A smoothie can be a great piece of a healthy eating plan or it can be a disaster. If made correctly, it can be a complete post-exercise recovery drink, a fantastic breakfast on the go, or a delicious after-school pick-me-up. But, if you go into one of the local smoothie shops and order straight off the menu board, you are likely getting 400-1,000 calories of dessert.
If you look at the ingredients that go into a smoothie from your favorite juice joint, it looks something like this: Frozen fruit (strawberries, bananas, raspberries, pineapple, mango), juice (orange, apple, strawberry, raspberry), sherbert and/or frozen yogurt. Some smoothie recipes include peanut butter, chocolate sauce, and coconut. Do you hear those calories adding up?
Traditional fruit/juice/fro-yo smoothies are very high-carb and sugar, and very low in protein. This lack of nutritional balance will give you a good burst of energy, but won’t sustain you for the long haul. As your blood sugar comes crashing down, you’ll feel tired, irritable, possibly a head-ache, and definitely craving more sugar.
When you custom-make your smoothie at home, you control the ingredients that go into it. This allows you to come up with a complete meal in a cup, one that has a good balance of carbs, protein, and fat, and has a good amount of fiber, to boot.
The following steps are a no-fail formula to building a better smoothie. Choose one item from each step (as many as you want from step 3). By changing around the options, the flavor combinations are endless!
- STEP ONE – BASE: Unsweetened Almond milk, rice milk, skim milk, Lite soy milk, silken tofu, orange juice, cherry juice, pomegranate juice, mango juice (about 8 oz.)
- STEP TWO – PROTEIN: 1 scoop Protein powder (low or no sugar), nonfat Greek yogurt (1/2 cup), nonfat cottage cheese (1/2 cup), peanut butter, almond butter (1 tbs.)
- STEP THREE – PRODUCE: (About 1 cup total any fresh or frozen fruit or vegetable) Kale, spinach, chard, cilantro, cucumber, carrot, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, banana, mango, peach, avocado, canned pumpkin. **Note: frozen fruit will add more body and thickness
- STEP FOUR – GOOD STARCH: 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats, ground into a powder
- STEP FIVE – FIBER BOOST/GOOD FAT: ground flax seed, chia seed, hemp seed (1 tbs.)
- STEP SIX – SWEETENER/FLAVORING: ground cinnamon, vanilla extract, Stevia, Agave nectar, honey (about 1 tsp. or to taste)
Try it out and let me know what you think.