The goal of these smoothies is to add protein to the diet to help with healing. However, there is much more to the nutritional value and safety of these smoothies than just the protein. As a physician, I would be remiss if I did not point out the healthiest products for these smoothies – to the best of my knowledge. This is particularly important if this is something that a person is consuming on a daily basis for a prolonged period of time. If I’m recommending that you consume something once or twice a day for a couple of months, or more, it better be completely healthy!
I’ll discuss the various products I’m recommending below, and the rationale for their recommendation. Of course, the healthiest products are the most expensive, and I’m sorry that is the case. You can certainly modify the ingredients as you wish, but I am focusing on health, not finance. But, just to keep this in perspective, even with the most expensive ingredients, the cost per smoothie is most likely less than $5.00. At Starbucks a Grande Latte costs $5.25 at this time.
My recommendation is Super Simple Grassfed Protein-Vanilla. There are many different protein powders on the market, but the one in the recipe is composed of high quality protein, and provides 20 grams of protein in one scoop of powder. The fact that it is from grass fed cows indicates that it is of the highest quality, and has the safest omega fats, and has no sugars. It only has 5 ingredients: collagen, vanilla flavor, salt, stevia and monk fruit, and only 100 calories. It is a product that is marketed by Dr Mark Hyman, a physician I personally know and trust.
Another option is Health Code Creamy Vanilla. (also available in Macadamia Chocolate). This is describes as more of a “meal” with 27 gms of protein, 400 calories, and contains fiber and some vitamins as well, with very little carbohydrates. This has been created by a metabolic research scientist, Dr. Ben Bikman, who is well respected in the Functional Medicine and nutrition fields. The amount of vitamins in this product are fairly modest compared to my vitamin recommendations, and taking this along with my vitamin and supplement regimen would not be a problem.
If you have no dairy intolerance, it is reasonable to use cow’s milk as the liquid in these smoothies. However, milk from grass-fed cows is superior regarding the safety of the omega fats, and organic is the safest. Otherwise, the nutritional values are similar.
This is an excellent substitute for cow’s milk for anyone who is trying to decrease their dairy product intake. However, not all almond milk products are identical. The key issues are the nutritional value, food additives, and whether they are organic. Some almond milk’s have very little actual almonds, which can be measured by looking at the fat and protein content of the milk. If you are seeing a fat content of 2 grams per serving, and protein of <1 gm – you are basically buying almond flavored water. Elmhurst Unsweetened Milked Almonds has 11 gms of fat and 4 gms of protein, and Three Trees Original Almond Milk is organic, and has 9 gms of fat and 4 gms of protein – indicating that many more almonds were actually used in creating the product.
The frozen fruit makes this taste very good and adds fiber, and there are lots of flavors to choose from. However, many of the types of fruits that are used in smoothies are the worst when it comes to containing chemicals and pesticides. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) creates a list of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables each year, and in 2023 strawberries, peaches, cherries, and blueberries are all on the Dirty Dozen list. Even if you have not converted your diet to mostly organic produce, you should certainly be careful with the products on the dirty dozen. The EWG also has a list of the Clean Fifteen fruits and vegetables, which are safer to eat even if not organically produced, and pineapple and mango are on that list. BTW- bananas are considered intermediate in this regard, and are not on either list
From the Environmental Working Group: “Typically, at least one pesticide is found on about 70 percent of the non-organic produce USDA tests, EWG has found.
Pesticides are toxic by design. They are created expressly to kill living organisms – insects, plants and fungi that are considered “pests.”
Many pesticides also pose health dangers to people. These risks have been confirmed by independent scientists and physicians around the world, in addition to U.S. and international government agencies. The potential health problems connected to pesticides include brain and nervous system toxicity, cancer and hormone disruption.”
Yogurt makes these smoothies very nice and creamy and is a good addition. However, there may be no single product in the grocery store that has so many varieties! Some are very healthy, and some would honestly be classified as “junk food”. So, which one to use?
The healthiest options:
It may take some searching through the yogurt aisle to find these, and you can ignore how healthy the labels say the products are! Here are two that I think are healthy options:
Stonyfield Organic 100% Grassfed Greek Whole Milk Yogurt, Plain. This has 16 gms of protein in a 3/4 cup serving and 5 gms of sugar, and has live active cultures as a probiotic.
Siggi’s Icelandic Plain Whole Milk Yogurt. This has 18 gms of protein, 5 gms of sugar and live active cultures. It is not certified organic.
Skyr Icelandic Whole Milk Plain Yogurt. This has 15 gms of protein, 0 gms of sugar, and live active cultures. It is not certified organic.
There are other brands that meet all the criteria, and some are only available in local markets, but the main things to remember are: no added sugar (no “fruit on the bottom”!), high protein, grass-fed, organic (if possible).