Want an energy boost in the morning, or a post-workout refuel? How about a 3pm pick-me-up or after dinner sweet hit? Smoothies are so versatile and offer so much goodness – so here are six ideas for any time, any place.
There’s nothing like a smoothie to start the day, offer a 3pm pick-me-up or satisfy a sweet tooth after dinner. They’re so quick to make (chuck everything in a blender and blitz) and are packed with tonnes of nutrients. Oh, and these smoothie ideas have been put together specifically to improve our mood and energy levels while reducing stress – just what we need at the moment.
While we can’t make lockdown go any faster, getting a gut-full of antioxidants and vitamins can improve our mood. “Amongst other things microbes produce neurotransmitters. These chemicals convey messages from the gut, through the nervous system to the brain – impacting our mood and anxiety levels. 80% of our serotonin (our happy hormone) is produced in the gut, so the healthier the gut the more emotionally resilient we are,” explains GP Dr Clare Bailey.
Go for plant-based milks if you’re dairy-free and swap out honey for maple syrup for a totally plant-based offering.
1. Coffee and banana smoothie
Benefits: Energy and mood-boosting
We all know that coffee can wake us up but various studies have also found that caffeine can elevate our production of the feel-good chemicals serotonin and dopamine – meaning that a little shot of espresso can make us feel happier and ready to face the world. This smoothie also has plenty of vitamin B6 – another mood-busting nutrient – thanks to the banana. The fact that it’s frozen will make this into more of a “nice-cream” texture.
- 1 frozen banana (in chunks)
- 8g chia seeds
- 125ml coconut water
- 1 tsp ground almonds
- 1 shot of espresso
2. Berry and oat smoothie
Benefits: Sunlight and happiness booster
Did you know that vitamin D is the only supplement that the NHS recommends for all Brits? Between about October and May, we just don’t get enough strong sunlight to absorb the necessary levels so it’s important that we supplement and eat foods also high in vitamin D. If you drink dairy, milk is packed full of vitamin D, which is important for fighting off symptoms of depression. The oats in this smoothie are also a great prebiotic, meaning that it’s a fuel for our gut bacteria. Happy gut, happy, calm brain.
- 1 banana
- 1 tbsp oats
- 80g blueberries
- 150ml milk (plant-based or dairy)
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
3. Banana and berry smoothie
Benefits: Healthy digestion and immunity-boosting
Fermented foods are rich in probiotic bacteria, meaning that they add friendly bacteria and enzymes to your gut which in turn makes your digestive and immune system healthier and more robust. Our guts is where lots of happy hormones are made, so by keeping the bacteria there replenished every day, we can look forward to being in a good mood (at least until your first Zoom call of the day!).
Honey contains tryptophan, a building block of serotonin – another mood booster. With all the sweetness of sugar, honey has been a key part of traditional medicines for generations because of its antioxident and antiviral profile.
- 2 tbsp plain yoghurt (plant-based or dairy)
- 3 handfuls frozen strawberries
- 2 bananas, chopped
- 300ml milk (plant-based or dairy)
- 2 tsp honey
4. Peanut butter and banana smoothie
Benefits: Anxiety reducing
Nuts and legumes provide a heady mix of energy-boosting protein and satisfying healthy fats. There’s also some evidence to suggest that a regular consumption of nuts can reduce your risk of anxiety. A 2016 study of over 13,000 people found that eating nuts could potentially prevent symptoms of depression, while some research published just last year found that regular nut/legume consumption was associated with a 66% lower risk of anxiety in men (as yet, no body of research to suggest the same is true of women but like any of us need an excuse to eat nut butter…!).
- 2 bananas, broken into chunks
- 400ml milk
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 tbsp honey (or to taste)
- 2 scoops of ice cubes
5. Almond and berry smoothie
Benefits: cell strengthening and calm promoting
Blueberries are rich in an antioxidant known as flavonoids – the nutrients responsible for activating the brain pathways associated with slowing down the aging process. In fact, some studies have found that eating blueberries can improve mood within just two hours of eating them because of those powerful flavonoids. They also feed good gut bacteria, play an important inflammatory role in the body and go some way to fighting insulin resistance. So, they really are a powerful food!
- 1 handful of frozen blueberries
- 1 banana
- 200ml of almond milk
- 1 tbsp almond butter
Add water gradually if too thick
6. Orange and turmeric smoothie
Benefit: Bloat-busting and immunity-boosting
Turmeric has long been used by communities for around 4,000 years for its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s been to soothe digestive systems and calm arthritic joints, with modern lab studies revealing that the root is a “potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, antimicrobial and anticancer agent.”
Add onto that the fact that this smoothie has a load of vitamin C from oranges, beta carotene from the carrot and a zingy piece of ginger (a “carminative” – a substance that promotes the elimination of excessive gas from the digestive system), and you’ve got a pretty powerful drink on your hands!
- 2 oranges, quartered and peeled
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
- 1 tsp powdered turmeric
- 1 pinch of black pepper
Image and recipe courtesy of exante.
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Miranda Larbi is a freelance fitness and wellness journalist, and qualified personal trainer. When she’s not finding new vegan places to eat, she can be found training for the next marathon or cycling across London on a Tokyo bike.