Trying to hit your health and weight loss goals? There is hope, and it's at the bottom of your blender: a morning smoothie is a quick and easy way to tick a few important healthy eating boxes (all while still in your PJs).
Shop-bought smoothies tend to be high in sugar, but by making your own you can ensure you balance out the natural sugar from fruit with nutrient-packed greens, protein and other powerful ingredients for a hit of all of your essential vitamins and minerals.
We enlisted the help of nutritionists Joanne Reid Rodrigues and Zoe Stirling for their top tips on tailoring smoothie recipes to fill your nutritional gaps:
Carrot and ginger
- 8 large carrots
- 1 large piece of fresh root ginger, finely sliced
- 1tsp turmeric
- Dash of black pepper
★ Health benefits: perfect for an immunity boost!
★ Expert verdict: 'Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which the body turns into vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent infections,' says Reid Rodrigues. 'They're also rich in carotenoids, which give them their strong orange colour – carotenoids are antioxidants that help protect the cells and boost our immune system and they also squelch free radicals and lower the risk of cancer.'
'Ginger helps settle an upset stomach and is healing to the throat – a wonderful aid for teachers, singers, and speakers,' she adds. 'Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and black pepper is thought to increase the absorption of turmeric into the body.'
Avocado and chia seeds
- 1 medium banana
- Handful seedless grapes
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- Half an avocado
- 300 ml light almond milk
★ Health benefits: Cheat that coffee fix with this instant pick-me-up!
★ Expert verdict: 'This smoothie will boost your mood, thanks to the amino acid tryptophan in the chia seeds and banana, and the vitamin B3 in the chia seeds and avocado,' says Reid Rodrigues.
'Vitamin B3 and tryptophan create the pathway for serotonin production, a neurotransmitter that boosts mood. This shake is ideal for anyone who needs a lift first thing in the morning, or even during that 4pm slump. Serotonin also helps us enjoy better quality sleep, so this is a great drink for those who have trouble sleeping too.'
Watermelon and banana
- 340 g sliced watermelon
- 115 g strawberries
- 170 g low sugar Greek Yogurt
- Sprig of mint (stirred through after blending)
★ Health benefits: Heartburn and morning sickness.
★ Expert verdict: 'Quick and easy to prepare, this refreshing drink aids digestion. Watermelon is known to be effective for some women in alleviating morning sickness and nausea in pregnancy,' says Reid Rodrigues.
'Plus, it hydrates and alkalizes the body, which can reduce symptoms of heartburn,' she adds. 'The natural sugars in both the watermelon and strawberries lessen nausea for some people, and the protein in the yogurt helps satiate the appetite and help energy levels.'
Berries and seeds
- 8 oz raspberries
- 2 sliced kiwi fruits
- 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- 1 tbsp almonds
- 300 ml light almond milk
★ Health benefits: Keeps you full all morning!
★ Expert verdict: 'Pumpkin seeds are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, which help lift our mood and boost concentration,' says Reid Rodrigues. 'Raspberries and almonds are a good source of the mineral zinc, which is a necessary component in thyroid synthesis and is required for energy.'
'Kiwi fruits are a rich source of vitamin C, which boosts our immune system and is also required for constant energy,' she adds. 'You'd find this drink has more nutrients than some shop bought sandwiches, which means it's satisfying and will boost your energy.'
Beetroot and flaxseed
- 250ml apple juice
- 115g blueberries
- 115g strawberries
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 20g beetroot
- 1 tsp wheatgrass
★ Health benefits: The ideal hangover cure!
★ Expert verdict: 'Beetroot stimulates production of liver detoxifying antioxidants to help neutralise and help excrete last night's toxins,' says Stirling.
'Similarly, wheatgrass is thought to be a natural detoxifier due to its chlorophyll content and other phytonutrients,' she adds. 'Natural sugars from fruit provides the liver with energy to get to work doing its job – a healthier alternative to a can of coke!'
Honey and banana
- 250ml almond milk
- 20g hemp protein
- 1 tbsp almond butter
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp cacao
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 frozen banana
★ Health benefits: Perfect for post morning workout!
★ Expert verdict: 'This is great after exercise to help replenish glycogen (energy) stores with natural sugars, it contains vegan protein to repair and rebuild muscles after exercise sessions,' says Stirling.
'It also contains antioxidants from cacao – the purest form of cocoa – while cinnamon contains natural compounds thought to assist with managing blood sugar balance and supporting energy levels,' adds Stirling. 'Frozen banana is much nicer in smoothies than unfrozen varieties as it gives the smoothie a nice creamy texture.'