Last week, my daughter, Nikki, and I and the crew at HardRoad CrossFit, embarked on a 90-Day Nutrition Challenge.
The challenge consists of a five-day detox followed by clean eating for the rest of the time. Part of the detox diet was the inclusion of smoothies as a meal option. I will have to admit, I have never been a big fan of the smoothie. Chocolate milkshakes, you bet, pureed fruit with green stuff floating in it, not so much. But as I am nothing if not competitive, I decided to accept the challenge.
Nikki and I hit Sam’s Club for the industrial-size bags of frozen mixed fruit, multi-packs of soy milk and enough kale and spinach to feed a small country, and readied our Ninja blender. For the first seven days, we replaced two of our meals with smoothies and I have to say we did really well. Not only do we feel better but between the two of us we have lost 14 pounds! Part two of the challenge has commenced and I am still keeping a smoothie as my breakfast of choice. As a matter of fact, I am sipping on a mango, pineapple, banana peanut butter and spinach smoothie as I write this.
Fruit smoothies have been around and popular for a very long time. The very first “smoothie” I can remember was the Orange Julius we could get at any mall as a kid. Smoothies have come a long way since then, becoming an option to provide healthy nutrition in a convenient and tasty way. The basic ingredients for a smoothie are a liquid base, juice, water or milk, frozen fruits and or veggies, and yogurt or peanut butter to add some texture. What can make or break a smoothie, however, is what else you add to it. Smoothies can have additional protein powder, vitamins, minerals, etc. added depending on what you want or need. They are pretty much a blank canvas. Let’s look at some of the health benefits of busting out your blender and making a smoothie:
Big-time vitamins and minerals: Fruits and veggies are full of vitamins and minerals that are burst wide open when you mix them in a smoothie. Antioxidants for immune health from the tropical fruits, beta carotene from peaches and potassium from bananas just to name a few. Throw in some kale or spinach and you add in all the B vitamins and iron.
Fiber: Drinking a smoothie can help you reach your recommended intake of fiber: 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. One serving of fruit provides up to four grams of fiber. Fiber also assists with helping control blood sugar and lowering cholesterol.
Weight loss: A typical smoothie is about 400 or so calories but is nutritious at the same time. Replacing one or two meals a day with a smoothie can help jump-start your weight loss program.
Convenience: A smoothie is a fast and easy way to get in a meal. Most folks skip breakfast because of time constraints. Having a smoothie for breakfast will make sure you get some good nutrition and still make it to work on time.
All smoothies are not created equal. If you decided to opt for one at your favorite restaurant, be sure to read the nutrition information carefully. Stay away from ones made with fruit juice as a base, have added sugar or are super-sized. The best place here in L’town to grab a healthy smoothie would be Panera Bread. I highly recommend the Green Passion Smoothie at only 200 calories.
Kathy Hansen has over 30 years of experience in the health and fitness field and is wearing out her Ninja blender. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]