Looking to enhance any aspect of your health? Then smoothies might just hold the answer.
A smoothie is a drink that is made up of a selection of different fruits and vegetables and very often this mixture will have a satisfyingly smooth, creamy texture – hence the name.
The brilliant thing about drinking smoothies, is they enable you to easily hit your five a day without struggle because you’re packing five or more fruits and vegetables into one drink.
And more than just the number of fruits and vegetables, what really matters is that we’re getting an adequate variety of different crucial nutrients. Smoothies can help you to do this and to select the specific benefits you want to get from your drink. And they’re far more convenient than trying to get the same benefits from your regular diet.
The question is: how do you go about making the perfect smoothie and what should you be putting in them? This is the only guide you’re ever going to need!
Your smoothie will start with a liquid and normally you’ll want to put one or two cups into your drink. Of course, this is what makes your drink runny and the amount of fluid is going to dictate just how runny it ends up being. Whether you like your smoothie thick or not will be a matter of preference, so that’s entirely up to you!
Some of the best options here though, include:
- Coconut milk
All these have different health benefits and will affect the flavour in different ways. Water is great of course for diluting sugar (to lessen the negative impact on your teeth) and will also help to make sure your drink is highly hydrating. Also useful is that water doesn’t add any flavour, allowing you to be more adventurous in other areas.
Juice meanwhile lets you add more fruit flavour and more vitamins and minerals. Ice is great for burning calories (because the body has to warm it back up) and for refreshing you. Milk is great as a source of saturated fat, which will help with absorption of fat soluble vitamins and minerals. Coconut milk is a very nutritious drink that also offers healthy fats.
The most important part of your drink comes next: the base. This is what will give your smoothie its consistency and make it nicely creamy. This is the reason it is called a ‘smoothie’ rather than a ‘fruit cocktail’ – so it’s rather important!
A good choice for your base would be:
- Protein shake
- Chia seeds
- Peanut butter
Again, each of these will impact on the drink’s flavour and health benefits in different ways. The yogurt is ideal if you want to make a digestive aid and will provide health natural cultures of friendly bacteria. The avocado is a brilliant source of omega 3 fatty acid and also provides a lot of sustenance – it works very well as a ‘morning smoothie’ that will help you to feel fuller.
Protein shake of course is a good choice for building muscle, chia seeds help to hydrate the body for longer, peanut butter is another good source of protein and fat and mango is just plain delicious!
The Fruits and Vegetables
Now you can get creative and start adding in different fruits! Again, think about whether you want this to be a creamy and soothing smoothie (a soothie?) or whether you want it to be invigorating and refreshing. Things like oranges, lemons and apples are great for adding citrus flavours, vitamin C (which boosts the mood, as well as the immune system) and sugar – they’re perfect for fighting stress and invigorating you.
On the other hand, berries provide tons of antioxidants for long-term health benefits. Or maybe you want to avoid getting too much sugar – in which case you might choose a green smoothie filled with vegetables.
Either way, think about the benefits and how the flavors will work together.
There are plenty of extras you can add. For example, honey is an excellent choice for a natural sweetener. If your smoothie is not sweet enough already, then this will also provide you with sucrose and fructose (two forms of energy for a longer lasting pick-me-up) and is also useful for aiding sleep and combating allergies.
Then you have the option to add spices. Something like cayenne pepper for example can help you to burn more calories and will also give your smoothie a bit of a kick. Cinnamon and vanilla meanwhile, are examples of spices that have other health benefits while further sweetening your smoothie!
You can also garnish your smoothie if you wish, with herbs or with nuts!
Some Tips for Making and Enjoying Smoothies
Before I leave you to it, there are a few things to consider.
The first is that the very best benefits of smoothies come when you’ve been drinking them for a very long time. This way, you can see a cumulative effect from going long periods of time meeting all your nutritional needs.
But that said, you also need to be careful and not overdo the smoothies! Due to the high sugar content, smoothies can actually be bad for your teeth and also lead to weight gain.
And what you should definitely avoid is any kind of ‘juice fast’ or smoothie fast. I know someone who tried one of these and actually ended up losing two teeth as it completely wore away her enamel in just a week! SO in short, you need to be very careful when you consume high quantities of sugar and that’s why you shouldn’t drink a smoothie more than once a day.
Other people are going to have the opposite problem – sticking with smoothies and not giving up on them. To help you do this, make sure that you do everything you can to make it easy for yourself.
Some great tips include:
- ‘Prep and pick up’ – make all your smoothies in one batch and then put them in bottles to enjoy throughout the week
- Keep your fruits and vegetables unripe for longer by freezing them
- Save yourself work by using tinned fruits sometimes. This is great for fruits that would take a lot of time to de-seed and peel.
And with that, you should have all the information you need to get started with some delicious smoothies! Get experimenting and have fun!