Who doesn’t dig a good smoothie?!
Morning madness is a real thing, especially these days where so many people are rushing off to school, work or a quick gym session at the crack of dawn.
Smoothies are not only #trending, but the need for this convenient on-the-go breakfast is growing daily. Even when it comes to a pre-workout or afternoon snack, many people around the world are filling up their blenders and making their favourite shake.
In my last two blogs, I took a closer look at juicing, as well as the commercial juices on the market. We weighed up their pros and cons and chatted about a few key things to watch out for when juicing.
It was there that we spoke about the lack of fibre found in juices as the juicing process itself extracts the liquid from the pulp of the raw fruit and vegetables. The skin of fruit and vegetables are also packed with vitamins, minerals, bioactive compounds and fibre, all which reduce the risk of chronic disease development and improve overall health and wellbeing. Smoothies go a step further than juices in maintaining the fibre and its benefits.
As a result of smoothies containing loads of fibre, both soluble and insoluble, they are not only digestive system wizards, but they also provide additional satiety and can easily be used as meal replacements by adding protein, nutritionally rich flavouring powders (cocoa, matcha, turmeric, berry) and healthy fats.
Are you getting in your ‘5 a day’ fruit and vegetables? It is not ground-breaking news that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables reduces the risk of chronic diseases and cancer, as well as improves gut health and weight management. Although many of us do include some fruit in our diet, many of us don’t eat nearly enough vegetables.
Smoothies are a simple, quick and easily-digestible way of getting in your daily greens. This holds true, especially if you or your kids are not veggies or fruit lovers.
Although I do sometimes prefer to eat my food rather than drink it, smoothies are super simple and feed you with on-the-go energy for your day ahead.
Smoothie Tips and Tricks
Smoothies, just like juices, whether homemade or store-bought have pros and cons. Here are some tips to make sure you know what to look out for when buying a smoothie or making your own.
Always ensure your smoothie is well-balanced, especially if it is replacing a meal or wholesome snack. Ideally, if you are replacing your breakfast with a smoothie, it should contain a vegetable, a fruit, a protein, and a healthy fat.
Watch the sugar
Many smoothies, especially popular fruit-based or store-bought smoothies contain more than one fruit serving and they use fruit juices to ramp up the flavour. In addition to this, they may have sweetening agents such as honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar or agave. Fruits that are high GI, such as bananas, dates, and watermelon are often used to mask the flavours of the greens. Slowly but sweetly the sugar per sip can climb up, resulting in over 50g of sugar per smoothie. This is way too much for one serving and will ultimately result in increased insulin and blood sugar levels, poor satiety and, with continuous consumption, increased weight gain and risk for diabetes.
Choose fruits that are low GI, such as berries, strawberries, apples, and kiwis. Remember, limit your fruit portion to one per smoothie or half if there is another starch, such as raw oats.
Add a protein and healthy fat
A great way to make a balanced smoothie, and make sure it gives you bang for your buck when it comes to longer lasting energy, is by adding a protein or a healthy fat.
Protein sources include a range of protein powders (whey, pea, soy), raw eggs (not recommended if you have a low white cell count) and Greek yoghurt (contains 18g protein per 175ml of yoghurt). There are loads of healthy fat sources one could add to a smoothie: a tablespoon of nut butter or sugar-free peanut butter, a tablespoon of chia seeds or flax seeds (high in omega-3 fatty acids), 2 brazil nuts, a tablespoon of almonds or 1 teaspoon of raw tahina paste.
Remember to watch the fat portions though, as these can also quickly add up, making your smoothie very calorie dense.
Don’t forget your greens!
Greens are a rage for a reason. Green leafy vegetables such as baby spinach, kale, swiss chard, watercress, and herbs not only contain fibre, folic acid and omega-3, but they also contain the bioactive sulforaphane, which is known to boost detoxification in the body. By using greens as the base of every smoothie you are significantly reducing the sugar content as well as increasing the nutritional power.
Simple, fresh and plan ahead
Become an efficient smoothie maker by planning ahead. Have a few of your fav’ recipes up your sleeve, allowing you to purchase, pre-cut and store all your smoothie ingredients. Freezing some of your fruit and vegetable in ready-to-use right sized packs makes the process as simple as 1, 2, 3. By adding frozen fruit or vegetables, your smoothie also gets that winning creamy texture. Remember to also always have a mixture of fresh and frozen in your smoothie, so add fresh greens or herbs.
Ideally, drink your smoothie directly after making it to make sure you don’t lose all those beneficial nutrients. If you’re not blending and drinking straight away, store your smoothie in the fridge in an airtight container.
Have fun with variety
Lastly, switch up your smoothie ingredients to avoid that dreaded taste fatigue. By varying your greens, fruit choices and fats, you are also allowing your body to benefit from a wide range of nutrients and bioactive ingredients.
Keep a lookout for my well-balanced, favourite, go-to smoothie recipes. Hopefully, they will soon become your favourites too.
Written By, Hilit Milner
Hilit is a registered clinical dietitian who runs a private practice, works in a top private hospital and has founded a wellness blog called Sunrise by HM. She views health holistically, always starting from a cellular level, working her way out. She has an appetite for all things connected to nutrition, health, fitness and their close relationship with mental well-being.