Building a Better Breakfast Smoothie + My Red Revitalizer
In case you haven’t seen the twelve kajillion photos in your social media feeds, smoothies are kind of the rage. Overload? Maybe, but as a dietitian it’s hard to argue with something that promotes increased fruit and vegetable intake.
And when the days are sweltering — as they are here from April to November — mornings are sluggish and sticky. An ice-cold breakfast in a tall frosty glass is next to heavenly. Super-cooling on the stomach, with enough oomph to get and keep my butt in gear.
Smoothie for the win.
So what makes a smoothie breakfast-worthy?
After seven, eight, nine+ hours of sleep, your body is in serious need of nourishment. Breakfast — breaking the overnight fast — is how we replenish our depleted nutrient stores and provide fuel for the day. Smoothies, done right, can be a delicious means to this end.
The best bet for a smoothie meant to be breakfast in itself is to balance all that vibrant, fresh produce with a good amount of protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrate and fiber. Not only will it satisfy your morning needs, the balance of nutrients will rev up your metabolism, provide long-lasting physical and mental energy, and keep you from hurtling along the energy-spike-then-crash roller coaster.
Your body is also dehydrated in the morning. While the fruit and veg are naturally hydrating, I typically aim to double up and opt for water as the liquid base. If I feel like an additional hit of calcium and protein, I can add a few spoons of yogurt or cottage cheese, a splash of cow or unsweetened non-dairy milk, a small chunk of soft tofu, or a tablespoon of almond butter or sesame tahini.
Made with grapefruit, carrot, celery, beet, ginger, seeds, and oat bran, my Red Revitalizer smoothie is definitely breakfast-worthy, and is full of potent health benefits. Look at that color — you just know it has to be good.
What’s in it for me?
Grapefruit is a vitamin C rock star, with one-half of a medium fruit providing over 50% of your daily needs. Grapefruit is also an excellent source of the antioxidant compound lycopene known for its potential to reduce risk of cancer, particularly prostate.
An excellent source of filling dietary fiber — promoting decreased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease — pears contain antioxidant flavonols and flavanols, eye-protective carotenoids, and the potentially anti-cancer phytonutrients called cinnamic acids.
The red beet is one powerful root vegetable. It’s amazingly rich in cancer-fighting, inflammation-lowering compounds called betalains, which is also the pigment responsible for the beet’s vibrant hue. Beets are also a good source of fiber, iron, manganese, and vitamin C. For the ladies planning for pregnancy or who are currently expecting, beets contain high amounts of folate, which is important for prevention of birth defects and lower birth weights.
Seeds are good for more than just protein (but they aren’t slouches there). Sunflower seeds add antioxidants that may help lower cholesterol, protect against cardiovascular disease, and decrease risk for certain cancers. Pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) are loaded with iron, as well as zinc, which supports immune function and is good for hair, skin and eye health. The flaxseeds provide the added benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber for improved digestive function.
Maybe you’re having a hard time seeing past the word beet. Let me assure you that this smoothie does not taste beet-y. Nor does it taste like mud, farm, dirty socks, or whatever other beet-bashing adjective you’re partial to. The fruits and even the beet itself (they’re called ‘sugar beets’ for good reason) provide more than enough natural sweetness.
Come on, could you really say no to something so pretty and pink? Give beets a chance.
Tell me… What’s going on in your blender? Think you’ll give the Red Revitalizer a whirl?
- 1/2 small grapefruit, peel and seeds removed, broken into sections
- 1 small pear, cored and coarsely chopped, depending on desired sweetness (fresh or frozen; see HGN Notes)
- 1 large or 2 small carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 large or 2 small stalks celery, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium or 2 small cooked beets, skin removed and coarsely chopped, to yield 1/2 to 3/4 cup (fresh or frozen; see HGN Notes)
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, skin removed and coarsely chopped
- 3 Tbsp rolled oats OR oat bran
- 2 Tbsp raw pepitas
- 2 Tbsp raw sunflower seeds
- 2 Tbsp ground flaxseeds
- 2 cups water, plus more as needed (see HGN Notes)
- 4 to 5 ice cubes, about 1 cup (if you use frozen beets and/or fruit, you may not need as much ice -- start with 2 to 3 cubes or 1/2 cup, and add more as needed)
- Add all of the ingredients into a high-powered blender, in the order listed in the recipe for best results -- hard stuff last! (If adding any one of the items in the HGN Notes to increase protein/calcium, like yogurt or tofu, go ahead and add it now as well.) Blend on HIGH until smooth, and add more water as needed to reach desired consistency.
- Pour into two glasses, and enjoy! If making the full recipe for one person, freeze the remaining half of the smoothie in a tightly sealing jar for drinking at a later time.
When beets and pears are in season (and on sale!), buy a good amount. Steam the beets or roast them whole in a bit of water, peel off the skin, slice or chunk, and freeze on wax paper-lined trays overnight. Quickly transfer the frozen pieces to a resealable bag or container, and freeze until needed. Do the same with slices of fresh pear.
Canned beets are also fine, if needed. Look for low- or no-salt-added versions, and be sure to give them a quick rinse before chunking them up. This will reduce the amount of sodium by as much as 40 percent. Freeze these the same as the fresh.
+ Feel free to swap the pepitas and sunflower seeds for your favorite unsalted nuts. Nut or seed butter is also good, and will increase creaminess. (If increasing calcium is on your radar, opt for sesame seeds and almonds.)
+ Per serving, this smoothie contains about 6 g protein -- to give it a boost, you can add a few tablespoons 2% or whole fat plain yogurt, cottage cheese, silken tofu, cow's milk or an unsweetened non-dairy milk. Bonus hit of healthy fats and calcium with all of these options (if the nut/seed/soy milk is fortified)!
+ Switch up the fruit to whatever is in season (or whatever is in your freezer). Try 1 small orange, a handful of kumquats, or a blood orange instead of the grapefruit; and/or 1 small apple, peach or plum, a handful of berries (strawberries are a great partner for the beets), fresh figs or pitted cherries instead of the pear.
+ Have leftover cooked grains on hand? Replace the oat bran/raw rolled oats with a couple spoonfuls of cooked quinoa, brown rice, millet, oats or other favorite.
+ No flaxseeds? Go for chia seeds, or even toss in 1/4 to 1/2 of an avocado for healthy fats and fiber.
An HGN original recipe.
+ + + +
p.s. I love hearing from you! Check back if you ask a question, because I’ll answer it here.
And if you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing. Thanks!