I love making smoothies, but my Vitamix started collecting dust a few months ago after Lily developed a banana allergy. I almost always use at least half a banana in my smoothies, especially if I’m adding greens. I’m also used to adding protein powder but I don’t have one that I love at the moment. It took me some time to come up with a banana-free, protein-rich green smoothie that settled well in my stomach and tasted good, but it was worth the trial and error.
I now drink this banana-free green smoothie almost every day, either for breakfast or lunch, and I really like it. If you’re a fan of not-too-sweet pumpkin pie, you’ll probably like it, too. I swear you cannot taste the spinach. It’s super creamy and fairly filling, so you may want to start with just half (save the other half in the fridge for a day — shake well before you drink it).
- 4 ounces almond milk and 4 ounces quinoa milk (or 8 oz. other non-dairy milk)
- 1/2 medium or 1 small pre-baked sweet potato
- big handful organic baby spinach
- 1 to 2 tablespoons raw almond or pecan butter (I use 1 and 1/2 tbsp)
- 2 to 3 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- optional: 1 teaspoon flaxseed oil
- optional: 1-2 drops vitamin D (2000 IU each)
- Peel sweet potato.
- Put all ingredients in the blender, starting with milk.
- Blend until creamy.
I cook up a bunch of sweet potatoes every weekend. The easiest way for me is to put the sweet potatoes in a slow cooker (Crock-Pot), whole and unpeeled. Set it on high for 3 to 3-1/2 hours… and that’s it! I let them cool and then stick them in the fridge to be used in smoothies and purees throughout the week.
If you have a Vitamix, Blendtec, or similar high-powered blender, consider making your own non-dairy milks. The ones you buy in the store often contain added sugar, high-FODMAP gums, and additives like carageenan, which may cause GI inflammation. I’ve posted recipes for homemade almond milk and quinoa milk.
If you find the smoothie too filling, try using half the amount of sweet potato and/or thinning it out with 3-4 ounces of water.
While you could substitute honey or agave nectar for the maple syrup, both are high-FODMAP and may exacerbate bloating. Maple syrup works best for me and it’s also a good source of manganese.
Remember to “chew” your smoothie. That may sound weird, the first part of digestion happens in the mouth. Though there’s really nothing to chew here, leaving each sip in your mouth for a few seconds will the enzymes in your saliva to start breaking down the fats and carbohydrates. If you gulp the smoothie down, you’ll miss this important step and may feel more full and bloated than you would otherwise.
This smoothie is not only tasty, it’s a great source of GP-friendly, well-balanced nutrition including:
To prevent common nutrition-related complications of gastroparesis, I highly recommend eating a rainbow of GP-friendly foods. Leafy greens are especially important, but green tends to be a hard color for many GPers to incorporate into their diet. This smoothie will give you at least one full serving of spinach in a tasty, GP-friendly way.
It can be difficult for GPers who don’t do well with meat and poultry to get enough protein throughout the day. (Personally I do great with lean ground beef, but poultry makes me terribly nauseous.) This smoothie offers about 10 grams of protein, depending on which kind of milk and how much nut butter you use.
If you’re wondering, you want at least 10% of your calories to come from protein. That’s about 45 grams of protein for an 1,800 calorie diet. Some people will feel better with 15-20% of their calories from protein, but the most important thing to remember is that you want every mini-meal and snack to contain some protein and some healthy fat along with the carbohydrates that most GPers tend to rely on.
Just as it’s important to get enough protein in your diet, we must consume adequate amounts of healthy fat. While decreasing the amount of fat in your diet is helpful for symptom management, eating too little fat can lead to all kinds of problems down the road. Most GPers do well with anywhere from 25-50 grams of fat per day. (Remember, that the more well-balanced your management plan is, the more wiggle room you’ll have to improve your diet!)
Two things to remember when it comes to fat: you want to eat high quality, healthy fats and you want to space your fat intake out throughout that day. So while a plate of greasy fried food is likely to send your symptoms into a tailspin, small yet frequent servings of nut butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado (if you don’t react to FODMAPs), real butter (NOT fake buttery spread) can definitely be a part of a well-balanced GP-friendly diet.
This smoothie is certainly in the higher range for fat intake per meal but I’d still consider it GP-friendly. I would start with 1 tablespoon of nut butter, though, and work your way up from there depending on your results.
Spinach is a great source of iron (and unlikely to constipate your like iron supplements). If you’re actively trying to increase your iron or ferritin level, it’s important to know that calcium may prevent absorption of some of the iron. That’s one of the reasons why homemade non-dairy milks are a better choice than cow’s milk or calcium-fortified store-bought almond milk. Also worth noting, vitamin C helps the body absorb iron… and sweet potatoes are a good source!
I’ve listed Vitamin D as optional here but for most people, it’s a good thing to add. It’s been estimated that up to 3/4 of American may be deficient in this important vitamin (and that deficiency may play a role in everything from cancer to increased risk of Cesarean section).
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it’s best absorbed when taken with dietary fat. We’ve already talked about the healthy fat in this smoothie… that will help ensure that your body can soak up and utilize all of the added vitamin D.
Unlike commercial meal replacement shakes, this smoothie is made with all natural, unrefined sweeteners. That means you get some nutrients along with the sweet flavor. Nearly half of the sugar in this smoothie (12-20 grams depending on how much maple syrup you add) is found in the sweet potatoes and the nut butter.
More Smoothie Info & Recipes
Check out my GP-Friendly Juicing & Blending eBook for dozens of GP-friendly smoothies recipes, plus lots of advice and tips to help you incorporate them into your management plan.