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How to Make a Delicious and Nutritious Meal Replacement Smoothie

Do you need to shed a few pounds? Do you skip meals because they are too labor intensive? Does fast food make you squirm? If any of these apply to you, then you might want to consider purchasing a blender and educating yourself on meal replacement smoothies.

“Meal replacement” smoothies are called such because, if made correctly, they can serve as liquid alternatives to eating full meal. These smoothies typically focus more on health benefits than your ordinary Jamba Juice or Pinkberry smoothie and contain most or all of the nutrients found in an average healthy meal.

Meal replacement smoothies are a great way to get a healthy meal on the go, save money on expensive lunches, and regulate blood sugar. According to an American Dietetic Association study,  diet plans that use meal replacements (such as smoothies) are more efficient than diets which only cut calories.

But smoothies are not just for people trying to lose weight. I personally am disgusted by fast food. There is literally no telling where their food-like products come from (seriously – they’re not technically required to tell the FDA where they get their meat).

“Snacks and fast food are mostly void of nutrition, and largely responsible for today’s obesity epidemic,” says Joelle Rabion, an experienced Chicago nutritionist. “We are living in a time when the next generation will likely not live as long as their parents due to malnourishment and the chronic diseases that obesity brings.”

But you don’t have to be a malnourished fat person! It is easy to get all the nutrients you need in a delicious, portable beverage. Shakes are easily customizable and can be tailored to individual tastes and dietary needs.

The Low-down on Smoothie Recipes

This recipe is a basic guide I created myself for a delicious and nutritious meal replacement smoothie. I recommend making two servings in the morning and freezing half so you can spread the smoothie joy out over the whole day. Check out the slideshow at the end of the article for more ingredient recommendations.

Delicious Dairy

Everyone knows milk is good for strong bones. Any type of milk will do in this case: soy, cow, goat, almond… I personally enjoy hemp milk. A cup of yogurt adds probiotics and healthy enzymes to your shake in addition to making it thicker.

Swapping out milk and yogurt for almond milk and ice can make a shake vegan, and tofu is a great high-protein thickening agent that won’t affect the taste of your shake.

“The research on soy isoflavones (which are found in tofu) is astounding,” says Dr. Nick LeRoy, Chicago internist and nutritional expert. “We should definitely be getting soy in our diets.”

Powerful Protein

The easiest way to get protein in your shake is protein powder, which can come in different forms. Egg white proteins are good for athletes because it helps to build muscle tone. Soy protein has shown to be especially good for women by reducing the risk of both breast cancer and osteoporosis. Adding a scoop of peanut butter also adds a protein boost, but is high in fat and calories.

Fantastic Fruits

Fruits will make up the base of your smoothie. These provide quick energy in the form of simple sugars and carbohydrates. Many people choose to add fruit juice to their smoothies, but juices can contain an extreme amount of sugar. Diabetics and people trying to lose weight should stick to the real thing instead.

When it comes to fruits, there are really no bad options. Berries are rich in antioxidants and flavonoids, while citrus fruits are extremely rich in vitamin C. Nutritionist Rabion’s secret ingredient is half a lemon.

“It’s absolutely delicious and brings a warehouse of energy – plus combined with greens it’s very alkalizing,” says Rabion.

Valuable Vegetables

Adding dark leafy vegetables to your smoothie will give you a huge nutritional boost without compromising taste. Though it might turn your shake an unappetizing shade of green, they will benefit you by adding iron, folic acid, antioxidants, and a host of other vitamins and minerals to your meal.

Fats & Fiber

Contrary to popular belief, not all fats are bad for you. Good fats (the unsaturated ones) actually help you manage your mood and weight. Adding nuts such as almonds or seeds such as flaxseed or sunflower is a tasty way get your daily serving of fats. Another major player in managing weight and staying healthy is adequate fiber. Oatmeal and celery are two great sources of fiber that also enhance the flavor of a smoothie.

Smooth Operator

Preparing these basic types of ingredients into a smoothie is really a matter of personal taste. Try experimenting with different thicknesses, flavors, and nutrients until you find the combination that works for you. For example, adding more ice or yogurt will make the smoothie thicker, while adding a banana will make the shake frothy.

A common mistake after creating a healthy, delicious smoothie is to dump processed sugar into it to improve the taste. Extracts like vanilla and peppermint and natural sweeteners like honey add a kick of flavor without compromising the nutritional content.

Smoothies then are an easy way to get all (or even more) of the nutrition one usually takes in during a full meal. They don’t only have to be about health, though: have fun experimenting with different fruits and flavors. The only way to know for sure if meal replacement smoothies work for you is to try it!


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Smoothies are a delicious way to get all the nutrition you need. This slideshow contains a list of ingredients and their primary health benefits.

View Smoothies in Chicago in a larger map


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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.