This is a loaded question. “Are smoothies healthy?” This is a question we get asked all the time in our office. In theory, yes, smoothies should be healthy – they’re packed with fruits, maybe vegetables, perhaps some healthy fats, maybe yogurt, water or milk, maybe ice. “But then how do they go wrong?” Let me explain…
My golden rule for smoothies includes this question – if you placed each of the items on a table in front of you, would you sit down and eat them all in one sitting? If the answer is no, then your smoothie is likely going to be too calorically dense. Have you ever ordered a smoothie at a juice bar only to see them add huge amounts of peanut butter, frozen yogurt and sugar sweetened frozen fruit? While smoothies might be touted as health foods, you really have to think twice, especially before ordering them off a menu.
It’s a lot easier (and faster!) to drink 500 calories than it is to eat 500 calories, but is it as satisfying? Definitely not. Chewing foods sends a particular message to your brain that drinking does not. This is especially important for bariatric patients who need to watch their intake closely.
But the good news is, you can keep smoothies healthy by following a few easy rules:
- Make it at home
- as with many things, it’s easier to control what’s going into your body when you prepare the ingredients yourself
- Start with 1/2 cup of a low calorie liquid base
- water or unsweetened almond milk are our picks
- Add 1/2 cup of a lean protein
- Pick no more than 1/2 cup of fruit
- this could be 1/2 cup of berries or 1/4 cup berries and 1/4 of a banana
- Make it green
- adding 1/2 raw baby spinach only changes the color, not the flavor
- Chill out
- if you like things really cold, add a handful of ice
- Get blending
- whir the smoothie until it’s very well incorporated – especially if you’ve added spinach
I really like green smoothies – they pack a bit of extra nutrition and really don’t taste much different (trust me!) than non-green smoothies. But if that’s too much for you to start with, omit the spinach and just keep things simple. If you stick to my suggestions above, your smoothie will be healthy, portion controlled and delicious!
We love hearing from you! What are you favorite smoothie recipes? Please share them with us in the comments below.