We are huge fans of eating real food here at Sleekgeek and think that it should always be your first priority.
Shakes, supplements, fancy eating styles – they are all secondary to building a solid foundation of nutrition from high-quality, nutrient-dense, and unprocessed whole foods.
But with that said, making a homemade gourmet smoothie is a great way to get in a convenient and delicious on-the-go meal that is bursting with good nutrition.
If you read our list of 25 REAL Superfoods of the Sleekgeek Lifestyle you might have noticed a couple of exceptions to the whole-foods rule: Protein Supplements and Greens Supplements.
- Protein supplements (such as whey, casein, pea, hemp, and so on) are a great convenient source of high-quality protein. For example, you can read about some of the benefits of whey here.
- Greens supplements (typically containing things like powdered wheatgrass, barley, alfalfa, chlorella, spirulina, seaweed, and so on) are a great convenient source of high-quality anti-oxidants and vegetable-based micronutrients. You can read about some of the benefits of greens supplements here.
When should you eat food and when should you supplement?
A good rule of thumb is:
- Eat real foods first and foremost (this is fail-proof method for better nutrition, and is also generally cheaper).
- Supplement with a protein powder when real food-based protein sources are not available (or not enough is available).
- Supplement with a greens supplement when real-food based fruit and vegetables are not available (or not enough is available).
- Treat yourself now and then to a nice homemade smoothie that has been super-charged with a well-rounded amount of protein, fruit, veggies, and healthy fats.
Real world examples:
- I try to make sure that I wake up early enough in the mornings before my day starts to prepare myself a nice healthy breakfast using fresh ingredients. However, on a day that I’m getting up super early to go hike up Table Mountain to watch the sunrise I might opt to make some kind of protein smoothie the night before that I can drink on the go.
- I’m pretty good at making sure that I’ve got enough fresh fruit and veggies on hand to take with me to work for lunch. However, sometimes I run out, or someone else unexpectedly eats them the day before, or they have spoiled. I’ll then take a greens supplement with me instead.
- No matter how healthy your diet is, everyone is deficient in something. Smart supplementation can help you reduce your risk for deficiency. For example, if you suffer from glandular problems (thyroid, pituitary, and adrenal glands) then you may be deficient in iodine which you can get from seaweed in a greens supplement. Or perhaps you are allergic to dairy, but tolerate a dairy-based whey isolate protein powder that does not contain lactose but still has many other benefits.
- I feel like having a rare treat before bed. Instead of just grabbing a tub of ice cream or a store-bought milkshake, I decide to make the most of it by still getting in some high-quality nutrients. So I make a Decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake (see recipe at the bottom of this post) and add in some extra honey to make it sweeter than normal for my “treat”.
So as you can see, while we always recommend eating real foods first, it mean you can’t opt to make yourself an awesome homemade smoothie from time to time. Not only will it be absolutely delicious and super convenient, but you can upgrade it into something that is truly packed with nutrition too.
Store-bought shake and a homemade gourmet protein smoothies:
Most store-bought shakes and juices are barely better than a fast-food milkshake or a box of sugary fruit juice. They usually use low-cost ingredients and are still loaded with added sugar and other ingredients to make them yummy and consumable while still profitable.
Homemade gourmet protein smoothie, on the other hand, is a great opportunity to upgrade your shakes to get in high-quality nutrients like protein, fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, and just the right amount of carbohydrates to fuel your level of physical activity.
Here is the simple but effective formula:
The key to making really good, healthy shakes consistently is having a formula that you can follow with ease. You can then tweak and customize the formula depending on your tastes and needs.
Maybe you want more protein and more sweetness, or less calories and less carbs. Maybe it’s a breakfast smoothie that needs to be palatable first thing in the morning, or maybe it’s a pre-bed time dessert kind of snack. The opportunities are endless.
Anyways, here is what we found works the best:
- Step 0: Get a Decent Blender [The better you blend, the nicer your smoothie will be]
- We really like NUTRiBULLET – we have one in the office at Sleekgeek HQ and use it for all our smoothies.
- Step 1: Pick a Liquid [100ml to 250ml]
- Water, milk, almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, iced tea, coconut water, etc.
- Step 2: Pick a Protein Power [25g to 50g]
- Whey, casein, pea, rice, hemp, etc – Ideally a good quality brand with the least added ingredients possible.
- Step 3: Pick a Veggie [1 to 2 handfuls]
- Leafy greens, pumpkin, sweet potato, beetroot, cucumber, greens power, etc.
- Step 4: Pick a Fruit [1 to 2 handfuls]
- Apple, banana, berries, dates, pineapple, etc.
- Step 5: Pick a Healthy Fat [1 to 2 thumb-sized portions]
- Almonds, cashews, flax seeds, chia seeds, nut butters, etc.
- Step 6: Pick a Topper [optional]
- Coconut, cacao nibs, yogurt, oats, cinnamon, ice, etc.
For a thicker shake you can use less liquid, or a thicker type of liquid, or more healthy fats. For a sweeter shake you can use more sugary types of fruit such as pineapple or dates. For a lower-carb shake you can stick with berries that are the lowest in sugar. For less calories you can use seeds as your healthy fats, for more calories you can use nuts and nut butters.
My Creamy Vanilla Coconut Super Shake Smoothie example:
- Liquid: 150ml of water
- Protein: 50g of vanilla flavoured whey protein powder
- Veggie: 2 big handfuls of lettuce + a big chunk of fresh ginger for added good measure
- Fruit: 1 handful of frozen blueberries
- Fat: 2 thumb-sized portions of raw cashews
- Topper: 2 tbsp of desiccated coconut + handful of ice
YUM! Check out the bottom of the post for 3 more of my recipes!
Infographic from Precision Nutrition:
Credits to Ryan Andrews at Precision Nutrition for the infographic.
If you like infographics, check out what else we have featured here.
|Decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter
|Creamy Vanilla Coconut (repeated from earlier)
Feel free to experiment and swap ingredients around. Maybe you only like whey protein, or maybe you are vegetarian and only use pea protein. I love the spicy taste of ginger, but maybe you don’t. Spinach is an easy and safe bet to use in smoothies because you really don’t taste it at all. More fibrous veggies like carrots aren’t really a good idea because they don’t blend very well.
Which recipe sounds the best to you and what combos have you created? Let me know in the comments below!
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