We get asked all the time about how to increase fiber in our green smoothie recipes. You can only add so much spinach or kale before you’re over it. So I thought, “Why don’t we make Fiber Smoothie Boost Cubes?” So we did! While we were at it, we decided it would be a great time to add in some protein as well.
The importance of fiber and regularity
Staying “regular” is a top priority for most of us, or at least it should be! Fiber works like little scrubbing brushes on the inside of our digestive tract. It adds bulk and keeps things moving along when in proper balance. Regularity is a sign that the body is working like it’s supposed to use the nutrients consumed and rid itself of waste or excess.
Please note that “regularity” is the ideal situation.
There are a lot of conditions, medications, and situations where regularity is really difficult to achieve. See your health practitioner for specific recommendations if constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and excess gas are an ongoing problem for you.
Another trick to staying regular is to make sure you’re consuming enough food, preferably moderately high or high in fiber, at regular intervals. Skipping meals or eating too little (such as with fasting, dieting, calorie-dense but low-volume foods) can contribute to irregularity. In any case, it is super important to make sure your body is getting enough fiber and that your digestive tract is humming along.
Protein + Fiber: a dream team
Protein and fiber go hand in hand for keeping the body satiated. Both help stabilize blood sugar and burn more slowly than quick, or simple carbs like white flour and sugar.
A balanced meal will include protein, complex carbohydrates, and fats. Within those parameters, all kinds of food can fulfill the requirements, and sometimes more than one.
If protein is consumed without fiber, it can lead to a backup, if you know what I mean. Straight-up protein can be hard on the digestive tract and cause things to slooooooow way down. (Plant protein less so because, you guessed it – it’s higher in fiber than animal protein.)
Conversely, if you consume too much fiber at once, it can cause things to speed up. A balance is the goal and that’s where these fiber smoothie cubes come in handy.
What can I add to my smoothie for fiber?
Plants are the only source of fiber. Chicken, beef, fish, pork, eggs, and other animal products contain 0% fiber. Plants are made up almost entirely of fiber along with water, fats, and starches. Fiber itself is essentially just a carbohydrate. Dietary fiber is the fiber that cannot be broken down by digestive enzymes.
Here are some ways to add fiber into your smoothies:
- Dark leafy greens
- Whole fruits (not juice)
- Psyllium husk powder
- Hemp powder
- Chia Seeds
Fun fact: Processed foods are typically void of fiber, even if they were once plants long, long ago. White flour is a processed type of wheat that has had the germ and bran removed to make it softer and easier to digest. But with that processing, most of the dietary fiber has been removed.
It is incredibly important to include whole grains and pseudograins in the diet to maintain digestive health. Those following a grain-free diet should make sure to eat plenty of fiber-rich fresh fruits and vegetables.
What fruits are high in fiber?
When it comes to smoothies, adding fruit is where all the flavor is. Yet it can also be a great source of fiber if you choose your fruits wisely. The fruits with high fiber content are:
While we’re on the subject of sweeteners, dates are one of our favorite natural sweeteners. Not only are they sticky and sweet like candy, they pack a lot of punch in the fiber and nutrient department. Processed white sugar from beets or cane can’t say the same. 😉
Soluble vs insoluble fiber
There are two kinds of fiber our bodies need – soluble and insoluble fiber. Most plants contain a bit of each and both have health benefits including staying fuller longer after meals, a lower risk of illness and disease (particularly of the digestive and cardiovascular systems).
Soluble fiber dissolves in water or other liquids and transforms into a gel-like substance that is digested by bacteria. This produces gas as a by-product. Soluble fiber in foods is a source of calories.
Foods that are good sources of soluble fiber include beans, peas, oats and barley, and some fruits like apples and citrus.
Soluble fiber health benefits:
- Lowers fat absorption
- Helps maintain a health weight
- Stabilizes blood glucose levels
- Reduces risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases
- Lowers bad cholesterol levels
- Keeps good bacteria in the digestive tract healthy and alive
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and remains intact or unchanged throughout the digestive tract and process. Because of this, it is not considered a source of calories as it is not digested.
Foods that contain insoluble fiber include beans and legumes, whole grain (such as whole wheat) or bran products, green beans, corn, kale, spinach, kiwi, berries, grapes, potatoes, cauliflower, and nuts. Most veggies and fruit contain some insoluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber health benefits:
- Regularity – prevents or helps with constipation
- Lowered risk of intestinal issues and blockages
- May reduce risk of colorectal cancer
What foods has lots of fiber?
Psyllium husk powder (PHP) may or may not be a new-to-you ingredient. Commonly used as a laxative and bulking agent, psyllium is a fiber derived from the husks of the Plantago ovata plant seeds. Psyllium plants are native to Eurasia and are grown commercially for their mucilage, a thick gel-like substance, and soluble fiber.
If you’ve ever used Metamucil or other fiber powders that readily mix into water or juice, then you’ve probably used psyllium fiber. You can find unprocessed psyllium fiber (so not, Metamucil) in most stores. It will either be loose powder or contained within capsules.
It is used in baking, particularly in gluten-free and/or vegan recipes, because that gel that forms help stabilize the batter or dough, and adds a nice texture too. If you can’t find it in the vitamin + supplement section, check the baking aisle or gluten-free section.
WARNING! A little bit of PHP goes a long way in a fiber smoothie. One teaspoon constitutes a serving. Like chia and flax seeds, PSH forms a gel when added to liquid (mucilage!). This is part of the reason it is used for both constipation and diarrhea. It bulks up the stool, but also makes it easy to pass. It also prevents the body from absorbing too much fat because the gel spreads out through the digestive tract and blocks the channel.
How To Use Fiber Smoothie Cubes
The other recipes in our Smoothie Cube Series include directions for substituting a portion of fruit in a recipe with the cubes. This one is a little different in that it was designed to be used as a replacement for all fruit in the recipe and blended with your choice of liquid and leafy greens, if desired. You can add it to a fruity smoothie, but it will do the job by itself as a meal replacement. That being said, if the smoothie isn’t sweet enough, a banana can be added or another pitted date.Print
Blend up a batch of these cubes to keep on hand for a quick and easy meal replacement smoothie that is full of fiber and protein to keep you fuller, longer and keep your digestive tract humming along.
- 4 cups unsweetened almond milk, plus more if needed
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 1 cup shelled hemp hearts
- 8 teaspoons psyllium husk powder
- 4 tablespoons cacao powder
- 8 soft, medjool dates, pitted
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Big pinch sea salt
- Place 2 cups almond milk and chia seeds in a bowl and stir well. Let sit for 10-15 minutes.
- Pour chia gel into a blender jar. Add the other ingredients. Puree until smooth. Add a little more liquid, if needed, for easier blending. The mixture will be very thick with a pudding-like texture.
- Transfer the mixture to two standard, 16-well ice cube trays. It’s okay if the mixture overflows the wells a bit, as long as it doesn’t go over the sides of the trays themselves.
- Place trays in freezer and freeze overnight, or until completely solid. Pop the cubes out of the trays and place in an airtight, freezer-safe container. Store in freezer for up to 2 weeks, or a little longer if using a deep freezer.
- To use, add 1 cup liquid and 2 cups your choice of leafy greens to a blender, add 4 protein + fiber cubes. Blend until smooth. If not sweet enough, add part of or one whole ripe banana, or a little maple syrup, to taste.
- Dates can be replaced with pure maple syrup or honey, to taste, if desired. Or use 2 medium bananas as a substitute for the 8 dates.
Keywords: fiber smoothie, dietary fiber, smoothie cube
What are the healthiest things to put in a smoothie?
This fiber smoothie is right up there with the best. The blended mixture has a texture similar to pudding due to the chia seeds and psyllium husk powder. Always add plenty of liquid to facilitate the blending because both work fast and create strong gels…and you don’t want your blender to overheat. (That, uh, may have happened to me whilst creating and testing this recipe. Ahem.) Here’s the ingredients we used:
- chia seeds
These seeds are a superfood native to Central America that have been consumed for centuries by indigenous peoples ,and more recently adopted into diets throughout the world because of the amazing health benefits. The tiny seeds swell as they absorb multiple times their weight in liquid, and form a gel. This recipe instructs combining the seeds with liquid first – don’t skimp on that step. Your blender will thank you.
- shelled hemp hearts
Hemp hearts are the protein darling of the plant-based eating crowd. They also contain healthy fats. We LOVE hemp hearts at SGS. They are one of our go-to foods to turn our smoothies into meals, add extra plant-based protein yumminess to our recipes, and as a dairy replacement when blended into a cream or non-dairy milk.
- cacao powder
Cacao is also considered a superfood and contains trace minerals as well as iron, protein, dietary fiber, and antioxidants called polyphenols. Plus, cacao is the precursor to chocolate, which creates joy and happiness throughout the world, right? Cacao also has anti-inflammatory properties and may also help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow, pressure, and cholesterol and glucose levels. See? Total superfood!