5 Steps for Creating a Perfect Protein Shake

A daily shake can be a simple way to get a vast array of vitamins and minerals to enhance your immunity. Plus, shakes can include fiber, fat, complex carbs, probiotics, and protein to keep you satisfied and maintain your energy levels. Think of it as your daily immune Booster!

Even smoothies that claim to be “healthy” can be full of sugar and empty calories. Here are 5 steps for creating the perfect nutrient-dense shake… 

Step 1. Ace Your Base

Your liquid base can make or break your smoothie…both in taste, and also in caloric content. You can walk into a smoothie shop, and depending on what you order, your liquid base will help determine whether that smoothie is a 150-calorie snack or a 1,000-calorie mega-meal. 

Possible options…
• Unsweetened hemp milk 
• Unsweetened almond milk 
• Unsweetened coconut milk 
• Chilled green tea 

Step 2. Have Fun With Fruit

Stock up on frozen raspberries, blueberries and strawberries to add fiber, antioxidants and natural sweetness to your shake, along with that signature icy-smooth texture that makes smoothies so refreshing.

My favorite fruit to add is blueberries, because studies have shown that they help with everything from enhancing brain health to keeping your heart strong. They’ve also been crowned as one of the most nutritious, antioxidant-rich types of fruit in the world. Because blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, they help protect the brain from free radical damage and promote healthy brain aging.

Possible options…
• 1/4 C Wild blueberries
• 1/4 C Strawberries
• 1/4 C Raspberries
• 1/4 C Mixed berries
• 1/2 Small banana

Step 3. Don’t Be Afraid To Go Green

My good friend Dr. Sara Gottfried says that, “The only variable associated with less food addiction is vegetable consumption; vegetables also provide the fiber to reset ghrelin….Ideally, consume one to two pounds of vegetables per day.” 

If 1 lb of veggies seems out-of-reach right now, adding greens to your smoothies is a perfect opportunity to fill up your body with disease-fighting plant compounds.

Finely-chopped kale makes a terrific protein shake add-in. It’s a nutritional powerhouse, loaded with fiber, vitamins A, B, C and K, iron, and a host of cancer-fighting antioxidants and phytonutrients. And like a true chameleon, kale blends surprisingly well with frozen fruit – especially raspberries and blueberries – taking on their sweet, creamy texture, and making it that much easier for you to go green. 

There are tons of great green-up options, from spinach to arugula, parsley to kale—each one adds a unique flavor, so you can experiment to find your favorite combinations. As you’ll see in this Green Machine shake, you can even add in vegetables such as celery stalks or cucumbers to pack your shake with extra phytonutrients.

Possible options…
• Kale
• Spinach
• Arugula 
• Swiss Chard 
• Cucumber

Step 4. Don’t Fear Fat 

Adding in ¼ of an avocado, or a  tablespoon of flax seeds or hemp hearts are great ways to boost the healthy Essential Fatty Acid content of your shake in the form of heart-healthy Omega-3s.  Essential Fatty Acids are heart-healthy fats that may reduce inflammation and the risk for chronic disease – not to mention that they ad  a nice velvety smoothness to your shake! 

Possible options…
• 1 Tbsp Chia seeds
• 1 Tbsp Freshly-ground flax seeds
• 1/4 Avocado 
• Barlean’s Omega-3 Swirl 

Step 5. Play With Extras

If you’re ready to go the extra mile, you can always add some extras in your shake, in the form of herbs, such as mint or rosemary… or garnishes such as cacao nibs or pumpkin seeds. Just make sure to not get carried away by adding in too many extra fats or high-calorie options.

Possible options…
• 1 Sprig of rosemary
• 1 Mint leaf 
• Sprinkle of cacao nibs 
• 1 Tbsp pumpkin seeds