Hi, I’m Elene and I am addicted to smoothies. There, I said it! I love smoothies in all forms, shapes and sizes. I don’t mind if they taste like vegetables or are quite bland, but what I do care about is that they are packed with the maximum amount of nutrients and have NO added sugars.
Moving into a new office in Stellenbosch at the beginning of 2018, and being a startup like we are, has prompted the entire office to develop quite a focus on trying to maintain healthy diets. It took a bit of persuasion – and I might have promised to make my colleagues a smoothie every day for the next year – but we decided to include smoothie making in our office culture.
Step 1: Choose the correct equipment
When the office was still in Cape Town, running down for a smoothie was no problem; it was close and Orchard (the little smoothie bar in Long Street) was one of my absolute favourite hangouts. In Stellenbosch we aren’t as fortunate, but that does not mean the smoothie fun is over.
In early October 2018, I ordered us a Nutribullet. You have quite a few options when it comes to the Nutribullet range and it’s really all about the Watts – in order words, the power of the blades. Their entry-level model is the 600 series (available on Yuppiechef for around R1 799) which runs on 600 Watts and comes with both 530ml and 710ml cups. You also have the option of an 8 or 12 piece model, depending on how many gadgets you would like with it.
Next up is their 900 series (available on Yuppiechef for around R2 599) which runs on 900 Watts and includes a 710ml and 945ml cup. They are only available in a 9 piece set. We opted for one of their RX Series blenders (available on Yuppiechef for around R3 999). Running on 1 700 Watts, these machines have the capability of not only blending and extracting nutrients but also to make soup by blending and heating the ingredients. The RX series is available as a 10 piece set and has the option of 1 330ml and 946ml Cups and a 1-litre pitcher.
However, Nutribullets are not your only option. Russell Hobbs’ Nutriblend 1 000 Watts Personal Blender (available on Yuppiechef for around R1 099) is another fantastic option when it comes to choosing a blender and falls into the same class as the Nutribullet 900 series for much cheaper. For those on the run, the Severin Smoothie Mix & Go Blender (available on Yuppiechef for around R649) is also a great option as this 300 Watts blender is aimed at providing you with a quick, portable solution for making smoothies.
Step 2: Stocking Up
Let’s cut to the chase. Initially, stocking your smoothie pantry can be quite expensive, but it’s totally worth it as it will last you quite some time. We organised our pantry by perishables and non-perishables, the concept being that we always have the basics of what makes a smoothie great and all we have to do is just add fresh fruit or vegetables du jour. This has proven to be quite a sustainable way of keeping the smoothies rolling. Here are some of our non-perishable favourites:
The SuperfoodsRaw Cacao
Yes, I do believe that chocolate makes the world go round! This treat has received such a bad rep for all the added sugar that defeats its natural nutritional purpose. With smoothies, however, we can go back to basics.
ICYMI, cacao is classified as a superfood because of its high antioxidant content – 40 times the amount of blueberries. It is also a great source of iron, is filled with magnesium and calcium, as well as being a mood elevator and antidepressant.
I usually buy the Soaring Free Superfoods raw cacao, either from their website or Faithful-to-Nature for around R534 for 800g.
Pairs well with avocado or cauliflower and cinnamon.
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Okay, so chia changed my life. This superfood, from the mint family, can be used in a myriad of different ways and I initially started using them in gluten-free recipes. These small seeds are rich in fibre, protein, manganese and calcium, along with plenty of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. They plump up once added to a liquid, so can also be used to manipulate the consistency of the smoothie.
These days you can find chia seeds at your local supermarket, as well as online on Faithful-to-Nature for around R73 for 400g under their own brand, with bonus zero waste packaging.
Pairs well with strawberry, blueberry, apple and banana.
The maca root is a Peruvian cruciferous vegetable, also known as Peruvian Ginseng. Being cruciferous, the maca root is closely related to broccoli, cauliflower and radishes. It tastes quite earthy and nutty with a bit of a bitter aftertaste – it is not for everyone.
Probably the biggest benefit, especially for women, is the fact that maca powder has hormone balancing properties. This is thanks to the fact that it is rich in beneficial plant sterols that are biochemically related to hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and progesterone. It is also packed with minerals, including iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, copper, magnesium and potassium.
I usually opt for the Health Connection Wholefoods Maca Powder on Faithful-to-Nature which retails for around R133 for 200g.
Pairs well with turmeric, chocolate and cinnamon, and almonds.
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Described as a ‘super spice’, I never go far without a little bit of cinnamon to spice up my coffee, muesli and yoghurt or even my smoothies. As with most of our other superfoods, cinnamon is high in antioxidants, while several studies have also shown the anti-inflammatory properties of this popular spice.
I prefer to buy my cinnamon form Woolworths where they sell organic cinnamon retailing for around R58,99 for 100g.
Pairs well with butternut, sweet potato, maca and chocolate, and most nuts.
So this one is from my grandad. He used to take spirulina on a regular basis and swore that it gave him the energy to live beyond 85. I am not fond of its taste, but upon researching this superfood, I realised its multiple benefits quickly outweighs any unpleasant taste.
Described as one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, spirulina is said to lower blood pressure because it contains the Phycocyanin pigment and it is also used to treat candida which is great news for us girls. But spirulina is mostly known for its energy boosting properties, perfect for a morning kick start!
I opt for Nature’s Choice Spirulina powder, available at Faithful-to-Nature for around R64 for 100g.
Pairs well with strawberry and banana, mixed berries and apple, spinach and cucumber.
The OG nut butter, peanut butter, is still an excellent source of protein and a good addition to any smoothie. The trick these days is to find a peanut butter with no added salt and sugar because just regular old peanut butter can contain quite a lot of unnecessary added sugar. Apart from being a good source of protein, it also contains fibre and is quite the energy booster.
My favourite new peanut butter find is Woolworths’ No Added Salt & Sugar Peanut Butter retailing for around R27.99 for 400g.
Pairs well with banana, strawberry and cinnamon.
These days, coconut milk can be found in nearly every grocery store and is used more widely in cooking and for specific diets. Adding them to your smoothie adds not only some of that yummy coconut flavour but also adds to the overall creaminess of the smoothie. Because coconut milk is also lactose-free, it is a good substitute for those who are sensitive to lactose, as well as being vegan-friendly. Coconut milk contains lauric acid, a type of saturated fat found in several vegetable-based fats, which means it can boost the immune system and aid in fighting bacteria and yeasts.
We recently tried out the Cocomi Coconut Milk Powder. The dried coconut milk has a longer shelf life than the fresh product and allows you to choose your own desired consistency – creamy to less creamy.
This coconut milk powder is available on the Faithful-to-Nature website for around R89 for 150g.
Pairs well with pineapple, blueberries, banana and strawberry.
If you’ve never heard about flaxseeds, let me change your life… We always opt for the ground seeds, as it is not only a great source of protein, but also a source of fibre and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as a great source of some vitamins and minerals. Ground flaxseed is also a great way to change the consistency of one’s smoothie to make it a bit thicker. It has a nutty flavour and will, therefore, pair well with any nut butter.
My favourite flaxseeds to use is actually the Crede Natural Oils Flaxseed Flour that can be found on their website for around R28,95 for 500g.
Pairs well with strawberry, banana and mango.
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Protein powders use to scare me as it reminded me of bodybuilders and muscle building, and I felt quite out of my depth with the whole thing. Recently though, I’ve discovered Wazoogles, a superfood mix made up of pea protein that is free of added sugars, chemicals, colorants, flavourants, or fillers. They have a few delicious flavours of which Kungfu Coffee is my favourite.
I usually buy them on the Wazoogles site for around R499 for 1kg. They also have 33g packets for you to try out first for only R25, which is a great way for you to suss out your favourite flavour.
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Fruits and vegetables
We usually just head to the supermarket or local fresh produce market and see what is fresh and what is in season. While you’ll find fruits like bananas year-round, other fruit such as mango, paw paw and peaches are something you’ll find in December and January during the summer.
In the winter lemon, naartjies and pears are in season which make for an entirely different smoothie.
We’ve also recently started purchasing frozen berries and fruits from local Stellenbosch mompreneur, goodeats.co.za. Once a month, she opens her shop for a week for orders for that month. We order a lot of goodies in bulk and keep it in the fridge to add a handful here and there to our smoothies.
Don’t be afraid to add those vegetables as well. One of my favourite vegetable adds is cauliflower. I buy a huge pack of cauliflower, steam it in the microwave, and pop it in the freezer. Because cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, the steaming removes all properties that promotes gas in the digestive tract. Adding nearly anything to the almost tasteless cauliflower, will mix well with flavours such as banana or spinach.
Another great add, for those green smoothies, is baby spinach. A great source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C and folate, baby spinach is a great addition as a base to any green smoothie. When it comes to adding vegetables to smoothies, I find it best to experiment and see which flavour profiles you like and which does not taste as great. While I can stomach a nice kale smoothie, I know my boyfriend, for example, would not be able to see that through.
Step 3: Mix & Enjoy
To me, half the fun of smoothies is playing around and getting that perfect mix. I also like to know the nutritional benefit of each ingredient, so that I’m able to tailor my smoothie as to what my body needs. Whether you want to detox, boost your immune system, need a pick-me-up, or even if you are starting out on a brand new fitness regime, there is a smoothie out there for you.