smoothie

Portable. Delicious. Healthy. With various combinations of fruits, vegetables, and juice blended together result in delicious flavors, smoothies are ideal choices for people on the go and those who are trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their diet; which includes most of us.

Smoothies are good for all ages. It’s a great way to boost nutrition for children as well as older adults, and everyone in between. Several vegetables that we might not enjoy eating on their own, such as spinach or kale, can be added to a smoothie. Once you blend with other ingredients, you don’t taste that vegetable as strongly. You get the nutritional value without the full taste of each vegetable.

If you’d like to drink your vegetables instead of eating them, a well-made smoothie can boost your energy, curb your appetite, and help you stay hydrated.

One of the benefits of smoothies is that the varieties are endless. You can easily change the ingredients depending on what is in season.

Great fruits and veggies to try:

• Berries

• Pineapple

• Banana

• Apple

• Carrot

• Kale

• Spinach

• Cucumber

When blending a smoothie as a snack, beware of hidden sugars. When you add fruit juice, honey or ice cream, for example, the sugar and fat content can be higher than you intended.  Aim for a calorie limit of 200 when creating a smoothie as a snack.

As a meal replacement, smoothies are ideal. Since you can pack in a variety of fruits and veggies, you might surprise yourself with some delicious, and nutritious, combinations. When a smoothie is your meal, add protein powder, peanut butter or almond butter to the mixture. This will help you stay satisfied throughout the day.

Here are some smoothie basics to keep in mind:

Lead with a liquid — Start with a liquid such as milk, coconut water or vegetable juices. Avoid fruit juices due to high sugar content.

Mix in your main ingredients.

For fruity smoothies, frozen fruits work great. Choose from all types of berries, bananas and even kiwi and pineapple.

For veggie smoothies, go for stemmed leafy greens such as chard, spinach, kale and romaine lettuce. Herbs such as cilantro and parsley are nice, also.

Aim for one to one and a half cups of chopped fruits or vegetables, depending on how thick you want your smoothie.

 Add extra enrichment — Add ingredients with additional protein and fat to make your smoothie more filling and reduce spikes in blood sugar. Greek-style yogurt, cottage cheese and tofu are great options.

Healthy fats such as those found in avocados and nut butters boost the absorption of the vitamins in fruits and vegetables. These ingredients also give your smoothie a creamy texture.

Because the options are limitless, smoothies can become overwhelming, so try to keep it simple at first. You’ll still get great nutritional value. Don’t make it too complicated and you’ll get delicious results. Have fun.

Cynthia Chantlin is a registered dietitian with West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital