Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right?
While there’s been an ongoing debate over the years about whether that’s true, one thing’s for sure – if you’re going to have breakfast, you should make it a good one. As breakfast is the first thing to hit your stomach in the morning, it should energise you, nourish your body and set you up for stable energy levels throughout the day. On the flip side, a bad breakfast will cause your energy levels to spike and then crash, which will leave you feeling tired, lethargic and craving sugar, not to mention reaching for a caffeine pick-me-up all day.
Smoothies are a fantastic way to start the day. But as a nutritionist, I see a lot of smoothies out there that tip away from a virtuous jar of green goodness and lean more towards what’s essentially just a tall glass of sugar.
So, what exactly is a good breakfast? We’re about to break down how to make the perfect breakfast smoothie…every single time.
You could have guessed this would be first on the list! Without adequate protein at breakfast, not only will you find you’re hungry within a couple of hours, but you may also find it difficult to concentrate on your morning tasks. Protein triggers the release of hunger-crushing hormones, so if you find yourself dreaming about food before it’s even mid-morning coffee time, make sure to add some high-quality protein to your brekkie. Additionally, if you’re a morning exerciser, protein is vital to give your body the recovery it needs.
If protein powders are your thing, make sure you go for the most natural possible – avoid the ones packed with artificial sweeteners and an ingredients list that looks more like a science experiment. Instead, reach for one with a small ingredients list and only natural sweeteners. My favourite proteins are whey, pea, brown rice or hemp.
That said, by no means are protein powders essential for the perfect smoothie. If you’re not into powders or don’t want to fork out half your salary for a tub of protein, reach for one of these instead:
• 1 or 2 raw eggs
• 1 tablespoon peanut butter
• 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
• A generous dollop of Greek or natural yoghurt.
When it comes to yoghurt, all brands and types differ, so if you’re looking to really boost that protein, opt for a brand that has between 8 and 12 grams of protein per 100 grams. The bonus is that you get a hit of probiotics and it makes your smoothie extra creamy too!
Where smoothies win over juices is in the fibre. When you juice fruit and veggies, you lose all the natural fibre which is oh-so-important to slow the rate of digestion and keep you full until lunch. Additionally, fibre reduces the rate at which glucose is absorbed by the small intestine, so you won’t get a sudden influx of sugar into the system which your body then has to tackle.
“As we all know, the aim of breakfast is to keep you full and satisfied.”
While there are many fibre supplements, it’s best to go for natural whole food sources before supplementation – plant foods are packed with fibre after all! Broccoli, lentils and Brussels sprouts are all excellent sources…but I’m not so sure about packing those into a breakfast smoothie! So, what’s best for your blender?
• Chia seeds – 20 grams will provide a whopping 6.8 grams of fibre
• Fruit – raspberries are my favourite, with 4 grams of fibre in ½ cup
• Avocado – approximately 6 grams of fibre in just half an avocado.
To put these numbers into context, the recommendation sits at 30 grams of fibre a day for men and 25 grams for women.
Check out this Daily Fibre and Greens Jar.
As we all know, the aim of breakfast is to keep you full and satisfied. Adding a quality fat to your smoothie is going to do just that. Without it, you’ll find you’re hanging out for lunch (we’ve all been there!). If you’ve followed the tips above, your smoothie will already have some satiating fats in it – eggs, peanut butter, seeds and avocado are brilliant sources of healthy fats too. But here are some other tasty options:
• 2 teaspoons coconut butter
• 1 teaspoons coconut oil
• Nuts and seeds.
Soaked cashews are a staple ingredient in my smoothies as they add some creaminess too!
Bulk it up
No one likes a watery smoothie. Luckily, an easy way to thicken and bulk up a smoothie is with frozen fruit – you can’t go wrong with banana, mango or berries (or even a combination of all!). But remember, it can be super easy to go into sugar overload with these ingredients. Berries are the lowest sugar option – but as for the other two, stick to no more than one banana per serve (½ is even better) or ⅓ cup of mango pieces per serve.
For those of you who are really keen on reducing the sugar in your brekkie even further, go for frozen zucchini and cauliflower. Yep, this may sound strange but give it a go before you turn your nose up! Since you’ll miss out on the sweetness that the fruit brings, a touch of sugar-free sweetener like Nuvia works a treat in these recipes.
Check out this Creamy Cashew Cookie Bowl.
Now, this is where a lot of mistakes can be made (fruit juice, I’m looking at you). Highly processed and high in sugar, fruit juice really has nothing good to offer. My advice? Avoid it and go for these options instead:
• Milk of your choice – dairy, oat milk, rice milk, nut milk, coconut milk
• Coconut water – you’ll get a subtle sweetness and oh-so-fresh taste. Plus, you get an
electrolyte hit too (perfect if you’ve just finished a sweaty workout)
• Water – yep, sometimes simple is best.