Making satisfying and hearty smoothies (not to mention tasty) can seem like a puzzle sometimes. You want to keep that sweet, fruity flavor, but also make sure you’re getting healthy fats and proteins and not just sugar. (Here are more tips for keeping your smoothie from being a sugar bomb.)
If adding kale to smoothies once shocked you, you’ll probably need a moment to recover after hearing the latest trend to bulk up the morning beverage.
What’s the secret smoothie ingredient? Lentils.
Okay, so it sounds bizarre to add beans or pulses to a fruity, sippable smoothie, but those who love lentils in their smoothies swear it doesn’t change the flavor much.
The health benefits of lentils—red or green—are so numerous that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses, urging people around the world to add more pulses (like lentils and chickpeas) to their diet.
Here’s what 1/4-cup of cooked lentils in your smoothies can add to your daily diet.
4.5 grams of protein (about 10 percent of your recommended dietary allowance, or RDA)
3.9 grams of fiber (10 to 15 percent of your RDA)
183 mg of potassium
1.7 mg of iron
90 mcg of folate (23 percent of your RDA)
That protein boost is not just great for weight lifters or athletes. A 2015 study found that increasing the protein at breakfast can aid weight management by helping to curb hunger and reduce calorie intake for the rest of the day. (Here are other ways to add protein to your favorite breakfast.)
Lentils and other beans and pulses might be the ideal way to get your A.M. protein. Getting your protein from these foods, instead of, say, saturated fat-packed meats and cheeses, may help prevent obesity, heart disease, and certain cancers, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That’s because beans and pulses have no saturated fat and are higher in fiber and micronutrients compared to animal protein.
For other high-protein smoothie ideas, try this pumpkin and almond butter smoothie bowl.