A recent article in Health Zone compared the nutrition in smoothies from McDonald’s, Tim Hortons, and Starbucks. The point the author was making was that smoothies often have undeserved “health halos”. People often think that because smoothies are made with fruit that they must be healthy. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Many of these commercially made smoothies contain no whole fruit whatsoever (but they do contain considerably more calories than you might expect). Instead, they rely on ingredients like fruit purees to provide the “real fruit”. Other ingredients you may not be bargaining on getting in your smoothie include: sugar, salt, flavours, colours, etc. As with any food you didn’t prepare yourself you need to be aware that there are likely hidden ingredients and calories. There may also be a lack of expected ingredients, like actual fruit, fibre, and protein. Obviously the better choice is to make your own smoothie.
I enjoy a smoothie for breakfast every now and again, but they’re not my go-to breakfast choice. I find, as with many liquid calories, that they just don’t fill me up like a bowl of cereal, oatmeal, or toast with peanut butter do. Smoothies can be a great breakfast option for people who don’t normally eat breakfast. Many people just don’t feel like eating first thing in the morning. Having a “liquid” breakfast like a smoothie may sit better with you if you fall into that category. Others don’t feel much like eating after exercise, and a smoothie can be a good way for them to get carbohydrate, protein, and rehydrate. A small smoothie can also make for a great snack.
Make your smoothie by throwing a combination of fruit, yoghurt, and milk or juice into a blender, food processor, or measuring cup (if you’re using an immersion blender – the cheapest option and great for pureeing hot soups). I like to use frozen berries to make it thick and banana to make it sweet, any frozen fruit or ice cubes will work to make your smoothie a nice thick consistency. Plain, low-fat yoghurt is your best option if you’re using yoghurt. Thin to your preferred consistency using milk (be it almond, soy, cow, coconut, whatever). Once you’ve got a basic smoothie down you can get more adventurous. Try adding oats, ground flax, veggies (like spinach), nut butters. Many combinations can make for a delicious and nutritious smoothie.