herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Smoothies: how to make the perfect blend

Here's step-by-step guide for creating some delicious summer smoothies...

Bill Murray - making smoothies cool
Bill Murray - making smoothies cool

Smoothies are a great way to get some nourishing food into your diet, such as high-quality protein, fibre, heart-healthy fats, micronutrient power and more.

Not only are they a good source of nutrition, but they are quick and easy to make, so make a very handy snack option if you are on the go a lot, as they can be put together in a cinch.

The combination of ingredients and flavours are endless.

However, there is a but. A smoothie is essentially a meal replacement so it should be used as an opportunity to get a balanced serving of protein and fats along with the abundance of fruit (source of carbohydrate) that smoothies are typically overflowing with.

Protein in our diet is essential for best health. It is the basic building block for our bodies, and is needed for growth and repair. It is essential for maintaining lean body mass and improving sports performance.

Fats play a structural and regulatory role in the body. Healthy fats are necessary for your brain, your eyes and your hormones to work properly and for maintaining a healthy immune system.

Carbohydrates are our main source of energy. Fibre is also a carbohydrate and is important for digestive health.

Vitamins and minerals play a huge role in optimising our health and making us feel good. They are cancer-fighting, free-radical-destroying, acid-neutralising, and provide micronutrient power each day.

Eating a combo of protein, fats, carbs and essential micronutrients in a meal is not only important for our health, but also helps creates a feeling of fullness.

STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE

Follow these steps as a starting point - don't be afraid to get creative and experiment with your own recipe. The portions given below are a general guideline, so you can tweak the amounts depending on your own personal preference, needs and goals.

Step 1: Pick a liquid

• Water

• Unsweetened nut milk such as almond or coconut

• Unsweetened soy milk

• Cow's milk

• Iced tea or coffee.

Less liquid equals a thicker smoothie and vice versa.

Step 2: Pick a protein source

• Whey protein powder

• Vegan protein powder

• Greek yogurt.

Vanilla-flavoured protein is always a good bet. Men use two scoops of protein powder and women should use one. If you do not want to use a powder then 150g-200g of Greek yogurt is a good substitute.

Step 3: Pick a fruit

• Mixed berries such as blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, which are lower in sugar

• Apples or pears

• Pineapple or mango.

Feel free to use fresh or frozen fruit.

Step 4: Pick a vegetable

• Leafy greens like spinach or kale

• Beetroot

• Cucumber or celery

• Powdered greens like wheatgrass

Spinach always works well in a smoothie as it is virtually flavourless when blended in. If using a powdered greens supplement then I find there is a limit you can use before the taste becomes very overpowering and spoils the smoothie. A teaspoon (5g or so) is a decent serving.

Step 5: Pick a heart-healthy fat

• Walnuts

• Cashews

• Almonds

• Nut butters

• Flax/hemp/chia seeds.

Nut butters give a smoothie a lovely consistency. A serving of fats for men is two thumbs and one thumb for women.

Step 6: Pick a topper (optional)

• Desiccated coconut

• Cocoa/dark chocolate shavings

• Yogurt

• Cinnamon

• Vanilla.

Any flavours you fancy.

Step 7: Pick a carb (optional)

• Banana

• Mashed sweet potato (cooked)

• Oats or granola.

Adding an extra source of carbohydrates on top of your fruit can be beneficial for high-activity days or if you need an energy boost. The amount of added carbs depends on the individual, but as a general guideline, men should aim for two cupped handfuls and women for one. The sweet potato is surprisingly delicious and goes quite well with vanilla and cinnamon.

Karen is a nutrition coach and personal trainer and runs monthly online group nutrition coaching programmes and hosts nutrition seminars around the country. See www.thenutcoach.com

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