Okay, nutritionist confession time...
Sometimes, I just don’t feel like dinner.
Many people have a ‘bad habit’ of skipping breakfast, but my morning meals get a gold star. I usually hop out of bed and make a beeline to the kitchen to brew some coffee and cook an elaborate breakfast. On busy days, I have chia puddings pre-made, waiting in the fridge.
Seriously, if breakfast was a class I would be an A+ student.
Then, life happens…
I’m so lucky that I’m able to do work I love every single day. But this means I often pack my schedule with as many appointments, projects and activities as I can possibly fit in.
Don’t worry, I always make time for a big lunch and some healthy snacks.
But the reality is that by 7PM, I often have no appetite and would rather chill out than cook dinner.
On nights where I’m just not feeling it, I've started whipping up a super nutrient-dense smoothie so that my nutrition game stays strong... even if my cooking game is a little weak.
I know I'm not the only one with this struggle. Everyone has that one meal they find difficult to fit into a busy day.
Today I’m sharing my ultimate formula for creating a smoothie that you can use as a completely acceptable meal replacement… breakfast, lunch, or even dinner.
Step One: Fruits & Veggies
It goes without saying that most of your plate should be fresh fruits and vegetables. So when you are building a power-packed smoothie, try filling your blender with as much nutrient-dense produce as possible. These will act as the complex carbohydrates of your meal.
Choose 2 or 3 from this list, or get creative with your own ideas:
- Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, etc.)
- Swiss Chard
I always have frozen fruits and greens at home for this exact purpose.
Tip: you can usually find frozen spinach nuggets for lot cheaper than fresh spinach. This seriously increases the nutrition bang for your buck, and lets you save your fresh greens for salads.
Step Two: Protein
To keep you full, strengthen your muscles and bones, support your brain and moods, I recommend aiming for 20-30 grams of protein at each meal and your smoothie is no exception.
The easiest way to do this is to find a protein powder you love with at least 20 grams per serving.
My favourite types of protein powder are: cranberry and pea protein, whey concentrate, and collagen. Experiment with different kinds and see what works best for you!
If protein powder isn’t your thing, here are some other ways to get the protein in:
- 3 tablespoons Hemp Seeds = 10 grams
- 1 cup Plain Kefir = 10 grams
- 3 tablespoons Chia Seeds = 9 grams
- 2 tablespoons Peanut Butter = 8 grams
- 1/2 cup White Beans = 8 grams (don't knock it 'til you try it!)
- 2 tablespoons Almond Butter = 7 grams
- 1/4 cup Cashews = 7 grams
- 3 tablespoons Flax Seeds = 6 grams
- 1/4 cup Rolled Oats = 4 grams
Tip: I like to vary my protein sources and also benefit from the fibre and healthy fats found in seeds, so I add about 3 tablespoons of seeds in addition to my protein powder.
Step Three: Fat
Healthy fats can be where smoothie meals fall a little short so don’t skip this step!
Fats are important for ensuring you actually absorb all the nutrients in your smoothie. Fat will also help keep you full, support your hormones, skin and aid in digestion.
Here are some smoothie-friendly sources of fats:
- Nuts or nut butter (peanut, cashew, almond, walnut etc.)
- Seeds or seed butter (hemp, flax, chia, pumpkin etc.)
- Coconut milk (the canned kind)
- Coconut oil
- Seed oil (flax, hemp, or chia)
Tip: some foods on this list do double-duty as a source of plant-based protein, so you can keep that in mind when selecting your combos.
Once your blender is packed with goodness, just add your liquid (water, unsweetened almond milk etc.) and blend it until smooth. Easy peasy.
My Go-To Dinner Smoothie:
1 frozen banana
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1 cup frozen spinach
1 serving protein powder
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon flax seeds
1-2 cups unsweetened almond milk
It might seem unconventional, but this meal is fully loaded with everything your body needs and it’s definitely healthier than take-out!