Smoothies on the Go

Remember when smoothies were something akin to a fruit milkshake? In the past, many smoothies were heavy on the flavor and sugar. Commercial fruit smoothies were more like a dessert than a health tonic.

By: Charli Mills, Editor, Living Naturally (Valley Natural Foods’ print publication). Featured in the Spring 2016 Living Naturally edition. Click here to view the entire issue.

Photo by: Melissa Berg

What was once a syrupy new fad at the mall food court has evolved into a powerful way to deliver a balanced meal or snack when time is crunched. Today’s smoothies are of the healthy variety made with fruits and vegetables. You can even blend spinach into the mix and no one will ever know. Careful using kale, though. Because it is a heartier leaf, it doesn’t blend as well and might be noticed. Other healthy additions to any smoothie include chia seeds, flax seeds, raw protein powders and veggies.

Whey protein and wheat germ are good, too. However, if you are gluten-sensitive, you’ll want to forgo the wheat germ. You can also build smoothies with nut-butters and milk or yogurt, but be aware of potential food allergens when selecting such ingredients. Even if kids might object to seeing leafy greens in their drink, they typically won’t object to fruit. You can freeze strawberries, grapes, blueberries to add a creamier texture. A great way to store bananas is to peel them, cut in half crosswise and freeze on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, store in a freezer bag or container. Frozen bananas add an almost ice cream like texture to smoothies. You don’t need to add artificial syrups or any extra sweeteners to smoothies. If you like sweet, add dates, which will give you fiber, too. Smoothies are a great balancer. When you don’t have time to prepare breakfast, need a quick snack or want to pack a healthier lunch, smoothies are a quick yet healthy solution. You can make smoothies ahead of time and freeze in half-pint jars. Pop one into a lunch bag and it will be ready for later. The mechanics of a smoothie requires a strong blender. Even though it is often fruit, a blender is not the same tool as a juicer when it comes to making smoothies. Look for a high-powered option to break down the fruit into a creamy consistency.

The foundation for a smoothie is one cup of fruit to two cups of liquid like juice, kefir, nut milk, soy milk or dairy milk. You can also reduce the ratio to one cup fruit and one cup water. Build your own smoothies the way you want it. Consider taste, consistency and health. Spinach in smoothies is not just for kids or professionals on the go. As we age, our appetites decrease. A smoothie can be the perfect portion for an older appetite. It’s good to add proteins and nutrition as a meal replacement. Adding greens helps digestion, too. With people so busy and on the go, smoothies help balance health and time. Yet, it’s also important to slow down and take a break.

Pineapple Lemon Detox Smoothie
2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 inch fresh ginger, chopped
1-2 large handfuls fresh spinach
1-2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
Place all ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth.

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