When I started this health and fitness journey a year and a half ago, one of the first things I did was begin drinking a nutrient-dense shake every morning. I chose one that is the equivalent to a day’s worth of fruits & veggies, so that even if the day is a nutritional disaster, I know I’m getting the minimum recommended daily allowance. Plus, it feels pretty stinking good to start my day with a nutritional powerhouse.
Personally, I go with a vegan protein shake, 1) it happens to taste better, and 2) I gave up dairy, and whey protein is a big no for me. (I say, “No way to whey” – that’s my best vegan joke!) But do whatever works best for you. If it’s difficult to add protein from food into your diet, a high quality protein powder could work as a good alternative. You want this to be an enjoyable experience, not something you have to choke down every day. The best protein shake is the one that you actually like.
I’m obsessed. I can’t miss a day. It gives me energy, boosts my immune system, and fuels my body in the cleanest, best, most efficient way possible. A few months ago, I was having some weird allergic reactions, and I was beyond panicked that I had developed an allergy to my beloved shake. What would I have for breakfast? How would I get this nutrition? Where would I find a replacement that tasted even half as good? Thankfully, it wasn’t the shake at all (it was niacin flush from my B complex vitamins, go figure), and I still gleefully blend up my smoothie every day.
But I also add in all kinds of other goodies to make it even healthier. I start with a super healthy base, and add in other ingredients to further fuel my body.
Here are my top 5 must-try healthy protein shake add-ons.
Frozen Cauliflower Rice
I was shocked the first time someone suggested adding frozen cauliflower rice to my shake. Cauliflower. You know, the vegetable that makes your house smell like a giant fart when you cook it. In my breakfast. But I have to say, it adds another huge serving of vegetables to my shake, flavorlessly. You can’t even tell it’s in there.
Cauliflower is a cancer-fighting machine, rich in antioxidants and very anti-inflammatory. It’s excellent for your heart, brain, and digestion, and helps to detoxify your system.
Personally, baby spinach is my favorite vegetable to add to my protein shake. I realize that may sound like it tastes funky, but it shockingly blends in seamlessly. I don’t even know it’s in there. Yes, it turns the shake a different color, but the flavor is virtually unchanged.
Kale is another amazing option to add to your smoothie. I wouldn’t get crazy and add arugula or a spring mix of greens, as those tend to have more bitter notes that are prominent.
In my old age (of 35 years… ha!), my knees are starting to get creaky. My left one in particular gives me trouble. It makes a clicking sound and hurts from time to time, and there are certain exercises – like weighted side lunges – that I just can’t do anymore.
Enter collagen peptides. I started adding this powder every day to my smoothie, but you can add it to whatever you’d like, even coffee. It’s a flavorless powder that helps your joints tremendously. Low in calories but high in protein, it packs a punch. Collagen helps lubricate your joints, build connective tissue, encourage healthy nail and hair growth, regulates metabolism, reduces inflammation, and supports hormone balance. In short, it’s super good for your joints, and body overall. Ideally, you want grass-fed, organic, pasture-raised collagen powder.
We’ve discussed this before, but I’m proudly a basic B. I adore all things pumpkin, and adding a bit of fall flavor to my shake just makes my heart sing.
Pumpkin is high in vitamin A (great for your eyes) and is high in fiber (helps with weight loss). It helps maintain good cholesterol levels, reduces cancer risk, neutralizes free radicals, and improves your mood. It’s super high in potassium, which helps with post-workout recovery, so it makes your shake an excellent recovery drink.
I never thought to add spices to any kind of a drink, but in my plight to create the perfect pumpkin spice shake, I started adding Kirkland Saigon Cinnamon, and wow – game changer. I like that specific cinnamon more than others because it has an extra kick to it and is more flavorful.
Cinnamon has endless health benefits. It helps maintain stable blood sugar levels, boosts brain function, relieves pain, aids in weight loss, helps control acne, and relieves pain. It’s high in manganese, iron, calcium, and fiber.
These are a few of my favorite things. I’ve also added coconut oil, chia seeds, flax seeds, berries, and a variety of extracts to spice things up a bit. Experiment with several combinations to find out what you like best.
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