Most smoothies are really sugar bombs disguised as health foods. Loaded with juices, flavored yogurts (or sugary sorbets or frozen yogurt), and loads of fruit. By the time you’ve slurped-up your feel-good smoothie, you would have been better off with a serving of full-fat ice cream.
That being said, is it possible to enjoy a healthy smoothie?
Yes – for sure.
We just need to keep a few tips in mind!
Here are a 5 key things to keep in mind (and in health) when making (or ordering) a smoothie.
1.) Add volume with veggies
Help fill yourself up (not out) by packing your smoothie with at least one cup of leafy greens – spinach, swiss chard, or kale work well. Green veggies add Vitamin K, iron, vitamin C, and calcium to your daily diet. Plus, when mixed with fruit, it’ll be easier to get more of them in. You can think of your smoothie, as a vehicle for greens!
2.) Keep fruit to two servings
We love fruit, but sometimes smoothies can be bombarded with too much fruit, resulting in more sugar and calories than we want at one time. Just keep your smoothie fruit additions to one to two servings per smoothie. To keep it simple, a serving of raw fruit (like berries or grapes) is 1/2 cup, and a whole piece of fruit (think 1 small banana, an apple, a peach, or an orange) counts as one serving of fruit.
3.) Skip the juice
Fruit juice – unlike whole fruit – delivers sugar to your body quickly and rapidly – as there’s no fiber to slow down the metabolic process. To keep things super simple, think of your stomach as a sock. If you put a whole orange in the sock (your stomach), the sock would have to churn and churn and churn to get juice out, and the juice would come out slowly and evenly. However, if you poured juice into the sock, it would come rushing out immediately, bombarding your system. This is the (overly simplistic) fundamental difference between fruit and fruit juice in our bodies – fruit juice provides nothing really, but liquid and sugar – similar to soda in that respect.
Instead of juice in your smoothies, use ice and hint water, so you still get flavor, but don’t drink the sugar and empty calories in juice.
4.) Add a protein
Protein helps balance our blood sugar, keeps us feeling fuller longer and helps fuel our muscle-building (and calorie-blasting) lean mass. It’s super important to have a source of protein in your smoothie, especially if you’re having it as your meal. Great natural protein sources include plain yogurt (especially Greek or Icelandic for extra protein), silken tofu, or a clean, plant-based protein powder, like Vega.
5.) Add a fat
Similar to protein, fat helps you feel full and stabilizes your blood sugar. Fat also helps you absorb more nutrients in your smoothie, particularly vitamins A, D, E, and K and some antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation. Some healthy fats to add: avocado, natural nut and seed butters (nothing but nuts and/or seeds), chia seeds, hemp seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Just add one to two tablespoons and blend away! A bonus when adding seeds or nuts is that they add some protein and filling fiber!
Smoothie Recipe: Creamy Blackberry Goodness
1 cup of spinach
1 cup of blackberries
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 of an avocado
1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
1/2 cup blackberry hint water
ice to taste
Place all ingredients in a blender, blend, and enjoy!