Back to basics…smoothies

Sarah O'Brien Nutrition / Back to basics  / Back to basics…smoothies

Back to basics…smoothies

Smoothies are a lovely way to help you reach your daily nutrient requirements and can also be quick, versatile and easy to ‘grab and go’ if pre-made the night before – getting back to basics with food, for me, is all about this – quick, easy and yummy meals/snacks that enhance our days, not add to the busyness of them…

Previously, when working full time in a busy corporate environment, especially whilst also studying part time, knowing that I would need some additional sustenance throughout the day I would often have smoothies made up in a jar in the fridge ready to pop into my bag as I headed out in the morning. Since becoming a mum, and taking some time to be on maternity leave, whilst I have found the pace of my days slower in terms of rushing to and from meetings etc, they are no less busy, in fact some days feel more so, and I find myself prepping smoothies in advance just as often.

There are a few things to think about when putting your smoothies together:

Change it up… I recommend changing things up from time to time, as the weather changes and different fruits and veggies come into season, to help you to have a wide variety in your diet. I would also recommend including at least one veggie if you can – there are some examples below which can provide beautiful nutritional nourishment (and some beautiful colors!).

Think about balance… I encourage you to also consider the concept of macro-nutrient balance when preparing your smoothies, particularly if you are having one as a main meal like breakfast – this is another way to help you get a variety of nutrients, avoid too much of a sugar spike and help you feel satiated until your next meal/snack. For example, include your veggie, fruit and liquid plus a source each of protein (ie; protein powder or yogurt), fat (ie; nut butter or avocado) and complex carbohydrate (ie; oats or soaked buckwheat) for a main meal**, and for a snack consider including veggie, fruit and liquid plus a source of either a protein or fat.                                                                        

Slow it down… One thing I always recommend when it comes to smoothies is to slow it down and chew a bit, rather than chugging it all down quickly, at least for a couple of mouthfuls at the beginning – this might sound strange, but the physical process of digestion actually begins as we look at, appreciate and anticipate the food we are about to eat as our brain begins to send messages out to our digestive system to prepare for incoming food, then as we chew our food, it begins to be broken down by enzymes in our saliva, meanwhile enzymes and digestive juices begin to flow further along our digestive tract, to help us break down and assimilate the nutrients – dumping a packed (and often cold) smoothie straight into our tummies doesn’t allow for this process to begin in an optimal way. Adding in some crunch can assist here; making it into a smoothie bowl by using a bit less liquid for a thicker consistency and topping with some crunch ie; shredded coconut, buckwheat, muesli, nuts, seeds etc, or if you prefer to drink your smoothie, consider not blending it totally smooth, ie; leave some banana chunks to chew on for example.

Pre-prep for easy mornings… As I mentioned above, it can be handy to make your smoothie the night before so that you can grab it out of the fridge on your way out the door in the morning. Spending some time to prep a few pre-cooked or frozen elements can also be helpful ie; pre-cooked and frozen cauliflower & zucchini can add a lovely texture and provide some extra nourishment without changing the flavor, while some pre-cooked pumpkin can add in some extra nutrients and a subtle flavor that pairs well with ingredient combo’s like cinnamon + apple +nutmeg + milk/yogurt for example. Prepping some frozen single serves of a favorite smoothie base that you can just grab out of the freezer, add your liquid to and blend up is also handy time-wise if you are in a rush…recently, I have also been known to pop a cube or two of my babes frozen fruit/veggie puree into my smoothies when in a hurry or low on supplies! 😉

Smoothies don’t need to be fancy or contain a long list of ingredients and ‘super foods’/powders/the latest trendy food items (unless you want them to!), below are some ingredient ideas to consider when putting your smoothie together – these are just some examples – as always, follow what works best for you – what do you have available? What do you like? What can you prep easily and quickly?

Liquid bases

  • Water
  • Coconut water
  • Nut milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Dairy milk
  • Chilled tea (ie; green, rooibos, chai, black)


  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Cucumber
  • Beetroot
  • Bok choy
  • Celery
  • Salad leaves
  • Pre-cooked veggies ie; pumpkin, cauliflower or zucchini

Fresh or frozen fruits

  • Banana
  • Orange
  • Cherry
  • Berries
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Plum
  • Mango
  • Apple
  • Grapes
  • Pineapple
  • Melon
  • Figs

Optional extras

  • Avocado
  • Oats
  • Passionfruit pulp
  • Chopped dates
  • Chopped dried figs
  • Protein powder
  • Collagen powder
  • Hemp seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax meal/seeds
  • Nut butter
  • Seed butter (ie; tahini)
  • Raw cacao powder
  • Carob powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Ginger (fresh or powdered)
  • Sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • Yoghurt
  • Lemon or lime juice
  • Mint leaves
  • Honey
  • Spirulina
  • Ice

**What if I prefer to have my carbohydrates on the side? This is fine, and is actually what I do a lot of the time – I will omit the additional carbohydrate in my smoothie and also have some wholegrain toast instead! You are still getting all your macro-nutrients in one meal, and I personally like something to crunch on – go with what works for you.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay


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