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7 Ways to Uplevel Your Smoothies (and Reduce the Sugar!)

 

7 Ways to Uplevel Your Smoothies (and Reduce the Sugar!)

Smoothies can be an easy and delicious way to pack in a serious amount of nutrition without having to give it too much thought. Not only that, but they're portable and easy to drink on the move, and also make nutritious meal replacements for days you may be particularly short on time. That being said, there is an art to making smoothies that are both pleasing to the taste buds and also have a balanced nutrition profile. For instance, a smoothie that contains just frozen fruit, bananas, and milk might have some vitamins, but it is high in sugar and low in healthy fats, protein, and trace minerals - it isn't very nourishing and may leave you hungry shortly afterward. On the other hand, a smoothie packed full of green superfoods, nut butter, and nutrient-rich, lower sugar alternatives will have a completely different effect on your overall energy levels and daily nutrient intake. 

Here are some top ways you can seriously level-up your smoothies!

Swap out the 'nanas

Bananas may be a smoothie shop staple, lending both creaminess and sweetness, but it turns out they're not required to make a smoothie thick and delicious. Both steamed sweet potato and avocado can be used as lower sugar alternatives - they'll thicken up the texture just like bananas and their relatively neutral flavor profile means they can be used in many different recipes. Try freezing them first, especially if your other smoothie ingredients are fresh (not frozen). Just make sure the sweet potato is steamed (or baked) and peeled first before freezing for the best and creamiest results.

Go nuts!

Nut butter shouldn't be confined to just sandwiches and toast - they're absolutely amazing in smoothies too. Not only do they make the texture and flavor more creamy and rich, but they're also chock full of healthy fats and protein, which means your blood sugar will be more stable after drinking your smoothie, even if you add higher sugar fruits like banana. Almond butter and coconut butter are always classic, fool-proof picks, or try pistachio butter or hemp seed butter for a more exotic pick. 

Check out all 17 Dastony stone-ground nut and seeds butters HERE

Superfood power

One of the easiest ways to amp up the nutritional value of your smoothies is to toss in some superfood powders. Try a high-quality green powder like Vitamineral Green or Pure Synergy - these options give you a huge bang for your buck because they contain many different superfoods in 1 product. They're also highly concentrated, so just a few tsp is enough to give you a serious nutritional boost. You could also blend in medicinal mushrooms, adaptogens, matcha powder, maca root, a superfood berry blend, or anything else of your choosing. The goal is to sneak in even more trace nutrients and antioxidants without having to fuss too much over it. 

Sneak in the greens 

While it may be challenging to sit down and get through a huge bowl of dark leafy greens, that same quantity of greens can be blended right into a smoothie and drank with ease. If you find yourself slacking in the greens department, this is one of the easiest ways to ensure you're getting plenty of green leafy goodness. The result is a flood of vitamins and trace minerals, extra fiber, and tons of antioxidants to fuel your day. Baby spinach is a great, mild-tasting green to start with, or try raw kale - just be sure it's de-stemmed first as the stems are very fibrous and will result in a funky texture.

Pump up the protein 

Long gone are the days when adding a vegan protein powder to your smoothie meant sacrificing both taste and texture (we're talking to you chalky-tasting and indigestible soy protein ...). Now there are plenty of amazing plant-based options that are organic, additive-free, easy to digest, and are also soy-free, and allergen friendly. If you're searching for a new protein option, Sprout Living makes a variety of plant proteins enhanced with functional superfoods - and they taste like real food, don't contain any added sugars, and the texture is silky-smooth. 

Just a pinch of salt 

Quite possibly the number one tip for making flavors pop - adding a pinch of salt. This step might not come intuitively if you're blending something sweet, but adding just a pinch of high-quality Himalayan salt will bring forward the flavors of your smoothie, as well as infuse your recipe with valuable trace minerals. Just don't go overboard - a small pinch will do. 

A touch of vanilla

Another flavor-enhancing tip, especially for those looking to cut down on sugar, is to use just a touch of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste. This is a great hack to trick your taste buds into thinking they're getting something sweet and dessert-like even if the overall sugar content in your smoothie is quite low. For instance, if you're using frozen berries, some sugar-free almond milk, and sweet potato or frozen avocado instead of banana - adding a little vanilla will go a long way to make it more taste-bud-friendly!

Love Your Body with this Lemony Roasted Beet Tahini Dressing

Lemony Roasted Beet Tahini Dressing

While Valentine's Day may look like snuggling up with your sweetie and some chocolate-covered strawberries, it might also look like carving out a little extra time for some intentional self-care - like cooking a nourishing meal for yourself made with love. Eating well is one of the most loving things we can do for ourselves - by giving our body the proper nutrition we are able to have the energy and health it requires to live our best life and keep working towards our dreams. We're all worthy of that!

This vibrant dressing will definitely make eating your greens a joy - it's creamy and lemony with a pop of garlic and cumin. The sweetness from the roasted beet helps balance out the slight bitterness of the sesame tahini, and it also gives the dressing a vibrant pink color which will really help dress up your salads and bowls, or your Instagram feed if you decide to take a pic. It's full of healthy fats and calcium from sesame seeds, and the beets add additional fiber and folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C. It's a fun and colorful variation of your classic tahini dressing we hope you love!

Lemony Roasted Beet Tahini Dressing

The Recipe

Lemony Roasted Beet Tahini Dressing

Ingredients

1 cup Dastony raw sesame tahini

1/2 cup chopped beet, roasted (about 2 small beets

1/2 cup + 1 tbs lemon juice

1 cup filtered water

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

2 cloves fresh garlic

1 tsp Himalayan pink salt

3/4 tsp cumin

Instructions

1. Preheat your oven to 425F. Prep your beets by scrubbing and peeling, then chop in wedges and roast with avocado oil for 30-40 minutes until tender when poked with a fork. 


2. Blend the roasted beet and all remaining ingredients in a blender or a food processor until smooth and creamy. If you prefer a thinner dressing add a few spoonfuls of water until the desired consistency is reached. 

Serve the dressing over mixed greens, with roasted veggies, or as a sauce over a hearty rice or quinoa bowl. You can also use it as a sandwich spread - just add less water for a thicker consistency. This dressing will keep up to a week in an airtight glass container in the fridge.

Easy Stovetop Vegan Coconut Rice Pudding

Vegan Coconut Rice Pudding

Not sure what to do with all that leftover rice from last night's stirfry? We've got the perfect solution: make a delicious vegan coconut rice pudding! It's soft, creamy, and custardlike - without using dairy or eggs. And the best part ... it can be eaten for dessert or breakfast. In fact, it's a great sub for oatmeal if you find yourself bored with your usual hot cereal recipe. It's loaded with the flavors of coconut, cinnamon, and vanilla and is such a cozy, comforting-yet-healthy treat for chilly winter days.

You can also easily customize this recipe - use your favorite spices and plant milk of choice. The stone-ground coconut butter melts into the rice and almond milk while it's cooking, giving it that ultra-creamy texture and deliciously sweet coconut flavor - no coconut milk needed. Top with your choice of fruits or drizzle with nut butter or chocolate sauce (if desired). Don't be afraid to put your own spin on it!

Vegan Coconut Rice Pudding

The Recipe

Stovetop Vegan Coconut Rice Pudding

Serves 3

Ingredients

12 oz unsweetened almond milk
1.5 cups cooked white jasmine rice*
2 heaped Tbs Dastony stone ground coconut butter
2.5 Tbs maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Dash or two of cinnamon

Optional: Dash of cardamom and/or nutmeg

*We recommend white jasmine rice over other types of white rice because it has a very delicate, floral taste which lends well to sweet recipes like this one.

Instructions

1. Place almond milk, cooked rice, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and maple syrup in a small pot and bring to a low boil. 

2. Reduce heat and let simmer on medium-low heat for about 7 minutes, stirring continuously so the rice doesn't stick to the bottom and burn.

3. Add coconut butter, stir well, and continue to cook for 3 more minutes while stirring. 

Top with fresh fruit, shredded coconut, nuts and seeds, or anything your heart desires! Can be kept in the fridge and re-heated with a little splash of nut milk to make it creamy again. 

These Savory Tahini Mashed Sweet Potatoes are the Perfect Simple Side Dish

Savory Tahini Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Looking for a healthy and simple side dish to add a little extra nutrition and pizazz to your Thanksgiving menu? These Savory Tahini Mashed Sweet Potatoes are a perfect option.

While it's certainly common to see sweet potatoes on the Thanksgiving table, they're most often served in sweet recipes like casseroles with caramelized marshmallows on top. This recipe taps into a more savory side of sweet potatoes, balancing out their inherent sweetness with creamy raw sesame tahini, coconut oil, Himalayan salt, and a touch of garlic and fresh parsley. It's a very simple recipe with only 6 main ingredients (+ salt and pepper) and it's also vegan and paleo-friendly! Sweet potatoes are naturally packed full of valuable nutrition - they're one of the best sources of beta carotene and potassium in the plant kingdom, not to mention they're loaded with gut-healthy fiber and slow-burning carbs. We think it's safe to say we could all benefit from a few more healthy dishes this time of year. Plus, if your taste buds are not yet familiar with the divine combination that is sweet potatoes + tahini you're in for a real treat. 

Savory Tahini Mashed Sweet Potatoes

The Recipe 

Savory Tahini Mashed Sweet Potatoes
 
Serves 4-5
 
Ingredients

4 small-medium or 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed 
2 Tbs coconut oil (or vegan butter)
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
4 Tbs Dastony raw sesame tahini
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp fine Himalayan salt - or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
 
Optional for serving: chopped green onion, more parsley, and a drizzle of tahini

Steps

1. Place the peeled, cubed sweet potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover by about 1″. Add a few dashes of Himalayan salt and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. 
 
2. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 9-12 minutes, until done. You should be able to slide a fork into the potato easily.

3. Drain well, then place your cooked potatoes in a large mixing bowl with coconut oil (or vegan butter) and raw sesame tahini. Mash with a fork or electric mixer until you reach your desired consistency. Add lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper - mix again. Then add chopped parsley last and stir by hand. Reserve some parsley for a garnish.  

4. Transfer the mashed sweet potatoes to a serving bowl and serve with a sprinkle of extra parsley and/or chopped green onion. Optional: drizzle the top with a little extra tahini. 

Serve promptly. Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, and reheated before serving. 

Vibrant Black Bean Noodle Salad with Spicy Sprouted Almond Butter Sauce

Vibrant Black Bean Noodle Salad with Spicy Sprouted Almond Butter Sauce

Do you love noodles, but they don't exactly love you back? Well, don't fret because these days there are plenty of great grain-free alternatives made from protein-rich legumes like black beans, lentils, chickpeas, and soy, opening up a fresh new world whether you avoid gluten or grains for health reasons, or are simply an adventurous foodie who enjoys "going against the grain". 

This recipe uses black bean noodles, which have a nice earthy taste and bouncy, chewy texture despite having zero gluten. Not only are they rich in protein (a whopping 25 grams per serving!) but they are also loaded with gut-healthy fiber and have more iron than their wheat-based counterparts. They also make for quite the striking, dramatic dish when served with other colorful veggies like sweet potato, cilantro, and red bellow pepper-like in this recipe here. 

And since no noodle dish is complete without a tasty sauce to bring it to life, you'll also find here a quick and easy sprouted almond butter sauce made from Dastony Sprouted Almond Butter, toasted sesame oil, garlic, sriracha, and a touch of maple syrup. It's packed with flavor and spice and its creaminess and subtle sweetness help to perfectly flavor balance the black bean noodles, which can taste slightly bitter on their own. This recipe is customizable, so feel free to swap in/out your favorite veggies (butternut squash for sweet potato, remove the bell pepper, toss in some chopped celery or spinach, etc. Sky's the limit!)

Vibrant Black Bean Noodle with Spicy Sprouted Almond Butter Sauce

The Recipe
 
Vibrant Black Bean Noodle Salad with Spicy Sprouted Almond Butter Sauce 

Serves 2
 
Black Bean Noodle Salad
 
Ingredients
 
1/2 box of organic black bean noodles
1 small sweet potato - sliced and roasted, then cubed
1 small red bell pepper, or 1/2 large, chopped
2 stalks green onion, finely chopped
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
 
Spicy Sprouted Almond Butter Sauce
 
Ingredients 

1/2 cup sprouted almond butter
1/2 cup water
1 Tbs lime juice
3 tsp siracha or hot sauce  
1 tsp nama shoyu
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt, to taste
2 cloves garlic

Optional: a few pinches of chili flakes or cayenne to amp up the spice
Optional garnish: sesame seeds

Directions
 
1. Wash and slice your sweet potatoes into 1/3" rounds, and bake on an oiled baking sheet at 425 F for 40-45 mins, flipping them over about midway through. Set aside to cool once done.
2. Prep your noodles according to the directions on the package. 
3. Strain and rinse noodles, chop your remaining veggies, and mix everything together in a bowl. 
4. Blend dressing ingredients together until smooth.
5. Serve noodle salad with sauce and ENJOY!  

A Guilt-Free Cheesecake that's Good for your Gut!

Vegan Mixed Berry Probiotic Cheesecake Bars

Yes, these vegan cheesecake bars are both delicious and beautiful. They're also vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, (almost) raw, and are completely free of refined sugar. But the benefits don't end there. They also contain billions of probiotics and prebiotics to boost digestion and your immune system. Wait just a minute - a cheesecake that's guilt-free, nutrient-rich, and good for your gut!? You bet!

These bars are packed with nutrient-rich ingredients like raw walnuts and cashews, coconut butter, dates, and berries to energize your body and give you a sweet tooth fix without a blood sugar crash or sugar coma. Adding a teaspoon of Sunbiotics vanilla probiotics to the cake filling means each bar will contain billions of probiotics (1/3 a tsp has 20 billion CFU's!) without changing the flavor of your recipe at all.

Each bite is smooth, dense, and creamy - just like a cheesecake should be. The swirls of sweet mixed berry puree perfectly compliment the zestiness of the lemon and sweet vanilla in the filling. And no baking is required. If you're a raw dessert fan or love cheesecake in general, this is a must-try!

Vegan Mixed Berry Probiotic Cheesecake Bars

The Recipe

Mixed Berry Probiotic Cheesecake Bars

Makes 1, 8 x 8" square baking pan (6 cheesecake bars)

Ingredients

Cheesecake filling

1.5 cups raw cashews, soaked
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk  
1/2 cup Dastony stone ground raw coconut butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 lemon, juiced
1 heaping tsp fresh lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 pinches Himalayan crystal salt
1 tsp Sunbiotics vanilla probiotic powder

Berry layer

1.5 cup frozen mixed berries
1 Tbs maple syrup

Crust

1.75 cups almond flour
1 cup raw coconut flakes
3/4 cup Dates
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1 Tbs Dastony stone ground raw almond butter
1 tsp melted coconut oil
2 pinch Himalayan crystal salt

Steps

Line an 8×8 inch tin with parchment paper or cling film.

1. Crust Prep the base by blending all the ingredients together in a food processor until it creates a crumbly, sticky texture. Test it by pressing it together with your fingers. It should bind but not be too wet. If it's too crumbly you can add a tiny splash of water.

2. Press the mixture into the bottom of the tin - make sure it's even.

Filling

1. Place all cheesecake filling ingredients in blender except lemon zest. Blend until smooth and creamy - this may take a full minute to fully blend. The smoother you can get it, the more authentic it will be in texture. Then add zest and blend again briefly. 

2. Pour the cheesecake filling on top of the base mixture and smooth with the back of a spoon.

3. Place frozen berries in pan and place on the stove on low heat. Add maple syrup and let it simmer for just a minute or so. You don't want it to become overcooked as it will lose too much of its water. If you're using fresh berries you can also add those to a blender with the maple syrup and simply blend until smooth.

4. Pour berry mixture over filling, and using a knife or a chopstick swirl the puree around.

5. Cover the tin with foil or cling film and leave to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours, or freezer for at least 2 hours before serving. Can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for months and thawed before serving.