Smoothie of the Month – Fruity, Satisfying and Healthy
Smoothies seem to be all the rage lately. Who doesn’t love a cold, tasty smoothie – all fruity and creamy? Smoothie bars have popped up in gyms and smoothie franchises have appeared all over the country. Even McDonald’s has its own version of smoothies; strawberry/banana, mango/pineapple and blueberry/pomegranate.
What makes a smoothie so popular? First of all it is something you can take on the go as you rush out the door for work. Second, smoothies can be healthy if made with the right ingredients. Third, there are a lot of varieties that can be made; fruits and vegetables are the mainstay.
Not all smoothies are good for you. Many contain high fructose sugar, high-fat ingredients such as ice cream and very little real fruit. WebMD has a listing of the top best smoothies and the ten worst smoothies from retail franchises as far as nutritional value, fat and sugar content and overall calories are concerned. Here’s a sample: a light strawberry smoothie coming in at 150 calories, 0g fat or saturated fat, 31g carbs, 3g fiber, 5g protein and 9 calories/ounce vs. a tropical smoothie coming in at 1,120 calories, 62g fat, 25g saturated fat, 126g carbs, 9g fiber, 22g protein, and 56 calories/ounce. Hopefully we would choose the first one.
Probably the best way to make sure you are getting the healthy smoothie is to make them yourself. To make smoothies that are healthy for you it is best to steer away from high-fat, high-sugar ingredients such as ice cream, peanut butter, chocolate and syrups. The healthier choice is to stick with fresh or frozen fruit, soy or skim milk, and other ingredients that offer antioxidants, protein and other vitamins and fiber such as kale, spinach, oatmeal, milled flax seed and yogurt. The fun will be that you can mix and match and come up with the delicious flavors you love most. Chances are your homemade smoothies will be cheaper in the long run than the store bought version as well.
Before you start on your smoothie creation journey make sure you have a good blender, especially if you intend to use ice. Not all smoothies call for ice, but some do and it is easier if your blender can do a number on ice. There are a variety of types, brands and prices. In fact, do a little research and compare blenders. Food & Cooking Best has a list on their site of the top ten smoothie blenders for 2016.
The next most important thing to consider is the ingredients. Make sure you have the best fresh fruits and vegetables available; organic is even better. During the summer months check out the local farmers market to see what delicious finds you can come up with. The fresher the ingredients, the healthier and tastier your smoothie will be. Just a note – if you use greens such as kale or spinach it will give your smoothie a dark green color – don’t be alarmed, the flavors of your fruits will shine through.
The iconic fruit and yogurt smoothie is probably one of the easiest to prepare. It takes only three ingredients that you may already have on hand. This recipe is gluten free and vegetarian; high in fiber and calcium; and low in sodium and fat. It is loaded with protein.
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen fruit of your choice: berries, peaches, or pineapple
¾ cup of non-fat, plain yogurt
½ cup 100% fruit juice
In a blender, blend yogurt and juice together until smooth. While the blender is running slowly add the fruit through the top. Blend until smooth. Serve it up with a garnish of fruit on the top.
This makes one serving and is about 270 calories. If you want to add some fiber, throw in a teaspoon or two of milled flax seed. If you want to add in antioxidants, add a handful of kale or spinach. Have some fun with this recipe; try different fruit combinations or add some ice for a different texture. This recipe has a lot of flexibility.
Eating Well has a complete listing of smoothies to try. Some made with green tea and avocados.
Smoothies can be served up for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They are easy to take on the run. A healthy, nutritional smoothie may be the foundation of a good diet plan as well. Anyone old enough to run a blender can make a smoothie; perfect for an after school snack for your kids. So, go ahead, get the blender out, toss in some fruit and whip up something fruity, satisfying and healthy.
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