Are Smoothies a Health Food Fad?

Feb 13, 2013 | Eating Right

They are quick to prepare, almost fuss-free, act as a meal and cost you a fraction less than a three-course meal: smoothies have been a very popular food category for over a decade now. Back in 2002, made-to-order smoothie sales went up by 139 per cent in Europe; imagine where that number would be now.

Over the years, this food group has gained criticism for its low nutritional value. Especially now that fruity smoothies are marketed as a go-to breakfast meal to young adults.

To clear things out, Australian consumer group Choice conducted an analysis report of 95 drinks from popular outlets such as Boost Juice, Donut King, Wendys, Gloria Jean’s and New Zealand Natural early this year, only to find that 81 of them were very high in sugar.

Most of them contained more kilojoules than an average meal and some having an equivalent to up to 31 teaspoons of sugar. You can read the full report here, but if I were to break this down for you, if you did choose one of these cool drinks, you would basically be consuming an insanely rich sugary snack that has zero nutritional value other than teasing your taste buds. Scary stuff!

However, if you stopped getting the sugary variety from the aforementioned outlets, and were smart about what type of smoothies you consumed, they can be incredibly nutritional sans the nasties.

Here are some healthy smoothie tips for you:

1) Follow my ‘two root and one fruit’ logic for smoothies: Add fresh greens to your smoothies, so they blend well and you can absorb all the raw, delicious goodness from them. Use only one variety of fruit – either frozen or fresh. Just remember to wash these well and use organic produce, if possible. Some great options are, silverbeet, baby spinach, english spinach, cucumber for vegies; bananas, mangoes, berries and kiwi fruit for the fruit category.

2) Ditch the fruit juice; use coconut water or milk instead: You get the calcium from the milk and  for extra hydration, use a whole coconut for your smoothies (these are great post a big night!).

3) Leave out all artificial ingredients: Anything that’s pre-packaged or out of a tin, shouldn’t go in your smoothie; no tinned fruits.

4) Super food your smoothie: Give your smoothie the super powers and get on board with what the supermodels are raving about. Load up your pantry with Chia seeds, Maca Powder, Spirulina, Acai powder, Lucuma, raw cacao, and add a tablespoon of either of these to your smoothie. P.s. if you want to know more about any of these, shout out and I’ll do a separate post on them.

5) Homemade, always: Be it a smoothie or an eight-course meal, homemade is always the best. My favourite concussion is low in calories, high in protein and antioxidants: one tablespoon of protein powder, two cups frozen mixed berries, one tbsp of low-fat yogurt, top with filtered water or milk and blend. Sprinkle nutmeg or cinnamon on top. Delish!

To give you more inspiration, here are some of my favourite smoothie recipes:

Strawberry and Almond Smoothie – NY Times

1 heaped cup frozen strawberries

1 tablespoon almonds

1/2 ripe banana

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon honey or two Medjool dates

Place all of the ingredients in a blender, with ice cubes if desired, and blend at high speed until smooth.

Green Goddess Smoothie –

1/2 cup (packed) flat-leaf parsley (leaves and stems)

4 kale leaves (center ribs removed)

1 cup frozen mixed berries

1 ripe banana

1 teaspoon ground flaxseed

Top with coconut water, place ingredients in blender and blend at high speed until smooth.

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