I love smoothies as much as anyone else. They’re delicious, creamy, often fruity and a great way to pack in a few servings of fruit and veggies without all the chewing.
However, smoothies and shakes are usually a treat to me rather than a workout booster. I put in a few standard things – yogurt, juice, berries, banana – without a second thought.
After attending Marni Wasserman‘s “Fit and Fab” cooking class, I have a whole new outlook on smoothie-making and the benefits you can get without packing it full of whey, yogurt and difficult-to-digest bits. I was astounded by the number of ingredients she poured into her blender and how few of them I’d heard of, let alone thought of adding to my shake.
Here are five natural, plant-based, vegan-friendly additions to any shake:
1. Brown rice protein powder
While whey protein can be a great boost to your shake, it’s derived from milk and isn’t vegan-friendly. As Wasserman explains, grains have a germ inside them that, when sprouted, has protein in it. Rice protein is easier to digest than milk or soy products, hypoallergenic, and rich in vitamins and minerals. We used a product called Sunwarrior, which I barely noticed in the smoothie.
2. Hemp seeds
These tiny super-seeds have more protein than any plant-based food except for soy. They are high in amino acids, and essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6. Basically, they provide all kinds of good fat that can fuel your workout. Make instant hemp seed milk – the perfect base for your shake – by combining 2 cups of water with 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds (and a drop of something sweet like agave or honey if you like). Blitz together in a blender until the seeds are incorporated into a milky liquid.
3. Goji berries
Sure, this Himalayan berry is the latest trend, but does it hold up to the hype? Wasserman is obsessed. She likes to rehydrate a tablespoon or two of the dried berries and toss them into her shake. The superfood contains tons of beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin A, among other goodies. Although some studies point to goji berries as a cancer preventer, metabolism booster and more, they are too new to be factual. Still, this antioxidant is full of fibre and nutrients, even if you’re only eating a handful.
4. Chia seeds
Before this class, I only knew these seeds as the sprouts that created hair on my childhood Chia Pet, but it turns out there are much better uses for these tiny crumbs of goodness. Wasserman insists they give you long-lasting energy, being a source of protein, essential fatty acids and tons of fibre (just in case your trips to the bathroom have been less than satisfying lately).
5. Powdered greens
How often do you get that guilty feeling that you’re not eating enough greens each day? This is a great way to sneak in a few servings – without having to chew your way through an enormous salad. We used Vitamineral Green Powder, a finely ground blend of lots of different greens with a touch of minty flavour. Add a scoop to your shake or throw in a handful of kale, spinach or whatever you have on hand.
Although I have yet to visit the health food store and pick up these goodies, I made my own superfood-inspired shake (and I’m drinking it now before I head off to the gym). I loaded it with some of my favourite superfoods, like sunflower butter, blueberries, avocado and banana and topped it off with a vegan protein powder and a touch of vanilla.
Look around. There are countless ways to add superfoods and quick boosters to a shake that will keep you going all day long.
Check out Marni Wasserman’s recipe for a Chocolate Super Smoothie (serves 2):
- 2 cups water
- 3 Tbsp Manitoba Harvest hemp seeds
- 2 Tbsp soaked goji berries
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1⁄2 Tbsp mesquite powder
- 1 Tbsp Artisana almond butter
- 2 Tbsp Navitas cacao nibs
- 1-2 scoops Sunwarrior protein powder
- 2 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1 Tbsp Nude Bee honey
- 1 cup ice
- 1 frozen banana
- Optional: add in greens, spinach or kale, 1 teaspoon of Ormus Super Greens or Vitaminerals Greens powder
- Blend water and hemp seeds in a blender until smooth – this is your base, home made hemp milk.
- Add the remaining ingredients and blend. Enjoy!