Done the right way smoothies and juices can be a nutritionally savvy addition to a well-balanced diet. Why do I love smoothies? They’re easy to make, portable and make a great breakfast, snack or post-workout refuel source. With the right ingredients they’re a nutritional powerhouse to support gut health, weight loss/gain, skin and general well-being. You might see beautiful displays of breakfast smoothie bowls, juices and perfectly decorated smoothie glasses fill your Instagram or Facebook feed. Unfortunately, about 80% of these well put together smoothies are jam-packed with sugar – not necessarily doing your waistline, gut health or energy levels any favours. Check out the tips below to optimise your smoothie making skills. 

Why you need to avoid store bought juices and smoothies

Conventional and commercial juicers can strip valuable fibre needed to keep your bowels regular, absorb toxins, moderate blood sugar levels (by slowing the absorption of glucose or sugar) and encourage that lovely feeling of fullness. The downside that arises from having fibre stripped is that sugar is absorbed much, much faster – leading to a blood sugar spike. This can be avoided by knowing how to make a better balanced smoothie to avoid an unnecessary large rise in blood sugar. What’s more, the centrifugal force of the blades and heat generated from many commercial manufacturing processes can reduce the quality of the nutrients found in the juice.

Our liver and small intestine are the major sites of fructose metabolism. Both sites don’t cope well with a big hit of fructose – impacting our gut health and predisposing us to excess fat storage when inundated with fructose. Another reason to go home-made! If you opt for store bought try to locate varieties that are unpasteurized, free from preservatives, artificial sugars and additives.

7 ways to make a healthier smoothie:

  • Add a higher vegetable ratio always, or have 1/2 to 1 piece of fruit ( berries or seasonal fruit are a great go-to). Load up on non-starchy veggies when making juices and smoothies – think kale, silverbeet, cucumber, celery, spinach (And yes – you can make a deliciously sweet smoothie packed with greens).
  • Add some protein (hemp seeds/hearts, LSA mix (2 tablespoons linseed, sunflower, almond meal) a good quality protein powder or Medi-Restore, or try a creamy nut butter to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
  • Try adding filtered water, unsweetened nut milk or coconut milk for a richer consistency and taste.
  • Add some hidden nutrient-dense gems (chia seeds, pepitas, goji berries, spirulina, psyllium husk, flax seeds or raw cacao for an anti-oxidant boost).
  • Keep an eye on your portions! If you’re anything like me you do a great job of making more than you need for one person. As tempting as it is to drink another glass, pop any remainder juice or smoothie in the fridge for a later time. By the time you’ve added in all of your fun ingredients, your smoothie will have equated to a meal.
  • Pick your sweetness: naturally sweet, fruit will do a great job of adding plenty of flavour to your smoothie or juice. Always think about all of the sources of sugar you’re adding to your smoothie. If you’re adding two pieces of fruit, medjool dates and honey – although natural sources of sweetness, you’re still tallying up the sugar total. Choose your sweet source from either fruit, a good quality protein powder, stevia, honey or dates. You don’t need more than one sweet addition. 
  • Don’t forget healthy fats. EVERY. SINGLE. CELL. NEEDS. FATS. Create a well rounded smoothie by including your macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrate). Good sources of fat are a satiating nutritional addition to smoothies – great for supporting brain function, metabolism, skin and our finely orchestrated endocrine system. Try nuts (activate your nuts by pre-soaking to aid digestion and make blending a breeze) and seeds, avocado, MCT oil/coconut oil or chia seeds (soaked is best).

 

Berry smoothie recipe

Ingredients:

1/2 cup frozen or fresh berries (I always recommend organic berries if you can)

1 handful of spinach or silver beet

1/2 cup almond milk 

1/2 cup filtered water

Add a handful of ice

1 teaspoon soaked chia seeds (optional)

1 scoop of vanilla or chocolate protein powder OR, try an LSA mix of two teaspoons of (linseed, sunflower seed, almond meal).

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a high speed blender – enjoy!

 

Written by Clinical Nutritionist, Marina Martic.