Smoothies are refreshing, fruity and satisfying and can enhance energy, antioxidant power and more. Menus and ingredient lists boast fruit, juice, yogurt, soy protein, and the list goes on. Are those drinks truly the health-in-a-bottle they claim to be? Many brand name smoothies you can purchase at your local grocer follow through on their health claims, but it doesn't hurt to know what to watch out for:
Smoothies can satisfy your thirst for less than 100 calories and provide calcium and vitamins, depending on the fruit selected for the drink. To keep calories low, look for fresh, frozen or water packed canned fruit, juices and nonfat dairy products. Beware when you see chocolate, heavy syrup, premium ice cream, peanut butter or whole milk on the ingredient list. Other danger flags are coconut, honey, coconut cream, fruit nectar, and protein powder. Calorie alarm!
Serving Sizes. The serving size for supermarket smoothies is 8 ounces; however, most bottles contain almost 2 servings. The smallest size for restaurant smoothies ranges from 16 to 24 ounces.
Smoothie Quickie: Combine your favorite sliced fruits with plain or fruit-flavored yogurt and ice in the blender for a refreshing instant meal.
Edible Energizers. Up your iron absorption with a smoothie. Pour orange juice instead of almond milk into your spinach smoothies. The vitamin C will do the rest by helping to convert the iron into a form your body can use immediately.
Calories. Some smoothies pack in over 700 calories per serving, and the usual culprit is added sugars. These calories can really add up if you treat yourself to a smoothie with a meal or a between meal snack. Due to the higher calorie and sugar content, if you fancy restaurant smoothies, limit yourself to only a couple per week.
Above and beyond. Fruits are naturally good sources of vitamins and fiber, but many smoothies have added nutrients - too much of a good thing is possible. One example is fat soluble vitamins - A, D, E and K, because the excess is stored in the body so they pose a greater risk for toxicity. Try to avoid getting much more than 100 percent of the Daily Value for vitamins and minerals, keeping in mind that you can also get these nutrients in supplements and foods.
Make Your Own. If you enjoy making your own smoothies- more power to you! Whipping up your own scrumptious, thick concoction is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Whip one-half cup nonfat yogurt, one-cup fruit, and one-half cup nonfat milk or 100 percent juice in your blender. Let your creativity shine: Choose one fruit or a combination of fruits like bananas, berries, mango and peaches.
Toss cranberries into a smoothie, and then blend in other fruits. You can even use cranberry juice for the liquid in the smoothie.
Tips for perfecting your smoothies:
- Freeze fruit ahead of time for a frostier drink
- Try to use the freshest fruit in season
- Too thick? Add more juice
- Too thin? Add more fruit
- Too tart? Add a sugar substitute, molasses or maple syrup
- Too sweet? Add citrus juice
Many smoothie recipes include frozen banana. For the healthiest banana benefits ever, peel several bunches of bananas. To do so, set the bananas on a tray, and freeze. Once they are frozen, place them in a plastic bag and store in the freezer. When a recipe calls for a frozen banana, simply pull one from your freezer bag as necessary. It is preferable to purchase organic bananas since most conventional bananas are picked green and gas-ripened.
Froth Beats Fat
Here is a best and least-known discovery for those who enjoy drinking smoothies. Study subjects who drank smoothies and other drinks blended for at least twice as long as necessary ate 12 percent less -- and felt fuller -- than those who drank beverages blended for a shorter period of time. Why? Blending is a no-calorie way to increase serving size by adding air. Adding low or no-calorie ingredients to entrees (such as lettuce and tomato on top of turkey burgers or alongside broiled fish) has a similar effect: They work by increasing the amount of water instead of air.
Cleaning Up the Blender
Blend your blender to clean it! Fill the container half full with water, add a two drops of dish soap, then put the lid on and fire it up. Empty the pitcher, fill it half way with just water, and blend again. This will rinse the blade. Pour out the water and blend the blade dry for a few seconds.
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