"You are what you eat" is more than just a saying. Eating well is all part of looking after yourself and enjoying a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Sticking to the healthier options the majority of the time will put you in good stead. But what happens when you can't always plan your meals or your busy with work, family and other commitments? Meals on-the-go, unhealthy snacks and anything you can get your hands to stop the hunger pangs. Sound familiar? Well, instead of reaching for the bags of crisps or the biscuit barrel, try one of our quick and easy smoothies below.
Not all smoothies are created equal
When you think smoothie, you're more than likely to consider it as a quick and easy way to get your vitamin fix. And you wouldn't be far wrong seeing as a smoothie, in its purest form, is a blend of fruit, veg and other healthy foodstuffs. But don't let this fool you into thinking all smoothies are created equal. In fact, some can be pretty high in sugar down to the fruit used, which when blended releases sugars from the cell walls to become "free sugars". Not only can these "free sugars" be harmful to your teeth, but they also add to your energy intake for the day. Rather than opting for a full-on fruit fest, choose a smoothie that has veggies as a base ingredient to balance out the higher sugar content and give you a boost of goodness.
Your smoothie shopping list
You can blend almost anything to make a smoothie but it's worth having a few staples handy to make the most out of this super-easy "fast food". We've pulled together some nutrient-rich ingredients that will provide the base for nutrient-rich and tasty smoothies.
Not just your mid-morning snack, apples are a powerhouse nutritionally in their own right. Not only do they contain a powerful antioxidant called quercetin, which helps to deliver more oxygen to the lungs and increase your endurance but they also packed with fibre to keep you fuller for longer and help with digestion. There's more to the pocket-friendly fruit than meets the eye so add it to your list.
Fleshy, tasty and versatile, avocados are more than just a fixture on every Hipster cafe's menu. This green fruit can help your body absorb fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K. In fact, they contain more than 20 vitamins and minerals that are packed full of antioxidants, which fight free radicals that cause cell damage. If you're looking for a thick and tasty smoothie, reach for the nutrient-dense avocados.
There's a reason athletes eat bananas: they are loaded with carbs and also tryptophan, which the body converts to the happy hormone serotonin. And we mustn't forget potassium - a natural electrolyte that helps your muscles work. Throw in a 'nana for a boost to your morning smoothie and mood.
Coconut oil contains fatty acids that help boost your metabolism. Research has also shown that it can help reduce your hunger so you end up eating less throughout the day. Unlike other cooking oils, you can also use coconut on your skin and hair. So even if you don't end up adding to your smoothie, you can always smooth it on your body (sorry).
They keep you going until lunch. Indeed, oats are one of the great complex carbohydrates that fill you up and keep your blood sugar levels stable. No time for a sit down breakfast? Throw a handful of oats into your smoothie for a naturally healthy and wholesome meal on the go.
Whether you follow a non-dairy diet or not, cow's milk or plant-based drinks will naturally add protein, vitamins and calcium to your smoothie. Have a carton handy for a quick nutrient boost.
Packed full of healthy fats and fibre, nut butters are a key ingredient to any smoothie. They add depth and creaminess to a smoothie plus taste delicious. And with so much variety now available, there's plenty of nut butters to choose from.
Blueberry-Avocado Layered Smoothie
The avocados in this smoothie provide a great boost to the brain while providing healthy fats that maintain heart health and help lower cholesterol.
Antioxidants are provided by the blueberries, and the nuts, milk and yoghurt means that it is high in protein (11g of protein per serving),
Ingredients (Serves four)
1 ripe avocado,
1 cup (250 mL) low-fat plain yogurt
Juice from 1/2 lime
3 Tbsp (45 mL) honey
1 1/3 cup (325 mL) blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup (60 mL) almond butter (or smooth peanut butter)
1 cup (250 mL) low-fat plain yogurt
1/3 cup (75 mL) low fat milk
Blend the bottom layer ingredients
Divide equally among four glasses. Set aside while making the top layer.
Blend the top layer ingredients
Pour into glasses, on top of the avocado blend.
Per serving: 308 calories, 11 g protein, 19 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 28 g carbohydrates, 5 g fibre, 8 mg cholesterol, 174 mg sodium.
Kiwi and Kale Smoothie
The kale provides vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, and iron whilst the kiwi sweetens the taste. The milk adds vital protein to the smoothie. This smoothie can be consumed before or after a workout, however, its large protein load makes it ideal for recovery.
1 ½ cups skimmed milk,
2 cups kale leaves/stems,
1 kiwi, peeled
1 TBSP peanut butter,
1 TSP of agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup.
Nutrition: 174 calories, 11 g protein, 5 g fat, 24 g carbohydrates, 3 g fibre.
Article and information provided by Technogym, which can also be to viewed online here.