True or False: Are smoothies a good meal replacer?


Written by Lara Fuhrer | Reviewed by Janet Lau RDN, CDN, Holistic Coach 

While refreshing and delicious, smoothies are not always an appropriate meal replacer.

Smoothies are often packed with sugar and the blending process often strips the fruits and vegetables used of most of their nutritional value and fiber. While a natural sugar, the sugar in fruit is still sugar and when much of the nutritional value is removed like fiber, the fruit in a smoothie is mainly left as sugar, which spikes glucose levels. By blending the fruit, our bodies are able to access the calories and carbohydrates more easily, which is what allows for our blood sugar levels to spike and not maintain a smooth balance.  Smoothies often have bases of a juice, which contributes to a high sugar content as well.

Whole foods are a much better option for meals. Try compiling a plate or bowl full of a protein, a healthy fat and fiber like whole grains, fruits, or vegetables. If you were to try and eat all the ingredients being put into a smoothie at once you would probably realize it’s too much. Taking time to appreciate a meal is important and helps to build a healthier relationship with food. However, if in a bind a smoothie can be an acceptable option.

Smoothies have the potential to be a healthy meal replacer and preferably a great snack option if they are blended in a proper type of blender such as a vitamix or nutribullet and have balanced ingredients. Instead of a juice base, opt for a base of water or unsweetened nut milks. Water and nut milks are lower in calories, carbohydrates and sugar. Load up on veggies! Try using spinach, cauliflower, carrots, the leaves of beets and other plants, kale and more to add some color and nutrients! For a thick and creamy smoothie use a ⅓ of an avocado, which will also provide healthy fats. And as every meal should be composed of protein, healthy fat, and fiber, aim to add in an all natural protein powder, nut butters, and seeds like flax, chia, or hemp.

Smoothie pro tips:

-Use some frozen ingredients so you don’t need to add ice!

-Meal prep: place all/ almost all of the ingredients you are going to use for your next smoothie in a baggy and place it in the freezer. All you’ll have to do is add your base and maybe some other fun ingredients at the last minute, perfect for on the go!

-Save the stems and leaves of vegetables like celery, beets, and carrots to use in your smoothies

-Freeze any of your fresh fruits and veggies before they start to go bad and use them for smoothies!

Below are some smoothie recipe ideas you can test at home:

Option 1

-1 cup frozen minced cauliflower

-1 cup water

-½ cup frozen or fresh raspberries

-⅓ avocado

-½ frozen banana

-2 tbsp almond butter

-1 tbsp flaxseed

-1 tbsp chia seeds

-½ tsp turmeric

Option 2

-1 cup spinach

-¾ cup unsweetened almond milk

-2 scoops plant based protein (vega or another brand)

-¾ cup frozen blueberries

-2 tbsp peanut butter

-⅓ frozen banana

-1 tbsp cacao powder

-1 tbsp flaxseed

-½ tsp cinnamon

Option 3

-1 cup beetroot leaves

-1 raw beet peeled and chopped

-¾ cup water

-½ cup frozen berries

-⅓ cup frozen mango

-2 tbsp almond butter

-1 tbsp chia seeds

Feel free to mix and match and add or subtract ingredients as you like!

 

 

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