Five Tips for Blending Delicious Smoothies That Are Really Good for You
We've all been there. You take a weekend road trip and a notable barbecue restaurant just happens to be on your way. You eat two pounds of brisket, get back in the car and as you pull into your destination city your friend announces a desire for Tex-Mex. After five shots of tequila and as many sour cream enchiladas, you go out for more drinks and then because you're plastered and it's late night, bad pizza happens. Despite the pepperoni, you're hungover the next morning, so you eat eggs and sausage tucked into a tortilla with a blanket of cheese, and then you repeat the previous day's atrocities until your vacation is complete.
Smoothies don't have to resemble a dessert to taste good.
Somehow, in just one weekend, you've replicated all the damage you normally endure during the entire holiday season. You've gained weight, you feel like taking a nap after sleeping for 10 hours, and you shuffle your feet and moan when you walk. You need to take corrective dietary measures but the idea of eating a salad kills your soul a little, and besides -- the last time you ate roughage with a fork for lunch, you were hungry 90 minutes later and pummeled the office snack machine. You'd have been better off had you just ordered a burger for lunch and now you want two for dinner.
Enter the smoothie, which can somehow facilitate the ingestion of a mountain of spinach, and also make you feel sated until dinnertime. While juicing is as popular as twerking these days, the practice eliminates the fiber from the vegetables and that's what helps you feel full. Smoothies have their own issues too, including a terrible name, but the pitfalls can easily be avoided if you know what to look for.
Cassie Green, who co-owns the Green Grocer on Greenville Avenue (so much green), worked with her chef to develop a line of smoothies that provide maximum nutrition with minimal calories. The goal was offer a meal replacement that doesn't leave a customer feeling sad about that burger they missed out on. Other recipes are more indulgent, but they all lean towards healthy.
Here are Green's tips for happy smoothie consumption. Commit them to memory whether you're making your own or ordering one at the store.
Watch your sugar content
Green says less sugar and fewer sweeteners is always better, but admits you do have to balance sweetness to mask the flavor of many super foods. Unfortunately, a lot of smoothie makers take the sugar too far. Avoid recipes that employ fruit juice or other processed sweeteners and you'll keep the calories down.
Some shops even go as far as using sherbet as an ingredient, which is really caloric. At that point, "You might as well get an ice cream cone," says Green. Instead use as little as a teaspoon of honey, and you'll be good to go.
Embrace super foods
Super foods pack a lot of nutrients into a tiny package. Spinach is a great one, because it's surprisingly flavor neutral. You can pack a blender with baby spinach leaves and you won't even know they're there, besides the color. Kale and collards are great too, as well as Goji berries and wild blueberries.
Maca powder, made from a root from South America, adds a lot of nutrition a teaspoon at a time, and raw cacoa and macha powder add energizing qualities and new flavors, too. Look to hemp, chia and other plant-based protein powders to add protein and help you feel full longer.
Cocoa adds the fragrance of chocolate without as many calories.
Don't put too much stuff in a single smoothie
Now that your pantry looks like a shelf at Trader Joe's, don't go crazy or your smoothie will taste like a Franken-drink. "It's tempting to think you're Iron Chef of the Vitamix," says Green, but instead you should use just a few ingredients, sit down with your creation and evaluate. The simpler you keep things the better chance you have of blending up something with flavors you actually recognize. Go overboard and you'll create a vegetable and protein soup.