Our resident nutritionist, Alex Dobbs from Grassroots Nutrition, talks all things smoothies and how to make an actual healthy one.
All smoothies were not made equally
Smoothies are hugely popular. Visit your local supermarket or convenience store and you will find many different tastes and kinds of smoothies. However, not all smoothies are made the same. This is how I distinguish between a wholesome, healthy smoothie and a sugary/unhealthy one.
I ask myself one question: how much sugar does it contain?
You might wonder why I ask that question about sugar when we are talking about a food that only contains natural ingredients, mainly fruit?
The Truth About Smoothies
The truth is that many commercial smoothies contain not just freshly crushed fruits and vegetables. Most of them contain mainly fruit juices and concentrates as their base. This means that when you think you are drinking only crushed, wholesome goodness, you are actually drinking (to a large extend) processed fruit juices. These fruit juices don’t belong in a smoothie, and they contain an unnatural amount of sugar. They do make the smoothie more palatable and cheaper to produce, so, beware of the sugar-trap.
While they are convenient and readily available to buy, I recommend you use these smoothies as occasional treats only. Instead, you can make your own smoothies at home, to enjoy at home or take away. All you need is a standard blender/kitchen machine. Of course, you can buy an expensive “NutriBullet” or another gadget, but an old reliable blender will do a perfect job.
How to make a healthy smoothie
Next, you need some tasty fruits and vegetables to blend. I always recommend adding vegetables to your smoothies, firstly to reduce the sugar-load, secondly to increase the nutrient-load. It is difficult to achieve eating as many vegetables as we should every day. Why not sneak a few into a tasty smoothie?
Blueberry, Spinach and Vanilla Smoothie
Here one of my favourites, from the lovely sisters who are “Hemsley & Hemsley”
- 150g (1 punnet) blueberries,
- ½ avocado w/o stone/peel,
- 10 almonds or 1 ½ tablespoons almond butter,
- 1 tsp vanilla extract,
- 1–2 tsp raw cacao powder,
- ½ banana (if you like a thicker smoothie) or some coconut water (if you like a thinner consistency)
- Simply throw all the ingredients into a blender, blend until smooth, and enjoy immediately OR pour into a glass jar, cover and keep in the fridge for up to 48 hours.
Also delicious with a few ice cubes.
A brief note on the difference between a smoothie and a juice: smoothies should contain nothing but crushed, blended fruits and vegetables, may be added yoghurt, nut milk or protein powder. They contain the whole fruit with all its fibre and are usually relatively thick and creamy. Juices, on the contrary, are only the watery portion of fruits and vegetables, all fibre has been stripped away. Smoothies take a lot longer to digest, while juices get absorbed pretty instantly.
Alternatively, why not try the increasingly popular smoothie bowl? Owing to their thick texture, smoothie bowls are designed for toppings, as their dense consistency holds up to hearty ingredients like nuts and granola, which add crunch and texture while providing sustained energy, healthy fats, and protein to keep you full throughout the day.
Try this recipe by Lindsay Hunt
- 1 large banana
- 1 ½ cups raspberries
- ½ cup soy milk
- ½ cup ice
- 2 Tbsp. almond butter
- 1 Tbsp. honey, plus additional for drizzling
- 5 strawberries, sliced
- ¼ cup granola
- 2 Tbsp. shredded coconut
Blend the banana, 1 cup of the raspberries, soy milk, ice, almond butter, and 1 tablespoon of the honey until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and top with your favourite toppings such as strawberries, raspberries, granola, coconut, remaining ½ cup raspberries, almonds, flax seeds and a drizzle of honey.