Some people can’t start their day without a venti-sized quadruple-shot latte. Me? I can’t get going without my morning green smoothie. Go ahead. Call me a crunchy, lentil-lovin’ yoga snob like my co-workers do. But nothing gets me going in the morning like a kale-almond butter-blue-green algae-banana smoothie. It’s my (healthy) crack in a blender
This blue-green algae is rich in vitamins B, beta-carotene, vitamin E, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, and selenium. It’s also made up of 70 percent amino acid protein. Kathy Patalsky, author of 365 Vegan Smoothies and founder of the blog Healthy. Happy. Life., recommends adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon to your smoothie. And don’t worry, its mild, sweet, grassy flavor is easily masked by fruit.
Goji berries have a slightly sweet, slightly tart flavor. They’re rich in fiber and free radical-fighting antioxidants such as vitamins A and C. Kathy suggests soaking the berries in warm to hot water so they plump up and get easier to blend. Bonus: goji berries give smoothies a gorgeous pink-orange tint!
Aloe vera has countless benefits: It’s an alkalizer that helps calm and heal from the inside out, says Patalsky, and it also improves digestion and hydrates skin. You can find aloe plants at your local grocery store, but make sure to only add the gel you find inside the leaves to your smoothie (not the whole plant).
These miracle seeds are the new darling of the nutrition world for good reason: In addition to their omega-3 fatty acid content (omegas prevent everything from cancer to the common cold), they also fill you up and keep you satiated. That’s because chia seeds absorb water, and just like they plump up when submerged in liquid, they plump up in your body. Soak them for 10 to 15 minutes before blending and you’ll get a thick smoothie that’ll keep you feeling really full. You can also add dry chia seeds to your favorite healthy smoothie recipe. Patalsky recommends adding a teaspoon.
Cacao Powder or Nibs
Adding raw cacao powder or nibs will give your smoothies a rich, chocolate flavor. Cacao is full of free radical fighting antioxidants — so chocoholics, rejoice!
Coconut water’s slightly sweet flavor makes it a great smoothie base swap for sugary juice. “It adds an accent of mild sweetness to your blend,” says Patalsky.
Paula Simpson, a beauty nutritionist, recommends adding salba seeds to your smoothie, which come from the same family as chia seeds. One teaspoon provides about 3,000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids, which is great for cognitive, circulatory, and skin health.
Add one to two teaspoons of wheatgrass powder for added fiber, protein, and vitamins A, C, and E. It’s also a good source of energy-boosting B vitamins and chlorophyll. Simpson prefers to buy the powder in a brown glass container versus plastic, because wheatgrass is sensitive to oxidization and will lose its potency when exposed to light and air.
Flax seeds are rich in both fatty acids and fiber, so they’ll help you avoid blood sugar spikes, says Angela Ginn, RD. Add a tablespoon or two to your next smoothie for a slightly nutty flavor.
Ginn also says hemp seeds are a great healthy smoothie addition. They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and are a great plant-based protein option. Hemp seeds contain twice as much protein per serving as flax seeds and even almonds. Shelled hemp seeds (also called “hemp hearts”) are your best blend-able option for smoothies.
Ginn adds kale or spinach to smoothies because these veggies are loaded with vitamins K and A, as well as antioxidants and fiber. You can also get creative with your veggies: Try adding Swiss chard, collard greens, or even dandelion greens to your next smoothie. Pro Tip: the longer you blend, the more palatable (read: smoother) your greens will be