building a perfect smoothie
If you go into a supermarket the array of smoothies you can now buy is overwhelming. We find more and more people are reaching for a smoothie as a healthy choice. However, many of the shop bought smoothies are very high in fruit and contain very small amounts of vegetables. This makes them very sweet and palatable. While this is great for increasing the amount of fruit in one’s diet, it does mean that we often get a blood sugar spike. Without any protein or fat to slow down the absorption you get the same effect as reaching for a sugary drink. A blood sugar spike results in an evitable blood sugar crash a few hours later, which leads to cravings for more food (often unhealthy food) as your body needs the energy fast!
The solution is to make your own smoothies! You will need a high-speed blender or a Nutri bullet as you want to make sure your smoothies are smooth.
Greens – a smoothie is a great way to add some green vegetables to your diet as I often find this is low or lacking. Spinach is a great start and ideal for children as it’s mild in taste and so they won’t know they are devouring it. We always keep some frozen spinach balls in the freezer as they are ideal for adding to smoothies. Other good greens for smoothies include kale, watercress, rocket, peas, broccoli and lettuce.
Protein – this will help to fill you up. If you don’t include some protein in your smoothie then you will be hungry after a few hours. You can buy many different types of protein powder – whey, hemp, pea, rice or collagen and all are fine to add to your smoothie. You can also add nuts and seeds for some protein. Chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts and walnuts all feature in our smoothies.
Healthy fat – this, along with the protein, will help to keep your blood sugar stable. ½ avocado, 1 tablespoon of nut butter, some nuts (about 10), 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, some seeds such as flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp or pumpkin seeds. Or you could include some coconut milk as your liquid and this will also contribute to your healthy fats portion.
Fruit – you will need some sweetness, but make sure you include no more than 1-2 servings. Any fruit works – berries, banana, kiwi, melon, mango, apple, pear, peach, apricots, plums, oranges or pineapple. We always keep some frozen berries in the freezer. Also, when your bananas start to go brown in the fruit bowl, then just peel and chop them up and keep them in the freezer. These frozen can then be added to smoothies.
Other vegetables – the options are obviously endless! We use beetroot, carrots and cucumber the most, in addition to the greens listed above.
Liquid – you will also need some liquid. You could just use water – but other suggestions are coconut water, unsweetened coconut milk, oat milk, unsweetened almond milk or yoghurt. Fresh lime or lemon juice are also good choices to add some extra zing.
An extra boost
A smoothie is also a great way to sneak in a few added extras.
Spices – ginger and turmeric give a good zing and can help disguise a strong flavour. You can use either in fresh or powder form. Cinnamon is good for stabilising blood sugar and offers a sweetness.
Cacao powder – this hasn’t been roasted at a high temperature and so retains a lot of its nutrients – unlike cocoa powder.
Bee pollen – this gives a sweetness and can be sprinkled on top of smoothies. As well as a sweetness, bee pollen is packed with amino acids and antioxidants.
A smoothie bowl
Sometimes drinking a smoothie can feel like you haven’t eaten. If you find this, then make your smoothie with a bit less liquid and pour into a bowl to eat with a spoon. You can also add texture to the bowl by adding some extras on the top such as oats, nuts and seeds.