Better Liquid Nutrition Simplified

July 6, 2016 by Ashley Koff R.D.

Build a Better Liquid Nutrition Pit Stop

Whether you are making your own, having someone else make it or buying a pre-made shake or smoothie, here’s what you should keep in mind to make sure your liquid choice delivers on optimal nutrition and taste.

What is a ‘Shake’? Provides quality nutrition in the liquid form and can be consumed at any time as long as it counts for all or part of a nutrition pit stop (based on what it contains)

What should /should not be in it?
Protein: This is typically the focus on a shake and where I see the worst mistakes made – too little, too much, and too poor quality protein. Aim for 7-15g quality protein. – I’m a big fan of whole food sources of proteins as well as these in the form of powders: hemp, plant protein blends (as long as they are organic or at least Non-GMO, and not chemically made isolates), and organic, grass-fed sources of whey or egg proteins.

Vegetables- These are either starchy or non-starchy (you can see on The Nutrition Plan ( – A shake is a great place to get a rainbow of colors – but if you include starchy vegetables note that they go towards your carb count.

Fruit & Grains – Enjoy organic ready to eat fruits or frozen ones but note your choices will go toward your carb count, so count accordingly.

Liquid choices- It’s going to end up all liquid so sometimes all you and your shake maker need is some extra water. You can also do unsweetened versions of coffee or teas, non-dairy milks*, milk*, and coconut water* but make sure to note which ones go toward your carb count (*)

Carbohydrates – Are awesome for quick energy and delicious taste, but too many of them can add to your waistline, can challenge digestion, and can actually work against your better energy. Try aiming for 15-30g total carbs

Fats – Like nuts and seeds (and their butters/spreads), oils, and certain fruits deliver lasting energy as well as hormone balancing nutrients IF you choose better quality and quantity, see the nutrition plan for this info. Don’t overload, keep fat portion <15g Extras: Shakes can be a great place to get in added nutrients – whether it’s probiotics, Symbitoics, supplemental fiber, glutamine, stimulants (caffeine or cacao or herbs), and even multis (vitamins and minerals). However, if you are buying a shake that already has these added in, make sure that they pass the Quality and Quantity test too.


In the form of juices, smoothies, soups, and shots, so many of us are turning to liquid nutrition at different points in our days. So is liquid nutrition good? Is drinking a salad the same as eating one? And if so, why? Are some liquid options better than others? The answer – not surprising – is yes, so let’s discuss what exactly is better liquid nutrition.

What exactly is liquid nutrition? Simply put, when you blend, puree, cook down, juice, or squeeze food to get liquids, you (or your tools) are actually doing the first stages of digestion that a solid food goes through when it enters the body. So in the case of liquid nutrition, you or your blender becomes the teeth and the enzymes etc. that break apart the food into usable pieces and parts. Thus, the net result is nutrients ready for the body to use.

From our initial days – as a baby – liquid nutrition delivers the body nutrients it needs. But the question is why, after we develop teeth, would we want to choose liquid nutrition? When the body’s attention needs to be elsewhere – as in trying to heal – then liquid nutrition offers a great option as less digestive effort enables the body to focus elsewhere. At times, the body is focused elsewhere as the body’s response to stress is to turn attention from digestion to its ‘escape’ or ‘survival’ efforts [‘fight or flight’]; thus, liquid nutrition is a great tool to ensure nutrients get in to support the body during these times. Stress can be good or bad – excitement or anxiety, and it can also be the product of good for us efforts like an intense workout. So liquid nutrition offers an effective, efficient way to deliver nutrients to the body during these times.

Liquid nutrition is also great in the sense that we can pack in a lot of nutrients at once. For example, it is possible for a juice to contain the nutrients from several pounds of vegetables, that’s a lot more than a side salad! Additionally, adding potent foods like turmeric and ginger – foods that may taste too strong when eaten in the solid form – adding them to a smoothie can mask the intensity of the flavors.

Now Back to Better, as in, what constitutes better liquid nutrition. As Qualitarians, we believe that liquid or solid, the quality of your ingredients directly impacts its health enabling benefits (we also think it enables better taste!). To create ready-to-eat/drink liquid nutrition, many companies do more than you body’s digestive system could or would want to do. They use very high heats for long times or chemically remove one ingredient from others, or they use ingredients we like to call “chemistry lab projects.” These are not quality choices. Thus, the first thing to ask about your liquid nutrition is would my body or kitchen tool make it this way? Next, like all better nutrition choices, you want your liquid nutrition to be nutrient-balanced or part of a nutrient balanced eating occasion. So if your juice contains no carbohydrates or protein or fat, then what you eat with it should (greens juice + nuts/seeds), conversely it’s important to not get too many carbohydrates for your body to handle at one time (that tends to be 1-2 servings/ 15-30 grams total carbohydrates) and then consume with sources of proteins and fats or include them in your liquid nutrition (soup or smoothie). For more on nutrient balance, see the Better Nutrition, Simplified plan (

Looking for some examples of better liquid nutrition? Look no further than the Better Nutrition, Simplified pit stops and The AKA List. Here are some highlights:

  • Functional Formularies Liquid Hope is a dream come true for us healthcare practitioners that struggled with tube-feed options that didn’t match our quality standards. Additionally, it’s a savory oral meal replacement made with 16 whole foods ingredients that can be eaten as a soup or used as the base for many options. It’s a game changer for those healing from serious diseases like cancer or autoimmune illnesses, and it’s also a great choice for those who want a quality option to promote optimal nutrient intake (one client has it for breakfast daily with coconut water)!
  • Daily Greens organic greens juices – just one bottle contains up to 6 pounds of fresh produce, all based in greens! This is a big deal because so many so-called “greens” juices on the market have one “green” ingredient at the end of the ingredient list or they have so much fruit or added sugar that it doesn’t make the greens worth it. Check out the Half Pints at Whole Foods markets, as well as their “milk” based drinks powered with the nutrients from hemp milk.
  • Organic Gemini’s tigernut horchata. Answering a common challenge – how can I get enough fiber in my liquid nutrition – these horchatas offer a naturally sweet (tigernuts are a root vegetable, so naturally sweet) with at least 6 grams of fiber per bottle. You can try their new green flavor which allows you to try the great taste of the new-to-us organic BroccoLeaf (look for it in stores from Foxy Produce if you want to juice your own).
  • DIY your own better liquid nutrition thanks to our friends at Earthbound Farms with a range of options – we keep our freezer stocked with their organic fruits and vegetables including the frozen Organic Smoothie Kickstarts as well as using their products – leftover greens, celery and even cauliflower – for our soups and smoothies. Check out great recipe ideas on their site too and also try the app from The Blender Girl.
  • Upgrade your liquid nutrition to make it better with help from more of our friends. Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts, protein powders, and hemp fiber make great blend-ins as well as Nature’s Path Qi’a. We add our Symbiotics (colostrum) to one smoothie a day to provide support for a healthy digestive tract lining.

Are you getting your nutrients from liquids? What are your favorite better liquid nutrition options? Share them with us by tweeting us @AshleyKoff and @ToriHolthaus so we can all share ideas and tips for better liquid nutrition #SipBySip.


Sip Your Way Slim with Ashley’s Easy Liquid Nutrition tips

Less is More – a beverage with natural sugar should be no bigger than 6 oz (juice, milk etc) or no more than 15g total carbohydrate for the serving YOU DRINK

Drink aspirationally – wouldn’t you rather be ‘tall’ than ‘grande’?

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade – water, lemons/lemon juice, stevia or 1 tsp of honey or maple syrup.

Visit the Spa in every Sip – add cucumber and mint to your water for delicious “spa water” all day long.
Get it Foamy – choose coffee or espresso with foam versus double digit ounces of milk.

Eat fruit, Skip most juice – get your “sweet on” bite by bite with deliciously sweet whole organic fruit versus sipping sugar sweetened calories – the fiber, water, and nutrients in the fruit will help you have more and better health with less sugar.

Just a spoonful of sugar – means choose a Chai tea latte not Chai ‘teaspoons of sugar” latte or a Cafe Mocha with 16 teaspoons of sugar – brew a chai tea bag, add unsweetened milk/non-dairy milk and 1 teaspoon of sweetener (sugar, honey or stevia) and drink a coffee while eating 1 oz of an #AKA dark chocolate or brew organic cacao and add it to your coffee.


Ashley’s DigestiveTuneUp mocktail: You ARE what you Digest & Absorb

I always say You are NOT what you eat, you ARE what you Digest & Absorb. Do both of these better with this delicious mocktail that helps restore and retain optimal digestion for better health. Bonus, it also helps build lean body mass and promote a healthy inflammatory response. Yup, I drink it daily when home.

Ashley’s DigestiveTuneUp mocktail
1 lemon, juiced
2 ‘thumbs’ ginger, peeled
1 ‘thumb’ turmeric peeled
1 tsp raw honey
1 tsp raw coconut oil
1 scoop Symbiotics colostrum

*all ingredients organic Makes one drink or 3-4 shots

Blend ginger in water to create juice (strain with nut milk bag if hairs of ginger present after blending). Add all other ingredients and blend. Enjoy plain or blend with your favorite AKA protein powder. Can be made into a Popsicle or smoothie.


Ashley’s Hemp Pro 70 recipes

Nuts about chocolate pudding (makes two 1/4 cup servings)

All ingredients should be organic

1/2 cup organic greek yogurt
3 tablespoons Manitoba hemp pro 70 Chocolate
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce (or for more flavor try one half of a mashed banana)
2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons peanut butter (if your peanut butter is unsalted, add 1/2 tsp salt or salt substitute)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
stevia to taste (optional)
Salt to taste especially if your peanut butter doesn’t contain any

1. Heat peanut butter in a pan or microwave safe dish (heat 20 seconds) or until softened (makes blending   easier)
2. Meanwhile, put all the other ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk together.
3. Whisk in the peanut butter and taste—adjust sweetness or saltiness accordingly.
4. Spoon into dishes and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
5. Upon serving, top with 1 tsp Manitoba hemp hearts.



Blog courtesy Ashley Koff