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How to Health-Hack Your Smoothie

By: Jeff Vrabel

How to Health-Hack Your Smoothie

Replace six common ingredients with healthier ones—kale or almond butter, anyone?—and you’ll get more of nature’s good stuff in each glass

Like cocktails, smoothies lend themselves to endless combinations. But many people, and by many people I mean me, take that to mean a blenderful of anything north of “margarita” on the health scale goes. In reality, aspiring juicers like myself are getting tons of key things wrong, using too much sugary juice and not enough of nature’s other good stuff.

From now on, follow this blueprint:

• OUT: Orange juice
• IN: Coconut water, iced green or black tea or iced herbal tea
• WHY: You’ll still get your electrolytes but far fewer calories and less sugar. Try black cherry and orange iced herbal tea. Pro tip.

• OUT: Tons of bananas, berries and apples
• IN: Spinach, kale and shredded carrots or beets
• WHY: You want to limit yourself to 1 cup of fruit per smoothie—that’ll get you 60-100 calories and plenty of natural sweetness. (Bananas are great for texture; use 1/2 cup banana and a 1/2 cup another fruit.) Fill out the rest with 1 cup or more of vegetables. Blatner’s favorites: carrots, kale, spinach, cucumbers, celery, broccoli stems, and especially beets. Make a Schrute Farms joke if that helps them go down.

• OUT: Whey or soy protein
• IN: Pea protein or almond butter
• WHY: You want protein in your smoothie, and Blatner suggests pea protein, which contains no lactose or glutens and digests easier. (It’s also more concentrated then whey.) Alternately, she says, use with 1 tbsp almond butter, a heart-smart fat.

• OUT: Digesting things yourself
• IN: Letting plants help out with that 
• WHY: Since you’re upgrading your nutrition anyway, why not ease the process of digesting it? Parsley minimizes bloat, and both mint and ginger boast have anti-inflammatory properties that aid in digestion. All are available at just about any grocery store. They’re cheap, too.

• OUT: Feeling weird about pouring seeds in a thing you’re about to drink
• IN: Chia or flaxseeds
• WHY: A teaspoon of either will boost your omega-3 healthy fats. Flax should be ground and blended, Blatner says, while chia can be stirred in at the end to keep it from getting gritty.

• OUT: Hating the taste of this stuff
• IN: Lemon and lime, chocolate
• WHY: The addition of citrus brightens up the flavor and adds vitamin C. Alternately, adding unsweetened non-alkalized cocoa powder adds just 10 calories per tablespoon.

If all these swaps leave you wondering just how to incorporate these exciting new ingredients into combinations that won’t make you vomit, read on:  6 Smoothie Combos That Don’t Suck

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