- Food and Cooking
Are Homemade Smoothies Healthy?
It's way healthier than you think!
Most of the popular kiosks, fast food chains and cafés nowadays have included different flavored smoothies to their menu to accommodate the growing demand for a healthy treat that virtually anyone-young, old, men, or women would surely love.
Smoothies are typically made from healthy ingredients like fruits, vegetables, yoghurt and milk as they are packed with superb nutrients and enzymes that our body needs to boost our energy, lose weight, and protect us from diseases. It's a nutritious way to increase our fruit and vegetable consumption recommended for our daily diet in a drinkable form. Instead of eating the usual solid meal, many people would opt to drink them up instead as it's easier and more convenient that way. They are your best choice for a cooler drink on a hot summer day, as a quick breakfast, light lunch, or a between-meal snack since they can be readily prepared in a few minutes and the flavors can be customized depending on the kind ingredients you'd like to include or whatever is available on your fridge.
Not all smoothies are what they claim to be
While many of the store-bought smoothies or smoothie mixes are readily available almost everywhere, they are often loaded with added calories and sweeteners without providing any essential nutrients. Carefully check the nutritional and calorie contents of all ingredients when ordering a smoothie from your favorite smoothie store before consuming one. Anything with chocolate, excess syrup, peanut butter or ice cream may sabotage your daily calorie allowance and will go straight to your waistline. I'm sure you don't want that.
I suggest you make your own smoothie at home instead. This way, you have better control on how much fat and sugar content you need to add. And it would cost less to make it yourself.
Benefits of Smoothies
Vitamins and Minerals - Our body needs the proper amount of vitamins and minerals to improve our immune system against common illnesses. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of these essential nutrients. Examples of foods rich in vitamin A are carrots, lettuce, peaches, cantaloupe and papaya. Asparagus, spinach, bananas and avocado are high in vitamin B. Oranges and strawberries are known to contain lots of vitamin C.
Fiber - A high-fiber diet will make your digestive system happy and minimize the risk of heart diseases. Adding them to your smoothie recipe will keep you full and focused until the next meal while preventing you from having constipation and other digestive problems. Soluble fibers, for example, can slow sugar absorption which is good for people with diabetes to improve their sugar levels. Whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, pears, raspberries, apple and broccoli are some great sources of fiber.
Antioxidants - These are chemicals that neutralize harmful free radicals and prevent chronic diseases like cancer, stroke, arthritis and heart diseases. Berries, tomatoes, peaches, kale, cantaloupes, spinach are just examples of foods bursting with antioxidant properties which you can feature in your smoothie recipe.
Protein - Protein-rich foods like eggs, nuts and seeds help build bones, muscles, skin, and improve metabolism. Fruits typically contain less protein; however, you can add nonfat milk or low-fat yogurt with your fresh fruit smoothies to get enough of the protein required by your body.
Carbohydrates - This is an ideal source of energy needed to fuel our bodies and brain. They can be simple sugars that provide quick bust of energy or complex carbohydrates that provide longer-lasting energy. A common misconception about carbohydrates is that if you limit your carb intake, it will improve your overall health and makes you lose weight. The truth is, cutting on carbohydrates may actually rob you of its optimum nutritional benefits that your body needs to function well. The key there is to choose your carbohydrates wisely. For premade smoothie mixes, make sure to check the ingredients for any added sugar as this may add up more calories than necessary.
Do you have a blender and your ingredients? Let's try this one....
Healthy Smoothie Tips
You may have different reasons on why you want to make a smoothie. It could be that you want to shed off a few pounds, to get you to REALLY eat vegetables and fruits you don’t normally eat (think kale and broccoli), make healthier choices with your diet, to have a meal on the go, or because your doctor said so, whatever that is, smoothie is a fantastic way to create an insanely delicious and nutritious drink anytime of the day.
Making a smoothie is not a rocket science. If you’ve seen someone before who works for a local smoothie store, you know that they basically just throw in all the ingredients of your choice into the blender and blend them until smooth. It’s that simple and you can actually make one at home.
Freeze your fruits
Adding frozen fruits will make your smoothie cool so you won’t need ice cubes with them. Freezing your fruits will lock its flavor and nutrients while storing them for future use. Before bananas become overripe, peel and chop them, then store them in freezer-friendly containers. You can dump them in the blender when needed.
Put liquids as your base
Before adding all the other ingredients, it’s very important to put your liquids in first to avoid damaging the blades and blend everything smoothly. You can start with two cups of any of these liquid bases:
- Water - easily one of the best choices to partner with any fruits or greens. I suggest using filtered water for this purpose.
- Dairy-free milk – to have that thick and creamy texture, you can try adding nut, almond, oat, rice or soya milk
- Coconut water – this is a wonderful substitute to filtered water. The sweet coconut taste enhances the texture of the smoothie and packs in a tropical tone to your smoothie.
- Fresh fruit juices - I actually prefer freshly squeezed fruit juices over commercial fruit juices. According to Mercola.com, industrially-produced juices have already been pasteurized and use “flavor packs” to make it taste fresh for a long time. Freshly-squeezed fruits don’t taste exactly the same, so if your store-bought juice brand maintains the same taste uniquely patented as theirs, that should give you an idea that they’re adding chemicals to have a consistent taste.
Add your fruits and leafy greens
Combining fruits with vegetables in your smoothie is a great way to bring in all the healthy goodness without sacrificing on taste. I heard of stories of parents who are concerned with their kids not eating enough veggies. This is a perfect way to sneak in healthy dose of the dark, leafy greens to their diet as the sweet fruity taste will mask its flavor. Try experimenting with different veggies like spinach, kale, lettuce, celery and Swiss chard and make a green smoothie. Fruits that give creamy textures are banana, strawberries, mango, peaches and pears while berries, grapes, pineapple and melon will give you fine thin texture to smoothies.
Add some special add-ons
It’s not necessary to have some extra add-ons but if you want to be more creative with your smoothie, you can try adding these fillers to get that thick, creamy effect or bump up the taste and add to its nutritional value. Examples are:
rich in amino acids and Omega 3. Soak in water overnight to maintain a jell-like consistency
Any flavors will do just fine but choose on that tastes well with the other ingredients.
Preferably one with live probiotic cultures
makes your smoothie thicker and creamy
helps to boost your energy
e.g. cocoa power, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg will surely add a twist to an ordinary smoothie
Now the fun part -- BLENDING!
Once you have everything in your blender, start blending the ingredients slowly at first until you can see that they completely liquefied for about 10-15 seconds. It may take longer than this depending on how powerful your blender. Sometimes, you will have to stop and scrape off some bits inside the blender and start again. Even with a sturdy blender, I don't recommend you over stuff it because chances are, it won't circulate properly.
© 2013 Jazmine Llaguno