How healthy is your smoothie?

How healthy is your smoothie?

If you have been on Instagram recently you will know what I mean when I say that smoothies and juices are everywhere. Their popularity has rocketed with juice plans becoming increasing popular as a detox option or a kick-start to a healthy eating plan.

I have to say I do love a Paleo smoothie or a juice and find it is a great way to pack in the vegetables without any effort. There is something so refreshing and comforting about having a chilled smoothie that is packed full of goodness. Smoothies and juices seem to be popular throughout the health arena in general, regardless of what “diet” or “regime” you may follow. It  certainly seems as though they are here to stay but is your smoothie as healthy as you think?

Shop bought smoothies can be full of sugar, additives and all sorts of unwanted ingredients that you did not want nor ask for (thank you Big Food as usual). The best way to get your Paleo smoothie fix is to either make it yourself at home or go to a juice bar where they make it fresh in front of you. Even then you need to make sure that they are using fresh whole ingredients and not pre-made packs which they just add to fruit juice and ice.

When you make at home you do still need to pay attention to what you are consuming. You need to make sure that you are actually getting some health benefits from your smoothie and not just adding to your sugar load.

Green smoothie with heart of seeds

How to make your Paleo smoothie more nutritious…

Fill up on Fat! 

Healthy fats should ideally make up at least 60% of your daily nutritional intake and they can form an integral part of your Paleo smoothie. Easy ways to add more fat are with nut butter and coconut oil; you can even add both. This not only adds more healthy fats into your smoothie but it also tastes really good and will keep you fuller for longer.

One of my favourite additions to a Paleo smoothie has to be avocado; the powerhouse of healthy fats. This is perfect with a green juice to make it thicker, creamier and more substantial. You just need to add the juice to a blender with either 1/2 or 1/4 an avocado and blend until smooth.

Include More Protein

Egg whites and collagen/gelatin are both great options for adding more protein to your Paleo smoothie. For a plant based source you could add a handful of chia seeds which also have antioxidant qualities and a good dose of Omega-3. You may be wondering about whether to include a protein powder, particularly if you are active and are looking to get the best results from your training.

Protein Powders

Protein powders made from whey protein are strictly speaking not Paleo friendly. First, it is a product derived from milk. Although it has usually been separated from other components, such as lactose, there is still an issue with hormones. Many brands also include a whole host of processed ingredients in their powders. This includes sweeteners, stabilisers and preservatives which are generally best avoided.

A good alternative is Paleo Protein Powder by Protein Works. It is made using egg whites and some natural fruit flavourings and contains no dairy or additives. I use it in my smoothies for a protein boost and find it much quicker and cleaner than spending time separating egg whites. I tend to have it in my post work out smoothie and also add it to a juice or smoothie if I am looking for a nutrient packed snack.

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How healthy is your smoothie?

Watch the Sugar 

Whilst fruit is full of phytonutrients it does also contain sugar. It can be easy to overload without realising if you are consuming smoothies on a regular basis. Try to keep fruit to a minimum and load up on more vegetables instead.

It does not just have to be the usual green vegetables, you can pretty much juice anything. I like to use beetroot, carrots, fennel, ginger, pepper and herbs. When you do use fruit it is best to stick to apples, pears and berries and keep away from the more tropical varieties which contain more sugar.

How to sweeten

You could sweeten your Paleo smoothie with some cinnamon or even add a touch of cacao for a hint of chocolate. Adding coconut milk will also bring a natural sweetness as would vanilla if you had any fresh pods in the cupboard for baking.

Consider alternatives to fruit juice 

Consider whether you could replace your fruit juice with an alternative. Coconut water works well to keep the smoothie lighter and can be mixed into vegetable juices or blitzed with some frozen fruit. Kombucha would also be a good option. If you have not come across this before it is a fermented tea based drink which is great for digestion. If you wanted something more creamy then you could use coconut milk or your favourite flavour of nut milk.

Consume as soon as possible

Ideally you should drink a juice or smoothie as soon as you can after it has been made to ensure you are getting the maximum amount of nutrients. Whilst you can keep any extra in the fridge for 24 hours the nutrient profile will start to dwindle and you lose the health benefits.

Use a good blender

Do you ever find that the smoothies you have when you are out and about taste better than the ones you made at home? It is most likely because they are using a good quality blender.

Whilst you can certainly use any blender to make a smoothie (and there are ones to suit every budget), for green smoothies especially, you need a blender with a 1000-watt or higher motor. Only the more powerful motors will be able to liquefy the likes of kale and spinach as well as grind and blend flax and chia seeds. It allows you to fully unlock the nutrients in the fruits and veggies that you are blending and provides a better taste and less chewing!

What I use…

I use the Optimum 9200A – Next Generation Blender by Froothie and I absolutely love it. It has a motor which is over 2000 watts so there is nothing it wont blend! I use it for soups, smoothies, nut milk, nut butters and even making energy balls and brownies so I don’t ever really need to get my food processor out anymore. It was a pricey investment but I use it practically every day and it is one of the best buys I have made for my kitchen.

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