Smoothie Wars: 2 Nutritionists Evaluate Byrdie Readers' Smoothies
Byrdie editors and Byrdie readers have a lot in common. Loving quick hairstyles and long-lasting lipstick are certainly up there on the list, but we’ve also come to realise another point of overlap recently: Our smoothie obsessions run deep. Eating kale when it comes in sippable (and Instagrammable) form is so much more enjoyable. But a hefty dose of greens is not enough to make your smoothie dietitian-approved. It’s easy to get carried away adding fruits and other sweet ingredients, but a smoothie that’s really going to keep you full and check off the necessary nutritional boxes needs a mix of fat, fibre, and protein. So how does your go-to smoothie stack up? To find out, we submitted your recipes to two experts: nutritionist and Kore Kitchen founder Meryl Pritchard and registered dietitian and Top Balance Nutrition founder Maria Bella.
Scroll through to see if your smoothie got a nutritionally sound stamp of approval!
Recipe: 2 large handfuls of spinach, a palm of frozen pineapple, 1/2 cup of orange juice, tons of freshly grated ginger root, 1 tbsp coconut oil
Why: “This smoothie just needs to be boosted a bit. Unless you’re using cold-pressed and organic, most store-bought orange juice is pasteurised, processed, and filled with sugar. Not the best way to start your day! I would switch the orange juice out for coconut water as the base instead. It’s less sugar and more hydrating. I would also add fibre to this one to slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream and boost digestion. Chia seed would be a good fit for this recipe and is also one of my favourite sources of omega-3. I recommend boosting your smoothies with superfoods whenever you can, so for this recipe, I would also add spirulina. Spirulina is a blue-green algae that helps alkalise the body (which we need first thing in the morning) and pulls heavy metals out of your system. Turmeric is another superfood to add that is anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants, and it goes really well flavour-wise with pineapple and ginger. Lastly, I would add a protein powder. Our favourite at Kore Kitchen is Epic Protein by Sprout Living. It comes in a few different flavours, but for this recipe, I think their Green Kingdom Blend ($43) would be great. It's vegan, sprouted, raw, gluten-free, and organic. The base is yellow pea and brown rice, mixed with plant life from both the land and the ocean (spirulina, kale, chlorella, moringa). It contains 20 grams of protein per serving and provides a great texture for your smoothie.” — Meryl Pritchard
“I gave this three stars instead of the full five because it contains juice and no protein. Skip the juices; they will increase calorie count and sugar content. Go for unsweetened almond milk, coconut water, or green tea as your base. Add Greek yoghurt or Icelandic yoghurt as your base. Both are strained, so they have more protein than a regular yoghurt. A protein-packed breakfast can help you keep satisfied all morning lunch and avoid the mid-morning hunger pangs.” — Maria Bella
Recipe: Strawberries, 1 banana, coconut water, 2 handfuls of spinach, coconut cream or avocado or avocado oil, pineapple, protein powder, additional water (if needed), chia seeds
Why: “I’m big on consistency, and this one sounds like it will be dense and thick. I tend to use either banana or avocado, but not both. I’ll use avocado for clients if they need a low-glycemic meal plan. Instead of coconut cream, I would do the avocado oil, coconut oil, or coconut meat. I have only ever seen coconut cream in a can, which contains preservatives and sometimes added sugar. A good superfood boost for this one would be goji berries. They will provide a beautiful colour, unique flavour, and boost your immunity. I also think they go really well with strawberry and pineapple. Epic Protein’s Vanilla Lucuma ($40) flavour would also be a great option for the protein powder in this one.” — Meryl Pritchard
“Even though I wish the amounts of ingredients were specified, I can still say there’s too much fruit. Every time we eat, our pancreas needs to produce insulin to metabolise the consumed carbohydrates. Hence, it is best to spread out the carbohydrate intake—even that from fruits—throughout the course of the day. Even natural sugar will cause your blood sugar to skyrocket. You could make this smoothie work by doing 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup strawberries, and 1/4 cup pineapple. There is still much controversy about coconut products—butter, milk, oil—as they have a lot of saturated fat. Until we have more research available, I would suggest keeping them low in the diet and using flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, and more sources of poly- and mono-unsaturated fats instead.” — Maria Bella
Recipe: 2 cups of powder greens, 1 tbsp Designs for Health PaleoGreens ($77), 1 tbsp ground flaxseed, 1 cup frozen pineapple or blueberries, 1 scoop Arbonne Pea Protein Powder
Why: “This smoothie needs a base, so I would use either almond or cashew milk to make it creamy. I would also add banana or avocado here to give it that smoothie consistency. I find the banana and avocado help to bind the ingredients like superfood powders and the protein, so they don’t fall and settle on the bottom of the drink. I really like Designs for Health supplements, so that green powder sounds like a good choice, I also really love Vitamineral Green Powder by HealthForce and the green Cleanse ($60) powder by The Beauty Chef. I’m going to go with the blueberries instead of the pineapple in this recipe. And since it needs a fat, add almond butter. This will make it more of a PB&J flavour, blueberry and almond go really well together. Add acai for extra brainpower!” — Meryl Pritchard
“Assuming this smoothie has a healthy base (almond milk, coconut water, green tea, hemp milk, etc.), I give it four out of five stars. It’s just missing actual veggies. There’s nothing like two cups of fresh leafy greens. There are no substitutes for good nutrition!” — Maria Bella
Recipe: Organic unsweetened almond milk, spinach, kale, pineapple, banana, berries, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax oil, probiotic capsule
Why: “This recipe is packed with a lot of good stuff, but I would leave out the pineapple since it already has mixed berries. This will lower the sugar content without affecting the nutritional value. I love probiotics, but they are delicate little guys, so I wouldn’t blend them in a smoothie. Check the labels, but most probiotics are best to take in the morning on an empty stomach about 30 minutes before a meal so that you’re not in a digestive state. This allows the delicate bugs to bypass your stomach acid and set up shop in your gut.” — Meryl Pritchard
Recipe: Pineapple, banana, apple, parsley, flaxseeds, chia seeds, cucumber, coconut water, pumpkin seeds
Why: “This has a lot of water-rich fruits and vegetables, which sound nice and hydrating. Parsley is a great herb, but I would also add more leafy greens like spinach, chard, or kale, which won’t affect the flavour. Again, I would remove the pineapple to make the sugar content lower. Pumpkin seeds are awesome; they’re rich in magnesium, zinc, and omega-3. And to add protein, Epic Protein has a Pumpkin Seed flavour that would be perfect for this smoothie!” — Meryl Pritchard
“Without knowing the exact amounts, I would say four out of five, but there is too much fruit here. One-half banana would suffice to provide a creamy base. No more than 1/2 serving for the apple and pineapple, too. Be careful with flax, chia, and pumpkin seeds—use one-half teaspoon of each as these are all dense sources of calories and can add up fast. I would also suggest adding more spinach and possibly throwing in some kale for good measure to increase fibre and keep the calories under control.” — Maria Bella
What would Pritchard and Bella say about your smoothie?