Posts Tagged ‘smoothies’

Stop Drinking Your Smoothies!

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Super Smoothie bowls better    As we know, the “health trend” of the smoothie is absolutely out of control. I outlined in my previous post the unhealthy truths behind these drinks. I also gave tips to turn your smoothies into health elixirs, and I will share two recipes here. You will notice that these are not your average smoothie…they are in a bowl…and you will eat these with a spoon. Why? Because it is a better! Let me explain. There are two main reasons why you should “EAT” your smoothies, instead of “DRINKING” them:

  1. More complete digestion and absorption. Believe it or not, digestion starts in our mouths. Amylase, a digestive enzyme used to break down complex carbohydrates into more easily absorbed molecules, is produced in our salivary glands (and pancreas-but that’s another story). It is released into our saliva as we chew our food to kick off the digestive process. By starting digestion at this early stage, food is broken down and absorbed more easily as digestion progresses. When we blend up our healthy smoothies, we are obviously aiming for optimal absorption. This cannot be achieved if we completely bypass our mouths by gulping it down. Rather than gulping, we should be chewing. Weird? Yes…but the whole point of making smoothies rich in nutrients is to reap the benefits of the nutrient absorption. By eating your smoothies with a spoon and permitting your saliva to mix with the nutrient-rich elixir, you will allow for more complete absorption and digestion, and thus receive the full benefits from your smoothie. This will also cut down on the common complaint of bloating after drinking a smoothie. So CHEW your smoothies!
  2. Mind tricks. This may sound all too simple, but guess what- it works. Typically, we blend up our smoothie concoction, throw it into a glass or an environmentally-friendly plastic cup with a straw, and gulp (or chug) it down as we frantically run out the door or around the house like a crazy. There are definitely occasions for this type of ludicrous behavior, but this should NEVER be the norm. When you guzzle a smoothie, all it becomes is a drink….a thirst quencher. Not a meal. However, as I discussed in my prior post, there are quite often enough calories and macronutrients to call this “drink” a meal. So now you have successfully downed 400-500 calories without even noticing that you just ate breakfast. What happens next? You will be actively seeking out breakfast in 45 minutes to an hour at the office, or worse, contemplating the drive thru on your way in. Don’t do it. Slow down and eat your smoothie with a utensil. This is a meal! Treat it like one, and you will be surprised how far it gets you. Not to mention, straws have an evil side effect of eventual upper lip wrinkles (smoker’s lines around the mouth), as my mother-in-law so graciously brought to my attention. Since then I have effectively destroyed all environmentally-friendly straws in my possession-and I suggest you do too.

Here are two absolutely delicious, healthy, dietitian-approved smoothie bowls to start your day off right!

Classic Strawberry Banana

1 Banana, reserve ¼ for garnish

1 Cup Frozen Strawberries, reserve ¼ cup for garnish

¼ Cup Sunflower Seeds, reserve 1 Tablespoon for garnish  

2 Cups Baby Spinach

1 1/2 Cups Water

½ cup Ice

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Blend up banana, strawberry, sunflower seeds, spinach and water until smooth and creamy. Add ice and blend until incorporated. Pour into a bowl, top with reserved ingredients and enjoy!

 

 

3/4 Cup Frozen Mango Chunks, reserve ¼ cup for garnish

3/4 Cup Frozen Blueberries, reserve ¼ cup for garnish

½ Banana, garnish optional

2 Tablespoons Cup Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas), reserve 1 Teaspoon for garnish

3 Tablespoons Unsweetened Coconut Flakes, reserve 1 Teaspoon for garnish

2 Cups Chopped Kale

1 1/2 Cups Water

½ cup Ice

 

Blend up mango, blueberries, banana, pumpkin seeds, coconut, kale, and water until smooth and creamy. Add ice and blend until incorporated. Pour into a bowl, top with reserved ingredients and enjoy!

 

       

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The Dark Side of the Smoothie

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When starting this blog, I knew that the obligatory smoothie post was destined to occur. For some reason I just couldn’t get to it. Smoothies are so overhyped in so many ways. Quite often, a smoothie is actually the last thing someone should be drinking because they are usually loaded with copious amounts of sugar. Although a smoothie with 2 bananas, 19 strawberries, 32 blueberries, 2 dates, a mango, and a cup of orange juice may sound like the ultimate vitamin packed breakfast, you are actually consuming anywhere between 17 and 20 teaspoons of sugar! I encourage my patients to eat fruit often and on a daily basis- but the key is to eat in moderation. Up to 5 servings a day is enough, believe it or not. You never want to eat your entire fruit allotment in one serving. Too much of a good thing is usually not a good thing. Smoothies can be tricky, so you must proceed with caution. I have even seen “healthy” smoothies made with vanilla frozen yogurt. Hello! This is a dessert! Not breakfast. Not a healthy snack.

Many drink smoothies to allow their digestive tract to rest a bit. The fiber is broken down so finely that we more readily absorb all those fabulous nutrients that nature has to offer. Oh, aren’t you smart for blending up all those sweet fruits and virtually making the fiber disintegrate in that orange juice. Now that sugar is even more quickly absorbed into your bloodstream without a hint of fiber to slow it down. I have an idea, let’s next inject maple syrup directly into our veins! It certainly does have an exceptional mineral composition. But really, drinking these high sugar smoothies, albeit with the best intentions, only causes a major insulin spike. And what does insulin do? Being that it is a growth hormone, it assists in your growth…of fat cells very often. Not to mention the hard work that your pancreas has to do to secrete the necessary amount needed to keep that blood sugar in check. No bueno.

However, a smoothie can truly be a vehicle of health and wellness if we are smart about it. Here are some rules to live by:

1. Limit fruit portions to 2, 3 at the very most. That’s right, this should be plenty of sugar for one sitting. And don’t worry-you are getting a slew of vitamins and minerals from two simple servings of fruit.

2. Add greens. This is a perfect time to throw in a handful of dark leafy greens. I recommend spinach, kale, and Romaine lettuce. A handful is enough to give you plenty of benefits from the greens without overpowering your smoothie’s deliciousness. The benefits of these vegetables go way beyond a concoction of 15 fruits. So add them to every smoothie.

3. Go clear with the liquid. Let’s be real here… A smoothie is healthy, fruit juice is not. Make your base water only. Water does not have any added sugar or fat. It is pure and will not alter the taste of your smoothie. If you have been exercising heavily, or sweating a lot, add coconut water.

4. Skip the added sugar. I don’t care how healthy the sugar is that your adding- whether it be honey, maple syrup, or the healthynotreallyhealthy agave nectar. Don’t do it. The fruit that you choose should be sweet enough to sweeten the smoothie. If it is not sweet enough, then I recommend you not drink smoothies at all. Or if you absolutely must, have a small one for desert.

5. Include healthy fats. Healthy fats give staying power to the smoothie. This is especially important if you are making your smoothie a meal, like breakfast. Fat allows you to go a few hours without seriously considering eating the copy paper before lunchtime rolls around. Healthy fats are: nuts, seeds, avocado, and coconut flakes (unsweetened, of course).

These 5 basic tips will allow you to either continue or begin your smoothie habit in a very healthful and beneficial way. Stay tuned for more smoothie tips and upcoming recipes!

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