These smoothies may be simple — no more than four ingredients per recipe — but they pack a ton of nutrients for both running performance and recovery. These three smoothie recipes from professional triathlon coach Jesse Kropelnicki are a quick and convenient source of protein, carbohydrates and energy for both pre- and post-workout. Plus, they’re a much more delicious option than mixing your protein powder with water or plain almond milk.
Cocoa, Almond and Date Smoothie
Makes one 10-ounce smoothie
Dates are incredibly sweet and have a sticky, chewy texture, making them ideal for baked goods, chutneys, granola, salads, pilafs and spreads. Because they’re natural sources of sugar that come with some nutrient density, they’re perfect for sweetening this chocolate-y smoothie. Soaking the dates ahead of time softens their chewy skins and helps make the drink smooth.
- ¼ cup pitted dates (see tip)
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- Ice cubes (optional)
Put the dates and almond milk in a small bowl and let soak until the dates are soft, about 15 minutes. Transfer the dates and almond milk to a blender and add the cocoa powder. Blend until smooth and frothy. Blend in a few ice cubes (if using) for an icy cold drink.
Tip: A source of dietary fiber, B vitamins, magnesium and potassium, dates also contain easy-to-digest carbohydrates. Have them before a workout for a quick energy boost in place of an energy gel. They can even be used during exercise in moderation as a replacement for energy gels and bars.
Banana-Honey Protein Smoothie
Makes one 20-ounce smoothie
This protein-packed smoothie can be served for breakfast on non-workout mornings or between meals. The protein powder adds 18 grams of protein to help facilitate muscle protein synthesis, keep blood sugar stable and keep you satiated for hours.
- 1 cup unsweetened 1% milk
- 1 level scoop vanilla whey protein powder, such as Designer Whey
- 1 frozen medium ripe banana (see Tip)
- 1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar (optional)
In a blender, combine the milk, protein powder, banana and honey (if using). Blend for 30 seconds or until smooth and frothy.
Tip: Mostly known for their potassium and anti-cramping effects, bananas are also a good source of fiber, vitamins B6 and C, magnesium and folate. Because of their natural sweetness, I like to keep a stash of peeled bananas in my freezer for smoothies or baked goods. Simply remove the peel for ripe bananas and keep them in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer. Almost all smoothies turn out better when you use frozen fruit instead of ice!
Blueberry Protein Smoothie
Makes one 24-ounce smoothie
Blueberries are one of the most nutrient-dense sources of carbohydrates known to humankind, and they’re packed with antioxidants. As an endurance athlete, you create plenty of free radicals with the activities you do, so antioxidants that can help prevent cell damage from these free radicals are a welcome addition.
- 1 cup no-sugar-added apple or grape juice
- 1 level scoop vanilla whey protein powder
- 1 cup frozen blueberries (see tip)
In a blender, combine the juice, protein powder and blueberries. Blend for 30 seconds or until smooth and frothy.
Tip: Have an abundance of fresh blueberries? Why not freeze them? Wash them, and then arrange in a single layer on a sheet pan. Freeze for 1 to 2 hours, then transfer to a resealable plastic bag.
Excerpted and adapted from The Endurance Training Diet & Cookbook Copyright © 2017 by Jesse Kropelnicki. Published by Harmony Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC