photo credit Hummusapien

Smoothies are an awesome way to get in a variety of fruits, veggies, vitamins and minerals all in one convenient drink. You may enjoy sipping these blended beverages between meals, but have you tried having one as your meal? While it might seem like there’s no way a smoothie on its own will fill you up, there are actually a number of healthy and delicious ways to make upgrade your beverage so that it provides a substantial amount of calories, all three macronutrients, fiber and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Sounds like the perfect breakfast on a busy morning, right?

Here are 5 easy ways to take your smoothie to the next level:

1. Oats: Oats in a smoothie? Yep! They actually blend really well with liquid and add a wonderful thickness to the beverage. Oats are a source of whole grains that provide dietary fiber, which like protein and fat, helps slow down digestion time of carbs and absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. Half a cup of oats adds 4 grams of fiber, about 20% of your daily requirement. Grab this Black Forest Smoothie recipe from Running with Spoons.

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2. Chia Seeds: Have you tried them? They’ve only become popular in the past 10 years or so, but have actually been around for a really long time – dating back to the Mayan and Aztec days. Adding 1-3 Tablespoons of these little guys will significantly bump up the Omega-3 fat, fiber and protein content of your drink. They blend nicely and will give more bulk and creaminess to an otherwise thin smoothie. Check out this Chocolate Chia Smoothie from Gimme Some Oven.

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3. Almond Butter or Peanut Butter: High in protein and healthy fats, adding nut butter to your smoothie is a sure fire way to bump up the nutrients. One Tablespoon will give you 8 grams of unsaturated fat and 4 grams of protein. Both protein and fat slow digestion of carbohydrates and absorption of glucose. This keeps you feeling full for hours instead of just minutes. Try this Blueberry Almond Smoothie from Hummusapien.

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4. Plain Greek Yogurt: It’s an amazing source of protein, at 8 grams per half cup. The protein in a smoothie helps slow down your body’s absorption of sugars, which will provide a longer lasting, steadier source of energy (rather than a spike in energy also known as a sugar rush). Choosing a plain variety of Greek yogurt rather than a sweetened one is a good idea, because the fruit in your beverage will provide enough sweetness on its own. Here’s a great Banana Bread Smoothie recipe from Gimme Some Oven.

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5. Protein Powder: While I’m all for eating real food most of the time, a high-quality protein powder made from whole food ingredients with no added sugars is also a great way to put more substance into your smoothie. I recommend either an organic whey protein powder like this one, or if you want to keep it vegan, organic brown rice or hemp seed powder like this one. I’m loving the looks of this Layered Mixed-Berry Green Power Smoothie from Whole and Heavenly Oven.

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You are now armed with all of the resources you need to upgrade your snack-time smoothie to a full-fledged, satisfying meal. Cheers!

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What To Eat Before & After Your Workouts

What To Eat Before & After Your Workouts

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