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Why is my smoothie brown? (How to eat breakfast)

February 4, 2013 in Healthy Eating

brown smoothie

The smoothie fad has taken off, and with good reason.  Drinking a smoothie custom-made for what your body needs is an easy way to get a hearty dose of vitamins, nutrients – and ultimately energy – that will help you feel great.  Eating whole foods, and mostly plants (a la Michael Pollan) feels good and is great for your health.  It would take me the better part of an hour to eat all of the fruits and vegetables that go into my morning concoction, and I’d never eat the superfoods I throw in there alone.  Ever munched on chia or hemp?  Not fun.  Blending them into a smoothie is a practical and delicious way to get ahead of my 10-12 servings of veggies a day, plus protein and whatever special ingredients I need to support myself that day.  Count your vegetable servings for one day, and you’ll see what I mean!

Now, not all smoothies are created equal.  Many of the ones most readily available are packed with sugar in the form of fruit and fruit concentrates, and not much else.  Popular juice bars like Booster Juice use frozen non-organic fruit, sugary frozen yogurt, highly-processed whey protein, and fruit drink (yes, something like Tang).  Pre-packaged brands generally have a lot of fruit, and while fruit is great, it’s high in sugars and has lost a lot of the nutrients that make it good for you while it sits on the shelf in a bottle waiting for you to buy it.  Even making an all-fruit smoothie at home isn’t great.  Even natural sugar picks you up and drops you.  Do not sugar alone.  That is not how you want to start your day.  Come 11 am, you will be hungry, hangry, unfocused, or reaching for a caffeinated beverage in an effort to increase your energy.  This is all because your blood sugar isn’t stable, which can lead to a whole host of things like weight gain, low energy, and even diabetes.

So back to why my smoothie is brown.  Remember painting as a kid?  Mix enough colours together, and you get…brown!  Every time.  My multi-coloured ingredients do the same thing, and it goes like this:

Insert the following into your blender…

Basics:

  • Organic fruit for a taste that I like, or one with nutritional value I want, like blueberries for antioxidants, or bananas for potassium.  Or mango because I dream of the jungle.
  • An organic green vegetable (or two), like kale, chard or spinach.  Lately I am getting a lot of microgreens in my Fresh City box, so I put those in.  Greens are the food most commonly missing in modern diets. They are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are loaded with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals.  
  • Nuts or nut mylk for that creaminess that reminds me of a milkshake, and for the oils and protein they provide.  Unless you are allergic to nuts, obviously (avocado is a great substitute).
  • More protein.  I go for the simplest stuff I can find, like hemp protein or brown rice protein.  These are great options if you already eat a lot of soy, or if you don’t eat dairy (whey protein is a highly processed dairy product).
  • Some filtered water to get the consistency I like.

Options:

  • An inch of fresh ginger, peeled.  This root has so many healing properties, like improving digestion and circulation.
  • A teaspoon of chia seeds.  Rich in Omega-3, antioxidants, fibre, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin and zinc (thank you Dr. Weil).  These are like a gentle massage for your digestive system.
  • A teaspoon of flax seeds.  The Omega-3 rich Metamucil of our time. Need I say more?
  • Half an avocado, for smoothness and good fats.
  • Any other superfood you like, such as maca, goji berries, cacao nibs.
  • Natural sweetener to taste.  Agave, while a processed food, is a better option than other sweeteners because it has a lower glycemic index.  My favorite sweetener is local honey, which ml for ml, has less sugar than agave.  You can also put in some maple syrup, or a couple of dates (pits out).
  • More vegetables.  I like cucumber and fresh mint, or even cilantro.  Re-inventing vegetables from their place as a lowly side-dish or garnish is a lot more delicious than you might think, and a lot easier.

Blend and enjoy!  I like using a Vitamix because I can put anything in there and it comes out perfectly smooth with maximum nutrient bio-availability, but any blender will do.  Stock smoothie ingredients in your kitchen, and put them in the blender the night before if you’re rushed in the morning.  Your breakfast will be convenient and nourishing, and that 11am slump will be a memory.

For more on protein and good fats, and why I recommend eating both of them, stay tuned.  

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