Smoothies can be a fantastic nutrient-dense addition to a healthy diet. Adding a well-designed smoothie, with the addition of green vegetables, healthy fat, and a quality source of protein, can make a convenient meal replacement especially if you are on the go or time poor.
Smoothies and shakes often get a bad rap for spiking your blood sugar, and for good reason. Many store-bought varieties are usually large in size and contain loads of fruit and added sweeteners that can hit you with up to 20-30 grams of sugar per serve.
The key is to keep the size smaller (between 400-500ml at most) and stick to just 1 or 2 serves of fruit.
In general, a well-balanced smoothie should have:
Liquid: Milk or dairy-free alternative, coconut water, or filtered water
Protein: Protein powder (such as whey, pea, rice, hemp), or plain Greek/coconut yoghurt — be mindful of fruit flavouredyoghurt, it can add up to an extra 6 teaspoons of sugar per serve.
Fruit: Opt for green banana, or berries such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries.
Vegetables: Green leafy veg, zucchini, cauliflower
If you are trying to lose weight go easy on the fruit and try to add more green vegetables, adding the juice of a lemon or lime gives a nice tangy flavour and can mask some of the bitter taste of leafy greens.
We are becoming more aware of the link between the consumption of refined carbohydrates and diabetes and obesity. Not all calories are created equal. Energy Densityrefers to the number of calories in a particular volume or weight of the food. High-energy density foods such as fast food and junk food, cakes, biscuits, and most breakfast cereals pack a lot of calories per bite; however, low-energy-density foods, such as fruit and vegetables, contain fewer calories per bite and tend to have higher water content and added fibre.
Studies show that people consuming more low-energy-dense foods can increase their weight loss, and maintain their weight loss for longer, they also have less risk of cardiovascular disease.
In other words, high-energy-density foods can sabotage your efforts to lose weight and fuel your body.
Smoothies are a great way to sneak in extra serves of vegetables for kids and a great way to start the school day with ‘brain food’. For my school-aged girls, I pour left-overs into ice-block moulds for a healthy dessert option or after-school treat. The addition of low glycemic carbohydrates, water, fibre, vitamins, and minerals will arm them with the nutrition required for both mental and physical activity.
Think outside the square and experiment when adding ingredients to your smoothies, I chop and freeze small portions of vegetables, a great way to use up anything you have left over in the fridge.Extra bonus: it reduces food waste!
Blend in a high speed blender for no longer than 60 seconds.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I make the smoothie thicker?
Frozen avocado, banana or more ice are a great way to thicken up your smoothie.
How do I make my smoothie thinner?
If your smoothie is so thick you can’t drink it through a straw you can simply turn it into a smoothie bowl and add extra toppings for a satisfying meal. OR
Simply adding a little more filtered water will do the trick.
Are smoothies good for weight loss?
Smoothies loaded with 4-5 serves of fruit, that you would not normally consume in one session, can be problematic if you are trying to lose weight. Most people will lose weight by eliminating sugar and added fruit from their diet in the early stages of weight loss. If you are in a healthy weight range and exercising regularly small servings of fruit isn’t such a big issue.
Adding sweeteners is generally not necessary. But, if you are going to add a sweetener, I recommend using natural alternatives like maple syrup or raw honey (do not give raw honey to children under 12 months of age). Sweetening with a squeeze of fresh orange juice (not commercially made) can also keep the sugar content low, it works well for both kids and adults.
Good nutrition takes practice, it’s not about having the perfect diet or heavily restricting and obsessing over food. Instead of viewing food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, think of the nutritional ‘bang for your buck’ in what you’re about to eat. If you have overindulged one day, try fasting the next morning, make yourself a smoothie for lunch, have a light dinner, and most importantly – be kind to yourself.