Make Your Own Smoothies!

Let me first tell you…you may or may not know this…but you do not need smoothies, shakes, protein drinks, meal replacement smoothies – whatever you want to call them – to lose weight, or gain muscle, etc. Okay…now that’s out of the way…but let me explain why.
All of the nutrients (and more) found in smoothies, can be also included in regular snacks and meals. In other words, a smoothie is no better than a bowl of Greek yogurt, berries, and mixed nuts and seeds; or a piece of baked chicken, ½ cup of quinoa, and half plate of veggies, etc., etc. However, smoothies are a great way to get in nutrients if you are busy, on the go, and need something quick and convenient, or if you simply enjoy having one!
What I do recommend as a healthy diet for the general population, and one that supports weight loss, is one that emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains or other complex carbohydrates, dairy products or dairy alternatives, seafood, lean proteins, legumes and nuts while reducing red and processed meat, refined grains, and sugary foods and beverages. While also – and these are just some examples – moving more, reducing the amount of calories you eat/eating at a caloric deficit (for weight loss; which means you figure out your Total Daily Energy Requirement (TDEE) – from a professional, or a reputable online site – and eat about 5-600 less than that per day), gaining help and support from a professional if necessary (or even a supportive friend or group), getting adequate sleep, trying to manage stress, working on becoming more organized, and reducing the negativity in your life (weight loss has a psychological component as well, and when we feel better in other aspects of life, we can be more successful in reaching our goals).
Another thing I want you to know, is that you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on shakes per month if you would like to use smoothies/protein shakes. They can be made with as many or little ingredients as you have access to, and still pack an extreme nutrient punch and keep you full until your next meal.
Here is a list of smoothie ingredients to chose from. All you need is at least one from each category (ideally), and you will have a great smoothie!
 
Protein:

  • Plain yogurt
  • Plain, chocolate or vanilla unsweetened milk (cows, goats, almond, soy, cashew, or rice, depending on preference)
  • Plain kefir (high in probiotics)
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Almond butter
  • Tofu
  • Protein powder (whether you go for the most nutritious out there, or a more cost effective one – do what works for you and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it!)
  • Almonds, or any other type of nuts (small amount)

Fruits: (can be fresh or frozen, if fresh it is best to use some ice)

  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Peach
  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Melon
  • Cherries
  • Apricot
  • Pomegranate seeds

Vegetables: (I find these are the best to use)

  • Carrot
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Avocado
  • Cucumber

Flavour and Added Nutrition:

  • Flaxseed
  • Chia seed
  • Hemp hearts
  • Old-fashioned oats (will add complex carbs and fibre to keep you full longer)
  • Spices (e.g., cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cayenne)
  • Vanilla extract
  • Coconut water
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Mint leaves
  • If you must have added sweetness, use a small amount (1 tsp or less) of your choice of sweetener or sugar (however, the fruit, vanilla beverages and extract, and cinnamon will usually add enough): stevia, Splenda, sugar, cane sugar honey, pure maple syrup
  • Completely optional and not necessary if you’re adding your own nutrients, but some other options for added flavor and nutrients are:

Note: blend ingredients in a blender or magic bullet (easiest for cleanup).
 
Tips on Purchasing Smoothie Ingredients:
Any time you make healthy swaps in your pantry, it doesn’t have to happen overnight. You may not be used to buying all of these ingredients, and you may not the means or access to get everything right away. Here are some general tips for stocking up the pantry in general, and for smoothies:

  • Purchase 1-2 new ingredients at a time.
  • Check local flyers for sales. More and more grocery stores are having sales on healthier items such as chia, flax and hemp seeds. There are also apps such as ‘Flipp’ that check local flyers for you when you search for a specific ingredient.
  • The larger you can buy of the item the better (if possible), it will last you longer and give you more time to add other staples to the pantry. However, certain items will also have sample sizes you can buy or find (e.g., Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts small package for $2.99, and Vega One Single Protein Packages for $3.99),
  • Frozen is better for smoothies than fresh in my opinion, as they keep for a long time in your freezer, and won’t go bad in your fridge within the week.
  • Even a smoothie with 5-6 ingredients from the list above (1-2 from each category), will be delicious and nutritious.

For more tips on eating healthy on a budget, see my previous post.
 
Protein Powder Examples:
Vega One (My personal favourite, as it is high in fibre, protein, and many other nutrients; made from all natural, nutritious foods; vegan; gluten-free; 6 servings of greens; also includes probiotics and digestive enzymes)
Kaizen Naturals
Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal
LeanFit Complete Green or Whey Isolate Protein (available in some grocery stores or at Costco)
 
Tips When Choosing a Cost-Effective Protein Powder: 
Look for:

  • Low sugar (ideally 3g or less; make sure it is not top 3 in the ingredient list)
  • Low saturated fat (ideally 1.5g or less)
  • High protein (ideally 15-30g, depending on goals)
  • High fibre (ideally 3-5g)
  • Nutrients such as vitamins and minerals (calcium, vitamin D, iron, magnesium, etc., are an added bonus).
  • Whey Protein Isolate is better than ‘Whey’ only
  • For Vegans: hemp and soy protein powders are great because they contain complete proteins, however, other options such as brown rice protein and pea protein are still great, as long as you are getting other protein sources throughout the day.

 
Smoothie Recipes:
Kale and Berry Power Smoothie
IMG_8067

  • 1/3 cup of blueberries
  • 1/3 cup of strawberries
  • 1/2 cup of spinach or kale leaves (remove the hard parts of the kale stalks)
  • 1/3 of a cup of unsweetened vanilla milk of choice, or water (kefir for greatest nutrition and digestive benefits)
  • 1/3 cup yogurt of choice (Greek for highest protein)
  • 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed
  • 1 tablespoon of hemp powder or seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

 
Chocolate Banana Smoothie
IMG_8072

  • 1/3 cup of unsweetened vanilla milk of choice, or water (kefir for greatest nutrition benefits)
  • 1/3 cup yogurt of choice (Greek for highest protein)
  • 1/2 of a frozen banana
  • 1/2 to 1 scoop protein, or 1-2 tbsp hemp, chia, or flax seeds, or 1-2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

 I hope this helps some of you with making your own smoothies, and not feeling like you have to buy expensive smoothies or products to work towards a healthier lifestyle! 
 
felicia2
Felicia Newell is our Official NEM Nutritionist and has a Bachelor of Science in Applied Human Nutrition, as well as a Master of Science in Applied Human Nutrition. For the past several years, Felicia has worked at a university research centre with a focus on food security, food access, and policies relating to food; she has taught university level nutrition courses; and she is currently working at a large chain grocery store helping her community make healthier choices. One of Felicia’s passions is helping others fight through the confusing misinformation that is out there in the ever-changing and growing world of food and nutrition. Another one of her passions lies in working toward a future where everyone has access to enough affordable, healthy, safe and culturally appropriate food, that is produced, processed and distributed in socially, economically and ecologically sustainable ways. Felicia has published a paper in the Canadian Journal of Public Health titled, ‘Is the Minimum Enough: Affordability of a Nutritious Diet for Minimum Wage Earners in Nova Scotia’.
Read more about her story here, and on her Facebook page, or follow her on Instagram: @felicianewellnutrition. Click here for more NEM experts.
 

Nutrient-Packed, Easy-To-Make, Kid-Approved Chia Seed Jam!

This chia seed jam is delicious, easy to make, and my kids even love it! An excellent source of vitamins, minerals (including iron and calcium), antioxidants and fibre, and a good source of protein and omega 3s…with a bonus of no preservatives and it tastes great.
 
Recipe:
– 4 cups fresh or frozen berries (I used 1 bag of Compliments frozen Jumbleberry Blend)
– 4 tbsp (60 ml) pure maple syrup or other sweetener of choice (I used Compliments organic pure maple syrup)
– 2-4 tbsp of chia seeds, which gel up and provide the jelly consistency (I used 4 tbsp to help soak up the water from the frozen berries, and I used Bobs Red Mill chia seeds)
Directions:
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the berries and maple syrup and bring to a simmer over medium to high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to med-low and simmer for about 5 minutes. Lightly mash the berries with a potato masher or fork, leaving some whole for texture.
2. Stir in the chia seeds until thoroughly combined and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens to your desired consistency, or about 15 minutes.
3. Once the jam is thick, remove the pan from the heat and stir. Add sweetener to taste if desired, but not necessary.
Tip: The jam should keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks and it will thicken even more as it cools.
That’s it! Enjoy! 🙂
Felicia Newell is our Official NEM Nutritionist and has a Bachelor of Science in Applied Human Nutrition, as well as a Master of Science in Applied Human Nutrition. For the past several years, Felicia has worked at a university research centre with a focus on food security, food access, and policies relating to food; she has taught university level nutrition courses; and she is currently working at a large chain grocery store helping her community make healthier choices. One of Felicia’s passions is helping others fight through the confusing misinformation that is out there in the ever-changing and growing world of food and nutrition. Another one of her passions lies in working toward a future where everyone has access to enough affordable, healthy, safe and culturally appropriate food, that is produced, processed and distributed in socially, economically and ecologically sustainable ways. Felicia has published a paper in the Canadian Journal of Public Health titled, ‘Is the Minimum Enough: Affordability of a Nutritious Diet for Minimum Wage Earners in Nova Scotia’.
Read more about her on her Facebook page or follow her on Instagram: @felicianewellnutrition. Click here for more NEM experts.

34 Tasty, Simple, and Quick Breakfast Ideas

 
 
 
 
 
According to the latest Tracking Nutrition Trends report, almost 40% of Canadians skip breakfast. Eating a healthy breakfast has been associated with:
– Lower prevalence of overweight and obesity and reduced weight gain over time
– Improved appetite control which contributes to better choices made throughout the day
– Better intake of nutrients including calcium, vitamin D, potassium and fibre
– Improved energy
– Breaking the fasted state, which in turn reduces fat storage and muscle breakdown (having lean muscle is important for our metabolism and for weight loss)
It’s also important to have a balanced breakfast with healthy sources of protein (especially important for weight loss), carbs, and fats.
Having said all that, many people still do not eat breakfast for various reasons (lack of time, disinterest, lack of habit, lack of hunger, etc.). Time is a big barrier to breakfast eating; most breakfasts are made in 5 minutes or less. Therefore I have put together 34 tasty breakfast ideas, simple make-ahead options and quick grab n’ go breakfasts:

  1. Avocado Toast With Egg

Sometimes, simple is just better. In this recipe, 2 slices of whole-grain bread, lightly toasted, topped with smashed avocado and a sprinkling of salt and pepper makes for a flavourful and rich base. Top that with two sunny-side-up eggs for a healthy dose of protein, and you’ve got a well-rounded breakfast. Stack ’em in a tupperware container for easy transport or cook the yolks a bit more and make the whole thing into a sandwich.

  1. Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Smoothies are a perfect on-the-go snack any time of day. Blend 1 frozen banana, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1 cup almond milk, and a few ice cubes. If this is a morning snack, keep it in a tight-sealing container and throw it in a gym or work bag. For an afternoon boost, prep it the night before and freeze, remove in the morning, and it will be thawed and ready to enjoy after lunch. Tip: Add a scoop of your favorite chocolate or vanilla protein for an extra protein boost.

  1. Zapped Scrambled Eggs With Veggies

Yes, it’s possible to make really good scrambled eggs in the microwave. And it’s easy! Beat 2 eggs, throw in a microwave-safe container, add 1 handful of your favorite veggies (cherry tomatoes and spinach leaves work well), and a sprinkle of cheese. Zap the mixture for 30 seconds, stir, and cook another 30 seconds, or until eggs are solid. Throw a top on the container to eat later, or store the raw mixture in a fridge until ready to heat and eat.

  1. Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

One of the easiest, healthiest, and tastiest breakfasts out there is a classic fruit and yogurt parfait. The best part? It can be made with any toppings you like. Try choosing fruits that are in season for the most flavorful options. (Try stone fruit salad for summer, and opt for apples come fall).

  1. Breakfast Burrito

Who doesn’t love a burrito? Breakfast burritos are a great, easy snack to keep on hand. Scramble 2 egg whites, 1/4 cup black beans, 2 tablespoons salsa, and 2 tablespoons shredded cheese, and wrap in 1 small whole-wheat tortilla. Make a bunch, wrap in foil, and keep in the freezer for whenever the craving hits. Protein from the eggs and black beans keep you fuller longer, and the spicy salsa keeps things interesting.

  1. Healthy Morning Glory Muffins

An oat-based muffin packed with healthy carrots and zucchini, lightly sweetened with raisins and just a pinch of sugar makes a perfect breakfast or snack. Use a mini-muffin tin for smaller portions, and eliminate or cut back on the brown sugar or choose a healthier substitute to cut back on sugar.

  1. Breakfast Quinoa Bites

Here’s a new way to enjoy quinoa: make mini quinoa breakfast quiches! In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups cooked quinoa, 2 eggs, 1 cup your favorite veggies (spinach or zucchini work well), 1 cup shredded cheese, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Portion into a lightly-greased mini muffin tin, and bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes. These are easy to bring along and delicious to enjoy warm or cold.

  1. Fruit and Yogurt Smoothie

Here’s a simple and delicious smoothie recipe for the morning rush. Blend 1 cup plain Greek (or regular) yogurt with 1 cup frozen fruit (banana and berries work very well) with 1/2 cup liquid (milk, juice, coconut water—whatever you like). Freeze overnight and thaw throughout the day to enjoy in the afternoon, or blend up in the morning.

  1. Leftovers n’ Egg

Stuck with last night’s leftovers? Place a scoop of leftover roasted veggies, potatoes, or meat in a container, top with a cracked egg, and heat in the microwave until the egg white is cooked through, 30 to 45 seconds. (Or prep in the oven.) Feeling fancy? Sprinkle with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.

  1. Fruity Breakfast Quinoa

Cooking quinoa in milk (cow, soy, or almond) and adding some sweet spices and fruit makes for a great substitute for classic hot breakfast cereals. Plus, it’s high in protein and essential amino acids like lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. Simply cook quinoa according to package instructions, but substitute milk for water, and add some cinnamon or nutmeg instead of salt and pepper. Top with fresh berries and chopped roasted nuts.

  1. Zucchini Bread Oatmeal

Take a classic baked loaf and make it into oatmeal with this recipe! Adding shredded zucchini to oatmeal is a great way to fit in an extra serving of veggies. Throw on a handful of toasted walnuts or pecans for some added crunch.

  1. Quinoa Fruit Salad

Spice up a plain old fruit cup with a scoop of quinoa. Toss the whole shebang around until the quinoa is evenly distributed through the fruit. Add a scoop of plain yogurt and a drizzle of honey for a little extra body.

  1. Oatmeal Squares

Oatmeal is a great option for a hearty snack or breakfast, but what’s the best way to make it into a more convenient and portable snack? Bake it into squares!

  1. Pumpkin Oatmeal Bowl

A heaping dollop of pumpkin puree is a great way to squeeze in anextra dose of veggies. Plus, the super-orange superfood is packed with nutrients and a healthy dose of fiber. This recipe pairs the pumpkin with quick oats, pumpkin pie spice, and almond milk for a quick and easy breakfast on-the-go.

  1. Ricotta and Tomato Breakfast Sandwich

Here’s a healthier take on the classic breakfast sandwich: Take 2 slices of a hearty whole-grain bread, spread each slice with 1 tablespoon ricotta cheese and sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Add 1-2 hearty slices of fresh beefsteak tomato (blotted with paper towel to remove excess liquid) and enjoy.

  1. Zucchini Muffins

Any way that fits a serving of veggies into a delicious baked good is a winner in my book. These zucchini and banana muffins with flaxseed fit three healthier options into one easy-to-tote package.

  1. Peanut Butter, Banana, and Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Cookies for breakfast? Yes please! While Oreos or Chips Ahoy may not make a balanced breakfast, a homemade cookie made of banana, peanut butter, protein powder, and oats is a wholesome choice. Plus, you can pick and choose what you like to mix—go for almond butter and raisins in one batch, or peanut butter chocolate chip in another.

  1. Waffle PBJ-Wich

Try this sweet take on a classic breakfast sandwich the next time eating on the go. Prepare 1 whole-grain toaster waffle and slice in half. Spread with 2 tablespoons nut butter and layer 2-3 sliced strawberries on top in place of the traditional jelly (to cut down on sugar).

  1. Savory Oatmeal With an Egg

Try taking oatmeal to a whole new level by making it savory. Prepare as usual with milk or water, but add a pinch of salt and pepper instead of any cinnamon or sugar, and top with an over-easy or poached egg. Sprinkle with a little cheese for an extra yummy kick.

  1. Overnight Oats

This is the ultimate lazy-person breakfast. The night before, combine 1/2 cup milk, 1/3 cup rolled oats, 1/2 a banana (mashed), 1/4 cup chopped nuts, and a sprinkle of cinnamon in sealed Tupperware container. By morning, you’ll have delicious overnight oats! These can be heated in the microwave for 1-2 minutes if in the mood for something warm.

  1. Egg and Cheese Cups

Fried eggs are great, but what about baking a whole egg with veggies and cheese and skipping the added oil? Try making a pan of these egg and cheese cups at the beginning of the week and bringing one along each day. (Tip: If you use the individual silicone muffin molds, it makes the egg cups even more portable for on-the-go snacking.)

  1. Homemade Instant Oatmeal

For anyone with a microwave or hot water at their disposal, these customized instant oatmeal packets are fantastic to have on hand. Instead of purchasing pre-made oatmeal packets, assemble your own in Ziploc baggies using whole rolled oats, cinnamon, and mix-ins like raisins and nuts.

  1. Frozen Nutty Banana

Say banan-YEAH to this healthy snack. Cut 1 firm (but ripe) banana in half and un-peal, arrange on a small baking sheet or freezer-safe plate, and spread each half with 1 tablespoon almond butter evenly (on the sides not touching the plate). Here’s the fun part: Stick whatever toppings you like on top of the almond butter—our favorites are granola, chia seeds, or flax seeds and cinnamon. Insert a popsicle stick or skewer into the cut end of each half, and freeze until solid (at least 2-3 hours).

  1. Egg Sandwich

Who doesn’t love a classic egg sandwich? Simply sautée a hefty handful of spinach and fry 2 eggs with a dash of salt and pepper. Place on top 2 whole-wheat English muffin halves (or toast) with 1 slice of cheddar cheese. Wrap in foil so the cheese melts evenly, and enjoy whenever the craving hits!

  1. Chocolate-Banana Breakfast Quinoa

Here’s one healthy way to have chocolate for breakfast: a bowlful of quinoa makes for a protein-rich filling breakfast, and the banana even adds a serving of fruit.

  1. Fruit Soup

There are just two ingredients in this tasty, cool snack: Cold fresh fruit, and cold milk. Chop 1 cup of fruit of your choosing (peaches, plums, berries, and mango are delicious!) and combine in a container with 1 cup milk of choice. Keep chilled until ready to enjoy.

  1. Apple Surprise

This is a perfect pick for apple season, Cut 1 apple in half and remove the core (plus a bit of the extra flesh around the core). Drop 1 tablespoon nut butter between the two holes, and sprinkle in 1 tablespoon granola. Wrap up the whole apple in plastic wrap or foil to save for later, or enjoy as is bite-by-bite.

  1. PBB&C

Say what? A PBB&C is a great twist on the classic PB&J—peanut butter, banana, and chia. Try adding this superfood twist to the classic PB sandwich with 1/2 a banana (sliced) and a sprinkle of chia, which is packed with vitamins and minerals (like six times more calcium than milk!).

  1. Berries and Oats Microwave Muffin

Muffins from the microwave? Yep, it’s possible! Add 1/4 cup quick oats, 1 egg, a handful of berries, and a sprinkling of brown sugar to a mug and mix until evenly combined. Microwave on high for 1 minute, remove to take a look, and keep cooking for 30 seconds at a time until the muffin looks firm.

  1. Strawberry-Banana Quinoa Muffins

By this point, I think the Greatist team believes quinoa makesanything better. So, muffins? It’s a no brainer. Try these strawberry quinoa muffins for an easily-packed snack or breakfast (or after lunch treat).

  1. Pumpkin and Granola Parfait

This one’s perfect to try out as fall sets in. In your favorite small Tupperware container (with a reliable lid!), top plain Greek yogurt with canned pumpkin puree and a handful of granola, then sprinkle with cinnamon. The best part? Pumpkin is a bonafide superfood rich in beta carotene, which is essential for eye health.

  1. Whole-Wheat Banana Blueberry Flax Muffins

At 200 calories each, these hearty, wholesome muffins make for the perfect portable breakfast. Flax lends a healthy dose of fiber andomega-3 fatty acids. Mashed bananas (one of our favorite healthy baking subsitutions) allow for a slight reduction in the added fat and sugar in this recipe, too.

  1. Egg Muffins

Finally, a muffin without all the carbs. Plus, these guys are simple to make. Beat 10 eggs, 1/4 cup chopped onion, 3 handfuls of spinach, 1 shredded zucchini, 1/2 a bell pepper (chopped), 4 slices cooked bacon or ham, chopped, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Divide egg mixture evenly in a lightly-greased muffin tin, and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 F. Zap it for a few seconds in the microwave before serving.

  1. Lemon Poppy Seed Protein Squares

Here’s a healthier take on the classic lemon-poppy seed muffin. Fiber-rich oat flour is paired with vanilla protein powder for a healthy, filling base. Yogurt lends moisture and some fat, and applesauce makes a great substitute for sugar. Vanilla extract, lemon zest, and (of course) make up the rest of the fresh flavor. The best part? One bar comes in at about 54 calories and six grams of protein—much better than any muffin we’ve seen on the shelves lately. Looking for more? Check out what health’s top experts eat for breakfast.
Resources:
1) Canadian Foundation for Dietetic Research. Tracking Nutrition Trends 2013. Available from: http://www.cfdr.ca/Sharing/Tracking-Nutrition-Trends-%28TNT%29.aspx
2) Dietitians of Canada. Are adults who skip breakfast more likely to be overweight or obese than adults who eat breakfast?
In: Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition [PEN]. 2010 February 1 [cited 2014 Jul 25]. Available from: http://www.pennutrition.com/KnowledgePathway.aspx?kpid=15329&pqcatid=144&pqid=8655.
3) Pereira MA et al. Breakfast frequency and quality may affect glycemia and appetite in adults and children. J Nutr. 2011;141:163S-168S.
4) Barr SI, DiFrancesco L. Consumption of breakfast and the type of breakfast consumed are positively associated with nutrient intakes and adequacy of Canadian adults. J Nutr. 2013;143:86-92.
 
Felicia Newell, BScAHN, MScAHN(c), RD(c)
Official NEM Nutritionist
For the past several years, Felicia has been working at a university research centre with a focus on food security (Food Action Research Centre), and has taught university level nutrition courses. Her passion lies in working toward a future where everyone has access to enough affordable, healthy, safe and culturally appropriate food, that is produced, processed and distributed in socially, economically and ecologically sustainable ways. Felicia has recently published a paper in the Canadian Journal of Public Health titled, ‘Is the Minimum Enough: Affordability of a Nutritious Diet for Minimum Wage Earners in Nova Scotia’.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FeliciaNewellNutrition
Instagram: @felicianewellnutrition