Perhaps you are a smoothie fan and enjoy taking one to work every morning, feeling virtuous as you skip the butter and jam croissant. Or maybe you are more of a scrambled egg person who sees those smoothie-drinking people on your morning commute or at work and wonder if you are missing out. If you are in the latter, you have probably got a few pretty legitimate and sensible questions. What is the deal with smoothies, anyway? Surely you could just eat that apple and be done with it? Why do you need to drink it?
There are many reasons to be sceptical of the trend to blend, But there are just as many to make a convert out of you. Before you decide, here are a few important points to consider.
Firstly, not all smoothies are created equal. Some are veggie based, others are heavy in fruit, and others are a mixture of the two. Then there is the issue of ingredients. Smoothies that start off as healthful can quickly become anything but when we add elements such as honey, syrup, chocolate, ice cream or sweetened peanut butter, as examples.
Obviously you want to avoid adding sugar and hollow calories to your smoothie, especially if your aim is to lose weight or boost your nutrient intake for the sake of your health. Additionally, to help you lose those extra pounds you might consider Kou Tea.
Juicing VS blending
It is also important to distinguish between smoothies and juices. The process of juicing removes many beneficial elements of the healthful ingredients you blend, such as the fibre-filled skin and pulp. Wild juices can be a dense source of nutrients, they are less likely to satisfy your hunger. The added fibre in smoothies also helps to control absorption and digestion, which can help to manage sugar spikes and slumps, which are often associated with juicing with fruit.
Smoothies can also be convenient as you can blend and freeze in advance. You can also freeze individual ingredients for up two weeks. Just cut everything up, put them in freezer bags and then quickly toss something together for a post-workout snack or a quick on-the-go morning meal to fuel you for the day ahead. A blender that allows you to blend and use the same container as a cup can save you even more time and makes less mess.
Be frugal with fruit
While smoothies are a great way to get in your five servings a day of fruit and the veg, you need to be mindful to not go overboard. You can easily consume more fruit in a smoothie than you would if you ate them, which can provide an excess of natural sugar in your diet. And not all fruits are created equal. Rather use fruits, particularly sweeter varieties, for taste and stick predominantly to vegetables to make up the bulk of your smoothie recipes.
To avoid sugar spikes and possible weight gain, use lower GI fruits like berries and apples in your smoothies. Limes, for instance, are very low in sugar butt pack a great flavour punch when mixed with apples, mint and other leafy greens. Fruits like bananas, dates and pineapples are high in sugar and should be used sparingly. Avocado (yes, it’s a fruit) is a great alternative to a banana, as it’s mild tasting and adds a lovely creaminess to the drink.
Veg it up
Leafy greens are particularly good in smoothies and should form 50-80% of your fruit and vegetable mix. To begin with, try adding a handful of mild-tasting vegetables to your smoothie, such as baby spinach. Another easy and ‘barely there’ vegetable to try is cucumber – just remember to reduce the liquid you add as they have a high water content.
When you are used to the idea of vegetables, try kale, celery, romaine lettuce, beetroot (it’s great with apple) and rocket. If the green colour puts you off too much, try adding at tiny slice of beetroot at the end. It gives this smoothie a pink hue and doesn’t change the taste. Limit the amount of sugar-rich root vegetables such as carrots in your recipes.
Protein power green smoothie
1 cup water
1 cup raw kale, chopped
1 orange, pitted and peeled
½ tsp of Spirulina powder
2 scoops vanilla flavour protein (whey or plant-based)
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ginger powder
Combine all ingredients in a blender.
Mix until smooth
Source: Magazine Fitness January-February 2017 South Africa