While all the fans are bouncing off the walls with World Cup 2014 fever, over in the realm of health and fitness we are buzzing over the latest obsession: smoothies! Every health wannabe’s pantry is now filled with ingredients like flax seeds, chia seeds, agave syrup and probably a folder on their phones with smoothie recipes. So what’s the deal with the latest obsession, and how far should we take it? I’ve taken the liberty of doing all the research, and here’s the breakdown of everything you wanted to know about smoothies.
There are a few different smoothie categories, the most popular being green smoothies, fruit smoothies and protein smoothies. You can often combine protein with the first two categories in the form of a scoop of protein powder.
Green smoothies are the latest craze because they get your greens in and all the recipes have at least one or two fruits to balance out the bitter taste of the greens. Green smoothies are smoothies that contain two cups of some kind of leafy green, usually kale or spinach. They also have 1-1/2 cups of a liquid (either water or non-dairy milk like almond milk) and a few fruits like a frozen banana and a cup of pineapples for added sweetness. Sometimes almond milk is too brutal for me, so I use skimmed milk or sweetened almond milk to give it a better flavor. A lot of people like throwing in half an avocado for a creamier texture and a more filling smoothie.
Once your base ingredients are in, you can add your favorite extras like a spoon of flax or chia seeds and a scoop of protein powder if you like. Once blended, give it a little taste to see if it is sweet enough. If not, you can always add some honey or stevia to the mix. I would stay away from agave syrup as more and more reports are coming out saying that it is just as bad for you as high fructose corn syrup, contrary to popular health freak beliefs.
If you want to get into making green smoothies, I suggest visiting the great starter website simplegreensmoothies.com which has green smoothie challenges and endless recipes to introduce you to the world of green smoothies. I swear, not all green smoothies taste like you’ve taken a bite of grass. Other great recipes for both green smoothies and fruit smoothies can be found by perusing any of the following Instagram accounts: @fit_smoothies, @healthysmoothies_, @healthyblends, and @simplegreensmoothies. The basic outline for making a green smoothie is as follows: two cups of tightly packed leafy greens, 2 cups of your chosen liquid base, and 3 cups of fruit.
For tastier fruity or coffee based smoothies, leave out the green part and just throw in all your favorite fruits with a liquid base of choice. You can use some Greek yoghurt for a thicker consistency, just be sure to add water as needed so that it’s not too thick. The accounts above have hundreds of different amazing recipes. If you want a smoothie with a coffee kick, sometimes I like to blend a cup and a half of skimmed milk with a big tablespoon of instant coffee (my favorite is Clipper “Super Special Organic Coffee” sold at most supermarkets), a big tablespoon of PB2 (this is a peanut butter powder ideal for smoothies with 85% less fat than regular peanut butter) and a frozen banana. This mix is amazing for sleepy mornings when you are in a rush, and the banana will fill you right up!
If you know you’re going to be blending up a storm tomorrow, try to freeze the fruits that you want to use. This is much better than throwing ice cubes into your blender because it gives you that icy consistency without diluting all the flavor once the ice starts to melt. As a final tip – when enjoying all your fabulous smoothies this summer make sure to use a high quality blender like Black & Decker. Also, beware of fruit smoothies late at night since they usually pack in a lot of sugar and are best consumed earlier in the day or right after a workout. Happy sipping and best of luck to the team you are rooting for this World Cup!