Drink your lunch: smoothies

strawberrysmoothieWith all the fresh produce around, summer can be great for healthy eating.  Added bonus: when it’s really hot out, your appetite may be reduced.  The perfect solution is a smoothie.  Whether breakfast, lunch or a snack, the benefits of a smoothie include:

  • water — it fills you up
  • cold — along with water, it can slow down how fast you drink
  • delicious
  • healthy — when made with real fruit, smoothies are significant sources of fiber, potassium, certain vitamins and other minerals.  They can also be a protein source, if you use yogurt, milk or a protein powder.

There are plenty of sources for smoothies, from ready-made grocery store varieties to specialty shops and even coffee shops.  The catch is that there is no official definition for “smoothie”.  It’s whatever the producer decides to put in it.  Frequently that’s inexpensive fruit-flavored mixes, sherbet and sweeteners.  The smoothie ends up less than healthy, and likely high calorie.

If you’ve got a blender, making your own lower calorie smoothie is pretty easy.  Here’s a basic recipe:

2/3 cup 100% fruit juice.  Orange works well, but you can be adventurous and use whatever juice you like.

1/3-1/2 cup yogurt.  Lemon, vanilla and honey are good flavor choices for this.  Or you could go with a fruit flavor that complements your juice and fruit choices.

2/3 cup fresh fruit pieces or berries.  Strawberries, raspberries, peaches, nectarines and blueberries are good choices.  Cantaloupe is OK, too.  Citrus fruits not so much.  Bananas will make your smoothie really thick.

1/4 cup of chopped ice pieces.  Adding ice makes the smoothie colder and adds water (good for hot weather).

Blend it all in a blender and enjoy.  It makes close to 16 oz of smoothie, and has roughly 250 calories, depending on which fruits and yogurt you select.  Even at 300 calories, it’s a low calorie and very filling option for lunch on a hot day.

Here’s what’s in the smoothie in the picture: 2/3 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup strawberries, 1/4 cup ice pieces and 1/2 cup lemon yogurt.

Tips for buying ready-made smoothies:

  1. Look for real fruit ingredients.
  2. Added protein is OK, and preferable if you’re using it for a meal.
  3. Avoid smoothies with sherbet, ice cream or fruit flavored puree — added calories and little nutrition
  4. Check bottled smoothies for serving size.  Most have 2 servings per bottle, so drinking the whole bottle doubles your calories.
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