Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Vegan smoothies are delicious, fun and — perhaps best of all — simple to make. They are also packed full of nutrients to give your body a boost of healthy energy any time. Your favorite fruits and vegetables make a great base to begin making your perfect smoothie. For a rich and creamy vegan smoothie, add a thickening ingredient such as bananas, coconut milk, avocado, seed or nut butters. Superfoods like spirulina and chlorella can be added as well for an even bigger healthy kick.
What are Spirulina and Chlorella?
Spirulina and chlorella are freshwater algae. Both are available in a powdered form for smoothie-loving humans to conveniently consume. Each type of algae has a lovely bright green color that is acquired from chlorophyll, a powerful antioxidant. According to Mayo Clinic, antioxidants may protect your body's cells from free radicals — molecules that may play a role in the development of heart disease and cancer.
Spirulina and chlorella are both green algae, but they have some important differences as well. The most immediately noticeable difference in chlorella vs spirulina is their colors. Chlorella has a more yellow-green hue while spirulina has a deep, blue-green color. The bluish tint that gives spirulina its intense color comes from a rare pigment called phycocyanin, another known antioxidant. The lighter green of chlorella is indicative of its higher concentration of chlorophyll versus spirulina.
Chlorella is known for its detoxifying power, thanks to its high chlorophyll content. Chlorella is also rich in iron and contains a special growth factor that may help repair damage to nerve tissues. It may also aid in cell reproduction in the body. It has been used in medicine to reduce the side effects of radiation cancer treatments, and to increase white blood cell counts in people with HIV.
Spirulina is rich in protein and healthy fat. This means that it may promote a healthy heart and brain. It is also known for its immune-boosting properties and its high concentration of phycocyanin, a protein complex which may help prevent cancer. Either type of algae supplement is a great addition to a healthy and tasty vegan smoothie, like the ones that follow!
Almond Avocado Spirulina Smoothie
1 cup raw spinach
About 1/4 banana
About 1/4 avocado
1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon spirulina
1/4 cup water
Blend all of the ingredients and enjoy! A topping of nuts or raw coconut makes a great addition to this recipe, if desired. This recipe yields one smoothie.
Choclatey Peanut Butter Chlorella Smoothie
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup ice cubes
1 teaspoon chlorella
Blend all of the ingredients until smooth, and top with oats or granola if desired. Yields one smoothie.
Chlorella and Spirulina Power Smoothie
1/2 cup spinach
1/2 cup kale
1/2 cup blueberries
3/4 cup coconut water
1/4 cup ice
1/2 teaspoon each of chlorella and spirulina
Blend all ingredients until smooth. The coconut water in this recipe could be replaced with almond milk or another type of vegan milk for a thicker smoothie. Yields one smoothie.
Have Fun with your Vegan Smoothies
Smoothie recipes can be a lot of fun, but the best smoothie will be the one that is tailored to your personal preferences. Don't be afraid to change and experiment with recipes to make them your own. Any of the smoothie recipes above could be made with either, both or neither of the algae varieties. The same is true for any of the other ingredients. The important thing to remember is to add enough ingredients to bulk up the smoothie and add nutrients, and to keep in mind the desired thickness of the smoothie.
Image credit: Jisu Han