Updated: Jun 8
Just in time for the warmer weather here is my healthy smoothie formula...that actually tastes good, and is full of the nutrients you need!
Common questions I am asked are “How do you make a healthy smoothie?”, "Are smoothies actually good for us or full of sugar" "Should I eat or drink my food?" These are all fantastic questions! A smoothie can be a nutrient-dense snack in a pinch. They can be a very convenient way to get in some extra fruit and veg and to use up leftover ingredients. Where the confusion around smoothies comes from is how we actually make them. For example, if you make a smoothie that's all fruit and fruit juice you are not balancing it with any fat or protein. This is a pitfall I regularly see. However, by following my 5 step formula you can avoid any of these mistakes going forward.
Whether you wish to eat or drink your food is up to you...Nutrition is never one size fits all.
I often find my weight management clients do much better when they eat their food rather than drink it. This is because drinking a smoothie wont fill you up in the same way eating a serving of whole fruit or vegetables would. Also, liquid meals are digested quicker than solid foods which can leave you feeling hungry and seeking more food sooner. Digestion starts in the mouth with chewing and drinking a smoothie skips this step. People who eat their food tend to be better satisfied. If we base all of our meals around whole fruit & veg we naturally reduce the portion size of other food groups. If we blend and drink all our fruit & veg we are likely to over eat these other foods.
However on the flip side, if you are struggling to eat a variety of fruit and veg, have a poor appetite or would like to gain weight, smoothies are a fantastic way of sneaking in some extra nutrients.
So let's get started!
To make a nutrient-dense, but delicious smoothie there’s 𝟓 🖐 𝐤𝐞𝐲 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬.
1️⃣ Liquid Base I like using regular milk (full fat or skimmed) because milk contains protein on top of a whole range of other nutrients (calcium, iodine etc.).
You could also use a plant-based milk. If doing so try to choose a fortified version. Soya milk would be a good option as it also contains protein whereas common other plant-based milks e.g. almond, hazelnut, oat etc are very low in protein.
You could also use a serving of fruit juice (one serving is 150mls) - if doing so choose a no-added-sugar version.
Don't forget a handful of ice cubes! 2️⃣ Veggies Smoothies are a great way to sneak in some extra vegetables like leafy greens, spinach, cauliflower etc. These are a great source of fibre but also include many antioxidants, phytonutrients, and minerals. 3️⃣ Fruit Fruit adds flavour and texture. Choose 1-2 portions of fruit e.g. a small banana and a handful of berries. A common mistake people make is going overboard on the fruit. Remember we want to keep the smoothie balanced and leave room for protein and fats too.
Frozen fruit is just as nutritious as the fresh stuff and can be a very handy go-to option.
Always leave the skin on the fruit where you can so your not getting rid of the magical fibre. 4️⃣ Protein
Protein helps keep us feeling fuller for longer and it can also help balance blood sugar so it's a key component of any smoothie. If you have used regular cows milk or soya milk as your liquid base you may already have managed to get in your protein source. If not, or if you would like to add in even more protein you could add in some greek yogurt, a spoon of nut butter or some protein powder.
5️⃣ Healthy Fats Healthy fats are so important for not only our brain health but also for hormone health. Fats are also very satiating so including them in your smoothie means you won't find yourself hungry again a short while later. In a smoothie, some healthy fats that work well include nut butters e.g. peanut butter or almond butter, seeds like pumpkin seeds or flax and even a small amount of avocado for a thicker texture.
And Vóila you have a healthy smoothie!!
Some of the common smoothie mistakes to watch out for are:
Using mainly fruit and fruit juices (if this is your only ingredient it can be a concentrated source of fruit sugars)- here you have no protein or fat source which are needed to help keep us feeling full. Therefore don't be surprised if you find yourself feeling hungry again pretty quick. Lots of fruit and fruit juice in one sitting can also raise your blood sugars quite quick - the fat and protein are needed to balance this. Some people can also experience some tummy upset if they have a lot of fruit in one go due to the fructose. If you think about it...not many people would sit down and eat five portions of fruit all at once?
Not having enough fibre - leave the skin on the fruit and use the full vegetable! If you juice something you remove all of the valuable fibre. Fibre helps to balance blood sugars and keep us feeling full- don't skip it! The fibre also adds bulk to our stool preventing conditions such as constipation.