Shakes and Smoothies for High Octane Nutrition this Summer

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by Natalie Sutherland, BASc Nutrition, BPHE
Vitapath Nutritionist

There are days when it seems like your nutritional energy needs and finding time are inversely related. Your energy crisis days are crammed with things to do and places to go; standing in a kitchen to prepare a meal takes 10 minutes more than you’ve got.

Enter shakes (smoothies, if you prefer). Shakes typically bring infomercials to mind, or terrible-tasting powders dutifully taken after workouts. Your shake, however, can be designed as a balanced meal or snack, liquefied and whipped into a simple frothy delight! It can also be the perfect vehicle for the micro­nutrients and nutritional supplements that you occasionally forget to take (you know, the ones in the cupboard, alongside your best intentions). Many people have also used specific ingredients in shakes to kick their coffee habit and have long-lasting energy all day.

Smoothies are also great for kids, as long as the nutrients are balanced and aren’t full of simple sugars from fruit juices or sweetened yogurt. It’s also a good idea to have them two hours away from a meal if the shake is not replacing it. They are bright and colourful, and a great disguise for ingredients full of fibre and antioxidants. Kids can also play mix-master and make the shake themselves.

Before you try a recipe on your own, there are some pitfalls to avoid. Making smoothies too sweet can add unnecessary sugar and calories to your diet. Be aware of how much fruit (1-2 cups is usually plenty) you add. If adding any fats, such as peanut butter or oils, make sure to measure the amount – one tablespoon is usually 100 calories. Also, choose healthier oils with no hydrogenated fat. Overall, try to use organics fruits and vegetables, and non-GMO fats, proteins, and supplements. Your ingredients in priority sequence are:

A thickener or a liquid – use to add volume to your shake and give it your preferred texture (kefir, crushed ice or water, fruits with soluble fibre add a smooth texture).

A nutrient-dense addition of your choice – spinach, kale, and swiss chard are dark leafy greens that provide fibre, antioxidants, and glutathione which supports the liver in cleansing the body. For extra energy, maca powder and soaked chia seeds (that form a gel) provide a lasting kick.

A sweetener – bananas have the magical power to erase bitter tastes and create a smooth texture. Mangoes can also provide sweetness. Agave syrup is sweeter than sugar, so less is required. Stevia leaf provides a calorie-free sweetness without a chemical cocktail.

Post-workout meal/drink: Focus on having about 20-40g of protein and 30-80g of carbohydrates.
Blueberry or plain kefir
½ cup pineapple
Whey protein isolate sweetened with stevia
2 Tbsp of soaked chia seeds (soak whole seed in water for 15 minutes before blending)

Meal replacement for weight loss:
½ tsp cinnamon and/or 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup of spinach and ½ a banana
1 scoop of unsweetened protein powder (approx 150 cal)
2 Tbsp of soaked chia seeds (soak whole seed in water for 15 min before blending)
1 cup water

Whatever concoction you devise, make sure that you enjoy it. You can use websites like or to calculate the specs on your inventions. Have fun!

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