With all the talk about "getting healthy" in the new year I wanted to give my readers some tips for making a super yummy and nutritious smoothie that even your kids would drink - no kidding!
Juicing vs Smoothie: which is better and why? Well, I actually think that there is a place for both. I do believe whole heartily that smoothies are the most nutritious and I think that for most people there is no need to specifically juice over a smoothie and I think if you are starting out and not sure what machine to get or how to start I would have to say that smoothies would be the way to go. I am not a doctor and I have not been formerly educated in nutrition, but let me explain to you why I think the way I do from the perspective of an every day gal who has been experimenting for years with this type of plant based nutrition.
I actually have a few reasons:
- smoothies use the whole fruit/veggie and include both soluble and insoluble fiber. Don't think you need the insoluble fiber (juicing does still give you the soluble fiber, of course)? Wrong! Insoluble fiber is what slow down sugar's absorption into your bloodstream regulating your blood glucose levels.
- smoothies offer a much higher fiber content which is good for many reasons including keeping you fuller longer which actually brings me to my next point....
- you can effectively use a smoothie as a meal replacement - a good truly nutritious meal replacement as you do get the fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and protein, etc. You can also do many "add ins" that you may want for different nutritional reasons.
- You can use the entire fruit and veggie (seeds, skin, leaves, etc - this is where you will find the majority of your nutrients and it is a shame not to use these parts to the fullest extent possible!)
- smoothies are much less expensive and quicker to make as they require much less fruit/vegetables and less preparation since the entire fruit or vegetable is being used so it takes so much less produce to make one.
I have a smoothie every single day (I miss one very rarely!). I love to have it after a run/workout and/or as a quick on the go lunch. I have to say that my husband and I have been making our daily smoothies for about 5 or 6 years now and we have never been healthier in our lives! We are almost never sick....really - and we have 4 children so you know the amount of germs that are coming in and out of our house daily from school, play dates, sports, etc. ;)
Okay, enough about why....here is how I do it (with some slight variations).
Here is an example of some of the items that I put into my smoothies: blueberries, grapes, pomegranates seeds, strawberries, spinach, kale, celery, carrots, dates, cucumbers and much much more. (Keep in mind that what is pictured is NOT the actual amounts of these items that I would put into a smoothie)
I have also been known to add in a squeeze of honey - just a bit. Honey is full of polyphenols (antioxidants) that have been proven to help boost immunity, as well as, protect against heart disease and cancer! It has been proven to help with allergies and coughs. I regularly add a table spoon to our smoothies during this time of year to help with immunity. It's a great substitute for a sweet fruit that I might typically add for flavor.
Today this is what I put in our "Superbowl Smoothie" (yes, we drank our smoothies today while watching :)
* remember this was for 2 people
3 or 4 kale stems with leaves on
2 celery stalks
2 medium whole carrots
3 large handfuls of spinach
1 medjol date (pitted)
handful of blueberries
small stem of grapes (vine/stem included)
small stem of grapes (vine/stem included)
1/2 pear (stem, seeds and all included)
1-2 cups of ice
Keep in mind a few things when choosing how to make your smoothie:
- Get a good blender! I have the Vitamix (mine is about 6 years old and I think today's equivalent is the "200") and let me tell you that it is worth every penny. If you can afford it than go for it - you will not regret it! If you try to make a smoothie using whole produce in an everyday type blender you will not enjoy it nearly enough to stick with it. They are just not powerful enough and your smoothie will be anything but smooth!
- Make your smoothies "Green" meaning use more vegetables than fruit and specifically green leafy vegetables....you can always work up to this. Using a very ripe banana in your smoothie will make for a very sweet taste that will cut the kale and spinach considerably. Once you get used to the taste (believe me you will actually begin to really like it) you can cut down and or out the sweetness for a more nutritious drink overall.
- Buy organic (with the exception of a few). With leafy greens and fruits that you will not be removing the outer skin this is extremely important as you do not want all those pesticides in your health drink . Think blueberries, strawberries, apples, pears, grapes, kale, spinach, celery, cucumber, etc.
- You can not drink (or eat!) too many veggies! You would not physically be able to eat too many so go ahead and throw them in there, but let me caution you to buildup slowly. If your body is not used to eating vegetables (especially greens) you can experience bloating, gas and more. Add a little more every other day if you are feeling comfortable. Greens fill you up so your body should let you know when you have had your fill.
- Did you know that dark green leafy greens offer more protein than a steak per calorie? No kidding - so load up! Especially if you are doing a smoothie for meal replacement or after a workout. Your body needs all those antioxidants and nutrients, too. Just keep the sugary fruit intake lower and you will have a winning smoothie no matter what combo(s) you come up with that you like to drink.
- Finally, keep it fun! If you have kids, take them with you to purchase produce at the local farmer's market or your grocery store that you will put in smoothies. This is a great motivator for getting kids to want to drink them, too. Let them help wash the produce at home and assemble the ingredients. It will certainly make them appreciate what they are eating/drinking more. And change up the ingredients often. I almost never make the same smoothie twice. There are SO many great fruits and veggies out there that you can use in a green smoothie and the combinations are endless!
I hope this info was helpful to you and helps you to feel more confident about trying your hand at making smoothies for you and/or your family.