Drink This!

Smoothie Ingredients Chefs Swear By to Lose Weight

Your taste buds called: They’re getting burnt out on the whole PB + banana + scoop of protein powder combo.

Drink This!

Smoothie Ingredients Chefs Swear By to Lose Weight

Your taste buds called: They’re getting burnt out on the whole PB + banana + scoop of protein powder combo.

And chances are, you are too. We think it’s time to hit your smoothie game out of the park with some creative — and crave-worthy — add-ins. Whether you’re looking to rev up weight-loss efforts, supercharge your daily energy, or just brighten up a case of SSFS (Summer Smoothie Fatigue Syndrome), these nutritious and slimming additions chefs swear by will shake up your weight loss smoothie routine.

1

Coconut Oil

coconut oil smoothie ingredients
If you’re an avid Eat This, Not That! reader, you already have this tropical oil in your kitchen for cooking. But chef Emilie Berner of Further Food, an online community of folks with gastrointestinal conditions, explains why she wants you to mix some in your morning shake: “Coconuts are special because of their medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). The body can get the fuel from MCTs into the bloodstream and ready for use quickly because of this fat’s molecular structure.” This is the same reason fans of Bulletproof Coffee spike their morning joe with MCT oil, but the benefits go far beyond an energy boost. Since the MCTs are quickly used for energy by your body, they’re less likely to be stored as fat, Berner explains. The healthy fat will also keep you full until your next meal time, slashing the chances you’ll reach for an unhealthy snack mid-morning.

Drink This! Tip

Berner’s favorite coconut oil smoothie is one that’s blended with papaya and vanilla powder. This simple combination delivers all the key nutrients you need in a balanced, satiating meal: carbs, protein and healthy fats.

2

Flaxseeds

smoothie ingredients flaxseeds
For a refreshing drink with a health-supportive punch of vitamins, antioxidants and fiber, try the smoothie John Melfi, executive chef of The Oval Room in Washington, DC, relies on for fuel. “I like to make my green smoothies with apples, kale, wheat grass, blue green algae, flaxseeds, chia seeds, Greek yogurt and matcha powder,” Melfi says. Don’t underestimate the addition of these tiny seeds. While they’re diminutive in size, their health benefits are anything but. They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of healthy fat that you have to get from food, which can help fight off metabolism-slowing inflammation. And while fish and nuts tend to get all the praise as omega-3 foods, one tablespoon of ground flaxseeds contains an impressive 1,597 mg of the fat.

Drink This! Tip

If you’re craving more protein or struggle to hit your daily target, add some silken tofu into your weight loss smoothie. It will impart a creamy, velvety texture and boost the protein content.

3

Cinnamon

smoothie ingredients cinnamon
Mary Poppins had it all wrong — a spoonful of cinnamon is what you want. The spice may get the most play time in holiday desserts and sweet breakfast dishes like oatmeal, but it’s worth tipping into your smoothies, too. “Cinnamon isn’t just a spice you put in your smoothies to mask the flavor of spinach. It’s a wonderful, warming spice with bright qualities. Namely, it balances your blood sugar, and some studies show that it lowers cholesterol,” offers Berner. Researchers at Penn State have even found that a diet rich in spices like cinnamon can help reduce your body’s negative responses to eating meals high in fat.

Drink This! Tip

This sweet spice is the perfect addition to oatmeal thanks to its ability to help your body metabolize sugars and carbs, but some months it’s just too warm for a big bowl of oats. To get the same satisfying flavor, try an oatmeal-inspired shake. Berner suggests mixing raw oats — a source of waist-whittling resistant starch — with banana, almond milk, cinnamon and vanilla for a summertime version of the morning staple.

4

Purslane

smoothie ingredients purslane
Nina Curtis, the Executive Chef at The Ranch at Live Oak / Malibu, isn’t joking when she tells us purslane is “the little herb with the big heart.” Also known as verdolaga, this weed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and boasts a unique flavor that’s a mix of bitter, sour and salty notes — pretend cucumber, lemon and pepper had a baby. In fact, Curtis notes, “it’s got more omega-3 fatty acids than some fish.” And that’s only the beginning of its healthy report card. Overall, this is one green that’s nutritional gold. It has anti-inflammatory properties, supports heart health, boosts vision, strengthens your immunity, increases circulation and promotes weight loss, Curtis tells us. One important note: If you or someone you know suffers from kidney stones, make sure to avoid purslane or cook it to eliminate any oxalic acid concerns.

Drink This! Tip

To make her Purslane Power Smoothie at The Ranch, Curtis combines a cup of coconut water, a cup of frozen blueberries, half a banana, a cup of purslane and a pinch of pink salt (optional for added mineral benefits). Blend all ingredients until smooth (about 45 seconds) in the order listed, being sure to add your leafy greens at the end, so you don’t over-process them. This recipes makes enough for two, so grab someone to cheers with you or save the rest for a mid-afternoon power boost.

5

Turmeric

smoothie ingredients turmeric
It might not be the prettiest thing in the produce aisle, but this funny-shaped root that resembles ginger is worth a second glance. What’s hiding under this root’s knobby exterior is what matters; curcumin, a phenol that gives the spice its signature color, has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. But its true gift is the ability to disrupt the growth and spread of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. You might think of turmeric as a staple for savory curries or in spice rubs for roasted meats, but it’s one of Berner’s go-tos in refreshing, light smoothies. Her signature sip combines the golden powder with coriander, a cooling spice because, as she explains, “it can heat the body up, which creates agitation for some.”

Drink This! Tip

“An odd, but lovely combo is turmeric, coriander, ginger, pineapple, cilantro, lime and coconut milk” Berner shares. For something less exotic, try a favorite of Meredith Haaz, Executive Chef at The Ranch 4.0 at Westlake Village: Combine 1/2 cup pineapple (chopped), 1 banana, 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (or ½-inch piece fresh, peeled and chopped), ½-inch piece fresh ginger (peeled and chopped) and 1 cup coconut water (plus more if needed to blend).

6

Ginseng

smoothie ingredients ginseng
“It may sound unusual, but go out of your way to your local health food store to pick up ginseng powder or extract for smoothies,” suggests Executive Chef Domenico Apollaro of Lupo Verde. “Ginseng's benefits are countless, from improving glycemic control to boosting your immune system, and it’s a potent antioxidant,” he says. Although this powder is best known for its inclusion in energy drinks, it will actually give you more of a brain boost than an energy surge. The magic dosage you’re looking for: 200 mg. Participants in a study who took 200 mg of ginseng an hour before a cognitive exam scored significantly higher than those who didn’t take the supplement. So, the right time to take it is before a class, just not a workout class.

Drink This! Tip

For a shake that will electrify your taste buds, try Apollaro’s signature shake combining low-fat yogurt, banana, mango, raw almond and extract of ginseng. For an added kick, try a metabolism-boosting spice like cayenne or cinnamon.

7

Camu Camu Powder

smoothie ingredients camu camu
When it comes to blending up a healthy smoothie to combat hangovers and morning-after-bloat, who would know better than those tending bar? Jeff Josenhans, Cicerone, Level II Sommelier and Master Mixologist at The Grant Grill inside THE US GRANT hotel shares his go-to: “I combine banana, Greek yogurt, chia seeds, vegan protein powder, almond milk, dried peanut butter and camu camu powder in my recovery power smoothie.” Though more research is needed, one study found that obese diabetic rats who ate camu camu had decreased symptoms of the disease. The berry, which dazzles with off-the-charts amounts of vitamin C, also contains amino acids and antioxidants. And since Josenhans happens to double as a Muay Thai fighter and master diver, we’ll take his word that this potent powder gets you feeling energized to make the most of your workout.

Drink This! Tip

This Brazilian fruit also contains ellagic acid, the same compound found in berries that may help play a role in fighting diabetes. You probably won’t be able to track down the fresh berries in your local grocer, so look for it in powder form for smoothies.

8

Kale

smoothie ingredients kale
“While a lot of chefs use spinach as their go-to green when making smoothies, my favorite ingredient to use is kale,” says James Beard Award winning Chef-Partner Guillermo Pernot of Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar. And this leafy green addition ensures you can use a milk alternative worry-free since kale has more calcium per serving than milk. “It also has virtually no calories, plus it tastes delicious when combined with pineapple and lime. I also always add chia seeds to my smoothies; they’re packed with nutrients and keep me feeling full when I’m working in the kitchen for long hours or traveling with no time to eat,” Pernot adds.

Drink This! Tip

Pair kale in smoothies with citrus like lemon to brighten up its earthiness. Pernot combines 1 cup chopped kale (loosely packed) with ¾ cup nonfat Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup pineapple chunks, 4 sprigs cilantro, 2 teaspoons chia seeds, 2 teaspoons agave nectar, a teaspoon of lime juice and a few dashes of chili powder for a satisfying smoothie with a kick you won’t soon forget.

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