I had the opportunity to be a guest on Global TV recently demonstrating how to make a healthy smoothie.
The hosts loved my blend of organic blueberries, organic spinach, cacao powder, avocado and water (see recipe below).
I believe smoothies can be healthy, convenient additions to a whole foods diet. Here are a few reasons why, some common mistakes people make and a five-step process for building a healthy smoothie.
WHY SMOOTHIES ARE SO GREAT
1. Depending on what ingredients you include, they can have fat, fibre and protein, which is my magic combination for keeping your blood sugar stable. If these are all included, your smoothie constitutes a complete whole foods meal.
2. They are a great way to get added greens into your diet. And especially good for kids who don’t like the dark leafy greens, as you can mask them with the flavours of the other ingredients.
3. You can make a big batch in the morning, drink some for breakfast and keep some for later as a snack. And they are convenient to sip on-the-run, in the car or on the bus.
4. They can be a great whole foods breakfast. Breakfast can be one of the most sugar-laden, unhealthy meals of the day.
COMMON SMOOTHIE MISTAKES
1. Including too much fruit. Using fruit juice like orange or pineapple as a base can add more sugar than a can of soda. Then adding in bananas, pineapple or other high glycemic fruits can be a lot of fructose to ingest first thing in the morning. I’m not saying all fruit is bad, but you want to balance out your smoothies with some other healthy ingredients.
2. Skipping the healthy fat. Most smoothies do not contain much, if any, healthy fat. To make sure your smoothie is balanced, keeps you full, satiated and stabilizes your blood sugars, you want to include healthy fat. My favourite way is to add 1/4 of an avocado.
3. Drinking too many calories. If you make a whole foods smoothie with all the necessary ingredients, it is a full meal. Many people have their smoothie in addition to their regular breakfast, which adds a big hit of extra calories. It’s best to have your smoothie alone, or break it up over a couple of meals and snacks throughout the day.
4. Buying pre-made smoothies and mixes. Smoothies have become known as a healthy food, but beware of pre-packaged smoothies and mixes which can be loaded with sugar, additives and nowhere close to being healthy. Make your own at home with a few ingredients to ensure you are getting the best quality ingredients.
FIVE STEPS TO A HEALTHY SMOOTHIE
1. Start with the base.
I usually just use water. Adding in juices usually just provides too many extra calories and sugar without the nutrient value. Other options are coconut water, chilled teas and milks such as almond or hemp.
2. Add in greens.
We all know that dark leafy greens are nutrient dense powerhouses, and most of us need to get in more greens each day. At this step, add in spinach, kale, collards or lettuce greens — the darker the better to get all those vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytonutrients.
3. Add some fruit to create more sweetness.
I prefer berries which have less sugar than some other fruits like pineapple, bananas and apples. Frozen berries are great to keep on hand for your smoothies. Berries are packed with antioxidants, fibre and phytonutrients that protect your cells from damage.
4. Add in some fat.
My favourite healthy fat is avocado, since it gives a lovely creamy texture to the smoothie and provides a healthy dose of potassium (more than bananas) and healthy monounsaturated fats which are heart healthy. They also have lots of fibre. Other options are nuts, nut butters, coconut oil or organic, full-fat yogurt.
5. Top with superfoods.
These are optional, but for an additional punch of nutrients and antioxidants you can add in things like maca or cacao powder for hormone balance, energy and immune boosting; chia, hemp or flax seeds for protein, essential amino acids, polyunsaturated fat and fibre; green algae powders like chlorella or spirulina for chlorophyll, detoxification, digestive health and anti-inflammatory properties.
MICHELLE’S CHOCO-BERRY SMOOTHIE
This is the recipe I made on Global TV. Enjoy!
- 1/2 cup frozen organic blueberries
- A big handful of organic spinach (about 20 grams)
- 1/4 medium sized haas avocado
- 1 Tbsp. cacao powder
Fill with water to the top of the ingredients and blend on high until the ingredients are emulsified.
Calories 130, carbs 16 grams, fat 6 grams, protein 3 grams, fibre 7 grams
Drop me an email at email@example.com and I’ll send you a free copy of my Ultimate Smoothie Builder handout that you can print, post on your fridge and use to make unlimited combinations of healthy, whole food smoothies the whole family will love.
This post first appeared here in the Halifax Citizen on Tuesday, Jan 17, 2017.