Rethinking the Smoothie

Because smoothies are so simple to make, I've never given them much thought.

My basic recipe doesn't vary: I slice half a banana into a blender, add a little yogurt or milk, throw in some frozen berries, put in a teaspoon of honey, blend, then pour some into a glass.

Pretty much as easy as it gets, right? It's a great way to get a couple servings of fruit, as well as some dairy in your diet. And, best of all, I can make them without thinking—even before my first cup of coffee in the morning.

But recently, I came across an article about the high calories in smoothies. Seems that commercially made smoothies can pack as many as 1,270 calories. The culprit behind all those calories is sugar, (or, more likely, high-fructose corn syrup) and some companies are considering using Splenda and other artificial sweetners to cut calories.

Of course, homemade versions are much lower in calories. But, for the first time, I wondered if I should re-think my standard recipe. A quick search revealed some easy ways to give my smoothie added boost of antioxidants and other nutrients.

These suggestions aren't exactly revolutionary. But if you're like me and make your smoothies on autopilot, here are some ingredients to consider:

  • Toss in a handful of almonds or sunflower seeds for more healthy fats, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.
  • Blend in flax seeds or a little flax seed oil to increase your daily intake of Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Add powdered milk to get more protein or dairy into your diet.
  • Cocoa powder (which rivals broccoli as a superfood) or espresso coffee power is one way to sneak in their disease-fighting properties.
  • Athletes swear by whey to get protein without extra fat or calories.
  • Prunes, rhubarb, ginger, maybe even cranberries can be added to prevent constipation.
  • Sea vegetables, which are rich in iron, could help anyone who's anemic.

Meanwhile, I know that lots of people spike their smoothies with wheat grass, bee pollen, spinach, even cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower. I'm willing to experiment with my smoothies, but I'm not ready to go quite this far.

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