I am guilty. I used to hit my local smoothie shop before work every morning and grab a smoothie in place of a real breakfast. I used to get a blueberry blast, chocolate-peanut butter or a classic strawberry-banana smoothie and think I was being super healthy! Turns out, I was actually doing more harm than good.
The term “Smoothie” triggers most people to think of healthy fruit blended into a delicious beverage that one can enjoy on the go. What you are actually getting when you visit most smoothie places is more calories than a fast food double cheeseburger with fries. Most smoothie shops use full fat milk or ice cream and then they add in sugar and processed “fruit” mixes (i.e. fruits in heavy syrup- not the fresh stuff.)
Looking at the nutritional facts on some of the more well-known smoothie shop websites, I found a smoothie at Smoothie King that has over 1000 calories and 32 grams of fat. There is a smoothie at Tropical Smoothie that has 653 calories and 21 grams of fat- and this is the smallest size. Imagine what you will get if you order any of the larger sizes.
Worse than that- not only are you paying for fat, calories, sugar and artificial processed additives, you are paying for ice. LOTS of ice. Most places use ice as a filler- to give a smoothie their “frozen-ness.” (I don’t even know if that is a word but it is now.)
I was shocked when I started looking this information up. Here I really thought I was being healthy. I wasn’t- not even close.
Chad and I have gotten into the habit of making our own smoothies at home 3-4 times a week.
- We save money (smoothies can run anywhere from $5-8 a pop.)
- We control what we put into our bodies.
- We end up adding a couple servings of healthy real fruit into our diet.
The key to a great smoothie is using frozen fruit to make the “frozen-ness.” Frozen fruit doesn’t water the drink down so you get all the bang of your healthy ingredients. We also add ingredients like vanilla soy milk, low fat yogurt and bananas to thicken it up. Then, you can add your own add-ins just like a smoothie shop (without that hefty additional price.) Depending on our goals for that day, we’ll add ground flax seed, protein powder or chia seeds.
The fun of making smoothies at home also is getting to experiment with different ingredients and flavors. I have used frozen cherries, black cherry yogurt and a little chocolate syrup to make a chocolate covered cherry shake. I have used coconut yogurt, frozen strawberries and pineapple juice to make a Strawberry Colada smoothie. There are many recipes out there too for green smoothies- these are terrific ways to sneak veggies into your diet. A green smoothie is a simple fruit smoothie and you add fresh spinach into the mix- it may sound yucky but you cannot taste the spinach at all- check out the recipe for a green smoothie below.
However, you can sabotage your own good intentions if you use high fat ingredients like whole milk or fruit that is sitting in heavy syrup. Also, very important to read the ingredients in your yogurt- many of the fat-free options contain aspartame- if you add that to your smoothie you may as well add a diet coke and a few packets of artificial sweeteners- same thing!!
Here is a basic recipe. This is just a simple base- you can add anything you can imagine or desire from Nutella Hazelnut spread to peanut butter to frozen yogurt. Be creative. Be healthy and stop paying for ice and fat. (Now- if you insist on stopping somewhere while you are out- just ask for a nutrition information card so you can make a healthier decision.)