If you are using your green smoothies as a meal themselves, you may want to add some protein. “Meal replacement” doesn’t feel accurate. After all, if you are using whole food ingredients- your green smoothie truly is a real meal itself. You are just helping your body cheat it’s way to easy access and to assimilate the nutrients by liquefying them first. And, of course, it’s an easy way to get handfuls and handfuls of greens in that probably wouldn’t otherwise.
First, I invite you to pay attention to how much protein your body actually needs right now based on your physical activity, genetics, assimilation (your bodies ability to not just receive what you eat but turn it into what you need). The general suggested amount is 46 grams for a woman and 56 grams for a man. That’s assuming…a lot. Another approach, far less common in the standard American diet, but common in raw vegan is the 10% of your calories come from protein approach, taken from the 80/10/10 diet. People from both Olympic athletes to those who prefer gentle walks for exercise, are thriving at lower levels and some at higher levels of protein intake. What is right for you, right now?
When my energy was lagging, I believed the standard advice- “You need more protein!”. So I ate more protein. For me, it did the opposite of helping. What my body needed was more complex carbs. More light and easy to assimilate leafy greens (also chock full of protein!). And more water. If you aren’t sure where to start, I invite you to start with the standard of about 46 grams for women and 56 grams a day for men and go from there. I do great at about 35 grams. I’m not you, of course, and I want you to get clear and connected with just what you need right now.
Here are a few ideas of inexpensive, whole food sources you can just toss in the blender:
3 TB hemp seeds, also called Hemp Hearts 10g
1.5 TB chia seeds 4.7g
2TB almond butter 8g
1c almond milk 6g
1c coconut milk 5g
1/2c raw gluten free oats 7g
1/2c cooked quinoa 8g
(oats and quinoa give a creamy, hearty texture without taking away from the fruit flavors, leaving you feeling fuller much longer. Works great for my husband. Not for me. Try it if grains work for you.)
1/2c tofu (I prefer organic sprouted) 10g
1/2c sprouted peas 11g
2c spinach 1.8g
2c kale 5.8g
If you are shooting for 46g of protein a day, it’s easy to see how a plant based diet can support that. If you simply want to make sure your green smoothie for breakfast is giving you all the support it can, that’s easy, too! It doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t have to source special ingredients.
Here’s my mini take on protein powders. When I was too sick to get to the store often and truly often to ill to even make a 5 minute smoothie, meal replacement powders were a life saver. I still keep a mason jar with a scoop of quality powder in the car for emergencies (always have a back up plan!). Yet most of us, most of the time, simply don’t need them. Most of the meal replacements on the market are pure junk, causing inflammation throughout the body, heightening sensitivities we are trying to heal, and irritating the gut. Over priced chemicals that are not serving your healing much less vibrant wellness.
A few are absolutely offering quality ingredients packaged up for wonderful, and sometimes much needed, convenience. Giving us a variety of nutrients and boosts in one easy scoop. Hey, you know I’m all about ease.
But do you really need them? Can you add a handful of almonds or chia seeds for a protein boost? Can you add a little scoop of spirulina or maca without all the rest?
With all of the greens, veggies, and fruits you can pack in a green smoothie- do you really need all of those multi vitamins and minerals? Even the brands I personally trust do not use all food based vitamin and mineral supplement add ins. Don’t get me started on folate vs folic acid. I will- just not today.
If you are trying to heal your gut and calm food sensitivities it can be difficult if not impossible to tell what might be an underlying trigger when adding these powders that contain hundreds of ingredients (not all are even listed- “natural flavors” are rarely “natural” and by law do not need to be). If or when you don’t have the time or energy to create a whole food smoothie, or on your super busy days, sure. Or for people who are new to whole foods and are not ready for whole food green smoothies. Or if you have found just the one that serves you right now. Awesome! That’s what it’s all about. What serves you right now.
Here are just a few I rotate through using them as back up plans now and have used them with gratitude as a true meal replacement in rougher times: Amazing Grass brand Amazing Meal, Vega, and Garden of Life. Tip- go for chocolate when in doubt.
I am so grateful I had this option myself when I relied heavily on it as well as every now and then as my back up plan. Just an invitation to pause and double check if it’s really needed every day, every time- right now.
What are some of your favorite protein add ins? I’d love to hear!
Love and healing high fives,
If I can clarify anything at any point, please feel free to ask about it in the comments section; I’m glad to help. Note, too, that this post contains some affiliate links to services and products that I use and love!