Have you ever wondered if smoothies are totally healthy?
I mean, we all have that one friend who swears by them, and they’re advertised everywhere, even fast food joints.
But are there ingredients in smoothies that might take you down a sugary path to nowhere?
Here’s the truth about smoothies:
Smoothies are an easy, fast way to get more produce and nutrition into your diet without sitting down for a full meal that takes more time and energy to prepare. They’re also tasty and you can even make them into a faux milkshake.
And that’s where they can get tricky.
All those ingredients that make them taste like you’re cheating but you think you’re not? Yeah, you’re likely cheating.
FYI: fruit is amazing for you. But there are some caveats. Too much of it, along with not enough fibrous veggies and healthy fats and proteins will still negatively impact your insulin.
Also, some fruits seem to be more beneficial than others.
Then, if you add in nut butters like peanut butter, you could be playing Russian roulette with your intake. Nut butters can be loaded with sugar, unless you bought an organic variety with minimal ingredients.
Throw in some protein powders, and whoa. Some of those blends have not just sugar, but weird sugar hybrids.
If you’ve been buying your smoothies at a store or fast food restaurant, be aware that they’ll often use liquids loaded with sugar like almond milk or fruit juice to make it taste even better.
So, if you’re like me and you’ve also committed to a low-carb or modified carb and sugar nutritional approach, here are some of my fav smoothie recipes that load up on produce and nutrients (think antioxidants, fiber, chlorophyll, digestive enzymes, vitamins, minerals…) but don’t spike my blood sugar or fill me with loads of calories I don’t need.
I like to aim for 7-8 total daily servings of produce, which usually includes 1-2 servings of dark berries. Smoothies are the easiest way for me to meet this challenge.
You’re going to want to stock up on some of the smoothie staples that I end up putting into every blend:
Coconut milk- full fat or light
If you already suspect these won’t taste as amazing as your usual smoothies do, rest easy. They still taste awesome! And the first recipe doesn’t have any veggies, if you just need something tasty but still low-carb friendly.
#1: Coconut Almond Coffee Smoothie– I found this gem over at bulletproof.com and added a twist or two of my own to ease up on the calorie content…
- 6 oz cold brew coffee (or traditionally brewed coffee you can chill)
- 1/2 cup light coconut milk (ideally organic- check the ingredient for any added weird stuff, and you can always go full-fat)
- 1 tbsp sugar-free almond butter (but I like 2 tbsp)
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon (to taste…I like a little more)
- 1 tsp cacao nibs or 1/2 tbsp raw cocoa powder
- 2 scoops collagen protein powder
- Sweetener to taste (stevia or other paleo-friendly kind)
Blend up all ingredients except the collagen powder- collagen is a delicate molecule that doesn’t survive well after high powered blending. You can add the collagen last and blend for 3-5 seconds on a low setting.
#2: Pear Smoothie with Spinach and Celery- I stumbled across this recipe on the NYT food site and, as usual, tweaked it:
- 1/2 cup washed spinach leaves
- 1 ripe pear, cored (leave the skin on, please)
- 1/4 cup chopped celery
- 1 quarter sized slice of ginger, peeled
- handful of baby arugula
- 1-2 tbsp mint leaves
- 2 scoops collagen powder
- 1 cup plain kefir or plain, organic yogurt
- 1-2 ice cubes
- 1/2 banana, frozen (but see if you like this without the banana, too!)
This is one of those lazy, late summer smoothies that won’t jolt your system with too much energy, but won’t weigh you down, either.
#3: Blueberry Cheesecake Smoothie- This one is great for breakfast or when you’re craving sweets.
- 1/2 cup spinach
- 1 cup coconut milk (or flax, etc, and remember the “light” alternatives)
- 2 ounces cream cheese (check labels for weird ingredients and aim for organic!)
- 1 cup blueberries (or get creative with any dark berry)
- 1 scoop collagen powder (vanilla variety here link)
- 5 drops liquid, pure stevia leaf
Remember to blend everything except the collagen first, then add in the powder for a brief spin on low.
#4: Green Smoothie with Pineapple, Greens, and Cashews: This one took me back to the New York Times recipe section, because the other versions of this got a little too “dessert-like” for Ms. Strict over here…but it’ll still taste amazing…
- 1/4 Pineapple, peeled and cored (keep the juice)
- The rest of the juice from the pineapple
- 2 tbsp raw cashews or cashew butter
- 1 scoop collagen powder
- 1/4 cup arugula
- 3 handfuls spinach or mixed baby greens
- 1 quarter slice ginger
- 2-3 ice cubes
Blend it up but remember that pesky collagen!
#5: Low Carb Chocolate Shake- I saved the most decadent for last. This one is legit filling, like a meal, but loaded with all the keto-friendly goodies that won’t derail your day…
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 inches of chopped zucchini
- 1 handful of romaine
- 1 handful of spinach
- 1/4 to 1/2 avocado (experiment to taste)
- 1 tbsp almond butter (if you’re in the mood)
- 2-3 tbsp raw cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp monkfruit sweetener (or Stevia)
- 1 scoop collagen powder (check out this chocolate variety for more indulgence)
I hope these smoothies show you that you can (sort of) have your cake and eat it, too. And by cake, I mean yummy but nutritious recipes that don’t destroy your commitment to your health.
Since I modified all of these concoctions, I’d love to hear your feedback and re-pin the love of low-carb sanity to your friends who might be a little too sweet on sugar!