ingredients, it aims to support immunity, clarify skin, lessen inflammation and improve energy.
Supercharged Food Love Your Gut Powder, $18, superchargedfood.com With naturopathic grade, organic diatomaceous earth, this helps to mop up toxins in the gut and clean out accumulated heavy metals, wastes and mucous in the digestive tract, in order to improve digestion and nutrient absorption.
Beauty and Lifestyle Director Shonagh Walker