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Smoothies: Overrated or a Nutritious Must?

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By Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RDAugust 4, 2014
From the WebMD Archives

After plenty of research, we recently made the leap and purchased a high-powered blender. I like that I can now add good stuff like apple and celery, and smoothies will still come out smooth. And I love being able to make ice cream and sorbet with frozen fruit.

But before you shell out the money for an appliance that could run hundreds of dollars, consider the pros and cons of joining the smoothie revolution.

Pros:

  • Smoothies are a great way to fill nutrition gaps, especially in kids or adults who shy away from fruits and veggies. And unlike juices, smoothies include the whole fruit and veggie, so you get the nutrients and fiber in the pulp.
  • Smoothies are a great way for naysayers to see veggies in a new, tasty light. But avoid the temptation to hide veggies in a smoothie from kids (and adults) who are wary of greens — if you hide them and they find out, you may only confirm their reluctance.

Cons:

  • Some people may rely on smoothies so much that they stop eating fruits and vegetables in their native form. This is a disservice for kids, because they need to be exposed to a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables.
  • Another drawback, especially if smoothies are used as meal replacements, is that they may not be as filling as a regular meal. That’s because at least part of feeling full and satisfied comes from chewing food. Bottom line: Use smoothies as a convenient way to boost nutrition, but avoid overusing them.

So, what goes into a fruit-and-veggie smoothie? Here are the main components:

Liquid: Smoothies need some liquid such as water, juice, milk, or milk alternatives (soy milk, almond milk, etc.)

Fruit and Veggie: Some smoothies can be more fruit-based and others more veggie-based; but in general, equal parts of fruits and veggies are good. Of course, if you’re not a big veggie fan, you may want to start with more fruit and work your way up to more veggies. Fruits with strong colors, like blueberries and strawberries, can keep the smoothie from turning green. With high-powered blenders you have more choices, like apples with the skin, celery, and carrots.

Ice: If you are using frozen fruit or veggies, ice isn’t needed. If you’re using mostly fresh produce, then throw a cupful of ice into the mix.

Other add-ins: You can add some healthy fats like nut butter or avocado, some protein powder, flax meal, sweetener of choice, or yogurt.

Here’s a recipe for a chocolate peanut butter smoothie that my 5-year old son and I both enjoy. Just put ingredients in a blender. It makes 3 cups.

1 small banana (or half of a large one)

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1/2 apple or pear

1 cup spinach

1 celery stalk, chopped

2 Tbsp. all-natural peanut butter

1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup milk

1/2 cup ice

Do you make smoothies at home? And if so, what’s your favorite concoction?

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