3/25/14

How to create the perfect meal smoothie


CREATING THE PERFECT SMOOTHIE TV SEGMENT(click above to watch my live TV segment from this morning)


This morning I had a great time talking with Melanie about how to create the perfect meal smoothie on News4Jax during the 8 o'clock hour of the Morning Show. 

Meal replacement shakes and workout recovery drinks have been around for some time and if you are on social media, it's likely that you have come across one or two smoothie pictures....in the last hour.

But over the past few years, smoothies have been given a lot of attention from medical professionals, the health conscious, celebrities, dietitians and trainers for a lot of great reasons.

                             
When you are in control of the ingredients in your top of the line, heavy duty blender, smoothies are a delicious and easy way to hydrate and fill your body with powerful vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats and quality protein to nourish your immune system, energize your muscles and brain and to keep you satisfied. 

In other words, smoothies are a yummy way to drink your medicine.

The key to making the perfect meal in a cup is it's all about the ingredients. 

I will give you a few ideas on how to create a healthy and satisfying smoothie that can be used a meal to nourish and energize your body.

                              

Liquids
No smoothie is complete without a liquid base. If you love a milkshake type consistency of a smoothie (like me), the key is to not overliquify your smoothie.

For a single serving smoothie around 16 ounces or more, aim for around 1 cup of liquid to start (you can add more water during the blending process. Also leaving your blender running will add volume to your smoothie). 
A few great choices include milk or a milk alternative to provide your body with calcium, potassium, naturally occurring sugars and carbohydrates. Be mindful of the protein content in almond milk (1g) compared to milk (7-8g) if you are using your liquid to add protein to your drink.  Another option, although a bit higher in natural sugars, is coconut water which has an extra dose of electrolytes if using a smoothie as a post workout rehydrating meal. Additional water can be used to meet your consistency needs. Pass on the fruit and vegetable juice so that your smoothie contains intact fibers from real food.
Liquid options: 
Almond milk
Soy milk
Cow’s milk (lactose free is fine)
Coconut water
                             

Fruits and veggies
Here lies the beauty in smoothies. This is why MDs and RD's LOVE smoothies - it's medicine in a cup! 
Not only do nutrient and water dense fruits and veggies bulk up your smoothie with fiber and other vitamins and minerals like vitamin K, C and potassium but this is an easy way to enjoy a synergy of nutrients to maximize your health. Think of a smoothie as colorful salad in your blender.

I recommend to use fresh, local fruit when it’s in season but frozen fruits make a great consistency in a smoothie so you can buy frozen fruit or freeze your own. Aim for around 1-1.5 cups mixed fruit and around 1 handful leafy greens or 1 cup mixed veggies. 
Fruit not only adds sweetness to your smoothie but also masks the taste of veggies if you are bit hesitant to drink spinach or kale. 
Some of my favorite fruits and veggies in smoothies include leafy greens, cooked sweet potatoes, celery, carrots, sprouts, peaches, mango, pineapple, bananas, berries, oranges, kiwis and apples.

                                 

Satisfying fats
This is typically the one area where smoothie lovers fall short when it comes to making a volume rich smoothie hold you over for a few hours (as a meal should do).
Not only will healthy fats provide a creamy texture to your smoothie but fats will also slow down the digestion of the natural sugars found in your ingredients and will leave you with energy balance which is the main purpose of using a smoothie as a meal replacement. 
What’s great about fats like avocado, oil, flax seeds, nut butters, chia seeds, coconut, nuts and seeds is that they provide antioxidants, they can help with absorption of fat soluble vitamins found in veggies and can assist in proper brain and cardiovascular health. Aim for around 10g of fat in your smoothie and feel free to mix and match your tasty fats.


                                        

Bone building protein
No smoothie meal is complete without protein. Protein gives a smoothie substance. Ideally aim for around 20-25g of protein in your meal smoothie. There’s a variety of options depending on the source but what we want to look for is a complete protein to provide the body with all of the essential amino acids that your body can not synthesize on it’s own. 
Some of my favorites include whey isolate, soy isolate or a vegan (brown rice/pea) protein powder, kefir or greek yogurt (rich in probiotics), silken tofu or cottage cheese. To give your smoothie a creamy texture and to avoid a clumpy or chalky smoothie, add your proteins last and then add additional water as needed.


                                 

Spice it up
The last category includes maximizing the smoothie’s nutrient profile and giving the smoothie a burst of flavor. What’s great about these flavor enhancers is that they all contain a long list of health benefits from helping with blood pressure, controlling blood sugar and reducing inflammation.

Some of my favorites include coffee beans, cacao powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, wheat germ, honey, lemon zest.

                                               

What’s great about smoothies is that all of these ingredients can boost your health and taste great when mixed in a blender, but they are also super delicious when consumed on a plate with silverware. 


 


It's important to maintain a balanced diet for overall health and smoothies are an easy way to help boost your intake of vitamins and minerals. Always consult with your primary physician before starting a new diet/eating plan, especially  if you are currently on medications (ex. blood thinners) or have a clinical condition (ex. gout, etc.) that may prohibited you from over consuming certain vitamins and minerals in excess (which is easy to do in a smoothie). And if you really really really love your smoothies, keep them to one a day and enjoy chewing your food for your other two meals. 


Cheers!