Smoothies. I used to not be a big smoothie person.
I preferred to chew my food instead of drinking it.
When I started trying smoothies I normally bought them as an easy way to get some calories in between dance classes and rehearsals. My smoothies at that time were from a smoothie shop a few blocks from the dance studio, very convenient. Some of the smoothies had yogurt or peanut butter. The yogurt was vanilla frozen yogurt and the peanut butter was typical store bought sugar filled peanut butter. Not exactly the best options.
I was pretty much drinking a milkshake, and would be starving later. Sugar crash. Boom.
Around the same time I was working a typical commercial gym, and the smoothie shop there was all about bulking up post workout. I would see people lazily walk around the gym, hardly working, and then drink a massive (only sold one size) drink that easily had 500-700+ calories.
Seriously I did my homework!
I felt like the smoothie shop was there to make money and keep you from reaching your goals. Unless your goal was to gain weight.
These days I have gotten better with smoothies.
In this summer heat I am starting each day with a smoothie, it’s really all I want.
I decided to create a list of some dos and don’ts of smoothies to save you!
Measure it out
Do: Measure out ingredients. Whether trying to get the right liquid to solid ratio, or just keeping nutrients in check.
Don’t: Throw it all in a blender. Smoothies are not a free for all like they’re sometimes marketed as. Handfuls of different ingredients will load up the fat, sugar, sodium, calories, and maybe fiber-too much can be uncomfortable.
Choose Liquid Wisely
Do: Use water, milk, or a yogurt. Yogurt will make a thicker and creamier smoothie. Depending on your taste a little bit of milk, whether dairy, almond, or coconut, can give some flavor to you smoothie. I tend to stick to water mainly and let everything else flavor my drink.
Don’t: Use fruit juice. Liquid is essential to properly blending up ingredients, but please don’t use fruit juice. It’s loaded with sugar with no fiber. Use the actual fruit for flavoring.
Do: Spinach. Looking to experiment with adding green veggies to your smoothie? Good for you. Start with spinach. It’s thin so that it blends easily and smoothly, but without a strong taste.
Don’t: Go for Kale at First. I’m not saying not to avoid kale in a smoothie. Kale has a thick texture that can be hard for some blenders to smoothly blend, think gritty texture. Also kale is more bitter than spinach. The bitter taste may make you reach for ways to sweeten it up.
Playing with Protein
Do: Play with proteins, not just powders. A small dose of a nut butter or flaxseed is a healthy way to add some protein to a smoothie. Silken tofu, chia, and hemp are some other natural options.
Don’t: Pour on the protein powder. Protein powders are a great and easy way to bump up the protein in your diet. Protein powders also make a smoothie more filling, essential if having a smoothie as a meal not a snack. Be careful when choosing your powder. Many are filled with unnecessary ingredients or designed just for bulking. Choose protein geared more towards health. I always recommend a vegan and gluten free protein powder to clients. Currently loving Bob’s Red Mill Vanilla Protein Powder Nutritional Booster. The addition of chia seeds, probiotics, and chicory root fiber make it go way beyond just a protein powder.
Do: Sweeten Naturally. Fresh and frozen fruit are great ways to sweeten. Adding a splash of vanilla extract will add a natural hint of yummy vanilla. Dates are an awesome addition as well.
Don’t: Add Sugar. This should be a no brainer, but please don’t add sugar to a smoothie. Whether it’s the real deal, canned fruit, or a flavored yogurt. Even some nut butters have added sugars.
Do: Add Heartier Ingredients. Make a smoothie more filling by adding ingredients. Think a few oats or almonds, or avocado. Using frozen fruits like a banana can thicken the texture. A quality protein can make a big difference. Adding chia seeds can go a long way as well.
Don’t: Drink a Second Serving. If using a smoothie as a meal replacement, it’s natural to think that you need a big as your face serving. Be careful. Even if adding fruits, quality protein, nut butters, etc. it can get overwhelming. Please don’t make one smoothie and then drink another. Portions come into play no matter what you are eating and drinking.
Have Fun with Flavor
Do: Branch out. Herbs, spices, and extracts can make a huge impact on food (not just smoothies, but all cooking). Ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon add a warming flavor plus digestive and anti-inflammatory benefits. Want to add a hint of heat? Add a dash of cayenne pepper. Cilantro also has lots of nutrients. I already mentioned adding vanilla extract, experiment with others like almond, orange, or lemon.
Don’t: Resort to Sweet. Not to beat a dead horse, but don’t always go for sweet when adding or boosting flavor to a smoothie. Sure we think of smoothies being more sweet than savory, but dial down the added sweetness.