The Science of a Smoothie

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Are smoothies good for you? Oh gosh what a minefield! 😮
This is a question I regularly get asked as there is so much conflicting information available on them.
The main argument against smoothies is that because they are blended they allow you to consume larger quantities of foods more easily, thus if you’re ingredient balance is out of kilter you can quickly set your blood sugar off on that rollercoaster ride we are so keen to avoid.
On the other hand this blending can work hugely in your favour.

If you’ve ever made your own smoothies think about just how much kale, spinach or other nutrient powerhouse green veggie you can get into one blend and you know what I’m talking about!
So how to we make sure to stay on the beneficial side of blending? Never fear I have my failsafe ‘Smoothie Equation” for you which will ensure you don’t stray to the dark side ;p
Also just to say at this point many people may be turned off by a ‘Green Smoothie’ but they don’t all actually have to be green, they just need to contain greens 🙂
So as previously mentioned, blending allows you to easily consume more plant based ingredients in an exceptionally convenient way. Whether you’re racing out of the door in the morning for work, looking for an after school snack for the kids, or maybe your appetite, swallowing ability or taste have been compromised by a medical condition, pregnancy, or treatment, smoothies could be the answer.
Due to the fact they’re all blended together you may also find them a valuable tool for sneaking things in that you would usually find less palatable in their whole form.
So on to the super scientific smoothie fail safe………

1 large handful green leaves + 2-3 vegetables + citrus/spices/herbs + protein &/or fat

Ta Da! Looks pretty simple after all that doesn’t it! 😀

You can also include a portion of a low sugar fruit such as frozen berries, kiwi or a green apple in there too but that didn’t quite fit on the line….. 😉

If you stick to the above, whist getting super creative and varying the versions of each step, you know you will always be including appropriate levels of fibre, protein and fat to prevent the sweeter elements from unbalancing your blood sugar. Additionally you can include specific ingredients, herbs, spices or powdered supplements, whatever you fancy really!

I use about 1 cup of liquid per portion, either a dairy free milk, coconut water, plain
water, fresh vegetable juice or kefir.

MY TOP TIPS FOR THE ULTIMATE BLEND:

Go organic to avoid taking in any pesticides, herbicides or genetically modified organisms that are allowed in non-organic produce. It is also worth noting that the potent antioxidants and phytochemicals present in natural foods tend to lie directly under the skin which spraying will destroy. If this option is not available or appropriate for you then choose local, seasonal produce where possible and either wash well or remove the skins.

For a creamier consistency – experiment with frozen avocado, courgette, cauliflower and peas. Simply chop and freeze in bags for use as and when you need. They result in a thicker blend that you can decant into a bowl and sprinkle with extra additions such as coconut chips, hemp seeds, bee pollen and cacao nibs for texture.

The protein and fat component – opt for un-roasted nuts, seeds, nut/seed butters, coconut oil/butter, avocado, hemp seeds, chia seeds and flaxseed oil. This is an exceptional important part as this is what will trigger your satiety response and regulate the release of energy into the blood stream.

Use peeled citrus fruits and fresh herbs – such as grapefruit, oranges, limes or lemons along with fresh ginger, turmeric, parsley, coriander and mint to add a refreshing zing instead of including high sugar exotic fruits.

For your sweet tooth – if you’re more of a sugar seeker try including vegetables such as beetroot and sweet potato. Their natural flavour brings a sweet quality that pairs beautifully with frozen berries, fresh spinach and some coconut butter for a wonderfully, healthful (yet seemingly naughty) blend.

For a more sustaining blend –  such as a breakfast, or after an intense workout, add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of rolled oats.

For after a workout – increase the protein component. Add additional hemp or chia seeds or a high quality protein powder see my personal favourites here.

If you struggle with digestive issues – a sudden increase in fibre may exacerbate these. If you find this is the case I recommend juicing your vegetable and citrus components and using that as the liquid with which you blend your leaves, protein and fat elements. In this way you will still be gaining those valuable micronutrients but decreasing the amount of fibre you’re taking in in one go.

Make them work for you – Many people get bogged down as they envisage a seemingly never ending amount of preparation is involved in eating healthily, however in this instance you can very easily make this a ‘matter of moment’s situation, simply make your freezer your best friend!

  1. Pre-pack smoothie bags in portions – chop your vegetables, peeled citrus, fruit and fresh spices and pop in the freezer. When you’re ready to make your smoothie add to your blender with fresh leaves, the liquid component and any nuts, seeds or nut/seed butters and blend away.
  2. Do a mass juicing session – again you can easily make enough juice to add to your blends for a week or so to avoid having to make it fresh each day. Choose BPA free containers such as the Sistema range, make your juice and freeze in portions to be taken out the night  before.
  3. Fresh ginger and turmeric juice ‘shots’ can also be frozen in ice cube trays to be popped out and kept in a freezer bag. These also make a fabulous way to flavour water on a warm day.

I hope this has gone some way to help demystify a sometimes baffling topic, as always please comment or send me an email at pliebling@me.com if you have any extra questions.

With healthy wishes,

Phoebe <3

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