Homemade smoothies can pack a powerful nutritional punch in a conveniently small package that you can take with you and consume as you get on with your day.
Unlike the store-bought version, you control the amount of sugar and calories that go into each serving. Selecting ingredients with care, you can easily make smoothie drinks that support a healthy lifestyle or help you lose weight.
The pitfall to avoid is turning a healthy drink into a milk shake loaded with sugar. Find out how to go green and love it!
Fruit Smoothie or Vegetable Smoothie?
Choose a fruit base, and you will find that sugar quickly adds up, whether you are adding a cup of orange juice (20g), of low-fat flavored yogurt (34g), a banana (14g) or even a cup of strawberries (7g). And so do the carbs (26g, 34g, 27g and 12g respectively).
Frozen bananas form a good base, as they provide a lovely creaminess and are a good source of vitamins and minerals in exchange for relatively low sugar content. Other fruit that are low in sugar are strawberries, grapefruit, avocados, raspberries, blackberries, peaches and oranges.
The best smoothies consist mostly of vegetables which do not force you to compromise on taste in order to achieve healthy drinks. The more fruit you use to make those breakfast smoothies, the more you give up on true nourishment in exchange for that sweet taste which is addictive.
The blended drink above is comparable to a small chocolate milk shake you would buy at McDonald’s. It sure won’t help you lose weight or provide much in terms of nutrients.
But switch to whole milk yogurt and ice instead of orange juice, and you have a healthy drink instead. Also remember that fruit juice contains a high concentration of sugar. Think about it: a glass of apple juice can contain the juice of 10 apples!
A healthy drink will weigh heavily on the side of vegetables rather than fruit. For thinner textures, add whole milk, whole yogurt, coconut water or even low-sugar fruit like berries instead.
Using leafy greens increases the nutritional value and provides fiber content. Add an avocado or nuts for extra creaminess and healthy fats which will keep you full longer.
Sneaking vegetables into your diet and that of your family is very easily done by simply replacing traditional pancakes or bacon and eggs with a blended drink. Although you will feel full, you won’t feel sluggish as they don’t take a heavy toll on your digestion.
Think of healthy green smoothies as condensed salads. A powerful smoothie maker will easily liquefy kale, spinach or any dark leafy greens you choose, and you know how good these are for you. Add a little lemon or lime juice, or berries high in antioxidants together with a little coconut water for electrolytes and minerals, and you have a very healthy drink.
There are only so many salads one can eat in a day. But enroll your blender’s help, and all of a sudden eating all those greens daily becomes easily achievable. A big salad, a plateful of steamed veggies, or a very yummy drink – which would you rather have?
DIY Smoothies You’ll Love
The secret to replacing regular meals with healthy green concoctions lies in choosing ingredients that are appealing to you. Don’t like the taste of kale? Try spinach or maybe chard instead, or better yet, find flavors that combine well and take that less than appealing but healthy veggie to a new level.
Love blueberries? Add a few green leaves to a blueberry base and increase the ratio slowly. Find some herb or spice to take the edge off and the first thing you’ll know, you are drinking healthy and loving it!
The key is trial and error, based on knowing what you like and don’t like. If you systematically hate the healthiest ingredients, start tweaking a recipe you love, adding healthier ingredients that are good for you, and slowly increase the ratio. Put your taste buds to work and prepare to be surprised.
How to Make Homemade Smoothies
Start with a high-powered blender, and velvety smooth diy smoothies are a given pretty much regardless of the ingredients you use. Vitamix, Breville and Blendtec offer this kind of power and design.
All you have to do is add your ingredients in the order recommended: liquids first, followed by soft items, with firmer ingredients like frozen fruit and ice added last. Most power blenders feature a dedicated pre-programmed Smoothie option, or simply start on the lowest setting and slowly increase speed to the highest.
Regular blenders require a little more work. Start by adding your liquids, then your vegetables, first making sure they are finely chopped. Fresh fruit usually being softer can be left in larger chunks. Frozen fruit and crushed ice are added last.
The best way to achieve smoothness is to add small amounts of produce at a time and blend thoroughly. Using different speeds as well as the Pulse button, it should take no more than one or two minutes to make a smoothie.