Blending and Your Health Routine: Part 2
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Last week, we looked at some blending basics. Today, we go into a little more detail about making healthy smoothies with some tips on making them better for you.
First, a debunking of myths on smoothie making…
Top 5 Myths of Smoothie Making Debunked
Unfortunately, blending is sometimes given a bad rap because of misinformation. So, let’s set the record straight about some key blending myths once and for all.
Myth #1: Chewing foods is better for digestion
The reason we chew food is to break it down, so it’s easier to swallow and digest. Your blender does the chewing for you, releasing healthy enzymes, nutrients, and natural minerals for faster absorption.
However, you don’t have to blend everything! In fact, there are some healthy solid foods, such as chicken breast or seafood that would be totally unappetizing (blech!) in blended beverages.
Myth #2: A good blender is expensive
Blenders can range in price from around $20 to well over $1,000. Throughout that broad price range, there are a lot of high-quality blenders that offer a good mix of value, versatility, and functionality. You don’t have to spend more than you can afford to enjoy the many health benefits. Click here for reviews of 5 blenders.
Myth #3: A store-bought smoothie is just as healthy as one from home
Did you know that the main ingredient in most retail smoothies is artificial apple and pineapple juices? To keep costs down and profits up, smoothie stores buy cheap, artificially-flavored beverages, often with an extremely high sugar contents, to make the basis for your allegedly healthy smoothie. At home, you can choose exactly which natural ingredients you use to blend your own delicious and healthy beverages.
Myth #4: Juicing is healthier than blending
Wrong! Juicing and blending are both healthy practices. As we mentioned last week, blending trumps juicing in one very important way: Blending retains the healthy dietary fiber lost in the juicing process. But both are good for you!
Myth #5: The heat from the blender motor kills healthy enzymes in food
Enzymes don’t die unless they are overheated. Food must reach a temperature of 118 degrees Fahrenheit before enzymes are destroyed. This doesn’t happen in most blenders. Just be sure to never “over-blend,” which means limiting blending time for leafy greens and other delicate fruits and vegetables.
Now that those myths are dealt with, we can look at ways to make your smoothies better—healthier and tastier!
Are You Trying to Lose Weight?
Most pre-made smoothies are loaded with sugar, going against the reasons why you added smoothies for weight-loss to your healthy eating plan in the first place. But even the smoothies you make at home can sabotage weight loss efforts if you’re not careful. Here are 4 reasons why your smoothies may not be carrying their weight in your weight-loss efforts.
Too little fiber
If you’re not using enough fiber-rich ingredients in your smoothies, you run the risk of feeling hungry sooner than you should. Fiber keeps you feeling fuller longer because it slows down digestion.
Not only does this prevent a blood-sugar spike (and the resulting crash which heads you straight for something else to eat), but the fiber is indigestible meaning it doesn’t add calories to your diet. By including nuts, berries, seeds, fruit, and dark green vegetables to your smoothies, you can get enough fiber. Even the type of dark green veggies can make a difference. For example, kale has twice the fiber as spinach.
Not enough protein
Having enough protein in your smoothies works toward weight loss in a couple different ways. The hormone leptin in protein keeps you feeling fuller longer by blocking the hunger signal to the brain. At the end of the day, blocking the hunger signal reduces the number of calories you eat. Also, the amino acid leucine found in protein helps prevent muscle loss thus forcing your body to burn fat instead of muscle.
Using protein powder is one easy way to add protein to your smoothies. Use a plant-based milk, peanut butter, or oatmeal to up the amount of protein in your smoothies. As far as yogurt, use the plain Greek type. Not only does it contain more protein, but it doesn’t have the added sugar that many other types of yogurt have in them.
Too much fruit
Fruit makes smoothies taste good and adds fiber and nutrition; however, some fruit is loaded with sugar. And yes, the argument is that it’s the natural sugar fructose and they are correct … but it’s still sugar and still contains 4 calories per gram.
Reduce the sugar content by replacing some of the fruit used in your smoothies with lower calorie vegetables, such as kale or spinach. Or add in some nuts and seeds for some healthy fat without boosting the sugar content.
If you are using fruit in your smoothies, don’t add another sweetener. Even the natural ones like honey or maple syrup will add 60 calories per tablespoon – calories (and sweetener) that you don’t need.
As we just saw, too much sugar in your smoothie can derail your weight loss goals or even just the healthiness of your drink. Here are some tips on how to further reduce the sugar content, thus making your smoothies better for you.
How to Lower the Sugar Content of Smoothies
- First, you may want to use a base with a lower sugar content. If you are currently using bananas, try switching to avocado instead. Instead of adding in 9 grams of sugar, you’ll be adding in only one. Besides, the healthy fat in avocados is more satisfying and will help keep you fuller longer. If you need more sweetness, add in no more than half a banana.
- Add in more fresh vegetables. By adding in green vegetables like kale, spinach, or collard greens, not only do you significantly cut down on the sugar content, but also add in antioxidants, fiber and a host of good nutrients.
- Use less fruit, like mangos, bananas, and pineapple and instead replace with less-sweet fruit like raspberries. Raspberries are has one of the lowest sugar contents of all fruits – 3 grams of sugar per half cup instead of the seven in peaches for example.
- When it comes to adding liquid, use something that is unsweetened. If you don’t like dairy milk, use one of the unsweetened plant-based milks, like almond or coconut milk. Or better yet, use green tea or just plain water as your liquid and eliminate more sugar.
- Avoid yogurt or honey and instead use non-sweetened protein, carob, or maca powder, along with either nuts or seeds. If you use one of the nut butters, choose cashew over peanut and save two grams of sugar.
5 Ways to Make a Filling Meal Replacement Smoothie
Smoothies can also serve as meal replacements – however, the concepts of making a smoothie as a meal replacement may be a little different than those when making them for a pre- or post-workout snack. If your smoothies are nutritionally balanced by having a good mix of carbs, fat, and protein, then you don’t need a meal also.
Here are 5 ways to making your smoothie more filing – but still healthy.
Use a nut butter
Adding in a nut butter, such as almond or pecan, increases the protein content quite a bit. More protein means you will stay satiated longer. To make you smoothie a meal, try adding a tablespoon of your favorite nut butter to a smoothie made from banana, plain yogurt, almond milk, honey, and ice.
Add chia seeds
Chia seeds expand in liquid to form a gel-like substance. Not only does it tend to thicken up a smoothie, but the fiber in it allows you stay full longer. While you can add chia seeds directly into a smoothie, it’ll work better if you soak the seeds in water for ten minutes first, so they turn into a gel. It’s easier to get the right consistency if the seeds have expanded first before adding them to your smoothie.
Try some tofu
With its neutral flavor, you might not even taste it. But the advantage of adding in crumbled tofu is much the same as adding nut butter – it boosts the protein content and helps keep you fuller longer. It might take some experimenting as far as how much to add as it can thicken up a smoothie quite a bit.
Yogurt is key
If dairy products don’t bother you, adding in a full-fat plain yogurt is key to making a filling and satisfying smoothie that will last until your next meal. Just make sure the yogurt doesn’t have a lot of added sugar. That defeats the purpose of using yogurt in the first place. Greek-style yogurt works about the best in smoothies.
Up the fat content
Drinking a smoothie containing some dietary fat is satisfying. One easy way to add it to your smoothies is to use coconut oil as part of your smoothie liquid. It will make your smoothie creamier plus adding in a little natural sweetness.
Using these 5 tips will take your average snack smoothie to a new level that will keep you full until your next meal. Try them all for a satisfying meal replacement smoothie.
Start Looking and Feeling Better Today
What are you waiting for? Get started turning a simple kitchen appliance into your dream body. Your new healthy lifestyle is waiting on you, along with all the rewards it delivers.
Your skin and hair will look younger and healthier. You will feel better mentally and physically. Your mind will become sharper and quicker, your body will crank up its natural defense system, and your odds of becoming sick will drop drastically.
Besides, blending healthy, nutritious and delicious beverages, juices, foods and other liquids takes little time, requires very little cleanup, and can be enjoyed on any budget. Take a minute now to go through our companion Blender Comparison Page to find the perfect blender for your family.
All of the information you just learned is useless if not put into practice. So, dust off your little-used blender or purchase a new one, and you’ll see just how quickly your new healthy lifestyle can positively transform your life.
Also, here is a list of some smoothie combinations that you can try. Here’s to Blending!
Loving Life–The Reboot!
We LOVE smoothies at our house. I seriously don’t know if my kids would get as many veggies as they do otherwise. I like your idea of adding some coconut oil to up the good fat content. I’ve tried avocado to do the same, but not everyone at my house likes the flavor it adds to the smoothie. Thanks for the tips!
Terra @ A Spork in the Road
Your statement about fruit sugars containing 9 calories per gram is untrue. It is a carbohydrate, and therefore only contains 4 kcal/gram. Lipids are 9 kcal/gram, and those are not sugars, obviously. I just thought you should know so you can correct yourself. It’s also untrue that fruit sugars and added sugars are the same. They are very different, and your brain relies heavily on sugar to operate. I will be finalizing a class on nutrition for food writers this week. You may be interested in taking it, so that you understand how it works, and convey a correct message.
I appreciate the correction on the calories of sugar/carbs vs lipids — that was a mistake on my part. It’s been corrected. However, I don’t think I said that fruit sugars and added sugars were the same. Just because you do need some sugars in your diet doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t watch how much you put in your smoothie. Also, I recognize that coconut oil does contain significant amounts of saturated fat –there has been discussion about that recently — however, the point of that section was actually about adding the extra fat to your smoothie. So I deleted the sentence about coconut oil being healthier. Thanks for keeping me on my toes!