Can A Smoothie Replace A Meal?

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Meet Kara Marshall, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant whose work focuses on plant-based diets, blood glucose management, heart health, and sports performance.

In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, running, cycling, and she also enjoys spending time in her kitchen with friends and family. If you like smoothies and want to learn more check out our 

Q&A here where Kara shares some healthy smoothies recipes.

Q: What makes a healthy smoothie and what are the benefits?

A: A healthy smoothie is one that is balanced with carbohydrates and protein and low in added sugar. Be wary of smoothies advertised as healthy but made with ice cream, frozen yogurt, and/or fruit juice concentrates as they can be high in added sugar.

The benefits of smoothies are that they are a quick and easy way to add a couple of fruit and vegetable servings into your day, they can be tailored to meet almost any dietary need or preference, and unlike juice, smoothies can be a good source of fiber.

Q: Can a smoothie replace a meal?

A: If you want to have a smoothie in place of a meal, it should look like a meal! Plan to include a choice of protein (i.e. Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, hemp hearts, protein powder or other), a choice of carbohydrate (whole fruits, oats, milk, or other), and vegetables (i.e. spinach, kale, cucumber, zucchini, basil, or other). Including all these elements will help ensure that you are meeting your nutrition needs.

Q: What are some popular breakfast smoothies?

A: Apple cinnamon oatmeal and orange creamsicle are two tasty smoothies to brighten the start of your day or help you recover from a morning run. Both recipes below make 2 servings.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 apple, washed and cored
  • 1/3 cup large flake oats
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 medium banana (frozen)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup ice
  • Water as desired to thin texture.
  • ·Blend all ingredients together. Adjust spices as needed.

Orange Creamsicle

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 medium banana (frozen)
  • 1 medium orange, peeled with seeds removed
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 scoop unsweetened vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup ice
  • Extra almond milk as desired to thin texture.  Blend all ingredients together.

Q: When should one have a smoothie before a run or afterward?

A: I find that smoothies can work well as a recovery meal or snack after a run. In a smoothie, protein assists with muscle building and recovery, carbohydrates help to replenish muscle fuel stores, vitamins and minerals help to promote overall health and wellness, and of course, fluid helps with rehydration.

Q: What veggies would you recommend?

A: I think any vegetables that your blender is capable of pureeing are fair game, but I really enjoy leafy greens like kale and spinach, cucumber, summer squash like zucchini, and winter squash like pumpkin. Herbs like parsley, basil, and mint can also be a nice addition.

Q: Do you have a favorite smoothie?

A: I don’t have a favorite smoothie, but I find ones that use cucumber and mint to be very refreshing. I like these two ingredients combined with berries, apple, pear, or honeydew melon. A perfect snack on a hot day!

Q: Anything else you like to add?

A: Know that smoothies can be quite versatile. You can use them as toppings for all sorts of meals and snacks, or if you are looking for a more healthful frozen treat, try freezing leftover smoothie mixture into popsicle molds. 

Homemade popsicles can be a great way to cool off after summer activities.

One is a Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie (Makes 2 servings)


  • 1 medium frozen banana
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup milk or milk alternative
  • 2 Medjool dates (optional)
  • 1 cup ice
  • Directions:
  • Blend all ingredients together until smooth.
  • The other is a Berry Kefir Smoothie with Spinach:

Berry Kefir Smoothie with Spinach  (Makes 2 servings)


  • 1 cup plain kefir
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk
  • 2 cups of frozen berries
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup spinach


Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend at high speed until smooth. Serve at once. (If the mixture is too thick to blend, add a bit more milk)

Contact Kara Marshall on her  Instagram @kara.dietitian and website is:

Reprinted with permission from Livid magazine

Fitness Friday is submitted by Christine Blanchette and be sure to follow her on her Youtube channel as well as Twitter.

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