When it comes to making a smoothie, most of us have tried the good old standard one scoop of protein powder, a few berries, water, maybe some greens and ice. But, there are lots of other ingredients to explore the boost nutritional value and offer up a variation to the mundane and boring.
If you are tired of using the same smoothie ingredients, consider a switch-up to jazz up your next smoothie creation. These five alternative smoothie ingredients can offer up new tastes and textures, and they’re not short on their nutritional benefits either.
1. Pitaya Fruit
Also known as Dragon Fruit, Pitaya is a sweet fruit that tastes like a cross between a strawberry and pear. Pitaya is from the cactus species and has a creamy pulp similar to a kiwi fruit, making it a great addition to a fruit smoothie. The Pitaya fruit that you are probably most familiar with has a red exterior, but there are also yellow varieties. A 100 g serving delivers only 60 calories, of which 18 are from unsaturated fat, 8 are from protein and 34 are from carbohydrates. Pitaya are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, high in fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins and antioxidants lycopene and phytoalbumins. Try Pitaya instead of strawberries or kiwi for your next smoothie.
Note: Pitaya can be challenging to find, but local organic produce markets and stores like Trader Joes are more likely to carry it. Also, there are a number of places online like Marxfoods.com that sell it in bulk.
Kefir is a drinkable cultured yogurt product found in the dairy section of most supermarkets. Kefir originates from Eastern Europe and is made by fermenting milk with 10 to 12 Kefir grains, which are made up of bacteria and yeast. This allows for a rich source of probiotics. Kefir is high in calcium, providing 20 percent of your daily value, and is rich in the feel good amino acid Tryptophan, which is used to make serotonin in the body. Kefir also delivers 10.5 g of protein per 1 cup serving and is a good source of B vitamins. If you want to try Kefir in a smoothie, use it like you would yogurt or milk.
3. Chia Seed
Chia Seed is a great source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids and is super high in fiber. These tiny seeds are also high in calcium, manganese and phosphorous. Even better, the seeds are tasteless, making them an easy addition to any smoothie recipe. One of the great benefits of chia seed is their ability to swell when added to water, which can help reduce hunger and subside appetite due to their bulking nature. A 1 oz serving, approximately 2 tablespoons, offers up 11 g of fiber, 5 g of protein and 9 g of good for you fats. Instead of flax seed, try chia seed in your next smoothie.
4. Brewed Green Tea
You probably already know the many benefits of green tea. It is loaded in polyphenols that function as strong antioxidants in the body. Green tea also provides energizing caffeine and the amino acid L-Theanine, which has an anti-anxiety effect in the body. Theanine can help increase the production of feel good alpha waves in the brain. Green tea can be used as a base for green smoothies. Add it like you would water. Or, make ice cubes with brewed tea and use the ice cubes during blending.
5. Silken Tofu
Silken tofu is made from coagulating soymilk, without curdling it into blocks like regular tofu. This process allows for the highest moisture content of all the fresh tofu. Silken tofu is available in a few consistencies including soft and firm. However, when using in smoothies, stick with the smooth variety. Also, silken tofu can be higher in fat, so choose the lite version. A serving of 84 g provides just 30 calories, 1 g of fat, 1 g of carbs and 5 g of protein. Use silken tofu in place of yogurt when blending.
Silken Tropical Fruit Smoothie
½ cup of frozen pineapple and mango
½ pitaya fruit
½ cup silken tofu
½ cup lite vanilla soymilk
1 to 2 packets of Stevia for sweetness
Nutrition: 185 calories | 19 g Carbs | 5 g Fat | 20 g Protein
Kefir Berry Smoothie
½ cup frozen mixed berries
1 tbsp chia seed
8 oz plain Kefir
½ cup lite cranberry juice
Nutrition: 220 calories | 30 g Carbs |12 g Fat |14 g Protein
Green Tea Smoothie
1 cup brewed green tea
1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
2 cups of mixed baby spinach and kale
¼ cucumber chopped into chunks
½ green apple, cored
1 tbsp chopped mint
freshly squeezed lime
1 to 2 packets of Stevia for sweetness
Nutrition: 194 calories | 15 g Carbs | 4 g Fat | 28 g Protein