With the period of over indulgence now over our shoulders for another year, many will be looking to January and February as a period of recovery to make up for the guilt of having one too many mince pies!
To start off the year, we thought we would give you some smoothie tips to assist a healthy start to 2017, and to help you on your way to getting your 5-or-more-a-day. Whether you eat healthily all year round, or are looking to 2017 for a fresh start and have made a New Year’s Resolution, this blog will provide you with a few hints and tips to assist in making a healthy and nutritious smoothie.
Smoothies are a nutritious and satisfying way to help you get your 5-or-more-a-day. Research has shown benefit in consuming more than the government’s recommended 5-a-day. If you can, aim for 7-10 per day, that is 6-8 portions of vegetables and 2 of fruit. Vegetables and fruit provide an excellent source of dietary fibre, which can help to maintain a healthy gut, plus they provide vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
Mediterranean and eastern cultures have been creating pureed beverages, which we now call smoothies, for hundreds of years. When the blender was introduced in the 1900s, homes all over the world soon began to enjoy the benefits of this nutritious fruit drink. Smoothies rose in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s when more people became interested in natural health foods.
The ideal healthy smoothie will have a blend of good fats and protein, a helping of vegetables for maximum nutrition and some fruit for sweetness. In this blog we outline the basics of smoothie making and provide you with a few combinations to try for yourself.
Benefits of smoothies
- An easy way to help increase vegetable intake and, in particular, to add vegetables to breakfast
- Raw foods are generally more enzyme rich and nutritious
- Smoothies are high in fibre as they are a blend of the whole vegetable and fruit, so they are also less wasteful than juices which just extract the juice and throw away the pulp
- Smoothie ingredients can all be prepared in advance, kept in the fridge and then blended when needed to provide a fast meal or snack (ideally pre-soak any nuts overnight and discard the soak water)
- Children enjoy preparing and drinking them
Step 1: Choose your base
To begin, you’ll need to have some liquid in your blender. The more liquid you add, the runnier your smoothie will be. Some people like it this way but if you prefer a thicker consistency, use slightly less liquid and create a ‘smoothie bowl’, which is eaten with a spoon like a mousse. We don’t recommend milk, soya milk or fruit juice for smoothies. Good bases include:
- Water (filtered)
- Unsweetened dairy free milks (such as coconut, almond or hazelnut)
- Plain natural yoghurt, or coconut yoghurt
- Chilled herbal tea (e.g green tea, peppermint, lemon or ginger)
- Juice from one lemon plus water
Alternatively, you may prefer to use a vegetable with a high water content as your base, such as:
Cucumber – high in water, cucumbers have a barely-there flavour and contain high levels of nutrients. We’d recommend ¼ – ½ cucumber per smoothie.
Celery – again, celery is high in nutrients making it a great smoothie base. Celery also contributes to the protection of the stomach lining and has anti-inflammatory properties. We’d recommend ½ – 2 celery stalks per drink.
Step 2: Add a little sweetness
To ensure your smoothie is palatable as well as nutritious, you may like to add some natural sweetness from fruits such as berries, apples and zesty fruits. Our favourite natural sweeteners for smoothies include:
Apples and pears contain the soluble fibre pectin and this soothes the intestinal wall, reduces constipation and improves the balance of the bacteria in the gut. Use ½ to 1 per smoothie.
Blueberries – these small berries are packed with antioxidants, vitamin K, fibre and vitamin C. Not only are they great in smoothies, it’s worth considering adding these powerful berries to your diet – they’re a great snack or porridge topping too. Frozen is fine.
Other berries such as raspberries and strawberries are also loaded with antioxidants. Berries are lower in sugar than many other fruits.
Pineapples contain a wealth of nutrients including bromelain, a protein-digesting enzyme that has been found to be effective in digestive health, pain relief and inflammation. Pineapples are also a rich source of fibre. However, they are high in sugar.
Lemons and limes – if your lemon or lime is un-waxed and organic, you may want to add some of the zest to your smoothie. The zest contains even higher levels of nutrients than the juice. Citrus fruits contain good amounts of vitamin C, which helps to support your immune system. Use ¼ – 1 juice per smoothie.
Please be ware that fruit is very high in sugar so is best to combine with other foods in a smoothie; avoid pure fruit smoothies and using fruit juice as a base. Check the ingredients in commercial smoothies.
Step 3: Additional veggies, spices and greens
To make sure you are getting the most out of your smoothie, bulk it out with vegetables or leafy greens. Spinach and kale will give your smoothie that rich green colour, whilst also packing your blend with heaps of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Not only will spices add a punch of flavour, they also come packed with beneficial nutritional properties. Choose any of the following for added nutrition or flavour:
Cruciferous vegetables – cabbage, broccoli, sprouts and cauliflower have an incredible ability to mop up toxins from our body. Try to include them in your diet where possible – in your smoothies or steamed.
Ginger – historically, ginger has been used to aid and soothe digestion, as well as relieve the symptoms of nausea. Ginger contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds known as gingerols.
Herbs and spices – All are high in nutrients but often very strong in flavour, start by adding half a teaspoon and adjust to your taste. Experiment with your favourite flavours and note down the quantity you use so you can replicate it next time.
- Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants, contains anti-inflammatory properties and is considered supportive of blood sugar control
- Nutmeg is commonly associated with pain relief, due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Nutmeg is also considered beneficial to digestive health, brain function and is packed with antioxidants.
Leafy greens – kale, watercress, rocket, spinach, dandelion leaves, lettuce and chard are all rich in folate, vitamin C and magnesium. They have healing benefits and are great detoxifiers. Green leafy vegetables are also rich in beta-carotene, which can be converted into vitamin A, important for immune function.
Nuts and oils – include some healthy fats in your smoothie add unroasted nuts / seeds (eg sunflower/linseed/Chia). And/or a desert spoon of coconut oil or olive oil. Plus avocado works well in some recipes and particularly if you want to create a Smoothie Bowl. Nuts and seeds will also provide some protein.
The key to the ‘perfect smoothie’ is experimenting and practice. You will find that different flavours and spices complement each other, whilst others can really clash.
A few recipes
Deconstructed Black Forest Gateau (Serves 1, as a meal)
20 whole almonds (preferably soaked overnight)
100 ml coconut cream
100 ml filtered water
2 teaspoons of cacao powder
Beetroot Brain Boost (Serves 1, as a meal)
1 red beetroot
5 walnuts (preferably soaked overnight)
40g of blueberries
40g of raspberries
300ml of filtered water
Cocoa and berry smoothie (Serves 1, as a meal)
Tablespoon raw cacao (or unsweetened cocoa)
1 desert spoon mixed seeds
Handful berries (eg raspberries or blueberries, frozen is fine)
Handful of spinach
1 desert spoon olive oil or teaspoon coconut oil
Juice 1 lemon or lime
Piece of fresh ginger
100ml Coconut or Almond milk
Supplements to complement your January goals:
Slim Plan – A formula designed to aid weight management
Spirulina – Spirulina has nothing added, nothing removed, no excipients – just 100% Pure Spirulina
Milk Thistle – Milk Thistle supplement is 400mg of powdered whole herb milk thistle in a gluten-free capsule
Liposomal glutathione – A powerful antioxidant formula designed to help protect cells from free radicals and delay the signs of ageing
Supplements that can be added to smoothies:
Aloe Vera Whole Leaf – Cytoplan Aloe Whole Leaf Double Concentrate is used primarily for its immune regulatory properties
Aloe Vera Inner Leaf – This is a single concentrate of Aloe Vera containing only the inner leaf gel
Organic Flaxseed Oil – This supplement comprises 500ml of cold pressed organic flaxseed oil
Whole Linseeds – Flax seeds (otherwise known as linseeds) can be taken whole or freshly ground
Related Cytoplan blogs
If you have any questions regarding the topics that have been raised, or any other health matters please do contact me (Clare) by phone or email at any time.
[email protected], 01684 310099
The Cytoplan editorial team: Clare Daley and Joseph Forsyth.