By Nazima Qureshi, RD, MPH
Smoothies are a very trendy and picture-perfect addition to a healthy lifestyle. However, if you don’t have the right ingredients, you may not be getting an ideal balance of nutrients. A well-balanced smoothie can help you feel energized and fuel you in a convenient way.
If you find yourself too busy to sit down for breakfast or working through lunch, a smoothie might be a good option. Smoothies become problematic when they have too much fruit and not enough protein and healthy fats. You wouldn’t just eat fruit for a meal, so you don’t want your smoothies to mostly be fruit either. Smoothies are a good option for breakfast, post-workout, or a half portion as a snack. Keep in mind, you don’t want to completely replace all your meals with smoothies, but rather as a healthy addition to your other balanced meals and snacks.
Here’s are 5 things to include in your smoothie:
- Protein: This will make your smoothie more filling and is especially important if you are replacing a meal with a smoothie. Examples of protein sources include Greek yogurt, protein powder, and nut butter
- Leafy Greens: If you aren’t eating enough greens in your day, adding it to your smoothie is a great way to ensure you are. You will have to experiment with different greens to see what works well for your tastebuds. Examples of common leafy greens added to smoothies are spinach and kale.
- Healthy Fats: In addition to protein, healthy fats also make your smoothie more filling. Be careful with the portion size of the healthy fats to prevent your smoothie from being too high in calories. On the other hand, if you are trying to gain weight in a healthy way, you can increase healthy fats and protein in your smoothie. Examples of healthy fats include ground flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds, nuts, avocado.
- Fruits: Rather than adding sweetener, try using fruit to provide sweetness to your smoothie. Fruits that work particularly well are bananas, berries and tropical fruits such as mango and pineapple. Add frozen fruit to your smoothies to save on chopping time. Frozen fruit is an excellent option during the winter months as well since the fruit are frozen at peak ripeness, preserving more flavour versus out of season fresh fruit.
- Liquid: Think beyond regular milk when adding liquid to blend your smoothie together. Try nut-based beverages or coconut water as well. Add less liquid to make a thicker mixture for a smoothie bowl, while more liquid will make it drinkable through a straw. Be sure to read the ingredients list to avoid nut-based beverages or coconut water that has added sugar.
Once you have this formula down, you can experiment with different combinations such as chocolate banana or a tropical smoothie like below.
Green Pineapple Smoothie
Makes: 2 servings
1 cup spinach
1 cup frozen pineapple
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk
¼ cup ice cubes
Add all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.
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