Everybody has their go-to smoothie ingredients (bananas, strawberries, and greens for the win), but when your usual recipe is starting to feel a little, well, too regular, it might be time to change things up with some fresh ingredients. And instead of just going for simple swaps – i.e. trading in strawberries for raspberries – take this as an opportunity to go totally wild with ingredients you’ve never even thought to switch out your regulars for – i.e. trading strawberries for mushrooms. Each of these ingredients may not be the most conventional of smoothie ingredients, but they’re packed with healthy benefits and nutrients that will seriously upgrade your smoothies.
It goes without saying that any smoothie you throw beets into is probably going to quickly take on the rich red hue of the root veggie, but you can just consider that a visual reminder of the ingredient’s benefits. The deep red color of beets comes from pigments called betacyanins, which have been proven to help protect your liver, reduce blood pressure, and even combat cancer. Not a bad way to start the day, if we do say so ourselves.
Recipe spotlight: Strawberry Beet Smoothie
You may still be acclimating yourself to the idea of seeing mushrooms pop up in the unlikeliest of places (mushroom chocolate, anyone?), but throwing a few shiitake or chaga mushrooms into your morning smoothie is well worth the initial thanks-but-no-thanks reaction. Why? Well, for one thing, mushrooms are a great dietary source of vitamin D, which is actually pretty rare. They’re also packed with antioxidants that do everything from strengthen your heart and immune system to reduce your risk of cancer.
Recipe spotlight: Reishi Coconut Smoothie
Though it’s tough to say for sure whether bee pollen is all it’s cracked up to be in the health world, it isn’t as tough to at least pinpoint a few key benefits of the ingredient that, while maybe not confirming bee pollen’s superfood status, at least boast it as a healthy boost for your smoothie. For example, bee pollen is packed with amino acids, which are essentially the building blocks of protein. Bee pollen is also chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and benefits that include stimulating your immune system and promoting healthy cholesterol levels.
Recipe spotlight: Bee Pollen, Banana, and Date Smoothie
This means kelp, wakame, and everything in between. Different sea-sourced greens are packed with compounds known as sulfated polysaccharides (try saying that three times fast) that pack a range of benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties, anti-cancer properties, and anti-viral properties, just to name a few. Plus, since these veggies come from a totally different source than your usual greens, they’ve got a bit of a different vitamin makeup, too. That means you can benefit from vitamins like copper, potassium, selenium, and zinc that you don’t usually get from your go-to kale or spinach.