Often, the word “diet” is casually used as a step we take towards becoming healthier. We often distinguish between the “healthy” and “not healthy,” ultimately creating a thought pattern that can be the toxic source of bad habits. “Diet” simply means—that which is being consumed. With all connotations aside, we can understand eating and drinking as innate, so let’s recreate the baseline: everyone is on a diet! With this perspective, our understanding of meals can shift from the simplicity of good or bad, towards thinking about how individual foods make us feel—immediately and long term. The following descriptions of food can be consumed as a smoothie—a fantastic example of a meal supplement or replacement that can fulfill our flavor fixes and nutritional needs.

Mangoes

If you have a sweet tooth and are partial to fruit over vegetables in your daily search for healthy foods, be sure to include a healthy dose of flavorful fruit in your smoothie. While fresh fruit is a beautiful option—it can also be a seasonal one. Missouri winters are a reality and the good news is that frozen fruit can offer essential vitamins and nourishment when local farmers are in the off seasons. Frozen fruit is storable and often cheap, as 12-16oz bags can be purchased for only a few dollars. Buy in bulk and better your budget! A personal favorite is frozen mango chunks. Mangoes are rich in antioxidants and vitamins, linked to better eyes, asthma prevention and digestive health just to name a few. Mangoes contain beta-carotene—an antioxidant linked to healthy skin and eyes. A general benefit to eating fruit is the energy boost that comes from the natural sugars. The intake of natural sugars are essential to recovery, especially after exercise. (An added benefit of frozen fruit is that it replaces the need for ice, saving your blender from the wear and tear of thrashing ice cubes. Your smoothie will be ready to serve cold with no need for additional refrigeration!)

Plain Greek Yogurt

Although it is not a fruit or vegetable, plain Greek yogurt to a daily diet can have immense and immediate health benefits. Avoid pre-flavored yogurts. They will have excess sugar. Instead, use Plain Greek yogurt in a smoothie that is flavored with fresh or frozen fruit, or add mix-ins, such as nuts, granola or honey. Greek yogurt will have a thicker creamier texture than regular yogurt which is a result of the straining process it went through to reduce sugars. It is an excellent source of protein and probiotics which will help good bacteria grow in your stomach to boost digestive health. Plain Greek yogurt is an excellent option for breakfast. It will awaken your body by activating systems ready to produce energy.

Leafy Greens

Leafy Greens can be a vital addition to smoothies. Think spinach and kale and other greens rich in color. Spinach will almost entirely blend into a smoothie’s texture, becoming unnoticeable to the point that the smoothie’s color may turn green before its flavor does. Kale—a more bitter and crunchy substitute will add a prominent texture and flavor. Leafy greens contain essential vitamins and dietary fibers. Kale contains omega-3 fatty acids; natural fats also found in avocados that are essential to brain and heart health.

Try these options as daily staples for establishing an achievable, long-term health plan. Your life doesn’t hinge on one meal, so be kind to yourself, and balance the occasional treat with consistent, nutritious consumption, one day at a time.