Maybe you are rushing around and have no time for breakfast. Maybe you need a little nutrition before or after a workout but don’t want to make a meal. Whatever the reason, you find yourself reaching for those premixed protein drinks or workout shakes, consuming a couple of each a day, thinking you are doing yourself (and your workout) a favor.
Back away from that shake, and grab your blender.
This is the workout edition of “Eat This, Not That,” and we are featuring healthy smoothies for every need: fueling up, detoxing, or increasing antioxidant intake. New sugar guidelines released in April recommend consuming 25 grams of added sugar or less every day, and many of those premade shakes reach that mark with one serving. Reaching for artificial sugar is not the answer either, as there are side effects for each of these. Additionally, pre-made nutrition drinks are usually filled with unpronounceable ingredients and are lacking the whole nutrition needed to properly fuel the body (or help it recover).
Smoothies are very easy and quick to make and have endless variations.
Following a simple formula and stocking your freezer with frozen fruit (even better if organic and frozen when in season), you can make a different smoothie every morning (or every workout) in less than five minutes.
The basic formula is two parts fruit to one part liquid and ½ part thickener of some kind, blended until smooth. Even this formula has variations, but below are a few options:
Berry Smoothie: 2 cups frozen mixed berries, 1 cup apple juice, ½ cup Greek yogurt
Peanut Butter Banana: 2 frozen bananas, 1 cup milk (cow, soy, almond, or rice), 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
Cantaloupe Blueberry: 1 cup of fresh blueberries, 1 cup frozen cantaloupe, 1 cup apple juice (no thickener needed as the frozen cantaloupe acts as a thickener)
Orange Strawberry: 2 cups frozen strawberries, 1 cup orange juice (no thickener needed, but add ½ cup of Greek yogurt to add creaminess, sweetened slightly with a tablespoon of raw local honey)
You can add a handful of spinach to any smoothie, and you can also add spices like ginger and cayenne for anti-microbial benefits. You can substitute any type of nut butter, and frozen fruit can also be used as a thickener. If you want to use your smoothie as a dessert-type treat, add a tablespoon of sweetener like agave or honey and freeze in popsicle trays.
Add some flax seeds for beneficial omega-3s or chia seeds for anti-oxidants, blood sugar balancing, and quick energy. Use oats for protein and a more filling smoothie, or add unsweetened cocoa powder to your peanut butter-banana smoothie for a treat. You can even make the smoothie ahead of time and freeze, defrosting the night before or giving them a whirl in the blender.
The best fruit for smoothies is organic fruit.
When summer fruit production is at its highest, buy extra, slice and freeze on trays, then bag fruit in pre-measured portions so you can just pop it into the blender with some juice. If you don’t have a heavy-duty blender, slice fruit smaller to make it easier to blend. Time does not have to be an issue. A healthy, protein-packed or anti-oxidant laden smoothie can be just minutes away.
What are your favorite combinations in a smoothie?
Image by Andrea Parrish-Geyer via Flickr