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Building Smoothies for Health and Nutrition - A tutorial



I can't think of a better way to start your day, or to enjoy a break be it elevenses or lunch time than in the indulgence of a nutritionally sound and delicious smoothie.  They are a fabulous way to get in some of your five a day, and I'll be honest here . . .  I really enjoy them.  They are a lot healthier than a frozen mocha, and . . . lets face it, perfectly portable if need be. Vitamin packed, smooth and delicious you feel like you are indulging in a milkshake, but in reality, you are packing a lot of nutritional punch into a most enjoyable drink! No empty calories here! 


You can make a smoothie with just about anything fresh (or frozen) in your kitchen that is edible. I like the addition of something frozen myself, because I love the texture that frozen fruit lends to the end result. True indulgence.  That's why I keep bananas sliced and frozen in the freezer for just this purpose.

To make a good smoothie, you will want a combination of fresh and frozen edibles.  Some great combinations are frozen banana and fresh tropical fruits, such as mango and pineapple.  But there is really no end to the combinations you can come up with.  Some of my favourite smoothies are made using fresh berries and frozen bananas.  

You will want something creamy to add.  Coconut milk goes great in tropical drinks, but I have also used yogurt drinks, or even regular milk.  Soy milk works well, almond milk, etc. Fruit juice also works well, but I love the creaminess of the other alternatives.  Be sure to add whatever liquid you are choosing to your blender first.  After that you can add any solids.  I roughly fill my smoothie maker about 1/2 full of the liquid I am using, and then add fruits and solids to fill no more than 2/3 of my container.

I also like to add a dollop of fresh yogurt when I can, and a bit of honey adds a lovely sweetness which is natural.  Its not totally necessary however to add anything sweet.  Its all a matter of taste. Some great natural sweeteners are date syrup (great with bananas and peanut butter), maple syrup, Agave syrup, etc. As a diabetic I tend to leave out sweeteners unless the fruit I am using is really sour. 



Another great thing which is really nutritious to add to your smoothies are some nuts and seeds.  They are filled with power and protein, which are really great additions to a healthy diet.  

  

This is what I use.  I buy it at Costco.  Its packed with delicious nutrition and is great sprinkled on your breakfast oats, and yogurt also, so it is multi-purpose.  You can also keep it in the freezer so that it keeps fresh longer.  Just a spoonful makes a great addition to any smoothie.  

Nut butters are also great additions and can help boost your protein intake.  It is important for diabetics to add protein whenever they can as doing so helps your body to process complex carbs in a healthier way. 

Any addition of protein also helps you to feel fuller longer, an added bonus!



Just pop what you want into your blender and blitz away to your desired consistency  (1) liquid (2) any solids (3) sweetener if desired (4) seeds or nuts (optional)  Myself, I prefer a smoother consistency as I have diverticulitis and whole seeds can really create problems with my digestion.  You can also add frozen ice cubes if you don't have any frozen fruit.  Or (and this is one of my favourite things to do) ahead of time you can freeze cubes of almond milk or coconut milk, etc. and just use a couple of them with your fresh fruit and some fruit juice.  Delicious! 

Some great combinations:

Mango & Banana - 1/2 mango peeled and cubed, 1/2 banana sliced, 240ml orange juice (1 cup), 1 TBS of plain yogurt, 2 ice cubes and a bit of sweetener if you desire. 

Kale & Avocado - 1/2 Avocado, peeled, stoned and roughly chopped, generous handful each of baby spinach and cleaned and chopped kale, 50g (2 ounces) pineapple chunks, 4 inch piece of cucumber roughly chopped, 240ml (1 cup) coconut water. 

Banana & Forrest Fruits - 1 small banana sliced, 1 small pot of Forrest fruits yogurt (low fat and sugar), a couple TBS of frozen forest fruits, 240ml (1 cup) apple juice.

Creamy Mango & Coconut - 4 TBS coconut milk yogurt, 1 small banana (sliced), 240ml (1 cup) coconut milk, 120g (4 1/2 ounces) frozen mango chunks, 1 TBS ground flax seed, sunflower and pumpkin seed.

Super Berry - 1 small pot of sugar free/fat free strawberry yogurt, 240ml milk (1 cup),  120g (4 1/2 ounces) frozen berries, 1 TBS porridge oats, 2 tsp honey 

Peanut Butter and Banana - 1 small banana, peeled and sliced, 240ml (1 cup) unsweetened almond milk, 2 ice cubes, 1 heaped TBS sugar free peanut butter, 2 tsp honey (you can also add 1 tsp cocoa powder if you like the flavour of chocolate and peanut butter together)


Think Ahead

Its always a great idea if you are going to make smoothie making a part of your regular routine to keep some fruit in the freezer.  Not only do they keep for longer, but they retain all of their nutritional value and flavour, and add an instant chill factor to your smoothie, without any need to add ice.  When I find berries on offer, I buy extra and freeze.  Just spread them out in an even layer on a baking sheet, pop into the freezer and once frozen, pour into a heavy duty zip lock freezer bag.  Pop back into the freezer.  Easy to take out when and as needed.  You can do the same with bananas.  Peel, slice and freeze on a baking sheet lined with baking paper until solid, and then pop them into freezer bags ready to go when you are. Fruits that don't usually freeze well, like strawberries and melon, are okay to freeze if you're using them in a smoothie.  You can also now buy frozen smoothie packs in most grocery shops, which give you a nice mix of fruit and are not all that expensive, especially when good fresh fruit is out of season.  



When you're at work 

You might think its impossible to enjoy a delicious and fresh smoothie when you are at work, but I have found a really neat little portable blender that not only light weight, but small and very easy to carry.  You can take it with you on your daily commute, or keep it at the office, ready to use.  One of the neatest things about it is that you can charge it easily from your computer or your phone!


 
This Portable Blender and Juicer is convenient and easy to use,  and does a great job of blending your smoothies to deliciousness!   I've been using it with great success for several weeks now and I have to say I just love it.  It comes in three colours and is made from premium grade durable plastic, with a 304 stainless steel blade, and also has a massive 550ml (19 ounce) capacity. I just love the convenience of being able to use it right at my desk!

So now you really have no excuse not to eat a bit healthier, either at home or at work!  I might not always have time to sit and eat something healthy, but I always have time to sip away at a deliciously nutritional drink while I am working.  Hopefully in the long run it will go a long ways towards making my waistline a tad bit smaller. Watch this space!! 



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Marie Rayner
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8 comments:

  1. Hi Marie, you've just given me a great new idea for breakfasts! I had completely forgotten about smoothies. My husband used to make them every day for me to take for my lunch. Another great ingredient is soft tofu! Maybe you could swap it out for the yogurt and get a bit of extra protein. That's what mine were made with. The smoothies were always delicious no matter what he put in them. I hadn't thought of trying nuts and seeds but I will give them a try. The cottage pie looks like dinner tomorrow too! Best wishes, Esther

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    1. Soft tofu is great in smoothies and as you say Esther, additional protein! Thanks! I hope you enjoy the cottage pie! We had the leftovers yesterday and they were great! xo

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  2. Marie, I just read that in one of your smoothie recipes, you suggest sugar-free peanut butter. I believe you have a dog and wanted to let you know that if the sweetener used in the peanut butter is xylitol, it is poisonous to dogs. Please check online or with your vet. On the other hand, maybe your dog doesn't like peanut butter, unlike my beloved Kao, sadly gone many years back but still very much missed. Very best wishes, Esther

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    1. Thanks for the info Esther. Fortunately the sugar-free peanut butter I buy is just peanuts, salt and coconut oil! Mitzie loves peanut butter too. I sometimes make her her own Peanut Butter dog biscuits. I have not made them in a while. (I always use regular peanut butter in hers anyways.) I might bake her some for this weekend! Thanks for the insiration! xo

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  3. Mitzi is a lucky dog. I used to make treats for Kao too but my recipe used liver. Homemade treats are usually easy to make and dogs love them. In moderation, of course! Esther

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    1. A combination of lucky and spoiled, but we love her! xo

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  4. smoothies can be great, but remember they can pack quite a calorie punch depending on your ingredients and shouldn't be considered a beverage but more a meal replacement. I would not use soy milk (or soy anything) myself as it is a known hormone disrupter. you can use home made milk kefir instead of yogurt for a probiotic boost!

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    1. Oh for sure would never use as a beverage. I often make one in the morning and then enjoy half midway through the morning and the other half in the evening. Much better for you than snacking on potato chips or cookies. But more often than not they are a great breakfast or lunch for me! xo (Personally I am not fond of soy anything but sauce.)

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