Looking for a healthy breakfast idea that actually tastes better than a blueberry muffin? You’re in luck. In a pinch nothing beats a smoothie in the morning.

Some people like to juice their veggies, but then you lose a lot of the fiber and have more mess to clean up. Invest in a decent blender capable of pureeing veggies until smooth, and then go have some fun. I’ve used nearly every fruit and vegetable imaginable and my smoothies always turn out great. There’s no wrong way to make a smoothie so play around with some recipes and enjoy!

Here are some of my favorite smoothie ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp flax seed (37 cal, 1.6 g omega-3, 2 g fiber)
  • 1 cup berries (64 cal, 8 g fiber, 186 potassium)
  • 1/2 apple, chopped (including core) – (50 cal, 2 g fiber, 100 potassium)
  • ½ avocado (114 cal, 4.6 fiber, 345 potassium)
  • 1 banana (105 cal, 3.1 fiber, 422 potassium)
  • 1 cup coconut milk dairy alternative (120 calories)
  • 1 scoop (15-20 g) protein powder (90 cal, 18 protein, 110 potassium)
  • 1 tbsp almond butter (100cal, 3 g protein, 1.6 g fiber, 120 potassium)
  • 3 cups spinach (21 calories, 2 grams fiber, 500 mg potassium)
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee (depending on how early it is)

My recommendation is to keep it around 300 calories using the above ingredients. This might mean flax seed, berries, half an apple, some spinach and ½ avocado with water and protein powder.

Take my advice and check out North Bay Trading Company. They have a wide selection of freeze-dried, powdered fruits and vegetables. By extracting the water they are able to condense all the nutrients in a cup of kale down to about half a teaspoon. The powders dissolve easily into shakes.

What kind of protein powder is best for lean muscle building?

Protein powders come in all shapes and sizes. If you are making a whole food smoothie as described above, my suggestion is to consider a protein supplement rather than a meal-replacement powder. Check the label to make sure that it doesn’t contain a ton of sodium – some brands contain over 300mg per serving!

I recommend Nutiva Brand Organic Hemp Protein. It contains no sodium (yes, that’s right, 0 mg), 240 mg of potassium, 11 grams of protein, and 12 grams of fiber per serving. This makes it an ideal healthy protein add for any smoothie recipe. The best part is that it only has one ingredient – hemp protein.

Remember when adding your protein that few of us suffer from protein malnutrition in this country. The average adult needs just under one gram of protein for every kilogram of body weight, such that most adults need about 50-60 grams of protein a day. This is about the same amount as contained in just 6 oz of chicken breast meat. If you are having a balanced diet including vegetables, legumes, nuts, meat and fish it is very unlikely that you are getting less than this on a regular basis.

What about mass building?

Let’s say you want to bulk up your muscle tone and want to add on the protein to build muscle. Should you add to your protein requirements? A recent study published in the journal Nutrition showed that doubling your protein intake over 8 weeks of weight training had no effect on muscle mass or strength. Multiple other trials show the same thing – high protein intakes above your body’s basic requirements don’t necessarily lead to bigger or stronger muscles.

In contrast, most of us are getting far less fiber than our body generally needs, and we see the impact of this deficiency in various health conditions ranging from heart disease and cancer to constipation and diverticulitis. Therefore, I would recommend that instead of adding just protein to your smoothies, balance your smoothie with protein as well as additional fiber.

You can do this with the Nutiva supplement, or use common fiber supplements such as Benefiber (wheat dextrin) or Metamucil (psyllium husks).

Trust me, your body will thank you.