It seems that every other block has a juice bar. Marketed as a quick way to get your daily fruit and vegetable intake, many people believe that drinking a banana & mango smoothie on their way to a 3 p.m meeting will not effect their waistline. This is not always true, as a smoothie or a cold-pressed juice can contain as much sugar as a can of Pepsi.
I actually used to shun smoothies, thinking they were all an endless pit of calories, but now I have learned a formula that is not only beneficial, but also palate pleasing.
Here are some easy tips to remember when ordering a smoothie or a smoothie bowl:
1. Choose fruit wisely - Yes, fruit is "good for you", containing vitamins, minerals, water and fiber. Fruit also contains sugar. Too much sugar will sabotage your health and weight goals. Each smoothie should contain 1 fruit, but not more. I tend to use bananas, as they are my favorite, but it really depends on your taste preference. Lately, I've been seeing avocado added to many smoothies, which is a fruit, and also contains heart-healthy mono unsaturated fatty acids, along with tons of B vitamins for metabolism & energy. They also have been shown to lower cholesterol. Many juice bars add dates for natural sweetener, which is great, but count them as your fruit.
2. Add a fiber source - Fiber promotes fullness, satiety, weight loss and also helps promote normal blood sugar. This is especially true in Diabetics. The fruits and vegetables in your smoothie will naturally contain fiber, but also add another strong source. Good sources of fiber for smoothies are flax seeds, chia seeds, wheat germ, oats & 1-2 tbsp of almond butter (or any nut butter.) This past weekend, I had a spinach, banana, almond milk, wheat germ smoothie and the crunch from the wheat germ really added texture & taste.
3. Add a protein source - Sure, you can add a "protein powder", but often these are heavily processed, containing toxic metals and chemicals. It is better to use natural sources of protein, including hemp seeds, peanut butter, almond butter, quinoa, yogurt and almond milk. If using a protein powder, hemp or pea protein is best. Protein promotes lean muscle mass, satiety and delivers essential nutrients. Don't over do it, but do it.
4. Increase greens - This is where you can go crazy. Go wild. No limits. Order every green on the menu if necessary. I recommend spinach, kale, swiss chard, dandelion greens and romaine. All are low calorie, nutrient-dense and have anti-aging benefits.
5. Pump it up - This is where it becomes fun. You can add my favorite choice, coffee for an anti-oxidant kick, but also try:
- Ginger to promote digestion, along with anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Cacao, which contains a mood-enhancing compound called phenethylamine (PEA.) It also decreases stress, lowers blood pressure & can prevent premature aging.
- Maca for hormonal balance & to increase mood, stamina and focus.