Milkshakes were all the rage back in the 1930s, but they were loaded with calories from fats and sugar.
Consumers have become more health conscious and have been paying attention to the calories they consume, and smoothies have gained popularity — as a healthier alternative.
But, when it comes to smoothies, you have to be careful, or you can pack on the pounds unintentionally.
When made properly, smoothies can be packed with nutrients and yet be lower in fat, sodium and added sugars.
They are a great way to do a “grab and go” out the door for breakfast or lunch. They travel well in an insulated travel mug and allow you to fill up quickly.
Smoothies are easy to make, too. All it takes is a blender or food processor. You just grab your ingredients and with minor preparation, toss them in, whirr, pour and slurp!
There are many options, when it comes to ingredients, too.
Flavor combinations are fun to experiment with by mixing and matching a few ingredients that complement each other.
Bananas provide a creamy texture. Frozen fruits will make it thick and icy without diluting the flavor.
For the liquid, you can add skim milk, fortified soy/almond/coconut milk, or nonfat yogurt to fortify the drink with calcium.
Ground flaxseeds add fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
Spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg add flavor. Even kale and spinach can pack a powerful punch.
If you are heading out the door to school/work, just pour it into an insulated travel mug with a lid and straw, if needed.
If you are serving to family/friends at home, smoothies look elegant in tall, thin glasses – you can even take time to garnish with a sprig of mint, piece of fruit, or just a dusting of baking cocoa, cinnamon or nutmeg.
If you make the proper/healthy choices in creating your smoothie, the average smoothie is just 100 calories per cup, versus maybe 300 calories or even more for ice cream and milkshakes.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Calcium Combo: Combine 1 cup fresh strawberries, 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup low/nonfat milk, 3 Tablespoons ground flax seeds, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
- Energy Booster: 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup low/nonfat milk (or fortified soy/almond/coconut milk), 1/2 banana (sliced), 1/4 cup blueberries, 1/8 cup of wheat germ
- Go Green: 1/2 cup kale/spinach and 1/2 cup low-fat/nonfat milk (or fortified soy/almond/coconut milk) – blend until smooth and then add 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt, 1/2 medium banana, 1 small apple (cored and cut into pieces), 1 cup frozen fruit (your choice of one or mixed), 1 Tablespoon flax/chia seeds (pick one or combine both – or omit).
- Very Berry: 1 cup frozen strawberries, 1 cup frozen raspberries, 1 cup pineapple chunks (fresh or canned), 1 medium banana, 1 cup low-fat/nonfat milk (or fortified soy/almond/coconut milk), and 1 cup ice cubes/crushed
- Vitamin C for Me: Combine 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt, and 1 cup frozen fruit (strawberries/raspberries/blackberries/blueberries/cherries, etc. – unsweetened)
- Wow – A Purple Cow: 3/4 cup 100% concord/purple grape juice, 1 cup low-fat/nonfat milk or yogurt, 1 teaspoon vanilla. 10 ice cubes
The instructions are as easy as 1-2-3. Just add all the ingredients into the blender/food processor. Turn it on (be sure to cover it, first) and process until smooth.
Note: If the mixture is too thick, add a little more liquid, a little at a time. If it is too chucky/lumpy for your liking, just process a little longer. If it appears to be too thin, add 1/2 a banana – that should do the trick!
(Note: Each recipe above makes approximately two 8-ounce servings)
Betsy Crisp, MS, LD/N is a professor emeritus for the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension – Family & Consumer Sciences
Published April 25, 2018