We rarely go a week without making a smoothie, and during the warmer months, our trusty Vitamix blender gets a daily workout. Just like with juicing, my kids love helping out and trying different food and flavor combinations. In an effort to pack a nutritional punch and add some more variety to our smoothie flavor rotations, I looked into some popular superfood ingredients. The term "superfood" gets thrown about without many rules or restrictions, and we realize that incorporating these ingredients into your diets won't necessarily mean immediate and amazing overall health. However, including ingredients such as spirulina, acai berries, hemp and flax seeds, chia, and goji berries, are a fun way to introduce your family to some new foods that offer a variety of nutritional benefits. Healthy smoothies like these can be a great way to keep kids hydrated and help with digestion, and the ingredients are much less processed than those on your average cereal box or snack container. The smoothie recipes, each of which makes one serving, can also be adapted to your taste: if you like your smoothies thinner, add another few tablespoons of milk, for example, or try making them with a little agave or honey or a different liquid sweetener. Have fun playing in the kitchen and whip up these superfood smoothies to sip on all spring and summer long!
1. Acai flax
Berries, in general, are a good source of antioxidants, and acai berries have sky high levels. Acai berries are also popular for boosting energy and are thought to promote skin health. Flax seeds have been touted for a variety of health benefits, including being heart healthy and potentially reducing the risk of breast cancer or diabetes. A natural source of Omega 3s, flax seed works best when freshly ground just before adding it to a recipe. Acai berry blends are conveniently available from the freezer section in health food stores for a speedy, healthy smoothie base.
- 1 packet frozen acai berry blend (rinsed under warm water for 5 seconds according to instructions)
- 1/3 cup frozen berries (I used blueberries, but any will do!)
- 3/4 cup to 1 cup non-dairy milk
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp ground flax seeds
Put all the ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. I also think this recipe would be delicious if you swap out some of the non-dairy milk for a non-dairy vanilla or plain yogurt.
2. Chocolate hemp seed
Who doesn’t love a chocolate smoothie? This superfood smoothie could be a healthy dessert treat just as easily as it could be a beloved breakfast (which it certainly is in our house). Raw cacao has been given numerous accolades on account of its antioxidant and nutrient profile, including mood and cardiovascular benefits. I prefer raw cacao (or cocoa powder) because it tastes delicious, is less processed, and hasn’t had sugar or anything else added to it. Hemp seeds provide fiber, protein, and a dose of healthy fats. Blended with a nut butter such as almond or peanut butter, this creamy, dreamy smoothie should keep you filling satiated for hours.
- 1 banana, chopped and frozen
- 1 Tbsp raw cocoa or cacao nibs
- 1/ 2 cup- 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 2 tsp hemp seeds
- 1/2 Tbsp nut butter (I used almond)
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Top, if desired, with a few additional cacao nibs and serve.
3. Spirulina mango coconut
A tropical getaway in a glass. Spirulina earns its superfood title by being a surprisingly good source of protein as well as calcium and iron, but it can have a bit of a smell, so don’t go dumping spoonfuls into your smoothie just yet. Mango, high in Vitamins A and C, is a sweet treat, so it makes a perfect balance with the spirulina. Add some shredded coconut for taste and texture, and you’ve got a great, healthy way to begin your day.
- 3/4 cup non-dairy milk (coconut milk would be great here!)
- 1/2 tsp -1 tsp spirulina
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
- 2 tsp dried shredded coconut
- 1-1/2 tsp maple syrup
Place all ingredients in a blender and whizz together until well-blended. Top with a little dried shredded coconut, if desired, and enjoy immediately.
4. Cultured yogurt and kiwi
Kiwis may not strike you as the most likely superfood, but this fruit salad staple is jam-packed with vitamins and nutrients, especially Vitamins A, C, and E. Cultured non-dairy yogurts (such as almond or coconut-based brands) contain probiotics which help with digestive health. Another option would be to use kefir, a fermented milk product that is also full of probiotics and is available in vegan versions as well. This yogurt and kiwi combo make for a creamy, tangy confection with just a pop of sour flavor. If you use vanilla flavored yogurt, you may not even need the maple syrup.
- 1 container (6 oz) plain or vanilla cultured yogurt (such as coconut)
- 2 kiwis, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 banana, chopped and frozen (optional, the banana makes the smoothie even creamier and mellows the tartness of the smoothie, but it’s still yummy without!)
- 1-2 tsp maple syrup
Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy. Serve immediately.
5. Cherry chocolate chia (aka Black Forest Chia)
Black forest cake is made with chocolate and cherries, and I figured this flavor combo would taste yummy as a smoothie as well. Raw cacao powder makes an appearance in this smoothie as well. Frozen cherries add a delicious tartness and color to the smoothie as well as antioxidants; cherries have also been shown to reduce inflammation! Finally, chia has become a superfood mainstay. It’s a low calorie seed that’s high in protein and fiber and calcium. Soak the chia seeds in the milk for about 10-15 minutes before adding to the blender.
- 3/4 cup-1 cup non-dairy milk
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1/2 banana, chopped and frozen
- 1/2 cup frozen cherries
- 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 1-2 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Put all ingredients in a blender and mix until creamy. Say hello to your new favorite dessert smoothie.
6. Goji banana kale
There’s no getting around the fact that this smoothie is an ugly duckling. Let’s move on and love it for its inner beauty: it’s a banana/berry/greens smoothie that is filling and refreshing. Goji berries have been around for eons, which makes sense if you’re thinking survival of the superfoods fittest. Goji berries are great for your skin since they contain beta-carotene. They have also been associated with everything from serving as an immunity booster to improving digestion. Kale has definitely seen its day in the superfood sun, but don’t snub it just because it’s popular — it’s packed with protein and absorbable iron and calcium. If you’re looking for a milder green for this smoothie, try spinach instead.
- 1 banana, chopped and frozen
- 2 large kale leaves, ripped from the stem
- 2 Tbsp goji berries, soaked in water for about 15 minutes to soften
- 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
- 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp frozen berries (I used blueberries)
- 2 tsp maple syrup, or as desired
Whiz in a blender and enjoy immediately!