Photo by freshfruitdaily.com

Fruit smoothies have become one of my favourite breakfasts. They’re quick and easy to make, I can keep a pitcher of it in the fridge for the whole week or make one serving at a time. They’re easy to digest, vitamin loaded, quick morning energy that keeps me full much longer than toast or cereal.

I’m not a fan of protein powders, I really hate bananas and I’m not a dairy eater (pretty much the three most common smoothie ingredients) so I’ve had to make some creative alterations to get enough of the protein and nutrients that make smoothies so great.

The Food Revolution website has a great starter-smoothie recipe that’s pretty easy to manipulate to your own tastes. Personally, I like to swap the ice cubes for extra frozen fruit and prefer Greek yogurt to plain (if I use yogurt at all) and soy or almond milk in place of the dairy.

Those are some of the more obvious substitutes, but did you know that avocado is a fantastic replacement for bananas? (About half an avocado per banana) They’re loaded with nutrients and give that nice creamy texture. Avocados have kind of a bad rap for being high in fat, but do keep in mind that you’re not using a lot and it’s the good fat your body needs anyway.

Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. They also act as a “nutrient booster” by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein, in foods that are eaten with the fruit.*

While we’re talking texture, a tablespoon or two of your favourite nut butter works well for thickening and is also good source of protein.

Now, here’s the sneaky part; you can get a full serving of your daily greens in there without really tasting it.

My friend Andie turned me on to adding kale to smoothies (which actually inspired the “Kale Nog” joke last Christmas). It takes a little getting used to and you have to ease yourself in (seriously, like one or two leaves at a time) so that the taste doesn’t overpower, but it’s really worth it. Kale is a super food,(a big one) and it never hurts to get more of those in a day.

If you can’t handle kale, a few handfuls of fresh spinach are great and go unnoticed, but as far as smoothie-greens go, in my opinion, you can’t beat fresh parsley (especially if you like carrot juice in your mix). Parsley is one of the most underrated greens as it’s been relegated to garnish-status. It’s an excellent source of vitamins K, C, A, folate, iron, pretty tasty and loaded with antioxidants for almost no calories**. How can you go wrong?!

Happy Blending!

*From the California Avocado Commission.
** From WHfoods.org.