When looking for ways to get more fruits and veggies in a simple and delicious way, many health-conscious consumers have turned to smoothies and juices. Whether as a meal replacement or just for extra nutrition, drinking your produce has become more and more popular. There is definitely some debate and controversy over the merits of each option. However, it is undeniable that both do have some advantages, as long as you’re careful.
Consuming smoothies is a bit more straightforward and is far less controversial overall. By using whole fruits and vegetables in combination with healthy sources of fat and protein—such as milk or milk substitutes, nut butters or avocados— you literally can have a healthy and balanced meal in a cup. A well-made smoothie can have the ideal mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat, along with plenty of fiber to keep you feeling full.
Green leafy vegetables are a great addition to smoothies. Most people struggle to get enough in their diet, and green leafy vegetables are a “superfood” packed with fiber, vitamins and beneficial phytochemicals. If it sounds unusual to you, just give it a try—you might be surprised how little of the flavor actually comes through.
It’s safe to drink a smoothie as a meal, no more than once a day. However, despite the concentrated nutrition and fiber, your brain might not get the signal that you’re full since you didn’t have to chew. One way to counteract this is to be sure you drink your smoothie slowly and savor each sip to help your body recognize that you are eating.
Also, be careful not to overload your smoothie. Ingredients like dairy, bananas, avocados and nut butters are undoubtedly healthy, but they also pack a lot of calories. Limit the rich ingredients, and be sure to use a lot of low-calorie fruits and vegetables to bulk it up.
Try This: Green Kefir Smoothie
This probiotic-rich smoothie packs a ton of fiber and energy, has plenty of sweetness from the berries and apple, and is quite creamy thanks to the frozen banana. Serves two.
What You’ll Need
1 cup plain kefir (a drinkable yogurt-like product full of probiotics to support digestive health)
1 apple, cored and diced
2 cups leafy greens (such as spinach or kale, tough stems removed)
5-10 whole fresh or frozen strawberries
1 medium frozen banana, sliced
Ice cubes as desired
Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. If desired, you can add a tablespoon of chia seeds for extra fiber and healthy omega-3 fats, or a scoop of your favorite protein powder for extra protein.
Check back tomorrow for the second installment of this segment, where Julie Miller talks about Juices and gives us another great recipe to try!